Stylish and Spacious: Topo Designs Session Backpack Review

Posted by
Keith Langston
September 05, 2023

Wearing the TOPO sessions backpack
Photo: Keith Langston

Topo Designs’ new Session Pack is aimed at travelers, commuters, and casual hikers.

In the last decade, Topo Designs has exploded into one of the most popular outdoors brands. Their backpacks are now seen everywhere, from people boarding planes to hikers hitting the trails and more. While many of their previous packs had a heavy focus on hiking, backpacking, and adventure, their new Session Pack is designed for everyday use.

I’ve been using Topo backpacks for almost 10 years now. Together, we have hiked the mountains of Longjing, China, commuted to work every morning in Auckland, New Zealand, and taken numerous transatlantic and transpacific flights to islands, mountains, jungles, and even volcanoes. Me and my Topo packs have stayed in everything from cabins to luxury hotels, apartment rentals, and even a castle.

The Session Pack is built a little differently than Topo’s other backpacks, so I was excited to get my hands on it and check it out. With a smaller, lighter design and zippers replacing the brand’s trademark drawstring and buckles, the Session Pack is certainly different. Read on for my thoughts below.

The Deets

  • Dimensions: 16.5H x 11.5 W x 5.5D
  • Made with 100% recycled 400D and 1000D nylon
  • Two water bottle holders
  • Designed for durability
  • Fair Wear certified
  • Topo’s MAP Guarantee (lifetime warranty against bag defects)


The Session Pack Has a Conventional Backpack Design

TOPO Designs session pack backpack
Photo: Keith Langston

Topo has become recognizable for their colorful and uniquely designed packs that have splashes of bright, contrasting color and stand-out straps and buckles. I have Topo backpacks that are azure blue and bumblebee yellow, and they’re awesome. Plus, I never lose them or get them mixed up with someone else’s backpack.

But, other people may want a backpack that screams a little less “color explosion.” The Session fits that slot, making it a universal options for adventure travelers and urban commuters who don’t aren’t trying to stand out in the crowd.

Important note: If you’re a hiker looking for a daypack, the Session isn’t it. Without any hip belt or chest straps, this pack is decidedly best for daily happenings—but leave it off the trail.


The Session Pack Still Has Size

Topo sessions pack filled with items
Photo: Keith Langston

I’ve used for Session Pack for both an afternoon stroll and as an adventure rig for my carry-on while traveling. For both, the bag fits a good amount of items. It also has a smaller front pouch that I use to keep little things I don’t want to get lost, like my keys, chapstick, and wallet.

One of the other things I noticed about the design is that it’s very simple, and that can be a polarizing design choice. A lot of Topo’s other bags (like the Global Travel bag) are filled with an endless amount of zippers, pockets, sleeves, more pockets, and even a pocket inside that pocket that has a zipped pocket inside of it. The Session Pack is the opposite. You have three compartments: a big one, a smaller front one (which has a few organizing pouches in it), and a padded back pouch for securely holding your laptop.

The Session Pack is a no-nonsense, get-it-done bag. If you love compartments galore, it might not be the one for you. But for any commuter or casual wearer who just wants a solidly-made, stylish pack that gets the job done, this is a great choice.


The One Downside: The Bag (Sadly) Isn’t Made in the USA

Carrying the TOPO sessions backpack
Photo: Keith Langston

If you’re like me and have been using Topo bags for years now, you’ll know the brand used to make everything here in the USA. Unfortunately, as Topo has grown into a massive retailer selling bags around the world, their US production couldn’t keep up with demand. Now, a majority of their products are made overseas.

They still have a Made in the USA section that features one or two rotating products, but in general, none of their packs or clothes are made here anymore. On the upside, Topo remains committed to equitable careers. The brand is part of the Fair Wear initiative, which ensures its products are made in facilities that do not engage in slave labor and that pay a livable wage, have reasonable working hours, safe working conditions, and more.


The Bottom Line: This Pack is Perfect for Commuters, Frequent Fliers, and Casual Travelers

Wearing the TOPO sessions backack
Photo: Keith Langston

For hardcore backpackers, hikers, or adventurers, you’ll likely want a bigger bag with more features. But for the rest of us, Topo’s Session Pack is an excellent combination of being both small and lightweight, while also fitting a good amount of stuff. This is an excellent option if you’re looking for a solid carry-on while flying or something to hold your water, snacks, and keys while hitting the trail for an afternoon.

It’s also at a great price. Whereas many of Topo’s packs range between $100-$200 (and sometimes a little more), the Session Pack is only $89. This is a screaming value and makes it a great intro bag for anyone wants to give Topo a shot.

Buy at Topo Designs

Seen in: Bags & Backpacks, Gear

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