I don’t own any bags quite like the Bellroy Transit Backpack (I have the “Plus” version in 38L). Because it holds over 30 liters of volume, it nearly qualifies as a “larger” backpack, but it doesn’t look it.

For me, this backpack has turned out to be a “pack for a weekend away” backpack, or the perfect pack for when I’m going away for one night, but I want to pack some bulky things. It’s also the ideal backpack for flying because it’s strong, classic and durable.

Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of this backpack and I’ll tell you quite honestly what I like a lot about it, and what has me less excited.

Key Takeaways

  • I’ll tell you when and where this backpack does the job right.
  • Find out about my favorite features of it, plus the ones I could do without.
  • The Bellroy Transit Backpack Plus is not cheap — I’ll let you know if it’s worth it.

What I like most

For a bag at this price point, it better be doing a whole lot of things well! The good news is that I think this backpack has some stand-out features.

Magnetic sternum strap

As I’m a petite person and I like to utilize the ergonomic and weight support features of every backpack I own, I like the magnetic sternum strap. It’s a quick snap-on and snap-off, and I think it’s a classy touch.

Padded laptop compartment

The laptop compartment is suspended a bit on its own and you access it via its own zipper. In front of that, there’s even another zipper pocket where you can fit an entire tech case (the Bellroy tech kit, of course).

Internal compression straps

And yes, I have used these. I once used this backpack to bring an entire set of sheets for sleeping at my friend’s apartment in Manhattan, and the compression straps helped a lot with keeping things down.

Unique design

I’ll be the first to say it (maybe), but this backpack looks unique. It’s sleek, simple, minimal and it has a lot going on.

A ton of pockets

The more I use this backpack, the more I discover that there are continually more pockets I had not seen yet. There’s the front pocket with the key clip, a few hidden pockets with outside zipper access, a small inner zip pocket and a full-panel mesh pocket.

Clamshell open style

For years, I have preferred the clamshell-opening style to top-down access backpacks. I like sliding in my packing cubes and being able to zip up the bag from its sides. The Transit Backpack gets this right.

Things I could do without (stuff I like less about it)

For a backpack that clocks in at the price of full-sized luggage, I’ll be frank about what I think is skippable on the Transit Backpack Plus.

The zippers

From the moment I first opened it, my issue was with the zippers. They’re weatherproofed from the outside, so they are stiff. I can’t open them with a quick motion of one hand. I have to use both hands, and they don’t slide very fast. I do appreciate the weatherproofing, though, because this goes with the water-resistant exterior material.

Side zip pockets for water bottles

Honestly, the way the water bottle pockets are designed, they’re just not what I look for in easy-access and quick-grab bottle pockets. I’m always drinking, so if there’s friction between me and my drink, I’d rather just hold my bottle and keep sipping.

What this is good for though, is if you’ve put the entire backpack in the overhead bin on a plane and you’re saving an entire beverage for later.

The general capacity

I can’t describe this, but basically, for a 38L bag, I feel like I should be able to fit a bit more. In my experience, once I’ve put a pair of shoes into the main cavity, there isn’t much room for more, if that makes sense (and my feet are small!). Maybe I have to stuff it with more things, more intently.

The color

The strange choice of green fabric next to another shade of green fabric: I’m not a fan of this, and I think it’s an odd juxtaposition of colors.

Anyway, these are my general experiences.

Who is the Transit Backpack Plus for?

The Transit Backpack Plus would have been good for me the time I took a single-night business trip (I happened to be pregnant — read about it at how to take a business trip while pregnant. Instead, I took a suitcase. Had it been a car trip, the Bellroy Transit Plus backpack would’ve done the trick.

The Transit Plus is also good for me, while I’m (obviously) in transit. I took this photo of the backpack while I was on the train into NYC.

Aside from short business trips, this backpack from Bellroy is good for anyone who wants a supportive weekender-size backpack. The Transit Plus backpack securely stores my laptop and all my chargers, plus all my small things in their respective storage pockets. It also fits a pair of shoes (make sure you compress them in a shoe packing cube) and a packing cube of clothing, plus toiletries.

Worth it?

If you’re already a fan of the Bellroy products, this backpack is a sure bet.

I say that because Bellroy has a massive fan following, and their products are classy, upscale and trustworthy. Take it from me: the Bellroy Tech Kit made it into our list of the best tech bags for travel and I already feature the Transit Backpack in the best travel backpacks for women.

It’s worth it if you travel frequently. I say that because it was built with a lot of handy travel features, like the dedicated laptop compartment for sliding out a laptop at security, and the loads of pockets that keep items tidy during a trip.

Bellroy products come with a 3-year warranty, so the Transit Backpack Plus is covered to be free from faults in workmanship (not neglect).

Where to get it

While I like to get my travel products directly from the brand website, I understand that a lot of people want to conveniently shop on Amazon. Here are the two places where you can currently get the Transit Backpack Plus:

  1. Bellroy website
  2. Amazon, from the Bellroy Store

Difference among the Transit backpacks

If you’re on the Bellroy website, you may see that there are 3 Transit backpacks. The Transit Backpack Plus is the largest one, at 38L. Down from that, there’s the original Transit Backpack (28L) and the Transit Workpack (20L), which is a standard daypack for work and gym.

While all the Transit bags meet airplane carry-on requirements, the Transit Backpack Plus is the one I’d use in place of a carry-on suitcase. The other Transit backpacks are ones that I’d use as my personal item or daypack, in addition to a carry-on-sized suitcase like my Quince hard shell luggage.