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Bags are my thing. Well, bags and shoes. Traveling as much as I do, having a dependable, comfortable, and sleek bag is pretty important. For the past two or so years, I’ve depended on my Topo Designs Trip Pack for short trips, and then nested it inside of my Ryu QuickPack for longer trips abroad. This has worked out well, but walking around Copenhagen, and going through a variety of international airport security, I wondered if I could consolidate to one bag, with an easier way to access my laptop and other stuff. The Invisible One Mini seemed like a great way to test this out. I was drawn to the design of the bag, and the ethos of the company: “Each year we reiterate and improve our designs…” which I’ve witnessed as I’ve watched them iterate over the years.
My Topo Designs Trip Pack has three compartments—a main area where I can slip my laptop, a zip pouch in that main area, and a front pocket for a Kindle, notebook, etc. I found myself digging around more than I wanted to for my charger, pen, or chapstick. The Invisible One Mini has just a little more organization, and so far, it’s made a huge difference.
The 2018 One Mini has a zipper pocket in the front, that’s charmingly asymmetrical. A flap unzips, revealing a pocket that can hold an iPad or Kindle, a zipper-sealable area for keys, chapstick, glasses cloth, etc, and two smaller pouches. These pouches are the perfect size for a portable battery, and a Hobonichi Techo. There’s a bit of additional space in the big zipper area for my MacBook charger as well. The entire big pouch is almost the width and heigh of the bag, but because of the clever organization, it doesn’t feel like I’ll lose things in it.
On the top of the bag, there’s a big zipper that opens the main compartment, which I use to hold a hoodie, my water bottle, and also a small bag of underwear and clothes for travel. Because of the front organization, I don’t need to dig in this compartment often, and only need to keep a few easy-to-find or pack-to-leave unpack-at-destination items in it. This is a big improvement over the Topo Bag.
Finally, the back of the bag has a top-loading laptop sleeve that’s soft and felt-lined. The bottom ends a bit above the bottom of the bag, providing a little cushion area, but I still wouldn’t want to throw this bag around with my MacBook in it. Unlike the Ryu or the Topo Designs bags, this separate laptop area means I can dig my MacBook out on the occasions I can’t get pre-check and have my laptop scanned separately. I try my damndest to avoid these instances, but inter-Europe travel usually means pulling out all my electronics.
Previous years of this bag had weird side zips on the front and back for the laptop, a water bottle, and documents and other stuff in the front, but this version feels more usable, and less confusing at a glance. I doubt I’ll have any trouble remembering where I put various items, or how to quickly retrieve them. Read more about the year-over-year change here.
The entire bag is a light-weight 800x600D waterproof nylon-polyester blend that looks and feels pretty lux. The top handle is a rubber-ish leather-is material that’s grippy and feels nice, and the inside of the pack straps is a soft and breathable cloth. The top of the bag is ringed with the same rubberized material, encircling the main compartment. The inside of the two front areas is a gray nylon that feels like smooth quality. All over the bag, the stitches are even and seem made for longevity. I’ll update this review later to see how well the bag stood up to travel wear-and-tear, but so far it inspires confidence. I’m also curious how well the rain resistance does, as only the laptop sleep area has a waterproof YKK zipper, with the other two using a more standard zip. The pulls have rubber grips, with no dangling pull cords, which means they’re slightly more fiddly than the RYU or the Topo bags, but once I’ve found the tab, the pull feels smooth.
This is a small bag, but feels a good deal bigger than my tiny Topo Designs bag. Measuring 38cm x 34cm x 14cm (15”x13.5”x5.5”), with a volume of 11L, and a weight of 650g (22oz), it’s easy to throw on, but doesn’t look dwarfed by my 5’10” frame. It sits well on my back, and the clever straps let me cinch it up or down, while the excess strap stays tucked into itself. The main compartment is roomy enough without making the other areas of the bag feel cramped, that I feel pretty confident I could take only this bag for a few weeks abroad.
I haven’t had this bag for long, but my first impressions are that this will be a major part of my travel kit. I can’t wait to bring this with me to Oakland, or Japan, to see how well it fits under a seat, or loads and unloads in a crowded subway train.