While I was recently browsing Amazon, I came across a new line of AmazonBasics backpacks. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Amazon is now making backpacks since they’re making everything from dog food to hammocks already.
But how good can an Amazon backpack be? The bags looked like a good value based on the price and photos so I decided to take a shot on one.
Can Amazon leverage their mountains of data on what bags consumers buy to cook up the perfect travel backpack? Or are they overreaching into markets they don’t really understand?
Here’s my take on the AmazonBasics Slim Carry On Travel Backpack (that name’s a mouthful)!
Layout and Design
This backpack comes in a smaller Overnight size and a larger Weekender size. I’m reviewing the Weekender bag which is larger.
The layout and design of this bag is certainly the high point. It offers just about everything you could want, starting with 2 straps on each side of the bag to allow you to really tighten down the pack to keep everything as compact as possible, as well as securing all the contents inside. Also seen below, the recessed side handle. When in use it slides out to give some room for your hand.
Moving around the outside of the bag we see an often-forgotten water bottle compartment that can zip up when not in use.
A lack of a water bottle holder is a big pain point for me in most travel bags, I love to have one especially when flying.
The front of the bag has a deep thin pocket, and the back of the bag has a zipper pouch built into the bottom back padding which is something you don’t see often.
The outer compartment opens up in a clamshell manner though it doesn’t truly unzip all the way. There’s still a pocket a few inches deep that can’t be unzipped which is probably for the best in an outer compartment. I would prefer to not have anything in the bottom of the compartment fall out as I’m rifling through junk.
This panel has a ton of different pockets and zippers to let you organize everything to your exact liking. If you like to keep your travel gear highly organized you’ll probably love this compartment.
The main compartment here does unzip in a true clamshell fashion, allowing you to access the entire compartment at once and pack everything up just the way you want it. One thing to note is that in order to unzip this compartment you need to unclip the 4 tightening buckles/straps around the outside of the bag, otherwise it will be held together.
As you can tell in the above photo there’s 2 compartments within this main compartment, but both are accessible as the separating panel can unzip to reveal the second section.
The gray band on the right panel is an elastic “tablet pocket”, though a small laptop may fit in there as well. The tablet pocket is accessible from a zipper at the top of the bag, so this is your one easy way in to the compartment without having to unbuckle straps around the bag. This would be an ideal spot to store your tablet, Kindle, headphones, and any other similar electronic travel items.
Finally, in a separate zipper compartment of its own right below this main compartment is the laptop compartment.
This laptop compartment is certainly big enough for the biggest of laptops, and it has a neoprene sleeve to help hold your laptop in place (it’s a sleeve, not a pocket, so the laptop can slip all the way down to the bottom of it). This laptop compartment is well padded all around including some extra hard packing on the bottom of the bag which should protect everything from any drops.
What you see in the picture above is the maximum amount this bag unzips , clearly meant for just slipping a laptop in and out of the compartment and not much else.
For me, this bag is a winner in the style department, at least from what I would want out of a travel backpack. The bag itself is pretty streamlined with no pouches and compartments jutting out from the main compartments for an overall smooth aesthetic.
The top and side handles are designed to be low-profile, and recess back into the bag when not in use.
Overall it’s hard to imagine this bag really becoming “dated” as it’s pretty unassuming to begin with. It’s not going to blow anyone away but you’re probably not looking to draw attention when you’re traveling.
This backpack comes in 7 different colors currently, all of which have this kind of heather, not-solid pattern to the color itself.
One thing that was a bit surprising getting this bag in person is how there are some orange accents visible from the outside of the bag from certain angles, most notably the inside of the water bottle panel and the zipper flap on the front of the bag. You’ll likely notice these accents in some of the photos. Orange looks to be the accent color regardless of the color of the outside of the bag.
Carry and Comfort
This bag is sold as a backpack, but it can actually be carried a variety of ways. For starters, the backpack straps can be zipped away into the bag itself which is ideal for transportation when you need to stow your bag some place like an airplane, train, or bus. Nothing is more annoying than walking down an airplane getting your bag straps caught on an armrest.
The straps themselves are just OK. They are padded with a mesh backing, but they don’t feel that high-quality overall and it’s not helped by the plastic hardware used throughout the straps.
The biggest disappointment of this bag has to be the plastic connectors it uses all over. While the zipper pulls are metal throughout, the clips you’ll use to connect any of the backpack or sling straps to the hooks feel a bit cheap and flimsy. Take a look at how thin the plastic clip is that you’ll be pushing around to attach and detach the straps.
This backpack also comes with a single shoulder strap that you can use across your chest to carry it like a messenger bag, or you can use it to carry the bag like a duffel bag. This strap uses the same plastic clips.
When it comes to comfort, this bag does a pretty good job. As you can see the back is very sufficiently padded and allows large channels for airflow throughout your back. The lower back packing is much larger than most backpacks you’ll see which felt good in my testing.
A final thing to mention about carrying this bag is the back of it does have a sleeve that you can put a suitcase handle through to keep it secured to your luggage as you wheel through an airport as seen below.
So is this AmazonBasics backpack worth you buying?
I’m undecided. The design of the bag is great, there’s not much I don’t like about it for taking as a carry-on on an airplane. The pockets and compartments were designed really well with travelers in mind but the big drawback that my mind keeps coming back to is those damn plastic clips. They’re just so thin I don’t feel that you can trust them with heavy use in the long run.
If you’re a heavy traveler and really want to use this bag with straps as opposed to the handles, it might be best to keep looking.