Outbound Reviewed: Thule Accent Backpack 20L

A great, travel-ready laptop backpack

I’ve never been a laptop backpack person; they never really felt right on me. For too many years I preferred to throw my laptop into a tote bag and lug it, my water, snacks, wallet, and usually a change of clothes around on my left shoulder. It was often heavy and created an imbalance in my shoulders and back, but I didn’t mind. I never thought anything of it until a yoga instructor friend called me out for having an overdeveloped left shoulder which was causing imbalances in my back and leading to an ankle injury I was struggling with.

Fast-forward another couple years of stubbornly lugging my heavy tote bag around when I came across the Thule Accent Backpack 20L. Finally, a laptop bag that fit me right! The minimalist design is city-ready, while the material is durable enough to withstand tree branches from the impromptu hike. It is comfortable enough to wear all day and has a low profile when filled (bonus points for not knocking over people around you while squished on trains while commuting to work). What I love most is how thoughtfully designed the bag is, making it perfect for travel.

The main inside pocket has separate compartments for your laptop and tablets (or magazine, or thin journal), so you don’t have to worry about scratching. There are also two mesh pockets that I usually use for holding business cards, hand lotion and/or an energy bar. There are a couple pen holders that I realistically only use when I’m super organized and packing for a trip (afterward the pens tend to end up elsewhere..), but it’s a nice feature to have.

There is a “SafeZone” (hard-shelled) compartment that's a perfect place for me to put my sunglasses when I inevitably forget their case. This of course turns into the place I store my car keys, chapstick, cell phone, and other items not great to have next to exposed sunglasses, but when zippered, the pocket holds things in place and in the 5 months I’ve had it I haven’t had any problems.

The front flat pocket is perfect to store flat objects I’ll need to grab quickly, like boarding passes, though I haven’t been flying much recently so it tends to hold an energy bar or two for emergency “hangry” moments.

Finally, there is a convenient pass through panel on the back of the bag that allows you to attach the bag to your roller luggage. I’ve only used this once when I was trying to avoid putting my bag down on a dirty train station floor while I was futzing with a jacket, but it’s a nice feature to have.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much the bag can hold on numerous occasions. With a laptop, tablet, Beats headphones, camera, scarf, and book, the bag still has plenty of room to spare. If you’re like me and you like having your stuff accessible during flights, this bag also slides nicely under the seat in front of you.

All-in-all, I’m super pleased with this bag. I like that it doesn’t feel heavy or awkward when I have it on, and I like the low-profile nature of it. I do wish it came in a couple more colors, but you can’t go wrong with black! You can also find it in larger sizes like the Thule Access 23L.


Photos courtesy of Thule and Liam McNally

Published: September 25, 2018

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Kristi TeplitzAdmin

San Francisco

Executive Producer at The Outbound