The market for backpacks catering to digital nomads has exploded in the last few years along with the rise of location independent workers and business owners. Companies have realized that nomads, commuters, and tech-centric travelers are looking for certain features from a backpack. Some companies have delivered the goods. But many sell their products at a premium – probably because they get that their audience is upwardly mobile and does not fit in the penny-pinching category of shoppers. To be honest, I’m not sure if I want to spend $300 on a backpack. What about a budget option? Are they worth it? I recently came to be in possession of the Falco Commuter Backpack. And I like it a lot.
Update: the Falco Commuter Backpack is discontinued but I recommend this equally excellent updated model:
Let’s be clear, this is not the kind of backpack that you could fit all your gear into and travel the world with. Unless you are a minimalist super-nerd. It’s more of a commuting, quick-run-to-the-cafe bag. Hence the name, “Falco Commuter”. But it’s definitely a great budget option for this use. And I believe it’s also a solid choice as a day-pack or short trip main bag.
💡 I’d like to point out that I was given this bag to review. I didn’t pay for it. But that doesn’t mean this is a biased review. I made it clear to Bagsmart that if I didn’t like the product, I would say so. In fact, I told them I might not even review it. They were perfectly fine with this and sent me the product with no expectations.
I loved the backpack. In fact, I’m using it now and it’s a solid performer.
The immediate things that stand out are
- Minimalistic design
- Nice, understated colours
- Great feel in the hand and on the shoulders.
- Designed for digital nomads, students, day trippers, and techies.
The handle at the top inspires confidence with its solid feel. It looks to me to be well constructed and I’d imagine it will last the test of time (whatever that means these days). The handle is apparently made from vegan-friendly faux leather. Whatever that means.
There’s a nice pouch for your computer with some thick, strong elastic straps to keep it in place. The pouch and the padding on the back of the backpack act as cushions for your laptop. If you also put your computer in a laptop case, you’ve got a well-protected piece of kit. Note that a 15-inch MacBook with a thick case just fits inside the pouch.
There are two easy-access pockets on the side of the bag for water bottles or some other non-valuable piece of equipment (don’t put your phone here).
At the front, there’s a soft-cushioned pouch with an inner sleeve and a keyring attachment. While I would never put my keys inside an outward-facing pouch, this is actually one of the better designs and should offer more protection for your stuff. The keyring (split rings) are detachable via a neat plastic clip and this makes it easy to take your keys with you without the hassle of removing them from a ring. We digital nomads have soft fingers, you know.
Minimal branding also adds a certain coolness to the bag. Bagsmart isn’t asking you to advertise their company with a glaring logo. The company is probably relying on the backpack’s good looks and recommendations for free advertising. If you own one of these bags, you will likely recommend it to others, as I will. And it’s the kind of bag that people will notice, despite (or because of) the dark colors.
On the side, you’ll find a discreet plastic-covered USB outlet for charging your phone, iPad, camera or other devices. The other end of the attachment leads to an internal cable to which you can attach a portable power bank like the INIU Ultra-Slim.
A flap covers the zipper to the front opening compartment and while it’s a really nice idea, the actual zip can end up uncovered if you don’t push the flap down. The main area zip has no such flap covering.
At the top, there’s a small, easy access pouch with a mesh wall for dropping items that you might need quickly.
The straps are one of the best features of the backpack. Wide, soft, strong, and well-fitted.
There’s no sternum strap but I’ve never used one for commutes and short travel. I really only use a sternum strap on long-distance walks or hikes. And for this kind of excursion, I’d use a different backpack.
A strong strap runs across the middle of the back of the bag so you can slot the bag into the handles of a rolling suitcase. Great for carrying the bag at the airport.
Inside the main compartment, there’s a laptop pouch, a second pouch for a slightly smaller item (a4 notepad, large iPad, etc), and a split mesh pouch for small items. It’s well thought out and makes organization pretty easy.
Tis entire compartment opens right out and flips over (like many modern travel bags and backpacks) making it very easy to access everything in the backpack.
The Falco Commuter Backpack is a great design for the price. Running at around $50, I think it deserves your attention for an affordable bag that caters to most of the needs of a digital nomad or commuter. I’d expect to get a couple of years or more out of this bag so it’s worth the investment. The bag looks great, as cool as any other on the market. Compare and contrast with the overpriced and much-hyped Nomatic backpack.
You can do a lot with this bag and it’s going to be my commuting backpack for trips to the coffee shop or coworking space for the foreseeable future.
The Finer Details
- Capacity: 20L
- Material: water-resistant polyester and RPET (a recycled polyethylene terephthalate)
- Colours: Black (like the photos) and Grey (I’m not a fan of this colour).
Shipping is free on orders over $54.99 – unfortunately, this doesn’t cover the Falco so you’d either have to pay the shipping fees of $5 (not bad, I’ll admit) or purchase another product from Bagsmart.
Shipping times are a bit long for my liking. 10-25 business days. In my experience, when a company says that, they mean 25 days. And in the case of the product, I was sent, this is true. The fee for delivery outside of the USA is $10.
The company is based out of California but there’s not much information on the About page. I’d like to see some more information about the business. It might be a very small team sourcing products from China but I don’t care. Tell us about it. If the product is good, I don’t care where it came from and if they spend 10 minutes a week managing the business.
All the same, it was a pleasant experience dealing with the company’s outreach team and I’d be glad to use their products again in the future. If you’re looking for an inexpensive, solid bag for travel, check out the Falco. Nomad approved.
One interesting service offered by Bagsmart is the ability to offer custom logos and branding on their bags. I’ve never seen this offered before but it might be a good option for travel entrepreneurs, nomads, or budding ecommerce business owners to try out selling their own branded bags online.