Topo Designs Rover Pack Review

Introduction

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Topo Designs is a outdoor gear company based in Colorado. All of their products are designed and constructed by themselves in Colorado. While their most famous bag is the Klettersack, when I was in the market for a backpack, I instantly fell in love with the Rover Pack. After a few months of use with my Red and Blue model, they produced a limited edition with the English company TSPTR, which I eventually purchased as well. It’s an amazing bag with a few flaws that don’t hinder its usefulness to me. However, this bag will falter when put to certain tests.

Specs

Dimensions: 18″h x 11″w x 5″d
Volume: 16.2 L
Price: $139 (basic editions), $159 (limited editions)

Packaging

The bag comes with a simple tag with the Topo Designs logo on one side and a short blurb on the company. Other than that, packaging was minimal.

Design

 

The bag features a main compartment with a laptop sleeve. On newer models, the laptop sleeve divider has a flat zippered compartment. There is a flap that covers over the opening of this compartment and is held down with two buckles. The flap has a small zippered compartment for small items. On each side of the main compartment, there are two bottle holders. On the front of the main compartment, there is another flat zippered compartment. There are D-rings on both shoulder straps that can be used to hold gear and other accessories. I often hook my watch to the left D-ring.

The TSPTR limited edition model has a snoopy theme. There are five patches spread about the bag. Overall, I would say that the color scheme of the bag, brown and tan, work as a good background for the patches. The red paracord act as a nice contracting detail.

Fit and Finish

The bag is handmade and, as such, the stitching is noticeably uneven at times. It is most apparent where the stitching ends. However, they are not visible from the outside of the bag and, honestly, the touch of imperfection adds a personal touch. I have no fear that the bag will fail at its stitches.

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The bag itself is made of 1000d Cordura fabric (spec sheet). The material is tear resistant and quite resistant to fraying. While it is stated that the bag comes coated, from experience, the bag is not very water resistant. This is not a big issue as it does not claim that it is, although it would have been a useful feature. In email correspondence with Topo, they recommended using Nikwax Tent Spray to waterproof the bag.

The bag cinches closed using 550 Paracord. The ends are singed and knotted. I often hold the bag by the paracord and have not had any problems with the stitching around the paracord.

It would appear as though the should strap padding got thicker in later models of the backpack. My TSPTR Rover Pack has straps that are almost twice as thick as my original red and blue model.

Functionality

I use this backpack as a day pack. As a student, I regularly carry a laptop (I have an XPS 15 9550 and it fits quite snug), notebooks, pen roll and occasional textbook. Water bottles can be a tight squeeze depending on the shape of the bottle. This is because the water bottle pouch is flat with the side of the bag. As such, larger water bottles will diminish the interior space of the bag.IMG_20160228_164342

The flap with buckles is useful for holding a jacket by simply clipping the jacket in between the flap and the bag. This can be done even when the bag is full.

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As previously stated, the strap padding got thicker with later models. The thicker padding makes a big difference when the backpack is heavy. I much prefer to use my TSPTR bag when I am carrying my laptop.

The bag is not a jack of all trades. While it is very portable and has much to offer for its size, its small size prohibits its use for carrying larger items. For example, it starts to struggle with more than two full size textbooks. I have used the bag for camping really had to pick and choose what items I was going to bring.

Conclusion

Topo Designs has created an great bag for everyday use, if you don’t have to carry a lot. I comfortably chuck my school supplies in and it holds itself quite well. I don’t have to baby it or worry about where I put it down. It looks and works as well after 1 year as it did on day 1. However, if you need to carry larger or heavier gear, I would recommend getting a different bag. For me, though, this bag is just what I need.

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