The United by Blue (R)evolution 15L Commuter Backpack is a simple and minimalist daypack that I keep around for easy excursions or days out.

It has come with me on international flights, and it has come with me on a day out at the park (see the photos that will follow). It has some cool eco-friendly properties that kept me interested initially, and it has played out to be a versatile and basic backpack to have in my collection of travel bags.

Want to see more? Head into my review, complete with what I like, and what I think is forgettable about it.

Key takeaways in this review

  • The (R)evolution 15L Commuter Backpack is minimalist, affordable and functional, with basic backpack features.
  • It’s lightweight and fits 15L of volume, and I’ve used it as a personal item on a flight, as well as a travel daypack that can be packed up.
  • I do think that there are a few places where it falls short, like the limited laptop padding and lack of water bottle pocket.

What I like best

This daypack and commuter backpack has a few benefits that I list below. If you’re sold on the design, check out the main highlights here.

It’s minimal

I like the look of (R)evolution 15L Commuter Backpack, mostly because it brings me back to simpler times. It’s straightforward, without too many lines, layers or creases. It works for any season and with most things I wear. It’s slim enough to pack into bigger backpacks, or my carry-on suitcase.

It’s affordable

For what backpacks cost these days, the (R)evolution 15L Backpack costs what I’d expect it to cost. It’s a versatile backpack (commuting, travel, light hiking daypack) and the price tag is not too steep.

It’s simple, and useful

This backpack has simple features. One sternum strap. One outside zipper pocket. One inner laptop sleeve. One interior zipper pocket. Simple closure zippers. There aren’t many secrets to find out, and everything works.

Vintage-inspired timeless style

Something about this backpack reminds me of the Jansport and Eastpak backpacks of the 90s: the look of canvas, minimal design and plain old functional.

The sustainability elements!

United by Blue is a certified B Corp (you can see this at their Mission), so it makes sense that this bag is made of recycled materials. This is really important to me, if you’ve seen my tips on things like the best sustainability tips for travel!

It’s made of a mix of recycled polyester and recycled nylon. It’s all vegan and water-resistant (a key factor for getting caught in the rain with it).

It is fantastically lightweight

I am surprised that United by Blue’s product page for this backpack isn’t making a billboard to broadcast how light this backpack is when it’s empty.

While I haven’t weighed it, I can say that it is incredibly lightweight and airy. It almost feels like nothing, which is why it’s great for short or narrow people (like me) who prefer hyper-lightweight backpacks for everyday use.

Bonus: it’s also very packable; by this, I mean that I have easily fit it into my suitcase, or into another larger backpack if I want to have it with me as a daypack, but I don’t want to use it at that moment. For these reasons, I list it as one of the best travel backpacks for women.

How it’s been with using it

I put the (R)evolution™ 15L backpack to test when we went to Halifax, Canada, and it went on its first flight from NYC to Nova Scotia. It was the perfect size for acting as a personal item on a flight and fit under the airplane seat in front of me with PLENTY of room left over for my feet.

Here’s everything we took to Canada, and as you can see, we really like black backpacks. See if you can spot the United by Blue backpack in this pile of carry-on luggage (hint: bottom, next to our blue Quince suitcase).

United by Blue (R)evolution 15L Commuter Backpack

The United by Blue (R)evolution 15L Commuter Backpack is a sustainable and minimal travel bag.

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Where it falls short

This backpack is not for everything, and it certainly should not replace your current laptop backpack. Here is where I think this commuter backpack has a few disadvantages.

As a laptop backpack

I just don’t think this backpack is technical enough for most professionals, when I look at the competition. The laptop sleeve has sufficient padding, but it’s not overly protective. I’d give it a “B+.”

It is basic, and if you have tech that you’re looking to protect, I’d suggest using a tech case (feel free to peruse Dan’s list of the best tech bags for travel, too).

As a bag with lots of pockets and organizer panels

The (R)evolution 15L Commuter Backpack has the bare minimum of zipper pockets and organizer panels. It has one two-pocket panel on the laptop sleeve, an interior zip pocket and an exterior zip pocket. If you have larger items that need to be kept secure, I’ll recommend using a tech case.

As a bag to hold heavy things

While I’m sure this backpack can hold heaving things like multiple MacBook Pros, large headphones, lots of books and maybe some rocks (just kidding), I just don’t feel comfortable loading it up with dense and heavy items. I’m aware that polyester and nylon are known as durable and dependable materials, but I think it’s the backpack straps themselves that I don’t want to overload.

No water bottle pockets

For a commuter backpack or daypack of this size, I would’ve thought there would be a flat bottle pocket for holding even a small drink bottle or thermos. When I’ve used it, I have to keep my bottle inside the bag, which is not as handy.

As a machine-washable backpack

Despite looking like it could be thrown in the washer, this backpack is unfortunately directed as spot-clean only by hand. This honestly had me surprised. For the amount of times I’ll put a backpack like this kind on the floor of a cafe, coworking space, office or train car, I’d think I’d be able to put it in my laundry machine, too.

Where to buy it

United by Blue products don’t seem to be sold far and wide by many major retailers, so it is best to buy their bags directly from the website. This way, you’ll get the Lifetime Guarantee, known as their Common Sense Guarantee.

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