I’m always on the hunt for new travel backpacks… and I know you all are too because I receive multiple emails each week asking my opinion on the best bags. That’s why I’m going to start testing as many travel backpacks as possible. Today we have the CabinZero Backpack.
A few weeks ago the good folks at CabinZero reached out and asked if I wanted to check out their carry-on sized travel backpack. I’m pretty picky about which backpacks I review but something about the CabinZero bags seemed interesting. Also, CabinZero is a British brand that is just starting to expand to the US so there is a good chance you haven’t heard of them yet.
CabinZero Model Options
CabinZero has two models — the Military 44L costs about $95 and the Classic 44L costs around $75. I received the Military 44L so I can’t personally speak to the Classic 44L, but the Military 44L seems to be a little sturdier and has better shoulder straps. The Classic is lighter-weight and comes in a ton of colors.
I’ll be honest… the look of the backpack is what first caught my attention. Its military-inspired styling has a stylish urban look — which is a nice change from “outdoorsy wilderness” backpacks. You could probably wear this in any major city and not look like you’re a tourist.
The Classic 44L comes in a lot of fun colors (see above) so they don’t look like your standard “hiking” backpack.
Size and Weight
Both the Military 44L and Classic 44L are both designed to fitcarry onn size requirements for even Europe’s most stingy budget airlines. If you’re a budget backpacker this is important so you don’t have to worry about paying expensive checked-luggage fees. You also don’t have to worry about the airlines losing your luggage.
At 2lbs and under, these backpacks are lightweight. For reference, many similarly priced/sized bags weight 3.5lbs so it’s a noticeable difference.
- Volume: 44L
- Weight: 2lbs/950 grams (approx.)
- Dimensions: Fits 55 x 40 x 20 cm
- Composition, Outer: Military Spec Nylon, Lining: Polyester
- Volume: 44L
- Weight: 1.7lbs / 760 grams (approx.)
- Dimensions: Fits 55 x 40 x 20 cm
- Composition, Outer: Waterproof polyester, Lining: Polyester
Feel & Construction
The CabinZero Military model looks and feels like it can take a beating… and it probably can since it’s made of military-spec nylon. The backpack is about 2lbs so it’s still lightweight while being tough.
It uses heavy-duty YKK zippers that have lock loops so you can keep your backpack secure. Good quality zippers are important because a busted zipper is a huge issue when you’re traveling around all the time.
The stitching and seams all look like they’re all done well so no complaints there.
Shoulder Straps, Suspension System, and Comfort
Overall, the bag is pretty comfortable. It doesn’t have the best suspension system that I’ve seen but it performs as well as, or better than, many other bags in its price range. It doesn’t have a padded hip belt but it does have a hip strap that offers some stability.
The shoulder straps have a good amount of padding and they’re curved to help fit your body better.
It also has load-lifter straps that help the backpack sit on your shoulders evenly and distribute the backpack’s weight. A lot of backpacks in this price range don’t have this feature so that was a welcomed surprise. Note: The less-expensive Classic version of this bag doesn’t have these load-lifter straps.
There is also mesh padding on the back and the straps — which should hopefully help promote some air circulation.
This is a panel loading backpack so it means it opens up like a suitcase — which makes accessing your stuff easy. It has a 44L capacity so you can fit a good amount inside. It’s basically one large compartment but there is a small zipper pocket and a pocket at the bottom. I do like that the backpack is fairly deep — which helps make packing (i.e. stuffing a bunch of crap) easier.
It would have been nice to see a few more interior pockets. There is one internal “sleeve” pocket that might be able to hold a laptop but you’d want to add a padded laptop sleeve for more protection.
There is also an external pocket that’s quite large and can easily fit a folder or full-sized papers. I’d like to see a smaller pocket or some kind of organization for smaller things like pens, tickets, etc. that might get lost in the large pocket.
No backpack is perfect so there are a few areas that leave room for improvement.
- External Pocket Organization. There is an external pocket but it’s just one large pocket. While this is nice for things like papers and folders, I’d like to have a smaller pocket for things like pens, tickets, etc.
- Side Handle. This is a minor thing but having a small handle on the side of the backpack comes in handy.
- Padded Hip Belt. Most of the time a padded hip belt isn’t a necessity but it is nice to have on longer journeys.
I’m really digging this CabinZero backpack. It checks a lot of the boxes that you want in a backpack for traveling through Europe — it’s carryon size, comfortable, durable, lightweight, and it looks very fashionable (which is rare!). It also site right below the $100 price point so it’s a good option for people not wanting to spend a ton but still want something that’s quality (if you want a backpack with more bells and whistles you’re going to have to pay 1.5x-3x the price).
You can buy the backpacks directly from the CabinZero website. The Military 44L costs about $95 and the Classic 44L costs around $75 — shipping is free. They also sell packing cubes that are made to fit into the backpack.
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