[Review] Is Shell Backpack Worth It?

The latest craze in business ideas is products that make traveling easier. So, there are plenty of bags with cool features out on the market right now.

The creators of the Shell backpack are trying their hand at making a travel bag. It’s a travel backpack with a built-in wardrobe organization system that’s supposed to help you fit more into your bag.

In this article, we’ll discuss the Shell backpack and it’s Kickstarter campaign so that you’ll have everything you need to know in order to make an informed purchasing decision.

The Crowdfunding Campaign

The first thing you need to know about the Shell backpack is that there aren’t any security features on this bag. There are no locks, no RFID pockets, and if someone slashes it, you’re just out of luck. This seems a little short-sighted because they’re calling it a “travel backpack”, and security is important when you’re traveling with all of your stuff. 

The top portion of the backpack doesn’t have any way to securely close it when it’s expanded. It’s just a flap that folds shut. It could just as easily unfold open if someone else wanted it to, making theft pretty easy. There’s not even a drawstring under the flap. When it’s expanded, you’re not going to be able to use it as a carryon bag, and luggage gets thrown and knocked around a lot. So if it’s not secured, your stuff is pretty likely to come out. 

Our Analysis and Review

The Shell backpack has two accessory bags that are available as add-ons: a toiletry bag and an electronic accessory bag. Both of these are actually pretty cool.

The toiletry bag has several sections, it folds out and can hang on doors, knobs, etc. There are several problems with these bags, however. The first is not with the accessory bags themselves, but with the Shell backpack. You can only attach one accessory bag to the outside of the backpack, as one backer pointed out in the comments. Why offer 2 bags if only one can be attached on the outside? Doesn’t packing an accessory bag on the inside of the backpack sort of defeat its purpose to make more room?

The 2nd problem is that the toiletry bag isn’t waterproof. The creators say “the material inside won’t let liquids stain other items in case something spills”. What if I’m not worried about staining? What if I have items that would be destroyed if they got wet? The 3rd problem is that many of the backers have been very vocal about their concerns about the security of theses bags in the comments.

The electronic accessory bag comes with a magnetic Fidlock system to secure it to the backpack. But the creators flat out say that if someone knows how the Fidlock system works, it won’t be safe from theft. 

The Potential Shortcomings

Using the Shell as a carryon could be problematic. The backpack is designed to expand to fit more stuff into it. When expanded, it holds 40 liters. Plenty of 40L backpacks will work as carryon luggage on planes, but not the Shell. In order to make it work as carryon, you can’t expand it. You’re left with a 30L backpack. This means that 10L of your stuff is going to get left behind. 

Say you already have a favorite backpack. Maybe it has features that the Shell doesn’t, or it holds sentimental value to you and you don’t want to buy a new backpack. But, you do like Shell’s wardrobe system. Very unfortunately, you can’t purchase the wardrobe system separately. The creators say that it was designed to accompany the shell backpack. That seems like it’s already cost them some sales because backers have asked about it in the comments. Likewise, you also can’t get the backpack with just the accessory bags, minus the wardrobe system. 

The bottom section of the wardrobe system has dividers which are meant to store small garments like socks or underwear. But one backer pointed out in the comments that this is actually a hindrance. You can’t remove the dividers, so it really limits what you can store in this section. 

There is a hip belt to help distribute weight, which is helpful. But several backers mentioned in the comments that they aren’t sure about it. It’s really not padded enough to distribute weight in a way that’s going to be comfortable. That indicates that carrying heavy loads in this backpack for extended periods of time is going to be a pain. 

What you see is what you get. The design of the Shell backpack, according to statements made by the creators in the comments section: “is already defined and won’t change much”. So, it pretty much doesn’t matter what backers ask for or suggest. On the one hand, that means the creator is probably pretty confident about their product. But on the other hand, they’re not going to be all about satisfying backers, and that could leave a bitter taste in the mouths of backers who offer suggestions. 

Wrap Up

So, does the Shell backpack live up to the hype? It depends. If you’re just going to throw it in your car and then take it hiking with you, it might be handy to keep some stuff in. But if you’re going to take it on a plane, or take it anyplace where security might be a concern, it really doesn’t measure up to all of the new security features for travel bags on the market today. If you fall into the latter category, check out this bag’s security features on Amazon (button below).