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Samvaer City Camino backpack review

12 Dec 2018

On trend styled backpack is well made, but it doesn’t do enough to justify its pricetag, and there are better bags out there for cycling

Cyclist Rating: 
• Quirky Scandi styling •Nifty reflective detailing • Roll-top, waxed cotton construction
• Lacks any real technical features • Overpriced

The Samvaer Camino backpack is a good-looking little number. It does the main things fairly well – it’s not overly complicated, it is made of quality materials and its roll-top form means it can expand its volume considerably or pack itself up into something more compact.

It’s designed to be a commuting backpack, so to that end, it’s billed as water resistant, thanks to a waxed cotton construction, and it has some particularly nice little reflective details, namely stripes on the bottom that present themselves to traffic when you’re bent over in the riding position.

That is a detail I can really get behind. It’s also made in the UK, which is nice to see in this day and age.

Buy the City Camino backpack from Samvaer 

However, sadly there are some things that I just can’t quite get on board with.

First, it is only available in bright yellow. Now I like that colour, but I can tell you now others won’t, and furthermore, it’s a colour that’s very susceptible to staining from road grime, and given this is a commuter piece, it should be able to suffer some pretty bad weather and not come up looking ragged.

On the plus side, it’s a bright colour good in low light conditions.

Speaking of conditions, despite the billing this isn’t particularly water resistant; the material isn’t bad in a shower but some of the seams and zips allow visible water ingress in parts. For a commuting bag designed to carry things such as laptops or papers, I think that’s a pretty severe drawback.

The laptop storage isn’t exactly secure, being more of a pouch in the inner liner that holds a small laptop (nothing bigger than a 13” Macbook I’d say). It doesn’t place the end of the laptop at the bottom of the bag, which is good as this means if you drop the Camino your laptop won’t strike the floor, but as storage for something most people would have spent £500 or more on, it’s not robust enough.

Elsewhere the pockets are good – a useful front zipper one for things such as wallets and keys and phone, but again, not exceptional.

The bag itself feels a lot lighter than I expected. In some regards, that’s good, because why start off with something heavy before you’ve even filled it up? But in other respects, it doesn’t scream long-term durability, even if it out of the box it looks fresh and well made and does have a nice ‘feel’.

That adds up to a bag that doesn’t have a natural structure or shape, as it were. It’s very ‘clothy’, and despite the padded back, it feels more like a nice sack than a backpack.

This might sound quite harsh and were the Camino backpack half the price I’d feel more lenient. But I currently own and have owned a variety of far more robust bags better suited to cycle commuting that cost the same or less.

Buy the City Camino backpack from Samvaer 

True, they may not be quite so on-trend design-wise, but since Samvaer was born out of founder Crispin Moller’s frustration at ‘having to choose either function or style’, I think these criticisms are fair. Because the Camino has style, but it doesn’t have more than very basic function.

A pretty little day sack, but not a regular commuting friend.