I’ve mentioned before that I’m addicted to bags. Backpacks, daypacks, travel-friendly purses, you name it, I’m always on the hunt for the perfect one, and I own way more bags than one person really needs. I thought I was done for a while.
Then I started talking to the owner and creator of the RiutBag (pronounced like riot) through Twitter because we both live in Berlin. She offered to let me try out her newest bag, the Riut X25, and I couldn’t resist.
What’s your backpack brand and model? How much does this backpack typically cost?
I’m reviewing the Riut X25, a 25L convertible style backpack. The RiutBags are backwards backpacks, which means the zippers are all against your back instead of facing outward. This makes it near impossible for someone to get into your bag and steal things out of it while you’re wearing it. It’s listed at £149.00.
How long have you had your backpack and where have you traveled with it?
I’ve only had the backpack for a month, but I tested it out on a recent one week trip to Malaga, Spain. It was the first time I took a trip of more than 4 nights with just a 25L backpack (plus my purse). I’m often challenging myself to pack less, and I wanted to see how I did with a smaller bag.
What factors were most important to you in choosing a backpack?
Pockets are super important to me. They keep me organized so the little things don’t get lost in big compartments. The backpack has to be comfortable since I could be wearing it for awhile. For bigger backpacks, like my REI Trail 40, a good waist strap is important, but that’s less of an issue for me with a smaller bag.
It’s also important to me that a backpack makes efficient use of space. I want a Mary Poppins bag, the kind that looks small but somehow manages to hold way more stuff than you’d think would fit in it.
>>Read our ultimate female guide to picking a backpack.
What do you like most about the Riut X25? Any down sides?
Overall, there’s a lot to like about this backpack, but there were a few things I thought could be better.
One of my favorite things about the Riut X25 is the laptop sleeve, which fits up to a 15 inch laptop. I have a small 13 inch laptop, so usually I think laptop compartments take away too much space from a backpack. But this one is slim enough that I don’t feel like I’m losing much space.
It’s located on the back, so the laptop sits against your back where it makes the most sense. And it zips closed, which I love. There’s even a secondary pocket in there where I easily fit my external drive and a few other small, flat things.
This bag also has several other pockets, which were helpful to me. I was able to fit small things like my toothbrush, medicine, iPhone cord, etc. in various ones for easy access.
The pocket on the bottom, which sits on the outside against your back, seemed a little small and I didn’t really have much to put in there. My passport fits in it, which is definitely secure, but I was traveling with a purse, so I wanted to have it more easily accessible to me in the airport. But if I didn’t have a purse with me, that’s the perfect spot for a passport.
There’s another pocket at the top that actually goes into the body of the bag. While it definitely helped with organization, I felt like there was space behind it I could never really get to.
The backpack opens up sort of like a suitcase. The flap that opens, which is the back panel and also where the laptop sleeve is, stays connected at the bottom and zips around the sides and top. This makes packing and getting to your stuff really easy.
The main compartment has a mesh panel that zips up over the entire thing. This means your stuff won’t fall out if you have to open the bag to get to a few things that are in the smaller pockets. But it’s also one more thing to unzip to get to your liquids bag at the security line. Since my backpack wasn’t completely full, I left the top of the mesh unzipped a little so it had some give, and I put my liquids bag on the outside of the mesh.
>>See our full list of the best travel backpacks for women.
One of the main selling points of this backpack is that it’s convertible. You can cinch up the sides and the top to make it a smaller bag (more like a laptop bag) with a few simple straps.
I tested out the smaller bag version when I used it as a daypack while exploring Malaga. It’s a cool feature, but I’m not sure that a daypack is its intended use.
- It’s not so easy to access things like water (there’s no water bottle pockets on the bag) while walking around a city or hiking up a hill.
- Since it opens like a suitcase, it was a little awkward for quickly getting to things. I had to put it down and almost completely unzip it to get to the few things I had in there since they were at the bottom.
- And I kind of wish it had another set of straps towards the bottom to cinch up the bottom end of the bag in its compressed state.
That said, if you want to use this option for taking your laptop and a few other things to a cafe for the afternoon, I think it would work great. So it might not be great as a sightseeing daypack, but for working from the road and toting your laptop around for the day, it’s great. I’d probably just pack my stuff bag for sightseeing next time.
The Riut X25 doesn’t have a rain cover, which concerned me a little at first since my laptop would be in there. But the material is thicker than my other backpacks, like my Osprey Escapist 25, and while I don’t think it’s officially waterproof, none of my stuff got wet when I got rained on in Berlin the morning I left for my trip.
The thicker material feels a little stiff, but I think that’s just because it’s new and needs to be broken in a little. I definitely don’t worry about this ripping.
Note: The bag weighs 1.28 kg (2.82 lbs) on it’s own.
I’ve never been pick-pocketed or mugged, but I know that it does happen, and traveling in unfamiliar places can make us more vulnerable to these kinds of crimes. Since this backpack is designed to be backwards, there’s no way someone could unzip it without you knowing it. The openings all lay against your back, which made me feel confident that no one could steal things out of my bag.
Tell us about the fit and comfort level of the Riut X25.
The Riut X25 is a comfortable bag. The straps are cushioned and easy to adjust. They have small elastic bands on the end that you wrap around the nylon straps once you’ve adjusted it to where you want it, that way they aren’t flapping around. I thought that was a neat little detail.
This bag has an attachable waist strap (for a small additional cost), which did help redistribute some of the weight of the bag. I used the bag with and without the waist strap. While I don’t think I needed it, it was nice to have, and if you tend to pack a little heavier of a bag, you’ll really appreciate it. It’s not a padded waist strap, but I didn’t think that was necessary for a 25L backpack anyway.
>>Check out the best backpacks for petite and slim women.
If you want to take your backpack as carry-on luggage, can you?
Yes, definitely. The Riut X25 is a small bag, and I had no problem taking it as carry-on on 4 flights. Actually before boarding the second leg of my flight home, they announced that it was a full flight and they might need some passengers to gate check their bags. An airline agent walked around the waiting area looking at people’s bags, and she approached me about checking mine. I almost laughed while pointing out how small my bag was, and when I moved it so she could see it, she actually looked disappointed and moved on to someone with a rolling suitcase.
Have you found the size to be too small, just right, or too large?
I think the Riut X25 is a great size whether you want to use it as a daypack or as your main bag. Here’s what I was able to fit in it for 7 days/6 nights in Malaga, not including what I was wearing or what I had in my small purse:
- 4 short sleeved shirts
- 2 tank tops
- 1 long sleeved hooded shirt
- 1 t-shirt and gym pants
- 1 pair of shorts
- 1 bra
- 7 pairs of underwear
- 5 pairs of socks
- liquids bag
- solid sunscreen, solid bug repellent, Tiger balm
- toothbrush, hair brush, hair ties, headband
- prescription medicine
- a box of granola bars, 3 protein bars, a bag of beef jerky
- umbrella (only because it was raining a lot when I left Berlin)
- laptop, external drive, cords, camera
- 350ml empty Nalgene water bottle
And I still had some room in the backpack!
>>Check out this 16L minimalist packing list.
Overall, would you recommend your backpack?
Yes, I would recommend the Riut X25. I love how much stuff it holds, most of the pockets are really great, and I absolutely love the laptop sleeve. This might not be the right bag for you if you want something to use on sightseeing type day trips where you need to access the bag contents often. If you’re looking for an everyday city bag or a backpack that doubles as a laptop bag, this is great.
>> Learn more on the official RiutBags website.
RiutBags provided me with a free X25 backpack, but all opinions are my own.