The Ridge Commuter Backpack 20L (V2) Review

The second iteration of The Ridge Commuter Backpack 20L pairs durable materials with a comfortable harness system but has some ineffective pockets.

Our Verdict

7.7 /10
Good info






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  • The materials and hardware are durable
  • Due to the structure of the fabric, the pack looks sleek even when empty
  • You can organize the main compartment easily with the clamshell opening


  • The sternum strap pops off easier than we’d like
  • No space for larger water bottles in side pockets
  • Some users may find the back panel padding too dense

Technical Details

87 %

Carry-on Compliance

View 126/145 Airlines

33 %

Like the Look

Polled on Instagram

  • Capacity


  • Weight (lb)

    2.8 lb (1.3 kg)

  • Dimensions

    18 in x 12 in x 7 in (45.7 x 30.5 x 17.8 cm)

  • Notable Materials

    Ballistic Nylon, Nylon, Microfiber, VELCRO®, YKK Zippers, FIDLOCK Hardware, Carbon Fiber

  • Manufacturing Country


  • Laptop Compartment Size


  • Warranty Information

    Warranty Policy

Full Review

When we saw the second version of the Commuter Backpack, we couldn’t help but be surprised. We liked the first one, and this looks nothing like that pack. Brands will often opt for small updates to their existing bag rather than going for a full redesign, so we’re interested to see The Ridge start from scratch. Will the latest iteration hold up to our expectations? Let’s dive in!

External Components

The primary material that we’re working with here is 900D Ballistic Nylon. It’s durable, structured, and looks sleek. It’s highly water resistant, too, which we dig. The pack holds its shape well, and most of that comes down to this rugged external shell.

The Ridge Commuter Backpack V2 Bench
The Ridge Commuter Backpack 20L (V2) | We dig the look of this pack.

At the time of writing, you can get this pack in Royal Black, Alpine Navy, Matte Olive, or Basecamp Orange. Four isn’t a ton of options, but we like what they have to offer.

The zippers are from YKK, and the external tracks are AquaGuard models, adding additional weather resistance for rain or snow coming out of nowhere. Getting caught in inclement weather isn’t an issue with the Commuter Backpack!

The plastic adjusters are from Duraflex. This is one of the best brands in the business, and their use here proves that. They work well!

The sternum strap is a FIDLOCK magnetic buckle. In our experience, these can take some time to get used to if you haven’t gotten your hands on it before. It’s fairly easy to learn, although sometimes we miss the classic buckle.

The Ridge Commuter Backpack V2 Full
The Ridge Commuter Backpack 20L (V2) | The colorway is sleek.

There’s a carbon fiber logo plaque on the front of the pack. We’re unsure why they chose something so large; however, it feels in line with The Ridge. If you’re here, you probably know about them from their wallets, not their backpacks. Some travelers may find the large carbon fiber tab annoying; we didn’t mind it much.

The pack’s front face has two vertical lines on the sides crafted from a Hypalon-like material. The design reminds us of something you’d see on a TUMI backpack. The material offers some grip, which is helpful if you place the pack face down. That said, how often are you going to do that?

The top handle is well-padded and has mesh on the backside for breathability. It’s comfortable to hang onto, so you won’t get uncomfortable as quickly while carrying it through the airport, public transit, or plane.

The Ridge Commuter Backpack V2 Side
The Ridge Commuter Backpack 20L (V2) | It’s an easy pack to carry.

There’s a hanging loop, too. It’s quite small, so it stays out of your way, but it might not work on a larger hook or one with a larger tab on the end. We appreciate that this inclusion made its way over from the first iteration of this daypack.

On the backside, there’s a luggage pass-through. We find it handy for trips requiring a carry on bag and air travel, as you can rest your back and shoulders while traversing the airport. It stays out of your way when you aren’t using it, which we dig.

Fit Notes

The Ridge Commuter Backpack V2 Side By Side
Left: Kristyne Defever, Height: 5’5” (165 cm), Torso: 17” (43 cm) | Right: Eric Hergenreder, Height: 6’0″ (183 cm), Torso: 18.5” (47 cm)

The back panel has a lot of padding. Seriously, this thing has a lot of cushion. That said, it isn’t very soft—it’s rigid, which is more comfortable in the long haul, but takes some getting used to and isn’t as helpful on short trips. It isn’t uncomfortable; it’s just different than you might be used to.

The shoulder straps are amply padded, too, and have mesh for breathability. The padding is less dense than the back panel, which makes sense here.

The Ridge Commuter Backpack V2 Strap
The Ridge Commuter Backpack 20L (V2) | The sternum strap.

The sternum strap is on a rail, so you can make micro-adjustments to find the perfect fit. However, when we were testing the backpack, the left side of the sternum strap popped off, and we didn’t notice until later. We finally found it on the car floor a week later. We’re still unsure what it held onto to make it pop off, but we felt that our experience was worth sharing. Half a sternum strap won’t do you much good! Luckily, you can pop it back on; you have to apply a lot of pressure, though.

We dig the strap keepers on the shoulder straps, though, because they keep things clean and manageable, which looks nice.

Inside The Pack

While we’re talking about the harness system, we should mention that there’s a hidden pocket here. It’s on the bottom of the back panel and is a solid spot to stow valuables, so long as they’re flat. It has no organization, but we didn’t expect it to.

The Ridge Commuter Backpack V2 Back Pocket
The Ridge Commuter Backpack 20L (V2) | The hidden pocket.

There are bottle pockets on either side of the pack; however, we didn’t find them very useful for carrying a travel water bottle. They zip open and have an elastic gusset, but we find it’s too short to fit anything larger than a disposable bottle here. You can use it for stowing accessories, a snack, or other small items. The right side iteration has an elastic pocket inside, which is handy for a phone or snack.

Laptop storage is separate from the main compartment, so you can get to it quickly. It’s a side-access compartment, which will make some travelers nervous. Although it hasn’t happened to anyone on the Pack Hacker team (yet), we worry about forgetting to close the zipper and our laptop tumbling out. The material inside the compartment is velvety and has ample padding to protect your computer.

The Ridge Commuter Backpack V2 Laptop
The Ridge Commuter Backpack 20L (V2) | The laptop compartment.

There’s a quick-access pocket on the front face of the pack. It’s small and has no organization, but it’s a solid spot to stow a snack or another small, fairly flat item. Bulky gear doesn’t fit as well here, but that’s what the main compartment is for.

Speaking of the main compartment, it’s time to party.

You can access it in two ways: via the clamshell opening or a zipper on the top of the pack. We dig that there are two ways of getting your gear; it’s another feature that came over from the first iteration of this pack. We prefer the clamshell opening to pack for a trip or work in the morning. However, when you’re in transit, it’s nice to be able to open the top-access zipper and grab a few things without opening the entire clamshell zipper and showing off whatever you have inside to the world.

The Ridge Commuter Backpack V2 Interior
The Ridge Commuter Backpack 20L (V2) | There’s some organization in the main compartment.

Inside, the lid has two large mesh zippered pockets, which are excellent places to separate gear from the large main compartment so it doesn’t get lost. Think headphones, dongles, and other small things. Plus, because it’s mesh, you can see through it and know what you’ve got stowed inside.

On the back wall, there’s another zippered pocket. This one isn’t mesh, so flat items do well here, and it’s an excellent spot to stow your passport if you don’t need it.

The Ridge Commuter Backpack V2
The Ridge Commuter Backpack 20L (V2) | The divider segments the pack and is easily removable.

Below that, there are a few mesh pockets. There are two large ones; the one on the left has a hidden AirTag storage area, and the one on the right is empty. We think a smaller pocket below is an excellent spot for cash and cards. It’s a good idea to keep a way to pay away from your wallet in case it gets lost or stolen and vice versa.

Hook-and-loop fasteners are on the back wall near the bottom of the pack. There’s an included divider that you can use to segment the space, which is a unique feature. That said, in practice, the pack doesn’t feel large enough to utilize such an add-on. You can take it out and not use it, though, so we say no harm, no foul.

The Ridge Commuter Backpack V2 Outdoor
The Ridge Commuter Backpack 20L (V2) | One last look at the pack.

Overall, this feels like an entirely new pack inspired by a few things that worked well on the first iteration of The Ridge Commuter Backpack. That said, it’s a durable bag you can rely on no matter where the destination is, and that’s worth commending.

Usage Timeline

Initial Usage

Condition: Excellent

  • The exterior is sleek and feels highly durable
  • The laptop compartment has unique padding, which we’re amped to test
  • We’re curious how comfortable the harness system is considering its structured design
2 Weeks of Use

Condition: Excellent

  • The materials are durable and sturdy, so the pack holds its shape
  • The sternum strap came off—but we were able to reattach it
  • The hardware is from good companies and is relaible
By Eric Hergenreder
Created January 16, 2024 • Updated January 16, 2024
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