This bag took over my feeds when it came out, it was/is labeled a “new direction” for DSPTCH — and was released in Ballistic Nylon and Dyneema variants. Surprisingly, it was also launched at under $200 for the ballistic version which is a bargain.
I grabbed one to check out, and am impressed but not overwhelmed by this bag.
Materials & Size
This bag is made in two materials: Dyneema and Ballastic Cordura Nylon. I went with the Ballastic material as I preferred the looks of it on the website, the price seemed too good to be true, and I loathe the sounds Dyneema bags make. And I’m glad I went with this material, the bag is soft and smooth to the touch and completely silent — it’s a great material used extremely effectively here.
Amazingly this bag clocks in at a scant 18L according to DSPTCH, but in practice it feels more like a 20L bag to me — it is a deeper bag so it packs much more than you would expect from the volume listing. DSPTCH measures the bag at: 11″ x 18″ x 7.5″ and that feels right. The 18” height is about a minimum height for me with backpacks, much shorter and they start to look too small for my back.
Size and capacity wise: top notch. Materials, also top notch. I am very impressed with the overall fit and finish here. One last thing: this bag clocks in at under 2lbs, it feels very light.
Carry and Use
I’ve only used this bag going back and forth to the office, but I think it could easily be used for overnight/onebag travel for shorter trips or light packers. That said, I have loaded it with some good weight taking it into the office when moving in and out office gear, and it preformed well enough.
The thing about this bag is that it has this really weird opening. It’s a 4/5s clamshell opening, that starts at the closest point to your body on the bottom of the zipper area and moves to the furthest spot from your body at the top. This means that it has a large “hood” when you open the bag at the top and this is good and bad.
The good part about this is that you can open just the top of the bag, and not worry about stuff spilling out as the large lip will keep it in place. The bad part is that if you want to get your laptop in and out of the sleeve, you need to push this part of the bag out of the way. This is going to be one of those things that will infuriate some, and not even register for others. I am in the latter camp: it’s not an issue at all, and I kind of appreciate the intentional design tradeoff with this setup.
But that laptop sleeve is an odd one. It’s very slim, and covers about 2/3 of your device if you run a larger device. It cannot hold more than one device but is nicely padded. Putting an old 15” MacBook Pro in the sleeve, it fits, but the top corners are right at the top of the bag, and thus pretty vulnerable to a bad impact. Smaller 13” devices will fit much better. It’s not the best laptop sleeve, and there’s no quick access to it, but I’ve used much worse.
15” MacBook Pro
12.9” iPad Pro
The bottom of the bag itself is nicely padded, which is an excellent touch and keeps your gear and travel mugs from getting too banged up. From there you have just two other pockets: one quick access at the top rear of the bag via a semi-hidden zipper pull. This pocket is ideal for flat objects, I’ve been using it as my mask pocket.
There’s another velcro flap just above the laptop sleeve which looks like it would be for removing a framesheet, but it’s actually a pocket. I assume this is for stashing stuff out of the way, or documents — it’s just really odd and generally a pain in the ass to use. I loathe it. It does run behind the laptop sleeve, and is the full width and length of the bag — really odd and I wonder why they did it.
That’s it, everything else is a large open space to store stuff. This is both awesome and terrible. Awesome because you it makes the bag versatile, terrible because they couldn’t even give me one small area for pens? Not even one?
There is a an attachment webbing system on the outside of the bag at the top on the sides, this is made to attach accessories DSPTCH sells, but I think those accessories would kill the looks of the bag when in use, but when not in use these little attachment points look great. I’d recommend ignoring them, or keeping them as a last resort.
Using this bag is easy, simple, and requires no thought other than tossing your gear in an organizer to keep it tidy. It hauled everything I needed and then some. It never ran out of room, and I have yet to curse it for anything at all. The zipper opening system is a little odd, but more so visually than in practice.
But, Like, The Straps
Ok, but, umm the straps on this bag are weird. Like in a lot of ways, weird. I don’t get them. They are not bad, but they are not great. Mostly just: why are they like this? The straps are thin, but nicely padded and covered in smooth and soft fabrics – wouldn’t worry about it hurting my clothing. Even the webbing used to adjust these straps: excellent materials.
Where things get weird is how the straps attach, and the length of the padded section itself.
The straps attach at the top and the bottom with little plastic clips called which are Gatekeeper buckles. These are secure and tough little setups so while they might look like something easily broken, they are unlikely to fail under normal use. They do present the obvious question of: why? Why are these on this bag? There are no other strap options, though it would be very neat if there was so that you could use lighter straps for EDC and grab something more bulky for heavy loads. It’s an odd choice with no explanation: why make a bag with removable straps without saying why you would do this? I do not get it.
But there’s a bigger issue with these: they allow the straps to get twisted easily. About 50% of the time I put the bag on, the straps spin around on this top attachment as it is narrow and easy to twist. They only usually flip 180° around, but it’s enough that it adds an annoying extra step to the process of putting on the bag.
The padded section is also very long (full height of the bag), so long that I am finding a need to cinch them close to all the way down. This puts the nearly straight straps in an often awkward position where it makes the strap dig uncomfortably into your sides. I think this is going to be the biggest deal breaker for most people, and a large reason why I hope DSPTCH soon offers alternate strap options to attach on the bag.
It’s not at all bad to carry, but it’s not perfect. The straps leave a lot to be desired, without being so bad that I refuse to use the bag. I wish they were better.
The moment I saw this bag, I knew I was buying it — it looks great. And that was the Dyneema version, because when I saw the Ballistic version, that sealed the deal even more. This bag looks really great, and gets a lot of style points from me.
It’s not tactical, it’s not some generic trash design where it looks like some SWAG you got at the last corporate shindig you went to. It’s insanely well designed, well considered, and it looks killer for travel, the office, board rooms, or tossing about to explore. It blends extremely well, and even looks more expensive than it actually is.
This is a tantalizingly close to great bag. It’s not there for me, but when you factor in that this bag is $168 out the door, you can start to see why it offers such a compelling package.
If you’ve been looking for a Jansport style classic backpack which doesn’t have all the fuss of and arrogance of Bellroy, or the lack of style of an actual Jansport: this is the bag for you. This bag also lends well to being worn looser if you prefer that as the straps have a long padded area.
I’m looking to sell mine for $120 shipped to a US address. Contact me if you’re interested.
Note: This site makes use of affiliate links, which may earn the site money when you buy using those links.