Three years ago, I decided to review PX’s first entry into the backpack space, the Invisible Backpack. Today, PX is called OpposeThis, and the Invisible Backpack is called the Invisible Backpack One, because they’ve since added two additional backpacks, plus a minified version of the One.
While I normally write about web-related topics, people seemed to enjoy the review, and I enjoyed having a little photoshoot, so I decided to write a review of one of their newest offerings, the Invisible Carry-on.
The Invisible line is so-called, because the designers wanted a backpack that looks good, but also blends in with the surroundings. Sleek, city-ready design, with no gaudy logos or flashy features to hamper the aesthetic. That said, their packs have plenty to talk about.
The new carry-on is particularly unique in that OpposeThis reached out to their fans to help them design the product as part of a kind of experimental workshop to see what they could create. With no goal for production at all, the team challenged themselves to create a workable carry-on prototype from scratch in just three months. Only after it was finished did they make the judgement on whether it was feasible to actually put this thing on the market. Inevitably, they created a kickstarter and, less than a year after the initial announcement, I’ve got one in my hands. Was it all just a stunt? Perhaps, but having participated with the team from the beginning of the process through to the end, it was pretty cool to experience.
Before I get started, it’s worth noting that for this photoshoot and review I’ve packed for a 4-day trip to a neighboring country. My review fits within the parameters of the bag’s intended use.
Why a Carry-on at All
Starting out, I wasn’t terribly sure why I would need a specialized carry-on bag versus a traditional style backpack, but it became clear to me when I saw it opened up. The main benefit is that it’s significantly easier to pack and unpack versus a top-loader, where you have to plan the order of your packing. You don’t want your most useful items to end up at the bottom, and you definitely don’t want to have to be unpacking and repacking your bag in an airport or taxi.
With that out of the way, there are numerous other features that make the Invisible Carry-on a great travel bag.
Okay, look at this thing. It’s gorgeous. Since my last backpack was all-black, this time I opted for blue, which was the right choice. None of the photos really do the color justice. In most environments it’s a deep navy that has kind of an iridescent shimmer when it catches the light.
The bag maxes out at 33 liters, which puts you well within the current standard limits of a carry-on, but not so big that it becomes a giant suitcase on your back. And unlike a blocky suitcase, the bag is vaguely droplet shaped, so it has a more humanist appearance. Design-wise, the bag’s signature is surely the wings that wrap around the side to kind of give it a hug. Beyond just aesthetics, you’ll read more about how these these flaps function in a bit.
It’s crammed with pockets. Main compartment pockets, quick access pockets, a back pocket with a dedicated laptop or tablet pocket, and a front pocket filled with several little pockets inside it. In the “final” version of the bag, before their Kickstarter launch, you can see dedicated pen pockets but they got iterated out in the “final-final” version in order to make the other pockets bigger. Not a huge deal, but as I mentioned in my review of the One, I like having these narrow pockets available for a number of uses: pens, pencils, pocket knives, and the like… though I suppose a pocket knife in a carry-on would be counterproductive, after all.
It’s Expandable and Compressible
These days, I’m all about compression. Even packing as light as I typically do, if I can save some extra room to bring home a souvenir or two without paying to check or ship them, all the better. One of the coolest features, then, is that the main compartment actually expands an additional nine liters for when you need room to cram in that stylish jacket you picked up. A couple compression straps inside the main compartment help to squeeze your clothing down to the smallest possible size and keep everything from shifting too much in transit. Finally, the side wings that wrap around the bag don’t just lend a pert appearance, they also crank down and help to keep everything nice and streamlined.
Being as this bag is intended for travel to distant lands, I want to talk about some of the security features. One of the side wings also doubles as a hiding place for the main compartment zippers. Once the wing is cranked down, it’s extremely difficult to access what’s inside. It’s a nice perk, but it only protects the main compartment. It would have been nice if it could obfuscate more zippers, such as the ones that access the laptop compartment, but the paracord zipper pulls themselves are flexible and can be twisted together. One more way to deter breaches.
This next feature is truly great. At the bottom of the top quick access pocket is a zipper to yet another pocket. Stash your passport and wallet inside this hidden pocket and no pickpocket will ever leave you stranded. I was able to snugly fit both my passport wallet and a regular wallet at the same time.
Then there’s security theater—the pointless bullshit the TSA puts you through. The Invisible Carry-on is prepared for that, too. Two quick access pockets, one on the top and one on the front, are great for quickly stashing your keys, coins, belt, and whatever other items you need to avail yourself of while shambling through the airport line. And, of course, the dedicated, woolen laptop compartment makes it a breeze to remove and place in a separate bin.
Hardware and Construction
The bag wears comfortably. The straps are fine, thicker and more padded than the One that I have, but not as sturdy at you might get out of a backpacking pack. I will say, though, that I barely noticed I had it on for the half day I was wandering and taking photos, so I think that speaks to its comfort. There’s also a chest-strap, which seems shockingly short in length. I am a slender man, and it only just reached across my clavicles.
Carry straps on the top and side help with your overhead bin-slinging needs. The paracord zipper pulls are real nice, and the clips and construction are all sturdy, whether plastic or metal, as on the side wings.
The bag is made of the same rainproof construction as the One, though the top-facing zippers have not been rubberized. Having used the One in the rainiest region in the United States, I can confirm that the bag’s carapace has kept everything within dry as a bone.
Overall, I’m really impressed with this bag and I can’t wait to use it on a real trip soon. The quality of the construction is top notch. Key functionality, like the expandable main compartment and the hidden drop pocket, are worth noting. Dedicated quick-access pockets make it a bag that’s ready to travel with you. And on top of all that, it’s stylish as hell.
Have I sold you on it? I’ve got some bad news for you. Unfortunately, if you missed the kickstarter, you’re currently out of luck. However, it looks like they’re gearing up for a new spring 2018 run, so give them your email address and be prepared to pounce when you get the announcement. In the meantime, they’ve just announced a newly redesigned One, so go ahead and read my review, and put your name down for that one, too!
Many thanks to Katie Wolt for taking all the photos of me. She’s a doll.