Topo Designs Mini Mountain Bag Review
I’ve owned the Topo Designs Mini Mountain Bag for a little over a year now, and it’s become my most-used and most-loved bag of the last several years. That’s saying a lot.
I really like bags. I really like a lot of things, but bags are way up at the top of the list. I have too many shoes, cameras, and jackets as well, but I really have too many bags. I (we – my wife is not guilt-free here) have a closet full of nothing except bags. I tend to cycle through bags regularly, and change my main bag often. To say I’ve used this bag almost exclusively for the last year is a real compliment to just how useful it is.
I’ve been using a Topo Designs Daypack for about 18 months and find it to be one of the better daypacks I’ve used in years. I also have the Topo Designs Field Bag, and I use it as a great little camera bag. I’ve used the Topo Daypack for travel, for trail-running, and for getting groceries. It’s a clean design that works. I use it all the time. It’s a great example of Topo Designs’ quality and functionality. The Topo Designs Mini Mountain Bag is another example of the same.
The description on the Topo Designs site calls the Mini Mountain Bag 15″ x 8″ x 5″. It’s not a large bag. It won’t hold a laptop and it doesn’t have a padded compartment for one.
I’ve created a video of this bag – just to have a bit more interactive walk through and demonstration of what I typically carry in the bag. Check it out:
The interior is bright orange vinyl truck tarp liner, and after a year of use it’s showing almost no wear.
The strap is long and comfortable. I’ve got lots of bags with some sort of rubbery, grippy stripes or patch on the strap to keep it from slipping around. This bag, with it’s simple and unadorned no-grip strap, has showed me how stupid all those other bags are. I love that the Topo bag strap slips over my shoulder and allows me to swing or slide the bag around without it catching or snagging on my clothes. It’s smooth and simple like the rest of the bag.
The Topo Mini Mountain Bag is wide enough to sit flat without tipping over and it will swallow just about anything that will fit. I load it up pretty heavy to travel and it’s surprising how much I can fit in it. With no dividers or padding, I make small pouches to carry all my cameras in, but packed carefully they’ve traveled across the country just fine.
I use this bag as my everyday carry-all bag. When I travel, I use the Topo Daypack to carry my computer and then use it for everything else once I get where I’m going. The little Mini Mountain Bag usually stays packed all the time. I’ve thrown it in the wash a couple of times and it’s always come out looking brand new.
If I have complaints, there are two. First, it’s not big enough to hold a file folder. This isn’t really a negative, because I don’t need to carry file folders all the time and I don’t wish the bag was any larger. But the addition of a flat, slash pocket on the back of the bag is a real oversight in my opinion. The ability to carry a larger, flat item like a few file folders or a magazine would make this bag even more useful. It couldn’t possibly be that difficult to add a flat pocket. One could argue “Hey, it’s called the ‘Mountain Bag’, man. It’s not meant to be an urban bag.” Yeah, right. This thing’s a man-purse plain and simple. People who frequent the mountains know if you want to carry something heavy or far, you go for the backpack. It might be called the “Mountain Bag” but it’s an everyday-around-town-carry-your-gadgets bag. There’s no shame in that – it does the job very well.
And second, a half-complaint. I wish there was some way to carry a water bottle. The typical 32 oz. metal bottles that are the rage right now would never fit in this bag without lying down sideways and taking up all the room. I wish there were some provision to carry a water bottle on the outside, at the end of the bag near where the strap attaches. The one time I gave up the Topo bag for a couple weeks was to return to a bag that could easily haul a water bottle. Having complained about it though, I can’t envision a way of adding to the bag that wouldn’t ruin it’s essence. A side pouch would make it too long. I’d love if there was some removeable pouch/pocket to carry a water bottle, but again, fear it would mess up the great, clean, lines of a wonderful little bag.
Can I call it a complaint that I like this bag so much I really want the Duck Camouflage one now? Is two everyday carry bags too many? Can’t I just use one for cameras? I’ve had some minor dealings with the guys at Topo Designs too, and they’ve always come across as nice folks. They expedited shipping for me once, and even replaced an early daypack I had some complaints about. Great service from a truly local company.
- Great strap. Comfortable to carry.
- Small, light. Even full it’s easy to manage.
- Great looking bag with clean a clean design.
- Stands up on it’s own when you set it down.
- Won’t hold a file folder or anything large or flat.
- Difficult to carry a water bottle.
- If you want to carry electronics padding and organizing is up to you.
Who it’s for:
- Timbuk2 refugees who want a bomber bag but are sick of the oversized messenger aesthetic being crammed down their throats.
- People who almost never need to carry a file folders, magazines, or anything else large and flat.
- People that want luggage made in the U.S.A.
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Don’t forget to check out some of the fine art prints for sale in my Etsy shop.
My wife Leah also makes and sells some pretty cool leather stuff like minimalist wallets and camera straps. Check out her Etsy store for some cool gear.
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