VESSEL Signature 2.0 Backpack Review
The professional-looking VESSEL Signature 2.0 Backpack uses interesting materials, but misses on some little things, like quick & efficient strap adjustment.
- Simple, yet comfortable harness system
- Convenient, versatile organization
- Easy-to-clean, vegan material
- Strap adjusters are stiff, difficult to adjust straps
- No elastic keepers to manage excess strap
- Openings to hidden pockets are small & can be difficult to access
18 in x 12.5 in x 6 in (45.7 x 31.8 x 15.2 cm)
Polyester, YKK Zippers, Metal
Laptop Compartment Size
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VESSEL’s brand objective is to breathe life into gear that presents sumptuous looks and features to everyone—from athletes to CEOs. Their Signature 2.0 Backpack is just one example of the products they offer.
They also understand the importance of giving back, and to do so, they’ve implemented a Buy A Bag, Give a Bag initiative. This program has allowed them to give 27,000 children in need a pack to use for school—we love to see brands that are not only cultivating fashionable, functional bags but also helping the world in any way they can.
Back to the bag at hand, the Signature 2.0 Backpack is well-organized, comfortable to carry, and has the potential to be a solid, sleek staple in your daily gear rotation. It’s also available in a Plus and Lite version at the time of this review if you’re looking for more or less storage for your everyday gear, though we’ll be focusing on the original size in this review.
What do we think so far after real-world testing? Read the review below to find out!
Materials & Aesthetic
With one glance, it’s easy to see that this bag has a rather professional look to it. This bag received a relatively standard, positive score of a 59% approval rating from our Instagram followers on its aesthetic poll.
Perhaps some of our followers weren’t enthused by the Black Pebbled/Croc colorway we’ve been testing. While we think it adds an air of sophistication to the bag, there are plenty of other colorways and textures to choose from at the time of this review, such as Navy Tech or Rose Gold.
Even the branding on this thing goes for high-class. You’ll see a small, metal VESSEL logo on the front of the pack that’s subtle yet elegant. It also has a double-meaning: VESSEL explains on their website that it can be viewed as a “V” to represent their name and the function of a vessel (getting things from point A to point B). Though, upside down, it also resembles a pair of praying hands 🙏. Either way, it adds to the overall opulent vibe of the bag.
As far as the material goes, the Signature 2.0 Backpack features premium synthetic leather. This option gives all the glamour of real leather with no impact on animals. You know what that means: this would make a great gift for any vegan or an environmentally-conscious friend or family member you know with lavish taste.
It’s held up well during our testing, as we’ve only sustained one scuff toward the top. And when we encounter debris, a quick sweep of the hand will get most dust, dirt, and fluff off and keep the bag looking brand new.
The zippers come to us from YYK, and thankfully so, as this is a brand we can count out to deliver robust zippers that glide along every pocket and compartment. They’re water-resistant and work to keep out any moisture we don’t want to get in our gear. Naturally, all the ones on this pack have been working like a charm, and we don’t expect any issues anytime soon.
Like the logo on the Signature 2.0 Backpack’s front, the hardware is also made of metal and is yet another component that gives the pack its premium look and feel. It’s even debossed with the brand’s wordmark, which is a nice touch. Our only complaint is that the adjusters have been stiff to use, but other than that, everything is working just fine.
Starting with the shoulder straps, they’re amply-padded, though a little stiff. Even so, we’ve still found them supportive enough for the load we’re usually carrying. They’re also lined with mesh for added breathability, which we’ll never complain about (especially when it’s hot out). Another little detail here is the VESSEL wordmark debossed on a tag on one of the straps, which, like the previous logo, is a sophisticated accent.
To reiterate, the strap adjusters aren’t the easiest to maneuver, as we really have to tug on the straps to tighten them. We get similar resistance when trying to loosen the straps as well, though once you have this thing set to your preference, you shouldn’t have to readjust very often. For this reason, it hasn’t been a huge deal, just a minor nuisance on an otherwise awesome bag.
There’s no sternum strap, but that hasn’t been any concern to us during our testing. At 22L, this bag is still on the mid to smaller side of daypacks, so we haven’t felt it necessary. Of course, your mileage may vary—you may appreciate the extra stability that one would offer. Unfortunately, even if you wanted to, there’s no spot to attach one.
The back panel features some dense padding of a similar stiffness as the shoulder straps, but it’s still comfortable against the back. We also appreciate the smooth mesh lining and built-in air channels that keep us ventilated, especially when we’re out in the sun or have the bag on for longer periods. Plus, if you’re planning to use this bag as a carry-on, there’s a luggage passthrough back here that allows it to slide onto your roller luggage for easy transportation through the airport.
Last up is the bag’s top handle. It’s basically just some folded nylon strap with a similar crocodile-like pattern as what you’ll find on the bottom of the pack. We wouldn’t tote the bag around by this handle, but it’s comfortable and structured enough for quickly grabbing or hanging the bag when needed.
Inside The Pack
Pockets-wise, we have a few to go over, starting with the two on the back panel. There’s one on each side, and they’re relatively small in both their size and their openings, which can make it harder to get access and limiting with what you can pack inside. Items like your keys (if they’re not too bulky), passport, or a minimal wallet will still fit, though, if you need a convenient place to put them.
You can feel confident your stuff is secure, too, as not only do the zippers sit against the back, they’re also covered by a fabric welt. To the untrained eye, it hardly looks like the pockets are even there, deterring any pickpockets and keeping your valuables safe.
Flipping it over, there’s also a larger quick-grab pocket on the bag’s front. When you open it up, you’re greeted by a white, shiny liner material that makes finding the items inside a breeze. You’ll also notice a liner pocket and three pen sleeves along the back wall. We’ve been using the larger pocket as a spot for a charger, and the smaller sleeves have been keeping our pens, pencils, and personal care items handy.
There’s a fair amount of free space in this pocket as well to pack out with pouches or other frequently-used gear, whether that means more chargers or more personal care items or something in between. Keeping similar items here saves you the time and energy of going in and out of the main compartment, so it’s something you want to take advantage of.
Speaking of the main compartment, we’ll get to that shortly. Before then, we also want to mention the bottom compartment of this bag. If you’re packing the main compartment to the brim with gear, then it eats up most of the space in this pocket. However, if you’re looking to segment certain items, you can detach the lining from the compartment above and push it upward, shifting the space to this pocket.
This is a useful functionality if you have any clothes or shoes that you don’t want to get all over your other stuff (like if they’re wet or dirty), or possibly a water bottle or lunchbox you don’t want to spill on anything. You can get a similar compartmentalization level simply by incorporating packing cubes, but they’re not absolutely necessary, as the bag provides this built-in option.
Now, we can finally get inside the main compartment. It opens up almost fully-clamshell—not quite, but almost—so you have a ton of visibility and easy access to everything you’re keeping inside. There’s also some convenient organization going on that we’ll talk about, starting with the front flap pockets.
Against this side, you have a smaller zippered pocket at the top with super soft lining material. This lining makes this pocket a great spot to keep a pair of standard glasses or a pair of sunglasses if it’s particularly bright out, as it prevents any scratches and keeps the gear away from anything that could poke into it.
Below, you also have two thick, narrow mesh pockets that we’ve found accommodate both the Matador Pocket Blanket 2.0 and a small notebook very well. You’re not limited to these things, of course, as they’re also helpful for keeping a mouse or small cables secure. They’re not overly stretchy, though, so you are limited to the extent you can overpack them.
Then behind these mesh pockets is yet another, larger zippered pocket with the same soft lining inside. This pocket is big enough to slip your phone into when you’re not planning on using it and need a secure spot, and like your glasses, it’ll be protected from anything that might scratch up your screen.
On the other side is where you’ll find a sleeve that can fit any important documents you may be carrying, or a tablet or e-reader as well. You could even fit a laptop inside, though there is a dedicated compartment for one, which we’ll get to shortly.
In front of this sleeve is a positive message from the brand explaining the ID number assigned to the pack as the total bags thus far they’ve been able to donate to kids in need. It’s a small addition, but it brightens our day whenever we open up this compartment.
To finish off the review, there’s the laptop compartment at the back of the bag that can hold up to a 16” laptop. The sleeve inside is well-padded and also gains support from the padding on the back panel. This padding, along with the familiar soft lining, keeps your tech protected from any scratches and any other damage when it’s getting shuffled around on your commute. There’s also a false bottom in the laptop sleeve, albeit slight, so you’re not getting the same level of cushioning when you accidentally drop or set the bag down abruptly.
Bonus: there are two more mesh pockets inside that we’ve found to be the perfect size for a laptop charger and adaptor—it always feels good to have all your tech in one spot. There’s free space that you can pack out with other accessories as well, like a keyboard or possibly a Roost Laptop Stand 2.0.
- Laptop compartment is well padded and fits a 16″ Macbook Pro
- Bottom zip compartment is separate from the rest of the main compartment so this is a great spot to throw your water bottle, lunch, or extra pair of shoes
- Synthetic leather material gives you a premium look while staying vegan-friendly
- While this pack has a slim profile, it holds everything we need for our every day and then some
- The mesh pockets in the laptop compartment are the perfect size for a MacBook Pro charger and adaptor
- We’ve noticed that the shoulder strap material is a little stiff, and can be difficult to tighten and loosen when you’re trying to adjust the bag. Once you have it set for your frame, though, this isn’t an issue