Regardless of how old you are or what profession you are in, it’s a universal constant that backpacks are one of the most efficient ways of lugging around documents, books, clothing, laptops, or really anything that needs to be transferred. Unfortunately, much like skipping as an efficient form of travel, there is a stigma around the usage of backpacks after a certain age. Society tends to looks at backpacks as being useful for people in school, people who hike, and not much else. This is a trend that will hopefully change soon, but Bellroy is looking to speed along that change.
As soon as I became a lawyer I had to trade in my backpack of 7 years for a briefcase to carry my files, Surface Pro, charger, mouse, and water bottle to and from court every single day. This got tiring after, oh I don’t know, two trips? That’s when I was given the opportunity to try out the Bellroy Tokyo Totepack. Bellroy itself describes the totepack as “casual yet professional, versatile yet simple – the Tokyo Totepack is a subtle chameleon that fits in wherever your day takes you.” While it sounds counter-intuitive at first, after using it daily for 2 months now, I think I completely understand what they mean when they say it’s a backpack for those who don’t wear backpacks.
Let’s start with the totepack’s outward appearance. There are five solid color options and one multicolor option. I opted to go with the Basalt (grey) color because it seemed a bit more unique than the pure black color and more stylish than the blue, limestone, forest, or desert ochre options. At the time of writing, the forest and desert ochre options retail for $139 while all of the other color choices retail for $179. Unfortunately, I feel that the forest and desert options, while cheaper, defeat the purpose of using the totepack for business or for play. I’m able to carry around the solid basalt totepack while wearing a suit, but I might get laughed out of court for bringing a forest green backpack everywhere.
The outside of the totepack consists of a material called “looma weave” that, quite frankly, I’m unfamiliar with. However I will note that the material is strong and I love the texture of it as can be seen in the photos included with this review. The material appears to be water-resistant as I’ve walked around with this totepack in the rain several times and it never penetrated the electronics or papers that I had inside.
The thing that makes this both a tote and a backpack is the fact that the backpack straps are removable and slide right into the back pocket of the backpack. My go-to style while walking with a suit is to use it as a tote but sometimes it gets a bit heavy so I can attach the right strap in seconds and use it as a shoulder bag. On really busy days or if I’m really not feeling like putting in much effort, I just strap on both straps and use the backpack as one normally would. The pocket that the straps slide into is also useful for other materials. For example, while going through a metal detector, I don’t always want to open the totepack and find a place to put my cell phone, so I just drop it into the back pocket, go through the metal detector, and get it back within seconds.
There’s also a surprising amount of storage options on the inside of the backpack, as can be seen in the attached photos. In addition to the pocket that the straps slide into on the back, there are two pockets in the front. I usually use one to put my charger and HDMI cord while I use the other for my wireless mouse and a snack. On the inside of the totepack are many pockets. I like to put my notes in the furthest pocket, my Surface laptop in laptop sleeve, the files in the main pocket, and any smaller miscellaneous items in the zipper pocket in the back. There are also pop-out pockets that you can use to store a typical water bottle or umbrella, but I tend to prefer to push them aside so I have more room.
Now, I do have one complaint about the totepack. And that’s the fact that there’s a gap between the hole in the zipper and the pull tabs. You can see what I mean in the picture attached below. It took me about a week of usage before I permanently and irretrievably lost one of the pull tabs because it came off while zipping up the backpack in the middle of my walk.
All in all, I always feel professional when using this totepack and, unlike most backpacks, I don’t feel like I’ve received any backlash for using it as opposed to a briefcase. There’s always the possibility that people are just laughing at me behind my back, but that’s (hopefully) unrelated to this. This is a high quality product that I’ve been using every day for the past two months and likely will use every day for at least the next two years.
- Padded laptop sleeve for devices up to 16’’
- Padded backpack shoulder straps that tuck away flat
- Vertical front pockets for easy access on the go
- Multiple internal pockets to organize your things
- Two Pop Pockets for water bottle, umbrella, spare shoes
- Soft Nylon webbing grab handles for comfort
- Made from water-resistant woven fabric
- 3 year warranty
- 430 x 300 x 160 mm