I’ve been a backpack user for as long as I can remember, so when it came time to start the commute from Brooklyn to midtown Manhattan via the dreaded MTA subway, I gave little thought to what I’d use to tote my daily necessities. I tested a number of packs: Patagonia’s Black Hole 25L, Millican’s Smith the Roll Pack 25L and eventually Evergoods’s CPL24 (my all-time favorite backpack). I thought I had things dialed; separate laptop compartment, plenty of space in the main compartment, sleek exterior and minimal branding. That was, until I tried Bellroy’s Laptop Brief.
For those unfamiliar with Bellroy, the Australian brand is known for crafting high-quality leather goods that many Gear Patrol employees swear by. The brand recently launched a full line of bags, including the Laptop Brief, which I’ve been testing for a little over a month. In that time, the Brief brought to light flaws in my unwavering dedication to the backpack that I’d never even considered.
For one, 90% of the time I don’t actually carry that much stuff. My laptop, a notebook and my Yeti Rambler 20oz that I use for my morning cold brew is about all that comes with me on a daily basis. Second, as my commute has gotten increasingly more crowded with the looming shutdown of New York City’s L train, space in the subway cars is at a premium. The Laptop Brief’s slim profile allows me to squeeze into that last bit of real estate in a crowded train, a place where a backpack is nothing but a hindrance. Lastly, the bag just looks sleek and sophisticated. No, it isn’t leather (though it does feature environmentally certified leather handles), but a leather briefcase carries a certain stigma. The Bellroy Laptop Brief features materials that I’m immediately familiar with — technical and durable fabrics that wouldn’t feel out place on a waterproof jacket or a durable travel duffel. And they function in the way that you’d expect them to function in an outdoor setting; the shell material of the bag is highly waterproof.
I have yet to find a flaw in this bag, and those who know me would consider that praise enough. But I’ll go one further. The Bellroy Laptop Brief is the best commuter bag I’ve ever used, and I’d be hard pressed to say that I’ll ever go back to using a backpack.
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Bellroy provided this product for testing.