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The Herschel Little America Backpack Review (2020 Update)

herschel little america review

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The Herschel Little America backpack is a classic-design bag that has become very popular in Germany recently. The size and style make it great for students and commuters alike. 

Eva bought her Herschel Little America to use as an everyday backpack but soon found she even preferred it for a weekend away. 

If you are looking for a smaller daybag or the perfect ultra-light packing size, look no further. The Herschel Little America is durable, and its sleek look fits in well whether you’re a tourist at a hostel or a professional on a business trip.

Herschel Little America Quick Review

  • Top Pick for: Commuters, students, and professionals looking for an everyday backpack or carry-on bag, and ultralight travelers wanting a sophisticated style.

Pros

  • Convenient laptop sleeve and media pocket
  • Sophisticated design
  • Comfortable construction

Cons

  • Only one size available
  • Bulky when full
  • Not many organizational pockets

Why I Chose the Herschel Little America Backpack

herschel little america backpack review
Eva’s 25L Herschel Little America backpack

I have owned backpacks in a variety of sizes over the last couple of years, but I needed a good backpack for every day. I am currently finishing up my Ph.D. thesis in addition to working in the marketing/blogging industry, so it is not uncommon for me to be carrying around dozens of books, a laptop, food, and drinks. 

Last year, I finally decided to follow the trend here in Germany and buy my Herschel Little America.

To be honest, I never really thought about using it for traveling. I had heard good things about the size, it fits 25L which is a lot and was just what I needed for my commute.

Another reason was comfort: I had bad neck pain and desperately needed an alternative to my usual combination of a purse and several other bags. Since I divide my time between my workplace and several libraries, I needed a design that was timeless and would also fit into every aspect of my life.

Backpack Testing Period

Herschel Little America Backpack Review
The inside of the Herschel Little America backpack

I ordered my Herschel backpack just over two years ago and at first only used it as my usual daypack to go to work and to university. After a couple of months, I took it to Vienna for a short research trip, however, as my carry-on luggage which had my laptop, camera and books in it.

Since then I have been on a three week trip to the U.S. West Coast from Seattle to San Francisco (passing through wonderful Portland, OR) where I also used it as carry-on. 

After loving this backpack for a year, I was finally brave enough to size down and solely relied on it for a weekend away in Lindau at Lake Constance. It was a success so a few months later, I used it on a conference/weekend trip again, this time to Hamburg.

  • Get your own Herschel Little America backpack on their official site.

Best Features

I love that the Herschel doesn’t disappoint.

It’s huge, i.e. everything fits in it and it is really sturdy so that I am not afraid of it breaking because I constantly overload it. 

It also doesn’t feel heavy as soon as it is on your back; it is very well padded and the weight is distributed equally. 

It is reasonably priced and actually good quality. I also like the look of it, which I know many people do, thus the huge trend in Germany.

Who Does It Work Best for?

I’m an average/athletic build woman, but quite tall at 5’9″. The backpack works just fine for me, but may be too huge for anyone not as tall or more petite.

It is a bit bulky when filled. Although the straps can be adjusted, it is a one-size-should-fit-all with dimensions of HxWxD: 19.5″ x 11.25″ x 7″.

Size & Packability

Herschel Little America Backpack Review
Eva can fit a lot in her Herschel Little America backpack, especially when she uses packing cubes.

I took it on its first flight to Hamburg as carry-on and didn’t have to worry about airline restrictions. It may depend on the flight and airline though: some of the budget airlines have very strict rules and probably wouldn’t allow me to take it as carry-on. 

I have flown internationally with it a couple of times with different airlines and never had any issues if I put it in the overhead compartment.

I’d say it is perfect if you need a backpack for everyday use, for a couple of weekend city trips, or if you are a very light packer. Then the size is just right.

A downside may be that it only has one large compartment with a padded laptop sleeve and a very small front pocket, so I really needed my packing cubes to travel with it and to have everything fit in there smoothly. For those who just want to shove their things in there, it may not be the right choice.

Editor’s note: The latest version of the Herschel Little America also has an internal stowaway pocket to keep pens and smaller objects together. This pocket also includes a media sleeve, complete with an external headphone port, to keep your phone conveniently near the top of your pack.

FAQs

Is it waterproof? No, it is not actually waterproof, but the Herschel website describes it as “water resistant.”

What size laptop will fit? The laptop sleeve will fit up to a 15″ laptop. Bonus: it’s extra padded and fleece-lined.

Is it vegan? Yes, the Herschel Little America is vegan, as the straps are a faux leather. (However, not all Herschel products are vegan.)

How should I clean my Herschel Little America?
The Herschel staff say that hand washing the bag is best, using a mild soap, such as dish soap. Definitely hang it to air dry and don’t use a machine to wash or dry (nor dry cleaning).

Recommendation

I would totally recommend it! My backache is gone and I’m surprised every time how much fits in it if you know how to compartmentalize. The design is timeless so I intend to keep it for a long time to come!

About the author: Eva is a PhD student in Munich, Germany. She loves to travel and blogs at Travel the Whole Wide World. You can also follow her on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.

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Gear We Use

Organization

Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.


Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.


Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Clothing

Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Accommodation

Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking!

Booking.com – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

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