When I first got my Stubble & Co. Roll-Top Mini Backpack in the mail, I wondered if I’d like the “roll-top” feature. I’ve never owned a backpack like this, and for every backpack I own, I want to use it as a versatile bag for travel and taking trips.
Would this backpack perform as a regular laptop backpack and as a bag for traveling? Was it as good as the online reviews say (and those reviews are stellar)?
After using this backpack, I knew I had to decide if it was right for me (and for Dan, as we share all our backpacks nowadays). In this review, check out my thoughts about this waterproof and lightweight backpack to see if it’s a bag to have in your collection.
What is the Stubble & Co. brand?
Stubble & Co. is a backpack, luggage and gear brand from England that sports the mission of, “Do more.” The visuals on the website and on the company’s socials feature active people out and about with Stubble & Co. backpacks, slings and totes. They’re commuting, working out and traveling, which are all the things that Stubble & Co. goods are meant to help you do.
The company became B-Corp Certified, which means Stubble & Co. has a commitment to environmental impact. If you read about Stubble & Co.’s initiatives on the website, it says that the company strives to “do the right thing,” as a member of “1% for the Planet.”
They have a commitment to eliminate carbon emissions, make climate neutrality a priority for their business and consumers and give 1% of annual sales to approved environment-forward nonprofit organizations. Buying gear from a B Corp brand helps with becoming a sustainability-minded traveler.
Aside from these goals, Stubble & Co. products are built to last, which means you can buy a Stubble & Co. backpack and have it last a long time. Their packaging is also environment-friendly, made from recyclable and compostable materials (I saved the packaging in which my backpack came so that I can reuse it in the future).
Summary of the Stubble & Co. Roll-Top Backpack
The Stubble & Co. Roll-Top Backpack and Roll-Top Mini are travel daypacks or commuter backpacks — however you intend to use one of them. Since transitioning to working from home full-time, I no longer commute, but a backpack like the Roll-Top Mini would’ve been perfect for me when I was biking 2 miles a few times a week from our apartment in Brooklyn to my company’s office in DUMBO.
I’m typically looking for my backpacks to be “laptop backpacks,” for when I take my work with me out of the house, or, to be personal items for flights or road trips. So, the Roll-Top Mini from Stubble & Co. is a lightweight solution for these types of needs. It’s waterproof, sealing everything inside with its weatherproof zippers and seams, as well as the roll-top closure, which also helps with how to prevent pickpocketing during travel.
Both the 20L and 14L versions have zippered back panel laptop sleeves, adjustable straps, sternum straps, interior organization pockets and top grab handles. The main idea of this backpack is that it has one main cavity where I stuff my sweatshirt, snacks, keys and whatever else, and put a slim water bottle in the snug bottle holder pockets.
Read on in this review to see an in-depth look at the features and why I list it as one of the best travel backpacks for women.
Roll-Top 20L vs. Roll-Top Mini 14L Backpacks
The main difference between the Roll-Top original and the Roll-Top Mini are the volumes. The Roll-Top holds 20L and the Mini holds 14L. I think it’s why the Mini looks so appropriate on my petite frame: it’s not overbearing nor too wide. If I’m using a larger backpack like a 20L, it’s usually for a carry-on or personal item on a plane, rather than a daypack, specifically.
I think the other stark difference is the size of the laptop that fits in the laptop compartment. I use my 13” MacBook Air with the Mini, and it slides in nicely. Dan has a MacBook Pro, and that would be best suited for the Roll-Top (non-mini version).
The last difference is in the overall dimensions and product weights. The Mini is an impressive 1.76 lbs when empty, whereas the Roll-Top 20L is slightly more at 2 lbs in weight. The Roll-Top 20L is almost 1 inch wider (back panel) and a little over an inch bigger in depth. Come to think of it, I think a lot of people might think the Mini is quite small for their needs when it comes to the depth of the main cavity.
There are a few things that make the Roll-Top Backpack a stand-out choice for a lightweight and waterproof daypack. Check out what I think of the Roll-Top Backpack’s features.
The vegan-friendly recycled and waterproof materials make the Roll-Top Backpack a strong contender for one of the best backpacks that stands up to any type of wet weather.
The seams have waterproof binding and the zippers are waterproof. It reminds me of a backpack version of all my waterproof Vessi gear.
The front exterior has a zippered flat pocket for things like your tech (headphones, phone, chargers). Next, there are two side water bottle pockets that have elastic expanders.
The last set of pockets is on the back panel of the interior, which has several flat pockets in the form of an organizer. This could be used for papers, cards, pens, notes or things that don’t fit in a tech organizer.
Roll-top closure with “G clip”
What I like most about the roll-top closure is that it secures shut with magnets inside the material. This is a nice touch and keeps the roll-top closed before you roll it up to be fastened with the “G clip,” which has two fastening positions.
The laptop compartment is classified as “direct access.” What this means is that you slide your laptop into the (neon orange!) zippered compartment at the back panel side. Note that it is NOT accessible from within the bag, but I think this is on purpose. Being that the bag has a roll-top, you’re reaching kind of far down, for everything you put in the main cavity.
The straps are easily adjustable, and they’re ergonomically designed. Even for someone like me who has a petite frame and consistently finds backpacks too wide, I find that these straps don’t pop off my body or feel weird. I also like the sternum strap, as I often use these to support weight, especially when biking or walking/hiking uphill.
The 20L version of the Roll-Top bag has a side compression strap that can be tightened, but the Mini doesn’t have this.
No backpack is perfect, and the Stubble & Co. Roll-Top Mini has nice features, but the water bottle pockets are not large enough for my 24-oz lululemon sport bottle that I take everywhere. My coffee mug also does not fit in the bottle pockets of the Mini. If you’ll require a backpack that fits wider water bottles, I suggest checking out our Moment Everything Backpack review or my Tortuga Laptop Backpack review.
It also may not be to everyone’s preference that because of the dedicated back panel laptop compartment, a laptop is not accessible to slide out from the inside of the bag. I mentioned above that I think this is because with the roll-top feature, digging into the bag becomes a more ‘narrow’ endeavor and perhaps the designers thought the laptop should have only a zip compartment via the back.
Is the Stubble & Co. Roll-Top Backpack worth it?
I think that the fantastic quality of this backpack, combined with the lightweight nature of it make it a good travel backpack if you like the design. Quality materials come at a price, and Stubble & Co. even makes a backpack like this pretty affordable. I’ve seen backpacks double the price that perform just as well.
Compared to other roll-top and weatherproof backpacks on the market, I think the Stubble & Co. Roll-Top and the Mini are a good deal. The robust materials are built to last, so the vegan-friendly recycled PET, the poly air mesh, the water-resistant zips and waterproof binding are meant to do their job over time.
I also think that this bag is great for bikers, whether you commute by bike (I certainly have done my fair share of commuting by bike in NYC) or plan to be biking while on a trip. I sure like renting bikes when I travel, and having a daypack you can count on to keep your camera and valuables dry if you get caught in a downpour is priceless!
If you don’t think you’ll enjoy the roll-top, I’d try a different product from Stubble & Co. instead.
More Stubble & Co. products to try
If I had all the time (and money) in the world, I’d be trying out a lot more Stubble & Co. products to take on my upcoming trips. The brand makes a cool crossbody bag, ultra-lightweight totes, adventure backpacks and even a backpack cooler (nice for a picnic or beach day).
The website also helps you navigate by activity, so you can browse by products recommended for commuting, or the gym, or the outdoors.
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