The minimalist exterior and concealed pockets were what attracted me to XD Design’s Bobby backpack when it launched on Kickstarter in 2016. I backed the project then and after a successful campaign, I have been using the Bobby Original since September of 2016. So how has it held up over a few years of use? Here are my long term impressions.
Comfortable and minimal wear and tear
I do not experience discomfort wearing this backpack, nor do I ever feel like I’m lugging around something heavy.
The fabric has also held up well this whole time and I do not see any noticeable wear.
Great in crowds and busy stores
The rigid design of the backpack and how it fits when properly worn against my back provides me a good sense of the space I take up in relation to my surroundings. I really appreciate this in public markets and cramped stores. I can navigate the crowd and small isles without my backpack bumping into people or snagging on things.
Easy access to your daily essentials
My highlight of the Bobby Original comes from being able to keep items I need within reach during my commutes or travel. The concealed pockets and card pouches give you quick access to your daily or travel essentials without having to reach into your backpack. Things like your bus pass, travel documents, credit cards, key cards, wallet, charging cable and/or phone.
One thing I do miss having is an external side pouch for a water bottle or umbrella. Not being able to grab a drink when you’re thirsty or not having a place to keep your wet umbrella was a disappointing oversight to the design of this backpack.
Not so easy access to interior of backpack
If you are someone who needs to access the interior of your backpack frequently to grab items other than your laptop or tablet, you will find it challenging because of the design. Unless you plan to keep it packed very minimal, you will find yourself having to take it off and open it up to get what you need.
Under utilized capacity
While the 13L capacity of the backpack is sufficient on paper, it is poorly optimized and not flexible in use.
The interior compartments are padded and doesn’t really collapse or compress out of the way, so it limits your options, often getting in the way of fully utilizing the interior cavity of the backpack.
I suggest you watch the video by EveRyview who demonstrates how much he can fit into the Bobby Original.
While there are many thoughtful features inside, none of them are designed for heavy packing. So please do your research and make sure this backpack meets your needs.
What I typical carry in my Bobby Original include:
- 15″ laptop and charger
- large powerbank
- small notebook
- compact umbrella
- rain cover
- tote bag for groceries
- lock; and
Most of the items can be stored into the provided compartments leaving enough space for a book or two at the bottom of the backpack, a couple of small belongings and a jacket on top.
So if you like to carry your entire life, consider something larger.
Shoulder straps loosens over time
February 1, 2019 update: I was recently informed by XD Design that the webbing on new production have been updated to address this issue. Unfortunately, I have not seen an updated product in person to confirm if this is fact or not. However, it is encouraging to know something has been done.
From using the backpack regularly, I notice that the straps would loosen throughout the day. I think a lot of this is attributed to the smooth, thin and satin-like webbing that is used for the straps. There is little friction to hold the webbing on the strap lock and it would allow it to slip over time.
The rigid exterior
The rigid structure of the Bobby Original allows it to hold its shape without deforming or deflating. This is great for keeping its clean minimal look, but it also means that you will not be able to easily flatten the backpack to store in your luggage or squish it under the front seat of your flight.
Is it the best anti-theft backpack?
First, I want to point out an important distinction to the Bobby’s anti-theft features. It doesn’t help when XD Design markets it as the “safest backpack” and how many refer to it as the “best anti-theft backpack”.
Like bicycle locks, the Bobby is designed in a way that offers a lot of theft deterrence. Everything from the back-facing/lockable zippers, concealed pockets, and cut-proof material are all used as theft deterrents. When used correctly, it provides enough protection to deter a thief from attempting to target your backpack.
While good features to have, a would-be-thief given enough time or experience, will still be able to get to your belongings.
There are a number of methods to deter thieves and each come with their trade offs. What is important is that you understand the benefits and drawbacks of each feature; and ultimately what gives you the most peace of mind.
The concealed pockets are very functional if you need constant access to cards, wallets or phones. The added security offers a peace of mind that not a lot of backpacks do.
Overall, I feel this backpack is ideal for a specific use. It is best for commuting to and from work or as a day backpack for travel or city life. It is my favourite backpack I’ve owned to date and I look forward to using it for years to come.