When you hear the phrase “douche bag”, your mind might automatically conjure up the slang definition of “an obnoxious, offensive, or disgusting person.” Set that aside for now, okay? For this review, Douchebags is a Norwegian brand of smarter travel gear, and the Douchebags Base 15L Daypack is one of the nicest and most stylish backpacks I’ve yet tried.
There’s no word on why the name Douchebags was chosen for their new company, but the story goes that in 2009, Truls and Jon met each other in Stadt, Norway. After visiting for a bit, they discovered that they both enjoyed traveling and searching for “epic skiing”. After commiserating about how miserable it was to travel with a bunch of ski gear, dealing with “bulky bags, heavy carrying, and expensive overweight charges,” they decided that they could do better and on January 1, 2012, they introduced the “worlds lightest, length adjustable and fully compressible wheeled ski bag.” Not content to stop with ski bags, they now have a full line of roller bags, backpacks, and accessories, which brings us to the Base 15L Daypack.
The Douchebags Base 15L ships in a reusable water-resistant nylon bag that you’re going to want to keep because it doubles as a great laundry bag at home — or you can use it to stow sweaty clothes inside your backpack after a workout. Of course, if you are a neat freak, you can also use it as a storage bag for those few times when you might not be carrying your Base 15L when it’s stored in your closet.
The Douchebags Base 15L is available in solid black, white, green, and the special (and striking!) RED|efined edition I received. The RED|efined version is black all over with the exception of the red webbed polyester ribbon vertically lined down its right side and the red cord on two of the zipper pulls. The bag arrives folded flat, but once you pop out the sides, you’d find that it is a very substantial bag — even though it only weighs about 2 pounds 8 ounces empty.
Measuring approximately 19″ tall by 13″ at the bottom (11.5″ at the top) by 6″ deep at the bottom (3″ at the top), the Douchebags Base 15L is a sleek, streamlined bag composed of 600D Polyester and 500D TPE on the exterior. The bag looks like it is made of leather, but it’s vegan and light. I’m not going to say that it’s waterproof, but the Base 15L is definitely a bag that you aren’t going to freak out about should you get caught in the rain.
On the front, there are two 1″ wide webbed polyester ribbons running from top to bottom; they are stitched to the bag in ~4.5″ intervals so that accessories (like a carabiner keychain) can be attached to them if you’d like. Near the bottom of the bag, there is a tasteful metal Db tag, and if you look closely, you’ll see that the webbed polyester ribbons have words stitched into them: the black ribbon says Db at regular intervals, while the red ribbon repeats REDEFINED, then Est. January 1, 2012, and what appears to be a series of GPS coordinates.
One of the things that stand out about the bag’s styling is the “rib cage” on each side. These three ABS “ribs” on each side help the bag keep its shape, but they also help protect the bag’s contents from crushing.
Inspired by how the human rib cage protects the body’s most valuable organs, the patented Rib Cage construction protects the gear inside the bag. The Rib Cage construction is composed of strong and lightweight ABS ribs, providing protection as well as support.
Built into the shoulder strap harness, on the top, there is a nicely padded 2″ handle for easy grabbing.
Notice the two flat, metal Db branded hooks at the top of the Bouchebags Base 15L; these make it possible to easily attach the backpack to your Douchebags carry-on or luggage for shoulder-free transport at the airport or train station.
The patented Hook-Up system allows weight to be lifted off human shoulders and placed over wheels instead. The Base 15L can easily be hooked up to all of our roller bags.
On the upper right side of the bag, there is a 7″ long zippered pocket that is about 9″ deep. This is the perfect place to store plane tickets, travel documents, your phone, or other things you might need immediate access to.
On the back, there is a 16.5″ long black zipper that secured the laptop compartment. Douchebags says it will fit a 15″ MacBook, but it also easily fit my 15″ Dell XPS with plenty of room. I suspect that if you are still carrying a 17″ MacBook Pro or another similarly sized larger laptop, it will fit just fine. There is substantial padding on the outside wall of the laptop compartment, the area that will touch your back or hit the ground if your bag is dropped, and it feels like there’s about 1/4″ padding between the laptop compartment and the interior of the bag.
Inside the Douchebags Base 15L, there is so much room! Rather than unzipping from the top to the sides, the bag opens on one side only via a ~26″ long zipper. This allows you to really open the bag and see everything inside without worrying that anything might tumble out. On the top flap, there is a gray net pocket that is held closed with a ~17″ zipper. The pocket measures approximately 17.5″ long, and at its deepest point is about 5.5″; the interior is made of a 300D gray Polyester.
Inside the bag, there is a cavernous padded space that measures approximately 20″ by 7″ at its widest point. It is easily large enough for several changes of clothing and up to two pairs of shoes (assuming you’re not packing boots). If you are a careful packer, I suspect you could get more than a weekend’s worth of clothing in there.
On the outside wall of the Douchebags Base 15L, there are two deep pockets held closed with subtle magnets. The larger pocket is about 10″ wide by 10″ deep, and the smaller pocket is ~6.5″ wide by 10″ deep. My first thought when opening the bag was that it would be excellent for a gym bag, or with the proper insert, a photography bag. I like that they have kept this area simple and open — You can decide how it will work best for you, and then you can fill it accordingly.
The rear of the bag has a Db embossed Polyethylene back-protection plate. It’s protective and thick, and while it will get a bit warm on the hottest days, it is not uncomfortable. The 1/4″ thick padded straps are about 2.25″wide, and they comfortably carry the contents whether you have one strap on your shoulder or you’ve evenly distributed the bag’s weight on both shoulders. Flat, metal Db branded hooks hold the polyester adjustment straps to the shoulder straps. On your back, the Base 15L rests solidly and securely; it’s quite comfortable.
The Douchebags Base 15L Daypack is an extraordinary find because it is rugged without looking schleppy, roomy without looking huge, protective without being bulky, and it’s the perfect marriage between fashion and function. I love the pop of color that their RED|efined line gives, but if you want to go a bit more stealthy, you can always opt for their solid black or green version — or go white! Everything about this bag screams “QUALITY”, and I suspect that it will last for many years of hard use.
The Base 15L is the first Douchebags product I’ve tried; while the name is a bit obnoxious (to those of us in the US, anyway), the bag is a wonderful find!
The Douchebags Base 15L Daypack pricing starts at $129; the RED|efined version, as tested in this review sells for $169; they are available directly from the manufacturer.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample
What I Like: Sleek, minimal styling on outside of bag; Excellent bag made of quality materials; Roomy zippered outside access pocket; Large padded laptop compartment; Rib Cage design helps protects against crushing without making the bag bulky; Metal hooks for attaching to Douchebags luggage for easier transport in airports; Roomy interior that can hold a weekend+ worth of clothing and shoes; Included storage bag can be put to other uses; Comfortable shoulder straps; With the proper insert, it could be a fab photography bag: Subtle branding — the bag does not scream “douche bag”
What Needs Improvement: The stylish RED|efined version is pricey, but the solid colors are more reasonable