Most backpacks are either overly technical or solely focused on fashion, which makes finding a do-it-all backpack more difficult. The Haerfest Travel Backpack takes the best of both to make one of the most interesting bags of 2019.
On the outside, a fashion-conscious design can be a bit scary initially for those who tend to overlook the style in favor of how it works. The flashy aspects of the bag’s exterior — like the thin leather straps and the shiny silver zippers — almost made me pass on this one, even though it has a very well-thought-out interior.
The Travel Backpack deserves consideration if you’re looking for a backpack that can serve as a daily carry for school or work, or need a medium sized travel companion that can do it all. The carry bag has some obvious caveats, and is best suited for an urban environment with short to moderate distances — but for its desired use, it really shines.
At $280, the Travel Backpack is pricey, but it might just be worth it.
I tried out the large cotton twill version in black, which I found to be the most conservative of the available colors. (My preferred style with backpacks has typically revolved around Bellroy, Topo Designs, and Aer, which are all less flashy in their stylings.) The bag also comes in a smaller size for $265.
Seeing the backpack in person and getting my hands on it helped me get over the very contemporary design. In pictures it can come across a little sterile and stiff, but in person the bag is more inviting and casual.
The bottom leather is soft and doesn’t provide too much contrast to the feel of the cotton twill fabric that covers most of the bag. Despite being soft and flexible, the bag largely holds its shape and remains standing tall, even when not in use. It always looks elegant.
The subtle padding on the back panel is enough to both keep a laptop safe and comfort your back. Even though this isn’t a backpack made for hiking, it’s very comfortable for short or mid-range trips.
There’s even a slot on the back to slip over a carry-on handle at the airport. It’s so subtle in its appearance though that it can tend to disappear — which is probably a design feature.
Based around a simple and straightforward design, the Travel Backpack’s look and feel is pretty great. There’s nothing about the design I would call a misstep. I wish the thin leather straps could somehow include a little more padding or be a little wider around where they sit on the shoulder, but I understand the choice to prioritize the form in this area.
In terms of looks, I didn’t care for the metal studs that affix the top carry handle. It’s super clever how the studs are used to turn one long piece of leather into two shoulder straps, but the look of the metal buttons sticking up is just a little beyond my personal choice.
Digging deeper into the Haerfest Travel Backpack, beyond its physical appearance is where my eyes were opened to how it almost universally integrated function into form.
The bag has three main compartments: the front pocket, a large main area, and a back slot for a laptop. Beyond those, there’s a secret slot that acts as a quick catchall that sits beyond the front pocket.
There’s no zipper or way to close the secret area, but it’s more for quickly dropping your sunglasses into as you head inside a Starbucks, and for that purpose, it works incredibly well.
The main area is definitely large enough for some books, a water bottle, a sweatshirt, and headphones. Another clever organizational aspect is the internal water bottle holder in the form of a circular loop. It can hold a bottle in place, but if you’re not using it, it’s flexible enough to get out of the way and make room for more items.
The laptop area isn’t anything special at first glance, but in the same way that the Travel Backpack gets all the little details right, the area for your laptop is just right too. The thing I like best is the way the zipper extends down far enough to reach whatever size laptop or tablet you’re carrying.
Overall, the pockets and complete organization is extremely well-thought-out and makes for convenient travel. If the look resonates with you on first glance, then this might be the bag for you. If the style is passable, I’d encourage you to take a closer look and seriously consider it, because you might fall in love.
Listed at $280, the price is an investment. The materials are high quality and the backpack as a whole feels worthy of a premium price, but you’ll still have to decide whether the design and style are able to sway you into buying it.
Beyond the Haerfest’s Travel Backpack, the company is uniquely positioned to serve those not looking to sacrifice organization and function for a fashionable bag. The company’s totes, briefcases, and duffles all follow similar cues from the Travel Backpack, which makes Haerfest such an exciting new carry company.