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40L Topo Designs Travel Bag Review: An Organizational Dream

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Like organization? And durable luggage? In classic (but totally not boring) colors? Have we got a travel bag for you! It’s the 40L Topo Designs Travel Bag and it. Is. Legit. So if you’re in the market for a new bag for all kinds of travel (business, road trips, international, short and sweet visits with your in-laws…) read (or watch) to learn all about it, including what we thought of this organizational and customizable travel backpack!

(Looking for other Topo Designs Travel Bag content? Here are our review of Topo Designs’ 30L Travel Bag and our Topo Designs Travel Bag comparison).

The 40L Topo Designs Travel Bag in Olive.
The Topo Designs 40L Travel Bag in Olive.

40L Topo Designs Travel Bag: Pros and Cons

Here’s a quick look at the pros and cons of the 40L Topo Designs Travel Bag.


  • Colors: the bag comes in all black, navy with yellow and red accents, and olive green with yellow and red accents. They are cool, classic colors with just a touch of that 80’s and 90’s vibe that’s all over Topo’s lineup of clothing and gear.
  • Organization: there’s a square main compartment for all your clothes and such–the rolling method or Topo’s packing cubes work great in there–then, unlike the 30L, which just has the one compartment, the 40L has two interior dividers with even more pockets that create multiple compartments for storing and separating clothing and gear.
  • Spacious front pocket: the larger front pocket has enough depth for bulky items like books or snacks and makes quick-grab items like charging cables, passports or a small camera easily accessible.
  • Handles on three sides: very sturdy handles will stand up to quite a bit of wear and tear and abuse.
  • Carry your way: the bag offers multiple ways to carry it. You can use it as a backpack, stash the straps and attach the included shoulder strap to carry it messenger-style, or hand-carry like a duffle. It’s super versatile.
  • Rectangular: it fits beautifully in the back of a car or in an overhead bin or in a hotel room drawer.
  • Padded laptop pocket: a large, padded laptop pocket makes the bag super useful if you’ll be traveling with up to a 17″ laptop (which we always do).
  • Daisy chains: Need extra room to store things like jackets, scarves, or, I dunno, a ukulele? Daisy chain webbing on the front of the bag offers a way to lash stuff to the outside of your bag.
  • Compatible with attachable daypacks: Need even more space? Or like to travel with a smaller daypack for shorter excursions once your reach your destination? The 40L Travel Bag is designed so you can attach a Rover Pack, Y-Pack, Global Briefcase or 3-Day Global Briefcase onto the front. This might be our favorite feature, because it makes the pack extremely customizable.
Awkwardly long and narrow interior zippered pockets in the 40L Topo Designs Travel Bag.
Awkwardly long and narrow interior zippered pockets.


  • Not terribly comfortable: when it’s really loaded down, especially if you have narrow shoulders or a small frame, it’s not super comfortable if you’ll be carrying it for long periods of time. The padded hip belt does help.
  • Large: a benefit when it comes to packing, the large rectangular shape becomes a detractor if you are small, like me. In fact, the bag looks a bit like I’m carting around a climbing crash pad everywhere I go. It fits a lot better on Josh.
  • Oddly-shaped pockets: the ones inside the very front pocket are just too long and awkwardly narrow to be exceedingly useful, at least in our experience.
  • No water bottle pockets: to be fair, most bags meant to be carried several ways don’t have water bottle pockets, but we still missed not being able to carry one on the outside of our pack without a carabiner.
  • Tricky Laptop pocket: While we love having a laptop pocket, the zippered opening is a bit small, so you have to slide your laptop in at an angle and finagle a bit to get it seated inside. Not a deal-breaker, just something we noticed.
Alisha with the 40L Topo bag.
Alisha with the 40L Topo bag.

More Deets

As for travel, while the 30L Travel Bag just squeaks in under budget airline’s “personal item” size limits, this 40L is too big for that. But! It does still qualify as a carry on with most other airlines, so you don’t have to pay to check it…unless you want to, I guess…

As for what can fit inside: plenty. It held all of Josh’s clothes and shoes for a recent two-month road trip, plus his very bulky laptop and related accessories with ease. We do tend to be minimalists when it comes to packing (and life), so for the sake of those of you who don’t travel with only two pairs of pants for months at a time, you could still easily get away with a week’s worth of clothing. A long weekend at the very least (if you really don’t know how to pack light, in which case, you should read our guide to packing light).

organization in the topo designs 40L travel bag
So much organization!


While this bag isn’t super sustainable in any particular way (it’s not made out of recycled plastic or salvaged fabrics), Topo Designs gear does stand behind the quality and durability of their products with a lifetime warranty. They design these bags to last for years and years, and they offer a lifetime warranty. And if something does go awry, they will help you repair the bag instead of expecting you to just toss it in a landfill. So that’s a start (but we would like to see them use more environmentally-friendly materials or processed in the future).

Josh, happy with his Topo bag.
Josh, happy with his Topo bag.

The Bottom Line

Long story short, the 40L Topo Designs Travel Bag might be up there with the 30L in the list of the best travel bags of all time. Between the durable materials, lifetime warranty, and extreme organization options, you can take this bag anywhere and everywhere for, very likely, decades. ‘Cause it’s gonna last.

And if all that interior organization and options for different ways to carry it weren’t enough, we are absolutely tickled by the built-in clips that allow you to attach smaller bags to the outside for extra storage. Because, frankly, we just don’t want to have to lug a bag this big around in places like Antigua, Guatemala or Berlin, Germany–we always want a smaller daypack once we arrive. Plus, I find that brands who put a little extra thought into creating products that work together so seamlessly (lookin’ at you, too, Peak Design) are just winning. I mean, who wants a closet full of mismatched bags and packing cubes and various travel solutions when you can have one organized and customizable kit that works for just about everything from a weekend trip to a two-month backpacking adventure across Europe to a road trip across the continent to a business trip on the other side of the world?

Attachment clips allow you to snap on a handful of other small daypacks (including several options without that leather lash loop).

And since Topo designs their products for “Anywhere on your map,” you better believe they are just as functional in the city as they are in more rugged outdoor terrain.

Find the Topo Designs 40L Travel Bag on Topo’s website, here. And if you have any questions about the bag, ask away! Then get out there and wander on.

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