I recently discovered the PX Invisible Backpack through Twitter (via either Very Goods or its founder Ben Pieratt; I don’t remember which) and was so taken by its design that I decided that I needed an upgrade from my aging Chrome messenger bag.
While I loved it for a long time, my old bag wasn’t meeting my daily needs anymore. A messenger bag is good for frequent bike rides, and Chrome’s trademark buckle strap is especially good for getting on and off while sporting a bulky helmet, but these days I don’t do as much bike riding as I used to. Now I ride the bus a lot more often, and getting a bag over my head with headphones on just became a little obnoxious. I started looking for a decent, double-strapped student-style backpack and the Invisible Backpack appeared at the right moment.
But it was sold out. I continued looking at other bags, but nothing seemed quite as stylish. The alternatives I looked at on Very Goods just seemed bulky. Eventually, it came back into stock and I snapped it up as soon as PX sent me the email announcement.
Get To The Review, Already
I’ve used it for a few weeks now, and I can readily say that I love my new backpack.
First off, it’s bigger in some ways than I expected. The promotional video makes it appear spartan, but roomy. On my back, it looks tall, I guess, but I admit I’m proportioned smaller than your average model. The exaggerated height and width of the bag, however, do allow it to maintain a low profile, but still carry a lot of gear. Or, a lot of beer, since it’s the perfect size for a six-pack. It doesn’t feel like a big fat camel hump coming out of my back. I can sit fairly comfortably on the bus with it still on my shoulders (not that I make a habit out of this).
And speaking of low profile, the straps don’t have any padding in them whatsoever, so they lay as flat as possible against my body. This bag truly makes an effort to get out of your way. They do, however, tend to roll a bit when I first put the bag on, requiring me to set them right, but it’s a minor annoyance in the grand scheme of things.
The construction of the bag seems solid, for the most part. The canvas is sturdy, the zippers and zipper pulls feel durable (zipping the top zipper feels like a power move—I love it!). The bag itself is allegedly waterproof, and the rubberized zippers help keep the rain from coming in through the top—perfect for Cascadian weather. It did the job for me while trudging through some light rain just before this photo shoot. The quilted back is comfortable.
A couple of plastic stabilization hooks tend to unhook themselves and don’t seem like they’ll last long. If they break, I may replace them with small carabiners instead.
There are lots of pockets on the bag, though you wouldn’t think so just looking at it.
- There’s the pocket on top, which leads into the main compartment, which itself has another pocket inside.
- A secondary pocket in front with two mini pockets inside. I keep business cards and my wallet in them.
- A secondary padded pocket in the back; good for laptops or—more often in my case—keeping newly purchased comic books in mint condition.
- A discreet contraband pocket down the side.
- An easy-access zip pocket at the bottom.
That pocket at the bottom is especially neat because it’s compartmentalized from the main pocket, so you could stash your shoes there and keep the street germs off the rest of your stuff. If you’re not using that pocket, though, the lining is loose enough that you can still fill the entire volume of the main pocket. No wasted space, either way.
The Cons—Not Many
As far as what it’s missing, my wishlist is pretty small at this point. I’d have liked a narrow pen pocket or two in the front pocket. I used them in my Chrome bag for various things like utensils, pocket knives, and even cotton swabs. Sure, these things will fit in the mini pockets, too, but it’s nice to have a pocket that’s more tailored to their slender form factors.
Also, since I started backpacking, I’ve learned the value of hip straps, which this bag doesn’t have. But I understand that it’s also an urban backpack and sometimes fashion and style will come out ahead of health and pragmatism. In this case, I don’t really fault the designer. At any rate, I realistically don’t carry around enough weight day-to-day to need the extra support, and I believe I’ll be comfortable enough even on a short trip—but that remains to be seen.
Overall it’s a great backpack. Functionally, it’s well-designed, and about as spacious as any other standard backpack you’ll find on the market. And, on top of that, it’s stylish as hell.
If you want it, you can buy it direct from the designer.