What comes to mind when you think of the brand Bellroy? If this question was asked a few years ago you may have said ‘wallets’, but in more recent times Bellroy has taken the bag world by surprise by introducing a compelling line of stylish and thoughtful bags of all shapes and sizes. They are often regarded among the best of the best when it comes to editorial awards from various publications – and for good reason.
|Capacity||1220 cu. in.||20L|
Quality and Comfort
The Transit Workpack comes in a variety of colors from Bellroy’s collection of unique material blends. Unlike other brands, Bellroy chooses to do different colors in different materials. The review unit seen here is the Lunar colorway made from Bellroy’s Baida Nylon. This is unlike most other nylon materials that are common in the bag world – the material is given a heat treatment which creates a more crinkled finish. In heating the nylon fibers the weave of the Baida Nylon is tightened. This creates a more water resistant and more durable finish than a typical nylon fabric.
The Lunar colorway features a soft and bright orange interior in all of the compartments which increases visibility even in some of the deep recesses of the bag – more on all the pockets later. It’s apparent that Bellroy have targeted this pack at a more fashion conscious audience given the subdued and tasteful colorways. This pack will fit in whether you’re in a more conservative or more casual work setting.
In typical Bellroy style the fit and finish of the Transit Workpack is top notch through and through. Every compartment is fully lined and features YKK water repellant zippers.
The back panel and shoulder straps are padded with a dense foam and feature a rigid insert on the top side. The lower body-facing side is lined with a soft breathable material and glides on and off of your shoulders with ease. The straps and adjustment range fit a wide range of users – we tested from 5′ 2″ / 157cm to 6′ 1′ 185cm broad shouldered users and everyone was equally comfortable carrying this pack fully loaded.
Bellroy have chosen to use a two-tone 3/4″ / 19mm loose weave webbing that is very soft to the touch – almost like seatbelt webbing, but with a looser weave. The tri glides are a custom piece of hardware made from metal and pass the webbing with ease.
Something of note with the loose weave of the webbing – it will be easier to to get caught on things and can start to have yarns pull away from it. More common backpack webbing with tighter weaves can go years without having yarns pull away from the surface. This is purely an aesthetic issue but is something to note of you are particularly sensitive to visual wear.
With an empty weight of 1.87lbs / 850g and a capacity of 20L this pack is a true featherweight. Being targeted at more of a daily commuter load out – even fully loaded with gym clothes, a full water bottle, 16″ MacBook Pro, and a variety of EDC items the Transit Workpack carries comfortably without getting sweaty. Car commuters won’t need to worry about that.
The top of the bag features a wonderfully soft and thick tubular webbing handle that runs diagonally from one side of the bag to the other and gives a wide grab point that is well balanced even with a full load out. Top handles are often an afterthought or ridiculously overbuilt and what Bellroy have settled on here is the best of both worlds. In both look and feel the handle here is a natural extension of the bag – easy to grab with just the right amount of padding inside the tubular webbing. Solid bar tacks at either side ensure that the handle will not come unstitched even with heavy use. A solid win all around.
Does the bag stand up on its own? No. No it does not. For better or worse the Transit Workpack is designed to be worn on the back and then laid flat on a surface or taken by the grab handle to access its contents.
Organization and Access
A common problem among smaller-sized packs in this category is that they often overlook the 15/16″ class laptops and focus their efforts on the far smaller 13/14″ class. Anyone who has a 15″ laptop and wants a sleek and stylish backpack will often be left with less desirable options or be looking at far larger, heavier, and more overbuilt options. Bellroy have designed the Transit Workpack around the 15/16″ laptops from the start. Bravo Bellroy. Bravo. Pictured here with a 16″ 2019 MacBook Pro there is space to accommodate thicker and perhaps even ever-so-slightly longer PC laptops. PC users often have to look at how their laptop compares to the Apple laptops when it comes to sizing for most bags and there is no exception here. Bellroy clearly designed this to be Apple-friendly but with room to spare for our PC friends.
The laptop compartment is in its own separate compartment behind the main volume of the bag. It is raised off the floor so there is no worries when setting the bag down that you’ll damage the laptop inside. The compartment is accessed by a single large YKK zipper slider that opens on the top of the bag. A single slider allows for a slightly wider opening of the zippered compartment – and larger laptops will need every bit of that opening to easily slide the laptop in and out. Bellroy could have extended the zipper an extra inch or so and made this a little more effortless for 15/16″ laptops. 13″ laptop owners will likely never notice this as an issue.
In the same compartment, in front of the padded laptop sleeve is a spacious accessory pocket that’s perfect for power bricks or a small accessory pouch. The Apple 87w USB-C power brick and 2m cable doesn’t even occupy half the compartment. PC users will be very pleased with the room to accommodate their potentially larger AC adapters.
In front of the laptop compartment is a smaller sunglass pocket that is lined with a soft stretch material, similar to the material that the shoulder straps and back panel are lined with. No surprises in here – there is room here for sunglasses or other small accessories and perhaps a sunglass case – if it runs on the thinner side.
Both the sunglass compartment and the laptop accessory area take up space in the main volume of the pack. In typical use this won’t ever be a problem but it’s something to consider if you were trying to maximize every cubic inch of space. There will be some give and take.
There are two long vertical compartments that flank the main volume of the bag. They are accessed from the rear of pack via a recessed zipper on the left and right sides. They are identical except the right side compartment features a key leash that is permanently sewn into the compartment. This would have been a nice addition to have on both sides or to have the leash be removable and moved over to the other side. For a number of reasons users may prefer to have their keys on the opposite side but no such luck here.
Both of these compartments take up space in the main volume of the pack and will hold small accessories with ease. When it comes to water bottles they will only accommodate bottles that run on the smaller side. We tested with a very common 24oz Hydroflask and it was an uncomfortably tight fight. YMMV with other brands but in general you may have better luck with 20oz or smaller bottles. The recessed zipper compartments – while providing excellent cover from rain and also being effectively invisible from the outside – also feel like they limit the size of items that can be put in here. Other bags in this market segment will run with stretch pockets on the outside or zippers that wrap around the compartment to provide a larger access. Bellroy’s design choice here is very sleek but may have come at the cost of limiting it’s usefulness for larger water bottles.
The star of the show here is the main compartment – accessed by two #8 YKK Racquet Coil zipper sliders, this compartment opens with a near-full clamshell. Anyone who has experienced a clamshell bag dumping all of its contents will know the perils of a full 100% clamshell opening. Bellroy have taken this into consideration and the bottom 10% or so is still recessed below where the zippers stop. This is a subtle but very welcome feature. The soft orange liner will let you see everything inside.
There’s not much in the way of organization in here – A half-height stretch pocket at the rear of the compartment and a single zippered mesh compartment at the upper of the front panel is all you’ll get inside here. Remember – the side compartments and the top / laptop compartments all eat into this main pack volume so the space in here will best be used for larger loose items – gym shoes / clothes, smaller tech pouches and dopp kits; even small packing cubes will work well in here.
The shape of the main compartment is not a perfect rectangle – it tapers towards the bottom. We found it works best with more organic load outs – clothing, shoes, or items that you can Tetris into a tapered compartment.
Shown here is a US Womens Size 8 shoe and 48oz Nalgene bottle.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is a US Mens Size 13 Wide shoe and 48oz Nalgene.
As most people will fall somewhere in-between this should give a good sense of who this pack will work for when it comes to loading out the main volume.
The front of the bag features a similar recessed zipper to what was seen on the two side compartments. This front compartment actually features a fair bit of volume that is created by the two darts that are sewn into the upper corners of the front panel. Inside is space for some pens and a small stash pocket.
The rest of the pocket is wide open and could swallow a light rain jacket if needed. As with the side compartments the zippered opening here is invisible if you’re not looking for it, but that also leads to the opening being rather small. This may help prevent items from accidentally falling out of the compartment if you were to forget to zip it up, but it also limits its usefulness. A longer zipper could make this even better.
- Bellroy’s top notch design and attention to detail is on full display here.
- A small 20L size bag that is designed around the 15/16″ size laptop? Huge win.
- Straps are comfortable for commuter use and look clean and stylish.
- The two-tone loose weave strap webbing is subject to yarns getting pulled – may not hold up as well (visually) as the rest of the bag.
- Side compartments – Longer zippers or a different shape to accept larger bottles would have been nice.
- Laptop compartment zipper could be just a bit wider.
It’s incredible to see how far Bellroy has come from making wallets to a complete line of carry goods. Anyone who may have dismissed the brand should give them a serious look now that nearly every market segment is served by bags of all shapes and sizes. The team at Bellroy have a serious knack for thoughtful and understated design that looks equally good in the office or on the road. We can’t wait to see what Bellroy comes up with next.
The Bellroy Transit Workpack is available directly from Bellory in a variety of colors and materials for $199 USD.
Editor’s Note: The Transit Workpack was provided by Bellroy as a sample for review purposes. The content of this review was not shared with Bellroy before publishing. Our reviews are unbiased and never modified to keep a brand happy.