We’ve had a really busy Autumn and Winter and seem to have spent more weekends away than at home. I’ve just got a new pack and this recent travelling has allowed me to give it a really good testing. The photographs in this review are all taken (not at my house but) at a posh country manor house where we recently stayed for a wedding.
The pack in question is the All-Star Backpack Duffel by Solo New York. This is a stylish pack which is part of the Varsity range from American brand Solo. I really like the burgundy colour which gives it a nice American college sort of look.
It’s a really interestingly designed bag which I’ve really found useful every time I’ve used it. It has lots of unique features but the most important are the straps which gave it the name “Backpack Duffel”. At first appearance, it looks like a smart and sleek looking duffel bag.
However, on the rear of the bag there is a zipped opening; from here you can unzip and pull out backpack-style shoulder straps. This instantly turns it into a really useful backpack which makes carrying it longer distances, using public transport or even as day pack a complete breeze.
The straps are nicely padded and I’ve found it really comfortable to wear. Alternately, it comes with an attachable, adjustable shoulder strap so that you can carry it that way if you prefer. It really is a very flexible bag which you can use in different ways on different days! To further ease carrying, the Solo All-Star has handles on the top, side and front of the pack. These make lifting it into things like overhead luggage areas on trains or planes very easy.
With a very usable size of 20″ x 11″ x 5″, it’s a suprise that the duffel comes in at under a kilogram in weight. This large capacity is really useful; I think it makes a great weekend bag, gym bag or commuter / work / office pack. It’s a really great bag to travel anywhere with as it is designed so well and has such great materials and components, for example, the zipper pulls are big, chunky, sport-style ones which are easy to grab and open when you’re in a rush or on the move.
If you’ve ever read any of my other bag or pack reviews, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of pockets and sections in bags to divide up and organise your kit. The Solo All-star duffel has definitely got two big thumbs up from me in this respect. It has lots of internal organisational sections. In the main compartment, there are two zipped pockets on each side of the pack. There is also an external pocket at the bottom of the front of the pack.
Furthermore, there is a padded laptop or tablet compartment which can be accessed from the outside of the pack. This is handy, although possibly a little less secure than I’d have liked. They’ve thought about this as well and there is another sleeve on the inside which you have to open the pack to access – this is great for electronics or paperwork and documents. With all of these different options, you can really set up the bag to suit your needs.
One of my absolute favourite features is the separate shoe or laundry compartment that is on the bottom of the bag. Underneath the duffel, there is a zipper that lets you access this separate area. In here, you can store your shoes or yesterday’s clothes easily and away from all of your nice, clean clothes. There is even a nice elastic strap to secure this additional area when not in use. I use this feature all the time and it saves having to put your trainers in a plastic bag when packing them.
This backpack, which transforms into duffel, is really awesome. Solo have done a fantastic job in designing and building the All-star backpack duffel. I like the flexibility of design – it’s a bag that could have many different purposes and fulfil them all brilliantly. I also appreciate the various compartments and organisers that make daily life and travel a lot easier. If you are after a bag that you can take for all kinds of adventures or just commute to work with – look no further.