NITECORE BP23 Commuter Backpack Review
Although the NITECORE BP23 has a unique style and can handle a lot of gear, the overall carry leaves something to be desired.
- Durable materials can handle light rain
- Thoughtful interior organization is easy to use
- Extensive exterior attachment loops for adding gear
- Longevity concerns with unbranded zippers and hardware
- No exterior water bottle pockets
- Shoulder strap width is broader than we’re used to
2.3 lb (1 kg)
18.5 in x 11.4 in x 5.9 in (47 x 29 x 15 cm)
Polyester, Unbranded Hardware, Unbranded Zippers
Laptop Compartment Size
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Although initially known for its offerings in the flashlight and tech realm, NITECORE has been making waves in the backpack game with a few capable offerings. The BP23 is similar to the BP18, with more compartments and space to fill. We’re curious if some of the innovative design choices on the 18 will also be present here. Let’s dive in!
The primary pack material is 600D polyester with a water-resistant coating. The fabric feels extraordinarily durable and fairs well in light rain, though if it starts raining heavier for an extended period, it’s best to head for cover to ensure your gear stays dry.
For a 23-liter daypack, the BP23 has a large footprint. The pack is shallow, so it needs a larger footprint to reach its capacity. It isn’t an issue for everyone, though it may feel large for those with a smaller torso. When packed out, it feels more like a travel backpack in size.
The zippers are unbranded and feature a water-resistant track. The pulls are paracord with knotted ends. Between the head and the knot, heat-shrink plastic makes them easy to find and grasp.
The plastic buckles and other hardware are unbranded. We’ve had no issues with any of it; the buckles are snappy, and the adjusters are easy to manipulate.
The NITECORE BP18 has YKK zippers and Duraflex hardware, and those are brands we’ve come to know and trust, so it’s a letdown to see unbranded hardware on this pack. We haven’t had any significant issues with either at the time of writing; check the usage timeline for any updates. A loose thread got caught in the zipper track once, and everything worked as expected after removing it.
The pack has attachment loops spanning most of the bottom portion, which are handy for attaching extra gear and accessories and look pretty neat, too.
Quick-grab handles on all four sides of the pack allow you to always get up and go in a matter of seconds. They aren’t padded but feel sturdy and come in handy when using mass transit.
NITECORE also includes large hook and loop fasteners on the top and bottom of the pack’s front side so you can attach a patch. They’re a bit large for our taste, yet the inclusion is thoughtful and doesn’t stick out when not used.
On the pack’s back side, there’s a trolley sleeve. This luggage pass-through has no frills and has a hook and loop fastener beneath it, so it stays out of your way and doesn’t bunch up when it isn’t in use.
The back panel has ample padding and aeration to kees things reasonably cool, even when moving quickly on a warm day.
However, while the shoulder straps are sturdy, they’re extraordinarily wide. At their thickest, they measure 3.25 inches (8.26 cm). You can feel this width between your shoulder and neck, even if you have a larger frame. It isn’t uncomfortable, though you can certainly feel them.
Their padding and aeration are similar to the back panel. There are D-rings on either side for attaching gear or sunglasses, and you can make micro-adjustments to the sternum strap on a rail. Once you have it in a place you’re happy with, it tends to stay.
On the bottom of the shoulder straps, there are buckles to release them. The straps on the BP18 come all the way off, enablingeasier storage and the ability to wear it in crossbody mode. This pack can’t do that because there’s no top buckle. This leaves something to be desired—we’re not sure what the point is in detaching only the bottom. You could secure them around a pole, which would deter some theft, but they’re easy to unattach.
The pack is comfortable, though we find the shoulder straps bump into you in a way that’s hard to ignore. While it won’t ruin your day, it will be on your mind at one point or another.
Inside The Pack
This pack has four compartments, so buckle up; you’re in for a long ride!
First of all, the front diagonal pocket is a lot of fun. It feels dynamic when you open and close it, and it’s larger than it appears from the exterior. You can fit a folder, notebook, or book inside so long as the item fits through the zipper. There isn’t a ton of padding on the exterior, so a tablet or other electronics might not be your best bet here.
A quick-access pocket on the top of the pack is perfect for your phone or wallet. If your wallet is minimalistic, you might be able to fit both! The interior material is soft so that it won’t scratch your phone or glasses. The pocket is inside the top flap for another compartment, so if you load it up, it can flop around a bit while accessing that other pocket. You know, because of gravity and all.
There are two larger compartments as well. The first is on the front of the pack. On the top, it secures with a hook and loop fastener. The flap contains the quick access pocket we just reviewed. On either side of the compartment, zippers run all the way down to the bottom of the pack. You can tear the pocket open quickly, although closing it is a little slower.
Once inside this compartment, you notice that it’s very shallow. A large liner pocket on the back side works well for a folder full of travel documents or a full-size notebook. If you want to, you can fit a full-size Dr. Suess picture book in here, but that’s up to you.
Below that, there are two rows of slide pockets. They’re uniquely designed, with each row having two pockets, one accessible from either side. Considering their originality, we haven’t found an excellent use for them yet. You can stow cables inside, though they tend to peak out as there’s no closure system. They work fine, though.
There’s a large mesh pocket on the lid with a zipper closure. It’s a good place to lock down the smaller gear you don’t want tossing about in the other compartments.
The main compartment has a zipper that runs three-fourths of the way around the pack to create a clamshell opening.
On one occasion, while opening the main compartment, a loose thread got caught in the zipper head and stopped it from opening. It took 15 minutes to come loose again, primarily due to trying not to break the zipper, as we weren’t sure what the issue was. While this is a testament to the strength of the fibers in the fabric, it’s worth noting in case you have a similar problem.
Inside the main compartment, there’s a laptop sleeve on the back wall. You can fit up to a 15.6-inch laptop here, and there’s a strap that secures with a hook and loop fastener securing the top of it.
Below is a large liner pocket and two smaller mesh pockets. Neither have toppers, so it’s easy to slide gear in and out of them.
On either side of the main compartment are side pockets that work for a small travel water bottle. We aren’t totally sold on internal water bottle pockets. However, considering the exterior lacks them, it’s a nice inclusion. If you’re worried about stowing your bottle inside the pack, you can always attach it to the exterior instead, using one of the attachment loops.
On the lid of the compartment, there’s a large mesh pocket with a zippered topper. You can lock things down here so they aren’t swimming around the main compartment. Plus, you can see inside it to grab your gear quickly.
Overall, we dig using this pack. It looks good, and you can fit a ton of gear inside. It doesn’t feel as creative and usable as the BP18, but we’re excited to continue using it and see what NITECORE releases next.
- Materials feel durable but aren’t too heavy to weigh things down
- The zippers and hardware aren’t brands we recognize, but they feel sturdy
- The shoulder straps mold to your body, but we worry about comfort with heavier loads
- A few loose threads, but nothing major
- Unbranded hardware has held up without issue
- Shoulder strap width is odd, but they’re still reasonably comfortable