Topo Designs Tech Case Review
The large Topo Designs Tech Case is a substantial step up from smaller tech pouches for those who need to double up on their tech accessories.
- Large capacity for bulky tech accessories
- Dual compartment layout offers finer organization
- Easy access through clamshell opening
- Large capacity comes at an equally large size
- Wide elastic loop can be tricky to utilize
- Bulky items can cut into other compartments’ space
9.3 oz (263.7 g)
9.5 in x 6.5 in x 3.5 in (24.1 x 16.5 x 8.9 cm)
Nylon, DWR Coating
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As much as decluttering and minimalism can help you downsize the amount of gear you’re carrying around, some jobs just need a lot of tools. Then there are those cases where you’ve arrived at a function, only to realize no one brought the right cable to hook up the laptop to the projector. Or if you’re a digital nomad video editor who prefers to use over-the-ear headphones to finalize your projects. Between the necessity of having a vast set of tools and the need to be prepared, large organizers still have their place in the world of travel gear.
That’s where the Topo Designs Tech Case comes in. It’s a tech pouch the size of two stacked on top of each other. Yes, this one’s for the techie that carries around enough accessories for two, maybe even three, if you’re feeling generous with the charging cables. Of course, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, and there are definitely trade-offs and worthwhile considerations to take into account if you plan on rolling with the large Tech Case.
Materials & Aesthetic
In most regards, the Tech Case is unmistakably styled by Topo Designs. Squint, and you’ll be able to appreciate the familiar squarish design elements much better. If you’re still unsure, there’s always the black-on-black logo at the front to help make things clear. Yes, at the time of writing, Topo Designs only offers the Tech Case in one colorway: Premium Black. It makes sense from a security standpoint since black is discreet. However, we kinda wish there was a colorful option like we’re used to seeing with most of their gear.
At the very least, the 450D coated nylon feels rugged for a tech case. It can feel a bit overkill, but considering the size of the Tech Case, we think that the tough nylon shell is justified in case you have to carry it externally. One quirk of the nylon fabric is that it picks up lint rather easily, and the black colorway makes it noticeable. It’s easily cleaned up with a lint roller, though, so it’s nothing too worrisome in the long run. Plus, the DWR coating means raindrops bead off almost effortlessly if you find yourself in an unexpected downpour.
All of the Tech Case’s zippers are of the YKK variety. They’re durable and dependable; basically, everything we like our zippers to be. The pulls are similar to the ones Tom Bihn uses—metal with cord pulls, which are easy to grip while not being too jingly. Topo Designs even thoughtfully put pull tabs on each end of the zippered openings, so you have something to grab onto while zipping or unzipping. They also double as attachment points for accessories like carabiners and keychains.
First impressions are great, but taking a look at the Tech Case piece by piece can be deceiving. Zoom out a bit, and it’s apparent that this is an absolute unit. Even when empty, the structuredness of the Tech Case allows it to stay up—which is probably why it’s called the “Tech Case” and not the “Tech Pouch.”
Usage & Features
With the Tech Case’s 3.5L capacity, it’s no surprise that Topo Designs decided to have three separate compartments. There’s a quick-grab pocket for everyday carry items or frequently used tech accessories. Then you have the dual compartments, which are quite similar in layout, but with key differences, as we will show later on.
The 3.5L size is definitely something to behold, especially for those who are already imagining how much gear they can stuff inside. We usually tend to lean towards more modest setups when it comes to our tech. Something like the Bellroy Tech Kit or the Aer Split Kit serves us well when we’re working remotely, though we also appreciate the occasional camera cube when we’re bringing our DSLRs along on photoshoots. The use case for the space is something to consider. For us, utilizing some of the space and features on the Tech Case wasn’t always a perfect match.
Before we get into the spacious twin compartments, we’ll start with the front quick-grab pocket. The space inside is relatively slim, and this does get affected depending on what’s inside the first compartment. Again, we found this to be best for frequently-used items like slim charging adapters, a cable, and not-too-small flash drives. The pocket goes fairly deep, and the interior is dark, so fishing items out can be tricky.
There’s also a substantial amount of space underneath the upper lip, so there’s some wiggle room there. Our iPhone 12 fits the height right up until the zipper, but a taller iPhone 12 Pro Max, for example, might need some shimmying underneath that lip. Also built-in the front pocket is a short key clip—nothing too crazy, just enough to keep your keys near the opening.
Now onto the juicy part: the twin main compartments. They share a similar layout, volume, and clamshell-style opening. Inside the first compartment, there’s a zippered mesh pocket on the left side for small and large accessories. We usually reserve mesh zippered mesh pockets exclusively for smaller items, but this one’s spacious enough to accommodate more.
On the opposite side, there’s a wide elastic loop that runs the length of the pouch. We’re no strangers to elastic loops in tech pouches and camera cubes, but this extra-wide loop was hard for us to make use of. The most fitting gear we use daily that could make use of it was a pair of headphones, specifically our bulky noise-canceling ones.
However, the fit does depend on the type you have. Headphones with speakers that can lay flat will fit better than headphones whose speakers always sit upright. Upright speakers will bulge out into the front pocket, making it harder to insert and remove gear there. Your mileage really does vary depending on what you’re using. Other gear that can make use of this wide loop are chunky AV cables like meter-long HDMI or VGA cables—roll ’em up, and they’ll loop in nicely.
The second compartment looks similar, though with some key differences. You get another zippered mesh pocket, but the elastic loop is now segmented into a webbing of four equal parts, plus a smaller pen loop along the hinge. Here is where thinner cables like USB charging cables, wireless earphone cases, or extra camera batteries can make themselves at home. These loops are definitely easier to utilize since we always carry a bunch of USB and Lightning cables around wherever we go.
Behind the loops is a stealthy slip pocket that fits a small ebook reader like an Amazon Kindle. It’s fairly secure as well, with its locking tab holding things in place. Alternatively, this is also a good spot for a few important documents like a passport or some flight tickets—that is, if you’re keeping the Tech Case inside a larger bag and plan on having it out with you at the airport.
The large proportions of the Tech Case make it hard to fit in small bags like Away’s Small Zip Backpack. Not that it doesn’t fit inside—it does—but it takes up noticeably more space than smaller tech pouches. As such, it’s a good thing that Topo Designs equipped the Tech Case with a side handle for briefcase-style carrying. Some pouches come with a handle for convenience, but we think the Tech Case has it out of necessity as well due to its size. Furthermore, if you’re packing some seriously hefty gear inside, the pull tabs near the handles can also be used to attach a shoulder strap for a more comfortable sling-style carry. Though, this isn’t the intended use, so you’ll have to get a bit creative.
Fortunately for us, we had just enough space inside our bags, even for a fully packed out Tech Case. We didn’t really find it necessary to carry the Tech Case separately. But, as always, it’s nice to have that handle and those attachment points in case we wanted a bit more flexibility.
The Tech Case finds its place in the hands of those who deal with a lot of tech accessories, and we mean a lot of tech accessories. Those who are currently rocking two tech pouches can settle with a single Tech Case, for example. There is still a bit of a balancing act, as some bulky hardware may not cope well inside, such as headphones with non-swiveling ear cups. Not to mention you’ll also have to make space for it inside your current bag unless you’re comfortable carrying it separately.
- Mesh pocket’s opening is right up against the top edge
- The interior is all-black
- Fits a small ebook reader inside
- Nylon shell picks up dust pretty easily, but it comes off with wipe or lint roll
- Pull tabs are a nice touch for easy grabs and support while zipping and unzipping
- Front pocket is a bit shallow when the full pouch is packed out
- Carry handle is great to have for a tech case of this size
- 3.5L capacity makes it great for large gear