The best design looks forward, using new ideas to build on old ones, pushing expectations and solving problems. Based in Hamburg, Germany, Heimplanet began producing their iconic, futuristic inflatable tents in 2011, before introducing backpacks accessories and other gear into their lineup. Their process is deliberately progressive, choosing fabrics and techniques with a lower environmental impact, and partnering with manufacturers who provide healthier conditions for their workforce.
Heimplanet’s bags currently spread across three collections: the Monolith series, which are built with molle-compatible webbing and ‘everyday’ versatility; their Transit line, with cleaner exteriors, designed for travel; and the Motion series which are intended to function outdoors as well as around the city. The Ellipse is a 25L pack from the Motion line, with a dynamic shape and features to accommodate gear for a day in the hills or at the office.
Primary Materials: “DYECOSHELL II” (420D Nylon x 330D Nylon), 210d Ripstop Nylon Melange, Nylon Spandex.
Dimensions provided by Heimplanet
Quality and Comfort
I’ll start by saying that, in my opinion, the Ellipse 25 is a very nice looking bag. From the sleek curvature of the bag’s silhouette and the sharp ply of the ripstop weave, to the fractal tessellation printed onto the 300d polyester lining and the geometric relief of the foam padding used in the straps and back panel… all these aspects have been tailored to Heimplanet’s specification for a truly unique result. In a market where the black cordura and x-pac bags start to blur into one another, something that stands out this way is so good to see.
The Ellipse’s shape isn’t just for looks, either. It’s very comfortable, because the bag’s narrow profile keeps weight very close to the body. Heimplanet revamped their back panel not too long ago and, although I never got to test the original model, this one is great. The textured padding feels great on my back, and the cut-out between the shoulder blades (introduced with the updated version) gives room for the wearer’s spine to flex, and heat to escape when active. I don’t consider a belt on a pack this size a necessity, but Heimplanet include a simple waist-band that will keep the bag in place in movement, but doesn’t bear any weight in itself. They also sent me the Hip belt pocket set which achieves a similar result, that is to say adding only a little in terms of comfort, but with added cargo space. The shoulder straps on the Ellipse bear the same padding but are unfortunately rather more lightweight than on many of my favourite packs, presenting a weak-point in terms of this bag’s load-carrying ability, but mostly it rides well.
Beyond the straps, the body fabric is also very light and flexible. This has pros and cons – the Ellipse 25 weighs a full 500g less than a 26L GR1, which is nice for hiking, but raises my concerns about the pack’s longevity. Overall the build appears solid and Heimplanet have added ultra-durable Hypalon at crucial stress points, but I wouldn’t expect to use this bag every day for 10 years and have it remain intact, as I might with some others in my collection. These worries set in further when confronted with heavy rain – more than once through testing I found that moisture had seeped into the main compartment. Heimplanet describe their zippers as ‘water resistant’ but they appear to be standard YKK reverse-coil zips to me.
The curved shape of the Ellipse results in a tall, shallow pack, to which Heimplanet have fit a half-zip type opening that arcs around the top of the bag. The opening is markedly wider than that of the common school-bag panel, but remains firmly vertical in loading. The lower part of the pack forms a deep bucket shape, and will hold a decent amount of gear. The risk of ‘gear soup’ is slightly offset by a fleece lined sleeve that will accept either a 15″ laptop or a hydration bladder, as well as an elastic strap which will keep documents flat against the back wall, though other items will swim freely and digging into the bottom of the pack can be slow. The laptop sleeve itself is covered by a slim internal pocket that flips out the way. In use I found that pocket a hindrance more than anything else, since it’s too small to keep electronics or toiletries, and too slow to access to really work for keys or snacks.
The opening design on the Ellipse isn’t awful to use, though I wonder if extending the zip lower would allow for greater access without compromising stability. The fact that Heimplanet put side-release buckles onto the bag’s compression straps suggests to me that a full clamshell was considered, but perhaps dropped to accommodate the stretchy water bottle pockets lower down on the outside.
These stretchy pockets are large enough to hold a full size Nalgene bottle with a little push, though I found the angle a little counterintuitive. Curiously, the elastic panel that covers the whole lower-front of the bag is divided into three sections, the middle of which could be used for bulky overload like a light jacket. Loading these areas pushes both outwards (ruining the sleek silhouette that drew me to the Ellipse in the first place) and inwards, eating space from the main compartment of the pack.
The same stretch material is used on the belt pockets, and works very well here. Though low-profile, I found these pockets were a great size for snacks or a light pair of gloves.
Small items can be managed, to a degree, using two more external pockets built into the Ellipse’s face. Heimplanet’s clean design approach is well considered here, with these pockets blending smoothly into the front panel, as do the hydration. One is larger than the other, the smaller being not much more than a slip for keys or a train ticket. It also isn’t angled in a way that I could grab these contents without taking the bag off. The bigger pocket is also a funny size, being spacious enough to hold my sunglasses, face mask, a first aid pouch or some gloves – I found it was just enough for contents to get jumbled together rather than being quickly accessible. Balancing the size of these two pockets would make each of them more useful, I think, in the real world.
- Unique, progressive aesthetics and production ethics.
- Lightweight, uncomplicated and comfortable suspension.
- Concerns about water resistance.
- Organisation could benefit from fine-tuning.
For a bag like the Ellipse 25 the potential uses vary much more than they would for strict office carry, or a classic mountain rucksack. Pocketing is a regular pitfall for the urban/outdoors crossover backpack, and few designs succeed in truly satisfying the needs of both. Heimplanet’s approach, in my opinion, is geared better for urban use. I feel generally let down by the organisation offered here, though I imagine with a few tweaks it could be more practical.
That is of course a shame, because, in other ways, the Ellipse 25 is a really good bag. I found myself genuinely impressed by how comfortable it was to wear. Notably, this was after I spent time testing the Remote Equipment Charlie 25, which I praised strongly in that category. At time of writing, Heimplanet’s offering retails for €145.69 – around $100USD less than the Charlie, on pre-order. I don’t often address value with The Perfect Pack, but it feels significant here, since either of these bags have the potential to meet all of a user’s needs at once. I can see where the extra money goes, but the Ellipse 25 is a great option nonetheless.
Disclaimer: the Ellipse 25 was provided by Heimplanet for use in this review. The content of the review was not discussed with Heimplanet prior to publication. Our reviews are impartial and never altered to keep a brand happy.