Tropicfeel Shell Backpack Review [In-Depth & Unbiased!]

Bradley Williams
Written By:
Bradley Williams
Last Updated:
December 2, 2023
Looking to buy the ultimate modern day travel back? This Tropicfeel Shell backpack review will help you decide whether or not it really is worth buying.
Tropicfeel backpack review

Over the last 18 months, we have been fortunate enough to review Tropicfeel’s travel trainers.

And in case you didn’t know, we love them!

It’s super refreshing finding a company in the travel space that is doing something different.

All of their products are custom-designed for travellers, and come with a range of unique features.

Well, their latest addition is no different.

From the time they first announced it in early 2021, it was clear that the Shell backpack would be different.

Almost revolutionising the way we pack for travel.

Already, we have used it for:

  • Exploring cities
  • Short hikes
  • A boat trip in the Algarve

And the short of the matter is this ... we both LOVE it!

Keen to learn more?

Great … let’s get stuck into my in-depth Tropicfeel Shell backpack review!

Tropicfeel Shell backpack shots
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Where can you buy the Shell Backpack?

Currently, the only place you can purchase the Shell backpack is direct through the Tropicfeel website.

Their system is very easy to use and you can fully customise your order before heading to check out.

Also, be aware that you can choose from more than a dozen different currencies to pay in.

To change the option presented, scroll to the very bottom of the page and click on the currency icon. 

Tropicfeel currency change
Change currency through the bottom left of the page

What makes the Shell backpack so unique?

The Shell backpack successfully raised more than $2 million in Kickstarter funding! 

Why? Let’s find out ...

It expands and contracts

Tropicfeel are calling their new backpack “the modern-day travel backpack”.

Designed to be the most versatile backpack ever available. Making it flexible and adaptable to your travel needs.

Meaning, you can customise a single bag depending on the length of trip you are looking to take.

Going on an epic 3 month backpacking adventure through rugged India? Awesome! Expand your bag to its maximum capacity of 40 litres.

Heading off on a 3 day getaway to Ireland? No problem, shrink it down to just 22 litres capacity.

In-built wardrobe

Shell backpack 20% more space

But it’s not just its ability to shrink and grow that makes the bag stand out.

The biggest thing that appealed to us was its in-built wardrobe. A way to squeeze in 20% more clothing AND keep everything better organised.

When on the road, you can squash this miniature wardrobe down into as small a space as possible and pack it into your Shell backpack.

Then, when you arrive at your hotel or hostel, you simply take it out, let it expand, and hang it out for use.

No more rooting around in the bottom of your backpack looking for that final pair of wayward socks. Instead, it makes the whole experience of travelling long term far more enjoyable.

Clamshell opening

Inside Shell backpack

The clamshell opening is not exactly revolutionary, as many other travel backpack manufacturers are now going down this route.

But it is worth pointing out that the Shell backpack makes full use of it.

Allowing you to more easily access everything in your backpack, without making a total mess.

Kangaroo pocket

Kangaroo pocket under Shell backpack
Those are 1 pair of Reef flip flops and 1 pair of Tropicfeel Sunset shoes inside

I absolutely LOVE this feature. It is so simple, but such an insanely practical feature for any travel backpack to have.

It is a 6 litre tuck-away pouch that is attached inside the bottom of the shell backpack.

It can easily be unravelled and used to store wet items of clothing, without the need to make everything else inside your bag wet.

Perfect for storing your swimming costume if you’ve just gone into the sea and are still dripping wet. Or even a pair of wet Tropicfeel shoes that haven’t yet had time to dry properly.

We have already found a bunch of uses for this feature. Like when we just got off a boat cruise in the south of Portugal.

Our costumes were dripping wet, as were my Reef sandles. They all packed nicely in here, and stopped the inside of the bag form getting wet.

Additional accessory space

Shell backpack Fidlock attachments
Their innovative Fidlock system allows you to attach added accessory bags to the front

To quickly add a little more storage to your Tropicfeel Shell backpack, you can choose to use one of their detachable bag add-ons.

These make use of the super-secure Fidlock security buttons. Allowing you to attach either a toiletry bag or tech push onto the front of your backpack.

These are held on securely when traveling and can be taken off without the use of a key.

Personally, we have yet to walk around a city with our valuables in this small pouch. I just don't feel 100% comfortable with the idea.

But the toiletry pouch has come in FAR more handy. If someone wants to steal my toothbrush and toothpaste, then they must need it more than me!

Added bonus of this feature: One of the most frustrating issues we have ever had when backpacking are shampoos or shower gels bursting and covering all our clothes in soapy liquid! This immediately does away with this problem!


tropicfeel shell backpack

We have always liked how Tropicfeel has an ongoing commitment to creating eco-friendly sustainable backpacks and other products.

Using sustainable products in everything they make and even giving back parts of their profits to a range of charitable causes.

Well, the Shell travel backpack is no different and is made using recycled polyester and nylon.

Again, other backpack manufacturers are doing this too, but it’s worth pointing out.

Shell backpack review: Other features

shell backpack feaures

Here are a few other features worth pointing out in the Shell backpack:

Waist harness - If you’re out hiking, then there are foldaway straps that you can use to tie around your waist. Helping to take some of the strain off your shoulders. There’s an adjustable sternum strap to use as well.

Memory foam back panel - The team has paid as much attention to comfort as they have practicality when designing this bag. The back is ergonomically designed to be as comfortable as possible, all whilst allowing free airflow when out and about. I will admit, after carrying this bag around a city for the day, the straps aren't the most comfortable I've come across. So the waist straps have come in quite handy. Without them it would be rather uncomfortable day after day.

Fully waterproof exterior - Ever been caught out in a tropical monsoon in Thailand or Sri Lanka? We have … more than once! Trust me, this is a godsend. We've yet to use the bag in real heavy rain conditions. But we've had a couple of light showers and it works fine. As well as taking it out on a day catamaran boat trip where it held up perfectly.

Top hatch - If you just need to grab something out of the top of your bag,  then you can use the top zip instead of the Clamshell opening. We use this to slide in smaller items like wallets or keys that you need quick access to.

top pocket Shell backpack

Camera cube - A practical case for you to safely store away your DSLR camera and a range of lenses and accessories. Helping the Tropicfeel Shell become a viable camera backpack for most. Designed specifically for the Shell backpack to maximise space and be stored alongside their wardrobe system. Perfect for fellow travel bloggers who carry a range of blogging cameras and accessories! We actually use this now as our go-to camera case. It comes with a range of Velcro dividers, allowing you to fully customise the layout inside of the case. I also love that you can unzip this bag from the side or top, giving you different ways to access camera s & accessories inside.

Shell camera accesory bag

Secret pocket - There are a number of small zip-up pockets located on the Shell backpack. But the best is the “secret pocket” located at the base of the bag facing your back. This is a fantastic hidden compartment for storing valuable items like your wallet, passport or cash. If we don't plan on grabbing these items for a while, this is where we store them. Otherwise, for quicker access, you can put them in the top.

Fits in overhead cabin lockers - When up to 30 litres in size, the bag fits perfectly into the overhead storage lockers of aeroplanes. There’s also a side handle to help turn your Shell bag into a practical piece of carry-on luggage. If you do decide to pack your Shell to the max, then it may not meet maximum cabin baggage regulations. So be sure to check your airlines requirements before packing.

Internal storage spaces - On the inside you'll soon realise it's a great laptop backpack too; with a custom space to easily slide a laptop in and out; as long as it's no bigger than 17 inches. Absolutely perfect for us and other nomads who always travel with a laptop. Cazzy's laptop is bigger than mine, the DELL XPS 15. It fits in perfectly.

Tropicfeel Shell laptop space

Water pockets - On the outside of the bag are elasticated water pockets. Again, nothing revolutionary but very useful to have.

Range of colours - You can choose from black, green or red Shell backpacks. We have so far trialled the green, and I think it looks great. But Cazzy is secretly very gutted we don't have the red one!

Is Tropicfeel’s Shell backpack worth buying?

is tropicfeel bag worth the money

With a starting price tag of around $300, the Tropicfeel Shell travel backpack isn’t the cheapest travel bag on the market.

Meaning, the bag has to offer something special to be worth buying.

Well, here's my take on it ...

Most backpacks serve just one purpose: like hiking, carry-on, or backpacking.

But the Shell backpack is designed to be so much more. Instead, being the go-to bag for any trip you choose to take.

Regardless of how long you are away or what you will be doing.

So though it may seem relatively expensive, it is actually well-priced when you consider the quality and practicality it offers.

1. Do I think it's worth buying for backpacking?

Yes I do.

In fact, it made the list of one of our best gifts for backpackers!

Based on our use so far, it is an absolutely awesome bag for both backpackers AND those looking for shorter city breaks.

There's plenty of room for one person to carry a limited range of clothes, as well as a travel laptop, camera equipment, and the sorts of typical backpacking gear you need to take on a trip.

It's worth noting that 40 litres isn't actually that big of a backpack.

So you will need to do some minimalist packing.

If 5 years-ago-Bradley was off on our first trip to South America, then this bag wouldn't have been enough.


Because I took far too much with me!

We hadn't yet discovered what we actually needed to pack for travel. Even with a laptop (which you don't really even need if you don't plan to work when away) then this bag is still enough.

If you don't need a laptop or other  cameras and gadgets, then you will find that the Shell is absolutely fine.

Simply rock up to a hostel, unfurl the built-in wardrobe, shrink the capacity down to 22 litres and then you can go off exploring wherever you are.

2. How about for city breaks?

shell backpack citybreak

For city breaks, i.e. short 3-5 day trips away, this bag is perfect!

It's designed to fit into overhead cabin storage, so you won't have to pay to check it into the hold.

Plus, it then doubles as your day bag when out and about exploring the city.

Admittedly, the bag can feel a little over the top for some day trips. Like when you just need to carry a bottle of water, sunscreen and a couple of cameras.

In which case, I recommend a smaller bag that folds down and can be stuffed at the bottom of the Shell.

Tropicfeel sell another bag called the Cruiser. Which folds down into a tiny shape and is comfy enough for what you will need.

Alternatively, I recommend checking out my review of Loctote's Flak Sack. It's a really unique and high quality bag, designed specifically to be theft proof. It would be the perfect combination alongside the Shell.

What packages are on offer?

There are currently 6 different packages on offer to buy, these include:

  1. Shell + wardrobe - $303
  2. Shell + wardrobe + 1 accessory - $347.04
  3. Shell + wardrobe + 2 x accessories - $392.29
  4. Shell + wardrobe + 3 x accessories - $437.54
  5. 2 x Shell + 2 x wardrobe - $546.64
  6. 2 x Shell + 2 x wardrobe + 2 x accessories - $656.52

Accessories to choose from include:

  • Toiletry cube
  • Tech pouch
  • Camera cube

Tropicfeel Shell Backpack FAQ

How much does the Tropicfeel Shell backpack cost?

Prices start from $303 for the Shell backpack plus wardrobe system. For additional accessories, like the toiletry cube, tech pouch and camera cube, prices go up to $437.54.

Is the Tropicfeel backpack good?

The Tropicfeel Shell backpack is an excellent quality backpack designed to be lightweight, comfortable and versatile. It is also fully waterproof and can be expanded with additional accessory packs. So yes, it’s not just good, it’s great! We have used it in a range of cities and day trips and it's held up perfectly!

What colours does the Shell backpack come in?

Currently, the Tropicfeel Shell comes in black, green, or red.

Can I buy Tropicfeel on Amazon?

No, you cannot buy Tropicfeel backpacks or shoes through Amazon. The best place to buy is through their website.

Is the Tropicfeel backpack waterproof?

Yes, the Shell backpack is fully waterproof. The Tropicfeel Cruiser backpack isn’t waterproof, however.

tropicfeel shell backpack waterproof

Other backpacks Tropicfeel offers

Tropicfeel Nest Backpack

review of Tropicfeel Nest backpack

Designed as a smaller, all-round day travel backpack, the Nest is a really great day bag!

We were lucky enough to be one of the first to review it and were just as impressed by the overall build qualities and unique features on offer.

As well as clearly being very stylish, it is very comfy to wear, and well suited for shorter adventures.

In fact, I would say it's a fantastic companion to the Shell backpack. Better served as a permanent day bag.

Read more in our full Tropicfeel Nest backpack review.

Tropicfeel Hive Backpack

Tropicfeel Hive backpacks

The Hive backpack is one of our favourite backpacks by Tropicfeel.

You can check out our full review of the Hive Backpack right here.

In terms of where it will fit in the line-up, the FAQ section for the sales page describes it as offering a combination of features on offer from both Shell and Nest.

It's also a more compact bag, coming in at 22L as standard, but with expansion of up to 46.5L!

Which is a LOT for a smaller daypack, so once again they must be getting pretty creative with their design features.

I must admit, I already love how it looks, and am excited give it a try soon!

Tropicfeel Cruiser Backpack

Tropicfeel Cruiser backpack

The Cruiser is the smaller backpack Tropicfeel currently offers, and was actually released a couple of years ago now.

It is very small and lightweight, designed to fold down down into a tiny package and slot away for use when needed.

I wouldn't recommend buying it as a standalone bag, but it is great as something you can stuff away and pull out when needed.

Which makes it a useful bag to take with your Shell which may simply be too big for some shorter trips away from a hostel or hotel when traveling.

As well as these, Tropicfeel also offers:

  • T-shirts & jumpers - Tropicfeel sells a limited range of t-shirts and jumpers. All in similar colour schemes to match their branded travel trainers.
  • Other accessories - They currently sell a few varieties of flip flops, as well as a small shopping bag that can be folded down and stored away when not in use.

Lets not forget ... Tropicfeel shoes

Tropicfeel has been around now for a few years. First gaining worldwide attention when they raised more than $2 million dollars on Kickstarter for their travel trainers.

They have built a wildly successful travel brand around their range of travel trainers. These include:

  • Canyon - A comfortable travel trainer designed to be used on all kinds of different terrains.
  • Monsoon - A lightweight sports shoe great for travel and fast-drying so can be taken in and out of water.
  • Sunset - The most stylish shoe Tropicfeel currently offers <-- This is by far Cazzy and my top choice, and we use these as our go-to shoe most days for both driving or out exploring cities.
  • Jungle - A hybrid shoe designed to be super comfortable and stylish, for all uses when off travelling.
  • Lava - A reinforced sneaker designed to be worn in all terrains (read more about why I love these in my Tropicfeel Lava shoes review).
  • Dune - Another great looking urban shoe, that also includes lightweight, quick-drying features.
  • Geyser - A fully waterproof shoe, coming in two different size, Litli & Great. We've actually written an in-depth review of them here...

We have tried & tested all of these shoes, read more in our Tropicfeel shoes review.

other Tropicfeel products

What does the future hold for Tropicfeel?

One thing we love about Tropicfeel is the fact they are constantly evolving and innovating.

We’ve spoken to a number of people behind the company and they are all young and passionate about making a dent in the travel gear market.

From travel shoes, to backpacks, to a range of accessories, they are constantly developing new products to add to and expand their range. A must-have brand in any travel packing list.

When new products come out we will certainly be amongst the first to test them out and review them so stay tuned!

The Tropicfeel Hive backpack is currently in it's crowdfunding stage so I ma very excited to see how that turns out.

Now over to you …

Did our Tropicfeel Shell backpack review answer all your questions?

What do you love most about the Shell backpack?

Have you bought one and tried it already?

Awesome! Drop a comment below and let me know your thoughts ...

Other travel gear reviews you might like:

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