Bags

IKEA Varldens 36L Backpack Review

Today we’re taking a look at the 36L Varldens backpack from IKEA. I did a previous ‘hands on’ video with this bag and a link is in the top right if you want to see that. But in this video I’ll be talking about what I liked and didn’t like about it and going slightly more in depth with some of the features of the bag and how they feel in practice.

Features

So taking a look at the bag’s design it may come across as fairly plain and lacking in pockets. And it looks like it would be a top loading bag. However its rear panel opens in a full clamshell to give complete access to the bag. Taking a closer look around the outside of the bag there are also 2 hidden pockets. These would be useful for stashing headphones or notepads. The front has a large pouch with cinchable cords on either side. I don’t know what they expect this pocket to be used for but you could put a jacket or some loose items in there when passing through the TSA security. You could probably also store a drink bottle in here as there are no external drink bottle pockets.

The bag has a top zip which leads into the same main compartment as the rear panel access. A little bit of an odd design but I guess if you quickly wanted to store something in the bag without fully opening it, its a nice thing to have. On the bottom of the bag is a small zippered compartment which actually also leads into the main compartment but with its own enclosed pocket. This is designed for storing and carrying shoes but could be used to store anything you want even a camera cube. Its worth noting though that whatever you put in here takes away from the space in the main compartment.

In terms of how much you can pack in here and how long you could travel with. I think its on the large end of backpacks. And you could easily carry enough for months and months in here. Although that comes down to efficiency and how much laundry you’re willing to wash. But for a beginner getting into one-bagging I think its an affordable and sizeable starting bag that would help you learn the ins and outs of packing with only one bag. Especially since its main compartment is just a single area. So it encourages the use of packing cubes. Which fortunately enough IKEA also make several types of packing cubes. I did a review on them here (click in the top right to see that).

My favourite feature of this bag is that it weighs only 730 grams (1.6lbs) which means is quite a bit lighter than many of the other popular ‘one bags’ and that means you’ll have less overall weight to carry and can pack more when you need to. For me I was able to carry my usual clothing packing cube, electronics pouch and toiletries with a lot of extra leftover space. I put my 13″ laptop in to the dedicated laptop pocket too which can hold probably up to a 15″ or so laptop. And while it does have padding the padding doesn’t go around the edge of the sleeve so you might want to put the laptop into its own padded bag before carrying it here.

Build

The build quality of this bag doesn’t feel cheap but it does leave me wondering how long it would last with heavy usage. I believe IKEA have a pretty good warranty on it though and there are IKEAs in most countries so if you ever did have a problem I don’t think it would be hard to replace.

One thing I didn’t really like about the design of this bag is that the cinch cords on the size don’t have any elastic to hold the loose cord down so the straps flap around and generally look quite messy. Another thing I didn’t like is that the straps themselves are quite high up on the bag and relatively thinly padded for a bag of this size. So carrying a heavily packed bag for a longer period of time would become uncomfortable.

Price

The price of this bag is surprisingly affordable at USD$39.99 which is an absolute steal for the features, size and weight of this bag.

Overall

Overall I think its a great bag especially for the price you really can’t beat it and I think it would be suited to beginners or those looking for a larger or lighter bag for their future travels or even just a weekend bag.

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