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Herschels Retreat brings classical simplicity to the laptop backpack

Its finallyBag Weekagain! The most wonderful week of the year at TechCrunch. Just in time for back to school, were bringing you reviews of bags of all varieties: from backpacks to rollers to messengers to fanny packs.
Ive been meaning to check out a Herschel bag for a while now, just to see what all the fuss is about. The Vancouver-based company has really exploded on the scene here in New York City over the past few years. The packs seemed to go from virtually non-existent to every backpack over night.
With Bag Week rapidly approaching, I asked Herschel to send along whichever laptop backpack they recommended, and received the Retreat in the mail. Ill be honest, the bag is a bit of a 180 from my usual. Doing what I do for a living, Ive adopted a bit of a more is more approach when it comes to backpacks more pockets, more slots. Ive got something for all of them.
Herschels Retreat brings classical simplicity to the laptop backpack

The Retreat presents a far more stripped-down approach. Theres the primary compartment with a slightly padded and fleece-lined laptop sleeve, and a medium-sized pocket on the outside with no zipper or snap. I appreciate the stripped-down approach perhaps loosing some of my cables and gadgets could go a ways toward clearing my head. For now, however, its a bit too minimalistic for my day to day commuter backpack needs.
Herschels Retreat brings classical simplicity to the laptop backpack

I have, however, found a spot for it in my life as a handy gym bag. Theres not a ton of volume here, but its plenty sufficient for gym clothes and a pair of running shoes. Its solid, too, for those days when youre feeling liberated enough to leave the house with little more than your laptop. I need to get better than that, and reckon the Retreat could help.
The build is solid. Herschel completely eschews zippers here. Instead, the mountaineering-style pack has a top flap that closes with magnetic snaps at the end of long leather straps. Theres also a drawstring to better close the top compartment. That should keep things in, though I probably wouldnt recommend getting caught in a downpour with a laptop inside.
Herschels Retreat brings classical simplicity to the laptop backpack

Its nice to look at as well the only drawback here being that youre bound to see a lot of fellow travelers sporting the same model. Or heck, maybe thats even more motivation to pick one up you do you. The black and brown (though there are a full 38 color options from which to choose) is offset nicely by the red and white interior lining.
At $80 (and less, depending on where you buy), the price is also right for what amounts to a solid if simple bag.
Herschels Retreat brings classical simplicity to the laptop backpack
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