Bellroy Classic Compact Backpack Review — Sleek Design Meets Practical Functionality


Bryan Maniotakis

February 26, 2024

Bellroy Classic Compact Backpack Review — Sleek Design Meets Practical Functionality

Living up to its name, the Bellroy Classic backpack is as classic as backpacks get. With its minimalistic, no-fuss design and various storage compartments, there’s simply no better name for it.

The Bellroy is designed for everyone. You can use it for commuting, for work, or for traveling. Not to mention, it’s gender-neutral, so there are really no limitations as to who can wear it.

Here’s a full review of the Bellroy Classic Backpack, so you can decide for yourself whether it’s worth the attention!

Features Overview

We all look for different features when looking to buy a backpack. A commuter will want a bag that’s easy to carry and has good weight distribution.

A student will want plenty of storage pockets to carry all their items.

The good news is, the Bellroy Classic Backpack has all these features. Here’s an overview:

Multiple size choices

The Bellroy Classic comes in 3 different sizes, depending on your needs.

  • Classic Compact - 16L (the version I purchased for this review)
  • Classic - 20L
  • Classic Plus - 24L

All of the features are the same across each, so the amount of carrying space is going to be the only difference between the three.


The Classic Backpack has a simple design that blends in with any outfit. If you don’t like to wear bright backpacks that stand out against your clothes, you’ll love the Bellroy Classic.

It comes in six different colors, but my favorite is the one I’m reviewing today: the Saltbush. It’s the only model of this backpack that features two contrasting colors.

Aside from the color, the Bellroy Classic Compact measures 15.7 inches x 10.2 inches, which is compact enough not to bother you but large enough to fit your items.

It also weighs only 17.6 ounces, which is good news if you love walking long distances with a bag on your back.


The best thing about the Bellroy Classic is undoubtedly its pocket system. The designers didn’t hold back when planning the storage of this bag, aiming at an organized system with plenty of pockets.

The bag features a padded pocket in the back meant for laptops. It can hold up to 13-inch laptops, which is what most compact bags offer.

In front of the padded pocket, there’s a smaller one covered with thin fabric—nice for papers and thin notebooks. Don't expect to cram too much in here.

On the opposite side of those pockets, there’s a medium-sized one with a stretchy mesh cover, which is pretty convenient if you want to see everything you have inside with ease. The pocket is also zippered to keep your items secure.

It’s not too big, but it can fit items like a charger, headphone case, power bank, etc. Plus, it’s stretchy, so it can accommodate bulky items easily.

They've even included a small pen holder inside of the main compartment. It's a bit of a hidden feature, but I think it's a nice touch.

And of course, there’s the pocket on the front that’s mostly left for quick-access items, like snacks or cables.

Lastly, there’s my favorite pocket: the one on the top. This one is pretty small, so it’ll only fit your phone or glasses, but it’s pretty convenient if you want to access these items without having to rummage through the entire bag.

Shoulder Strap

Obviously, all backpacks have shoulder straps, so I’m not saying it’s a special feature. However, the Bellroy Classic’s shoulder strap is comfortable, thanks to its plush padding and molded fit.

It also features a detachable sternum strap that can offer a tighter fit if you want, which will be convenient if you need to run to catch a bus without the bag falling off your back.


You’ll love the fact that this bag is made of 100% recycled materials. In fact, it’s made of recycled PET bottles without any leather, which gives it a bonus point in my book.

Not only that, but the material is also water-resistant, which means you can walk in the rain comfortably without worryinng about soaking the laptop and notebooks inside.

Pros of Bellroy Classic Backpack Compact

Here are reasons you should consider adding the Bellroy Classic Backpack to your cart:

Lots of Storage Areas

The first pro I’ll list is the most obvious one: storage.

A Bellroy Classic Compact can fit an iPad, a laptop, plenty of notebooks, and all your small items like the charger, glasses, etc.

Although it features a slim design, it offers a lot of storage solutions, including small compartments that’ll keep your belongings safe.

Mesh Pocket

I’d thank the designers for that mesh pocket myself if I could. When you’re searching for something in a backpack, the last thing you want is to look in every single pocket.

The mesh liner allows you to see everything inside with ease.

High-Quality, Recycled Material

A lot of manufacturers are opting for recycled materials nowadays to reduce their carbon footprint. However, that doesn’t always guarantee good quality.

Fortunately, the Bellroy Classic’s material is highly durable, and its quality is excellent for its price range. It can handle daily wear and tear like a champ, and it’s proudly marketed as a good companion for traveling.

Cons of Bellroy Classic Backpack Compact

Now that we’re done with reasons you should add the Bellroy Classic to your cart, here are reasons you may want to explore other options.

Doesn’t fit the 16" MacBook Pro

I have bad news for you if you own a new 16-inch Macbook Pro. It won’t fit inside the Bellroy Classic Compact backpack.

Doesn’t stand well on its own

I personally love backpacks that stand on their own when put on the ground. If you have the same preference, you may want to reconsider buying the Bellroy Classic. It doesn’t have a stiff bottom, so it’ll lean when you try to put it on any surface.

However, that means you get to enjoy the light weight of the bag without the extra weight on the bottom, so it’s not entirely bad after all.

Where to purchase

You've got a few options on where to buy this backpack. The main source is directly from Bellroy, which is where I bought mine. The other option is buying from Amazon if that's more your thing.

The main differences between the two come down to color choices, buying direct from Bellroy is going to give you a few more options most of the time.

The Final Verdict

The Bellroy Classic Backpack is a good value considering its price. It features a minimalistic design that doesn’t give away its awesome functionality.

Plus, it has plenty of pockets to fit all your belongings, so I’d say it’s a decent bag for commuters, travelers, and students.

In hindsight, I wish I would have purchased the standard size instead of this compact version so I would be able to fit my new 16" Macbook inside.

If you're looking for something better suited for travel check out my review of the Ekster Grid Backpack. If you're looking for something a little more fashion forward, you can't go wrong with the Cote and Ciel Isar.

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