The North St. Belmont is the perfect all-purpose backpack for commuting and light-duty traveling, thanks to its excellent weatherproofing, high-quality construction, comfortable design, and surprisingly large capacity. It comes in a wide assortment of colors so it can match nearly every style, but it isn't the cheapest backpack out there and extra inside pockets will cost extra.
Excellent selection of colors
Interior pockets cost extra
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North St. Belmont two minute review
Size (H x D x W): 17.5 x 6.5 x 11 ins (450 x 165 x 280 mm)
Color options: EPX Black, EPX Ocean Blue, EPX Kelp Green, EPX Coyote, EPX Bright Blue, EPX Purple, 1000d Black, 1000d Midnight, 1000d Olive Green, 1000d Copper, 1000d Steel & Teal, 1000d Midnight & Copper
Laptop size: Most 15-inch laptops
Material: Recycled EcoPak, 1000 denier CORDURA® nylon shell fabric
Features: Handmade, 1L front pocket, Internal soft velcro strips for adding organizer pockets as needed
The North St. Belmont is easily the best backpack we've used recently for day-to-day use. Between its large capacity, comfortable straps, and wide array of customization options, the Belmont is both a stylish backpack and a very useful one for carrying around tech like laptops, tablets, and more.
The backpacks themselves are all handmade in a factory in Portland, Oregon, using locally sourced materials, and the quality of the construction reflects this. From the stitching to the weatherproof lining, nothing here feels cheaply made or assembled.
If you've been looking for that good ol' Made-in-the-USA backpack you've always heard your parents and grandparents talking about wistfully, the Belmont is the kind of backpack they meant.
This does means that it will take more time for it to get to you than other backpacks, though they do have premade items as well that ship faster. If you're looking for a backpack that is unique to you, though, the Belmont is better than just about any backpack out there.
All of this does add to the price of the bag, however, with the base backpack costing $170 (about £125 / AU$230) and North St. ships internationally, including to the UK, Australia, and many others.
We say base backpack because there are additional add-ons for the backpack that you can purchase. A waist belt will cost an additional $15, and one of three different Velcro-attachable pockets will run you an additional $25 each.
The North St. Belmont has a capacity of 22L, which is more than enough for school or work use, with a laptop sleeve that fits up to a 15-inch laptop. The main compartment capacity is enough to fit several textbooks and some notebooks, so students will find this backpack to be very familiar to the ones they've been using for their entire academic career, just better.
We carry around a lot of tech for a living, and we found that the Belmont could hold two or three laptops with their power adapters, a Nikon DSLR camera in a carrying case, and a couple of smaller trinkets and baubles on a 40-minute commute. The straps comfortably distributed the weight, but there is definitely a limit to what it can effectively carry.
With its relative lack of pockets (at least without paying extra for pocket inserts) this isn't going to be the best backpack for travel beyond being your basic personal item on a flight or train. But for basic everyday use and commuting, the North St. Belmont is absolutely one of the best backpacks you're going to find.
Buy it if...
You want a stylish commuter or school backpack
With plenty of color options, you're bound to find the right backpack for your style.
You want excellent weather protection
While certainly not 100% waterproof, this backpack comes closer than most to getting real weatherproofing right.
You want a comfortable backpack for everyday use
While this doesn't have the kind of thick shoulder strap padding you'd find on some hiking bags, this one has just the right amount of cushioning for a semi-long commute.
Don't buy if...
You're on a tight budget
This isn't the most expensive backpack out there, but it also isn't the cheapest by any means.
You want lots of pockets and compartments
While you can buy extra inserts for the backpack, the base backpack is pretty limited in terms of pockets and compartments.
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John (He/Him) is the Components Editor here at TechRadar and he is also a programmer, gamer, activist, and Brooklyn College alum currently living in Brooklyn, NY.
Named by the CTA as a CES 2020 Media Trailblazer for his science and technology reporting, John specializes in all areas of computer science, including industry news, hardware reviews, PC gaming, as well as general science writing and the social impact of the tech industry.
You can find him online on Threads @johnloeffler.
Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 (just like everyone else).