Over the last 6 years, we have travelled to a LOT of countries.
4 months backpacking here, 3 months road tripping there, a weekend city break to boot.
Cheap flights and the chance to work remotely means we get to travel in all kinds of different ways, and to all kinds of countries.
And one thing we are always excited to do is trial new travel gear, from innovative companies looking to make packing for a trip easier and more effective.
Enter Solgaard. A company doing exactly that!
We have been lucky enough to work with them, and review Solgaard's 3 most popular backpacks … Lifepack, Endeavor, and Hustle.
Below, I’ll take you through how we got on with each one and highlight who we believe each one is best suited to.
Full Disclosure: We received courtesy product and compensation from Solgaard in exchange for our honest review only. All opinions expressed here are our own.
Founded by a guy called Adrian (yep, you guessed it, Adrian Solgaard), they are an innovative young company, who have developed a range of different products for modern travelers and nomads.
In particular, a range of backpacks designed to suit different travel needs.
Some bags are more geared towards longer trips away, whilst others are better suited to people like Cazzy and I, who live a life where the lines between travel and work are very much blurred.
Or in their words, offering …
“Premium gear for global citizens living their lives on the go”
When choosing which travel brands to use, we are trying to be more and more eco-friendly.
So it’s great to know that Solgaard has woven an environmental consciousness thoroughly into the company's DNA.
In fact, for every item purchased through Solgaard, they pull 5lbs of plastic from the ocean.
That’s roughly 229 bottles.
Not bad … but how does this stack up in the grand scheme of things?
Well, as of July 2021, that equates to around 12 million bottles!
In other products they are working on, such as their HomeBase system and Solarbanks, they use another product called Shore-Plast™.
A stronger plastic material that compliments the mesh-like material Shore-Tex™.
Both materials are high quality, strong, and fully recyclable once the life of the product is over.
Like many innovative firms, Solgaard is very much a community-driven brand.
When developing a new product, they head on over to Kickstarter to help generate early buzz and provide the funds necessary to bring crazy product ideas to life.
Not every brand who uses Kickstarter sees success.
Far from it in fact.
But Solgaard has successfully run 6 different campaigns, along the way raising more than $2.3million on Kickstarter, and almost another $1 million through Indiegogo!
Allowing them to continually stay close to their target audience, innovate, and stay ahead of older, much larger brands.
The only place to pick up Solgaard products is directly through their website.
Their site is easy to use and all products are broken down clearly into their different ranges. Which now includes backpacks, suitcases, and other accessories.
There are a range of different payment methods, like PayPal or credit/debit card and they ship internationally from the United States.
PLEASE NOTE: Solgaard has been forced to temporarily suspend EU shipping due to recent changes in VAT laws. I will update this post when the issue is resumed.
As we are currently driving around the world, they shipped all the way to an address in Spain. And the packages arrived in less than a week, with no fuss, which was pretty impressiveBelow, we trial out 3 of their most popular backpacks. Here are the exact products featured in this Solgaard review:
The Lifepack is Solgaard’s flagship product. Designed to be suitable for modern travellers, who need to switch between work and play on a daily basis.
The pack has been cleverly organised into two main compartments. The back being the “Work Zone” and the front being the “Life Zone”.
Allowing you to properly organise your electronics, as well as providing a separate space for clothes, shoes or whatever else you might need on you.
On top of this, it’s designed largely as an anti-theft travel backpack.
There is an integrated lock to deter thieves looking to quickly open your bag and grab whatever they can.
As far as bag security goes, I think they’ve done a pretty solid job. They'be not gone so far as bags like the Loctote Flak Sack, but they do make the process of locking your bag about as quick and easy as it needs to be. Compared to most other backpacks where you need to have your own lock that always goes missing when you actually need it.
If you’re a digital nomad like us, then you’re going to love how this bag has been laid out.
It really is innovative and designed for modern travelers who work and travel. The biggest benefit being how the bag is structured and laid out, with very obvious compartments for different pieces of equipment you need on a daily basis.
Including things like my laptop, glasses, wallet and memory cards.
At the same time, the 50/50 split between work and lifestyle also gives plenty of room for any extra things we may need, like spare clothes, a towel, gym gear or bulky headphones.
The obvious main selling point with the Lifepack is it’s charging capabilities.
Like all the bags in this review, there is a built-in charging area, allowing you to connect up your chosen power bank and then seamlessly charge devices whilst out on the go.
In the digital age, this is actually a really brilliant feature.
But really, if you’re going to go for the Lifepack then you should 100% opt for their Solarbank.
The Lifepack has been custom designed with this exact power bank in mind, allowing it to seamlessly integrate and recharge throughout the day whilst you’re out and about.
As of writing, we haven’t yet had a chance to trial either the Solarbank or the Solarbank Boombox. The latter being a slightly beefier version which does the exact same things, but also has in-built speakers.
For a thorough, independent review of these power banks, check out the product pages and accompanying reviews here.
If you want the short version, then here it is …
It’s easy to see why the Lifepack took off on Kickstarter and became such a desirable bag for modern travelers.
It really is great and I would recommend it to others as it is a great mix of comfort and practicality.
If I was to be brutally honest (which I will be to make this a fair review) I’m not in love with the design.
This is purely my own personal preference, I’m just not fully sold on it. I think maybe it looks a little too “professional”.
That being said, Cazzy completely disagrees, so maybe it just depends on your tastes.
The only thing she added is that she’d be keen to see a wider array of colour choices, perhaps some lighter shades to allow you to better suit the bag to your own style and personality.
I’m going to jump straight in here and say that the Solgaard Endeavor was the bag that I was most pleasantly surprised by when trialing.
I’ve not come across a bag before that is able to expand and contract in such a subtle yet effective way.
The ability to increase the packing capabilities of this bag by 40% is, ultimately, its stand-out feature and which makes it a really interesting purchase for someone looking to head off on a trip for a few days to a week.
The more I travel, the more I am inclined to favour minimalist packing, and the Endeavor slots perfectly into this ethos.
If I was to head off for a week around Europe, then I’m confident this is the only bag I would need to take with me, serving as a perfect carry-on, as well as a comfy and practical day bag.
So overall, it's an all-round excellent gift for backpackers who travel for shorter periods and like to keep their things better organised.
Beyond the point made above, there’s plenty more to like about the Endeavor.
Like the other bags we reviewed, not only is it made from recycled materials, but the attention to detail and quality is very evident.
It’s a bag that is clearly built to last and … well … endeavor!
When you’re carrying it fully packed, it will naturally weigh quite a lot relative to a typical backpack. So there are well-padded, comfy shoulder straps, as well as a sternum strap, that minimizes any discomfort.
There’s also a side strap, to help make it more practical when passing through airport security or stowing in the overhead locker.
As well as luggage straps, meaning you can slide it easily over the handles of your roll-on luggage as well.
There are a few quirky and useful features that are worth mentioning, including the secret storage pouches for credit cards, passports and other important documents. Keeping them safely hidden away, but in easy access.
There’s also a bottle opener attached inside.
But really, the big thing that needs mentioning here is the shelving system ...
Here’s the deal … IT. IS. AWESOME.
The company created this innovative wardrobe solution back in 2016 when it launched it as a part of their roll-on luggage.
Well, it works perfectly alongside the Endeavor, allowing you to store, in my opinion at least, up to 1 week of clean clothing per person.
Of course, if you’re going somewhere cold and need lots of thick, heavy clothing, then this would limit how much you could take. But for our 3 night stopover in Barcelona, it was the perfect size for all of our clothes for both Cazzy and me.
As well as the main storage area for clothes and other “lifestyle gear”, there is still space in the back for all of your “work” equipment.
Including a well-padded laptop space (up to 16 inches) and compartments for pads, pens, glasses and other accessories you might have with you. Making this a good pick for laptop backpacks too.
Overall, I can honestly say that I am a big fan of the Lifepack Endeavor, and it’s the bag that surprised me most out of the 3.
The only issues I have with it are pretty trivial, but I will add them in anyway to give a more well-rounded review.
One being that the main compartments' zips don’t go down quite as far as you would like. This makes it slightly more awkward getting the wardrobe in and and.
The other thing being that, when fully packed, the bag does stick out quite far. Of course, this is part and parcel of the trade off in stuffing as much space as possible into a bag that, ultimately, is very compact and stylish in its usual state.
Finally, it seems to lack the integrated cable system and USB port for the Solarbank. Of course, you can pack your chosen power bank inside, but it seems strange that this bag doesn’t have a more seamless integrated solution like the Lifepack and Hustle both do.
I would say that the Solgaard Hustle is the least travel-oriented backpack. Meaning, its target customer base isn’t the global traveler who would be more interested in the Endeavor or Lifepack.
But that’s not to say that the Hustle falls short.
Far from it.
Instead, the Hustle does an incredibly good job of providing functionality, as well as style, to modern professionals spending their days designing between coffee shops and offices.
First up, the attention to detail and quality is super impressive!
It sounds weird, but it’s actually a pleasure taking your laptop in and out of the Hustle. That’s a strange sentence that I wouldn’t have ever thought I’d need to write!
But it’s true.
The laptop pouch is made from a really cosy and sleek material, and is designed in such a way as to give as much padding and security as possible in case of your bag getting dropped or based around.
To keep the Hustle shut, there is a catch on the front, as well as integrated magnets which pin the lid in place automatically.
The Hustle has a solid, waterproof base, and is built to be rigid enough so that the bag can stand upright on its own, which is useful for taking things in and out.
Compared to the Endeavor and Lifepack, which each have two separate storage spaces, the Hustle is all about just one main area.
Still carefully divided up allowing you to organise your laptop and other gear like wallet, glasses, pens and other documents.
Personally, I’m quite a big fan of the overall look of the Hustle backpack, I like how there’s no external pockets and instead it’s one flat sleek design.
Cazzy loved this bag for workdays. It perfectly fits her laptop, microphone, memory cards, action camera and everything else she needs to get work done. It can easily be brought to a coffee shop, and keeps everything organized.
On top of this, it integrates nicely with a power bank system. In this case, the USB charging port is on the waist end of the shoulder strap.
In terms of functionality, the bag is great at doing exactly what it was designed to do.
You could criticise it for not having much storage space compared to the other bags. But really, this is irrelevant as it’s not designed to do the same tasks as other Solgaard bags.
That being said, I do have two points to bring up.
The first being that, once again, there seems to be a limited choice in colours. Don’t get me wrong, we like the black Stealth colour we opted for. But it would be cool if you could better choose a colour to suit your own style.
And secondly, the front clip is a little fidgety to close. I wouldn’t say it’s a deal breaker but probably wouldn’t have been the style of clasp we would have gone for when designing.
Here’s a look at how I think each of these bags stack up against one another …
Simply put, if you are the sort of person who spends most of their time living and commuting around a single city, then the Hustle backpack is perfect for you.
It has less storage space than the others, but simply because it’s not designed for long distance travel.
Instead, it’s designed for the modern professional, offering excellent storage capabilities for travel laptops up to 15 inches, as well as a range of other daily tools you will need.
It has the most stylish finishings inside, and has an incredibly top quality feel.
But on top of this, it’s incredibly robust, designed with safety and security in mind. Protecting your valuables, not only from yourself, but also from would-be thieves.
If you spend most of your time working in a fixed location, but enjoy frequent trips around the country or occasionally abroad, then the Lifepack is for you.
It has been carefully designed to help you organise and carry a range of “work” as well as “lifestyle” gear with you at any one time.
And the integrated solar slot for your chosen Powerbank or Boombox is supremely cool ...
Oh yeah, and practical!
On top of this, the bag is comfy to wear, and extremely well made. It goes seamlessly from being a daily work bag, to a useful way to carry gear when out exploring a new town or city.
The Solgaard Endeavor has been very cleverly designed to expand and contract based on how much you need to pack.
Meaning, it serves as an awesome one-stop bag for a long weekend away. Especially when you make use of their innovative wardrobe system.
We managed to fit enough clothes into here for 2 people, heading off for 3 days away. So, as a solo traveller, you could easily get in a whole week's worth of clothing.
Then, when you rock up to your hotel or hostel, simply hang the clothes up, contract the bag back down, and you have a comfy and practical day bag.
Oh yeah, because it’s designed for the modern traveller, you still have that spare section for storing your laptops, blogging cameras and other travel tech.
Yes, all Solgaard backpacks can be used as carry-on for airplanes. Though the Endeavor, which comes with the Carry-On Wardrobe system, is your best choice for short getaways.
Solgaard makes most of its backpacks from Shore-Tex™. An innovative material made from recycled plastic from oceans and rivers. Both Lifestyle and Endeavor are made using Shore-Tex™, but Hustle currently isn’t.
You can buy all Solgaard backpacks directly from their website.
Solgaard has had to temporarily suspend shipping to the EU. In normal times, international shipping is possible.
No Solgaard review would be complete without seeing what other products the company currently offers.
Well, Solgaard is still primarily a luggage/backpack oriented travel brand.
They first started with their innovative carry-on closet suitcase, and quickly applied the same breakthrough ideas to backpacks as well.
As of writing, they offer a range of suitcases, including:
And on top of the Lifepack, Hustle and Endeavor, Solgaard also sell the following backpacks:
Finally, they have developed a few other interesting and high quality travel accessories, including:
Check out more, on their complete accessories page.
Here’s the bottom line … Solgaard is an ethical company, with a eco-friendly focus, selling a range of backpacks designed to suit all kinds of traveller.
You don’t have to like every backpack they sell.
Instead, I recommend you decide exactly what it is you need your backpack to do for you, and then see which Solgaard bag most suits your needs!
To recap, if you need more packing space, and are heading off for a few days or more, then the Endeavor is for you.
If you’re a city dweller and need a new bag to compliment your daily commute, then Hustle is perfect for you.
If you’re looking for a sleek, high quality backpack that does a bit of both, then Lifepack is the one to go for.
Now, over to you …
Which Solgaard backpack do you think you will buy?
Do you have any questions I didn’t cover above in my review of Solgaard?
Let me know below, I will be happy to help where I can!
Other gear guides you might find useful: