Topo Designs Mini Shoulder Bag Review
The Topo Designs Mini Shoulder Bag is a good way to carry pocket-size essentials, and the strap is easy to adjust, though it slips easily off shiny fabrics.
- Super lightweight way to carry the essentials
- Slip pocket perfect for holding your phone
- Long shoulder strap makes it easy to use key clip while attached to bag
- Hard to fit bulky keys in front pocket with other gear
- Strap can slip off slick material
- Deceptively small capacity—sometimes seems more should fit than does
4.6 oz (130.4 g)
4.75 in x 7 in x 1.75 in (12.1 x 17.8 x 4.4 cm)
Recycled Nylon, YKK Zippers, Woojin Hardware
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There are a few ways to know you’ve got a Topo Designs bag. Whether it’s the chunky zippers, the large logo, or the fun colorways, it’s a style that lets you stand out from the crowd. And while the brand has its roots in mountain culture, its products are also great for exploring cities and towns wherever you travel.
We’ve tested Topo Designs products big and small and usually find them a solid pick for travel thanks to their durable materials and easy-to-use design. So how does the Topo Designs Mini Shoulder Bag stack up? Let’s find out!
Right off the bat, you can feel pretty good about choosing this sling if you care about the environment since Topo Designs uses 1000D recycled nylon and 420D recycled nylon Packcloth for the exterior, and 210D recycled nylon inside. The nylon is on the front and back, with the Packcloth running midway down each side and across the bottom. Together, they create a durable package that can take the bumps along the road of travel.
We’ve got the Bone White/Coral colorway here, but other options are available in two-tone and monochrome combinations.
There are two webbing loops on either side of the front pocket zipper in case you need to hold one to open it, and a third loop in the upper left-hand corner of the bag is where you can attach a bike light, should you want to carry this bag while riding in the dark.
Kitty-corner to the loop, or on the bottom right, is a large Topo Designs logo patch. It takes up nearly the entire bottom half of the bag, but we dig the fun and funky style it brings. This isn’t a bag you’ll wear with an evening gown to a gala. Instead, take it to explore local markets, walk along the beach, or visit a museum; in all those cases, it’s OK to show off your adventurous aesthetic.
And man, is it vibing with these YKK zippers. Like many Topo Designs bags, the Mini Shoulder Bag includes super-chunky Vislon zippers with paracord woven through the pulls. While they don’t help you prepare for mountain climbing, they certainly bring the Colorado Rockies to you, making you feel like you could tackle the highest summit, even if it’s just a mountain of pasta. They have the added benefit of making it easy to open the sling’s two compartments, although the giant teeth can also snag on gear you have inside if it sits too close.
Last up is Woojin Hardware. It’s on the tiny buckles attaching the strap to the bag and the slide that lets you adjust its length. Speaking of which, even though there’s only one strap, you can carry this bag two ways. The first is, obviously, over your shoulder. It works best crossbody, as the thin strap slips off quite easily when worn over one shoulder. It can slide off your shoulder if you’re wearing it crossbody, too, if you’re wearing shinier synthetic fabrics, like a puffy coat or packable jacket, but it doesn’t happen as often. The strap is super easy to adjust to find the right length to fit over even the downiest of down jackets, and the adjustment doesn’t slip while you’re wearing it—nice!
If you flip the bag around to the back panel, you’ll see two more pieces of webbing attached like belt loops to the bag. They’re there so you can detach the shoulder strap, shorten it, and thread it through to make the Mini Shoulder Bag into a waist pack. It works well when you don’t want the bag to move around as much as it can when wearing it crossbody, such as in a crowded space or when riding a bike.
Before we move on, we want to mention that the back panel has some decent padding, and so does the front, so you don’t have to worry about the safety of your gear as the bag bounces around or feeling what’s inside when it does.
Overall, we like the look and feel of this bag. It’s fun and casual, perfect for a music festival, theme park, or short stroll in the woods. If your pants pockets are too small or have no pockets, it’s a great way to carry your phone, minimalist wallet, keys, and a few extras, like lip balm and tissues, a notebook and pen, and a granola bar.
It’s comfortable to carry for some time, likely because it’s so petite that nothing inside can really weigh you down unless you’re packing gold ingots or collecting rocks. And if one shoulder starts to feel the pull, you can switch it easily to the other side. Hooray for ambidextrous carry! Or wear it around your waist if both get sore. It also works great as a pocket dump to keep your travel essentials together at the airport. You can easily pair this with a travel backpack or daypack and orient it to be carried near the front of your hip while wearing another bag on your back while making your way to your gate.
Inside The Bag
There are only two places to put your gear in the Topo Designs Mini Shoulder Bag. It’s a 1-liter mini bag; you don’t want it separated into too many sections!
The front pocket opens with a diagonal zipper bisecting it about a third of the way down the bag. While the pocket itself spans the entire 7-inch height of the bag, the area above the zipper is more challenging to use than the rest. As such, we find this a good place to stash some hand lotion, lip balm, AirPods, or other slim travel gear. You can fit your passport inside, but then you’ll have to wedge the top left corner into the top of the pocket. While it’s not impossible and easy enough to get back out, it’s still a little clunky to do.
Also inside is a key clip on a leash that extends to the upper right corner. Since the pocket zips from left to right, you can zip it back up and leave the leash dangling outside the pocket for easier access or to accommodate a very bulky key ring. To that end, it can be difficult to squeeze in a lot of other gear if you have a large keychain and fob you have to squeeze inside, but it works very well for smaller keys and fobs, such as those you might use to open your office suite or gym locker.
The main compartment opens with a zipper running between the shoulder straps. It allows you to get a decent look inside the bag and squeeze your hand inside without too much trouble, depending on the size of your palm. It fits a travel wallet and pack of tissues, your passport, and some small airplane snacks. Alternatively, it’s about the right size for a compact camera, so you can be ready to snap a shot of that piping plover as you explore the Great Lakes shoreline.
Along the back side is a mini sleeve. We find it perfect for a phone, so you don’t have to rifle through whatever gear you’ve packed inside to grab it when it’s ringing. But really, you can use it to organize whichever way works best for you. If you’re traveling, slide your passport and boarding pass inside if you still have a paper ticket, or use it for a small notebook to jot down that million-dollar idea if you’re a budding entrepreneur.
What’s nice is that if you don’t want to use the pouch, it just lays flat against the back panel and mostly stays out of your way since you might find it easier to just grab and toss things in the Mini Shoulder Bag at random if you’re not so fussed about the order of your gear or you’re in a rush.
So whatever small gear you need to carry throughout the day’s explorations, we think you’ll like doing so in the Topo Designs Mini Shoulder Bag. It’s the perfect size for tiny travel accessories, as well as keeping up with everyday life.
- Seems like a great size for everyday essentials
- YKK zippers are super chunky
- Switches to a hip pack when needed
- Easy to switch to a waist pack
- Really comfortable, even for long periods
- Paracord makes zippers easy to open