The Moshi Helios Designer Laptop Backpack: Practically Perfect in Every Way

I’m always on the lookout for a fashionable backpack that is comfortable to wear, holds all my gear, and that doesn’t weigh too much when empty (it really matters when you’re packing a lot of gear). The Moshi Helios came in right before my trip to the IFA Global Press Conference, so it got a trial by fire.

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The Helios is available in two sizes — one fits up to a 15″ MacBook Pro retina (that’s the one I asked for), and the Helios Lite which can hold up to a 13″ MacBook Pro retina.

Composed of “weather-resistant fabrics [high resilience polyester] and vegan leather trim” and measuring approximately 16.5″ tall by 13″ wide and 4.3″ deep, the Helios has a slim silhouette. Don’t let that fool you, though, as this backpack can be loaded down when needed.

On the front, there is a zippered pocket that measures 8″ wide by 6″ deep. The metal zipper pull has a subtle moshi embossed on it, and there is a small metal square on the bottom that says moshi, as well. The two adjustable belts on the front fasten to the bag with round magnetic snaps; you can let the belts out fully when you are carrying a lot of gear (which is what I did in Hong Kong and China), but for normal, non-travel days, you can bring them in a bit.

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The Helios is available in black or brown.

The shoulder straps measure approximately 2.25″ across, and they are thickly padded. One of the first things I discovered about the bag that made me think it would be perfect for travel was the 8″ tall by 9″ deep hidden pocket on the back side. This is a great place to store boarding passes, passports, or anything else you don’t want to take a chance of someone getting to when you are on a packed subway or in a crowded market; it’s invisible when you are wearing the backpack.

Worth noting is that when the bag is totally loaded down, the adjustable shoulder straps do not constantly loosen; that’s something I’ve run into with much more expensive bags, and it makes me crazy! 😛

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There’s a 1″ wide handle on the top of the bag, and I can tell you that it was strong enough to lift the bag when I had around 15 pounds of gear inside, but I do wish that it had a bit more padding or a roll to it, or even better — a matte metal tubular handle to match the zipper pulls. If (like me) you tend to hoist your bag by the handle, you’ll agree that a bit more to grip would be nice.

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Here’s a peek inside the zippered pocket on the outside flap.

When you lift the front flap, you’re greeted by a 12″ wide by 13″ deep pocket. It’s perfect for carrying files, your iPad Pro (if you are also carrying a laptop), and any other large flat items. It’s not padded, but if you keep your tablet in a case, it should be just fine.

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The interior is very roomy. On the front wall, there is an 11″ wide by 7.5″ deep zippered pocket; this is where I stored my cables and other loose flat items.

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Just in front of that pocket, there is a 8″ wide by 5.5″ tall slash pocket that can hold any size smartphone in a case or your Kindle. Next to the slash pocket are two pen pockets. The 15″ laptop compartment is padded with about .25″ foam all around. In front of it are two padded 6″ by 6″ pockets that can hold smartphones in any case, a smaller camera, or anything else you want to keep safe that will fit. In the bottom, there is an elastic loop to hold a water bottle if you usually carry one (and you should).

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I loaded my Helios down with an iPad Pro, the HP Elite x2 tablet, a Kindle, assorted charging cables, a digital camera, souvenirs, and at times my small handbag; it’s loaded down in these pictures, and it still looks good! The only issue I ran into is that because Hong Kong is a warm and humid place to walk around, my back did get a bit sweaty underneath the bag. It’s not a huge issue, but I did notice it. In cooler climates or indoors, there’s no problem.


The Moshi Helios is a fashionable, functional, and comfortable backpack; it’s great for daily use or travel!

The Helios Backpack retails for $149.95, and it is available directly from Moshi.

Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample

What I Like: Looks great; Slim styling hides how much this bag can carry; Shoulder straps do not loosen when the bag is loaded down; Hidden zippered pocket on backside perfect for travel documents; Plenty of pockets inside for all of your gear; Weather-resistant material is great if you get caught in rain

What Needs Improvement: I wish that the handle on top was padded; In hot and humid environments, the bag will make your back sweat a bit

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About the Author

Judie Lipsett Stanford
Judie is the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of Gear Diary, which she founded in September 2006. She started in 1999 writing software reviews at the now-defunct; from mid-2000 through 2006, she wrote hardware reviews for and co-edited at The Gadgeteer. A recipient of the Sigma Kappa Colby Award for Technology, Judie is best known for her device-agnostic approach, deep-dive reviews, and enjoyment of exploring the latest tech, gadgets, and gear.