I used this $90 backpack every day for a month — it's perfect for gear but let down by one fatal flaw

A cavernous roll-top with some crucial drawbacks

A photo of the D-Robe Roll-Top backpack on its side, on a table with a blue wall and green plant in the background
(Image: © Future)

Tom's Guide Verdict

The D-Robe Roll-Top backpack is truly cavernous, especially in its larger 35L size. It also features two waterproof laptop pouches, accommodating even larger 16-inch devices. It’s waterproof and extremely well built. Unfortunately, its strap design proves very uncomfortable when the bag is full; there’s no bottle holder; and the interior pockets are small. Its material also scuffs easily, making it look battered.


  • +

    Truly cavernous

  • +

    Three laptop pouches

  • +


  • +

    Well made


  • -

    Uncomfortable straps

  • -

    No bottle holder

  • -

    Small pockets

  • -

    Scuffs easily

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D-Robe Roll-Top backpack review: Specs

Type: Roll-top

Capacity: 20L/35L

Waterproof: Yes

Air valve: Yes

Laptop pockets: 2

External pockets: 2

Bottle holder: No

Colors: Navy/Black/Green

One of the perks of my job is that I get to test out a truly enviable amount of tech, from keyboards to Bluetooth speakers, cameras to smart scales — I’m usually laden like a pack mule on my way to and from the office, which is as much of a curse as it is a gift. For a while now, I’ve been looking for a solution to end the pain of stumbling on and off of busy trains carrying numerous bags. Enter the D-Robe Roll-Top backpack ($90).

This cavernous backpack is available in two sizes, 20L and 30L, although as a roll top can be extended to utilize the entirety of its capacity. That potentially makes it a great replacement for one of the best gym bags, or a fantastic travel bag. It’s also well suited to ye outdoorsy types thanks to its durable waterproof outer material, but it can switch back to a daily work bag at ease thanks to its three laptop and/or tablet pockets.

That said, while our 3-star rating means this backpack is worth considering, it’s far from perfect. The shoulder straps are uncomfortable, especially when the bag is heavily laden, making it poorly suited for extended trips. There’s no bottle holder either, so you either have to hold your bottle or store it internally and risk damaging other gear. The pockets are a little tight, too, limiting how well you can organize the main compartment. 

So, is this backpack right for you? Find out in our full D-Robe Roll-Top backpack review.

D-Robe Roll-Top backpack review: Cheat Sheet

  • What is it? A roll-top backpack (what a shock).
  • Who is it for? Anyone really! It has features that suit adventuring, work and haulage.
  • What does it cost? $90, and both the 20L and 35L cost the same.
  • What’s good? It’s cavernous, waterproof and stylish, with three laptop or tablet pockets.
  • What’s not? The strap design is uncomfortable over long periods or when heavily laden, there’s no bottle holder and the pockets are quite tight.

D-Robe Roll-Top backpack review: The ups

The D-Robe Roll-Top backpack has a lot of great features. It’s roomy inside thanks to the roll-top design, available in two sizes, well waterproofed and comes with three laptop pouches. It’s competitively priced versus rivals, too.

Truly capacious

A photo of the D-Robe Roll-Top backpack having a laptop slid into the rear compartment

(Image credit: Future)

Without doubt, the best feature of the D-Robe Roll-Top backpack is its capacity. It's available in two different sizes, 20L or 35L — I tested the latter and was very satisfied with how much I could fit in.

On my commute, I was able to fit a camera, a 16-inch MacBook Pro, an iPad Air 4, a large charger, the NuPhy Halo75 V2 and NuPhy Gem80 keyboards, a power bank, plus my lunch box, water bottle and jacket. And I still had room to spare. The 35L version is the bag to get if you need to cart lots of stuff around on a regular basis.

There’s also a metal hook attached to the left shoulder strap, which you can use to attach more gear externally, like the JBL Clip 5 speaker with its carabiner-style clip.

Competitively priced (kinda)

The D-Robe Roll-Top is competitively priced for a large roll-top backpack. The 35L version is priced at $90, so a chunk cheaper than the Patagonia Fieldsmith roll-top ($129) and Carhartt Nylon roll-top ($169). D-Robe are a U.K. brand that has only just begun launching its products in the U.S., but offers international shipping via DHL for $24, for a total spend of $114.

However, I wouldn’t recommend the 20L version if you’re after the most bang for your buck. The smaller sized bag is the same price, with the same shipping cost to the U.S., which is a little bizarre.

Laptop pouches

A photo of the D-Robe Roll-Top backpack having a laptop slid into the main compartment

(Image credit: Future)

If, like me, you regularly carry more than one laptop, or a laptop and a tablet, the D-Robe Roll-Top has you covered with its laptop compartments. D-Robe’s website says there are two pouches, but there are actually three you can use for the job.

There are two internal laptop-size pouches — the dedicated padded compartment, plus a zip-up compartment behind. Both had no issues fitting my MacBook Pro 16-inch (2022). There’s also a waterproof external back pocket which easily took a 13-inch MacBook Air M2 (2022) laptop, and had no problems with my iPad Air 4 in its case.

Fully waterproofed

A photo of the D-Robe Roll-Top backpack being worn over the shoulder

(Image credit: Future)

The D-Robe Roll-Top backpack is built extremely well and feels high quality, despite costing less than rivals. It uses a sturdy waterproof outer material, with a zipped top to ensure no water enters the rolled part. All of the external pockets also use waterproofed zips to ensure no leakage. I had no problems using the backpack throughout the rainy U.K. summer and experienced no leaks. 

That all said, the end of the main compartment zip leaves a small gap which will allow water ingress in heavy rain if the bag weren’t rolled (i.e. when fully filled), and certainly if the bag were submerged. This isn’t a dry bag suitable for wading through rivers.

D-Robe Roll-Top backpack review: The downs

Despite all its great features, the D-Robe Roll-Top backpack has some major drawbacks that make it frustrating to use regularly. Chief among these is its strap design, which digs into your shoulders, especially when the bag is heavily loaded. It lacks a bottle holder, too, and the pockets are a bit tight. Ours scuffed quickly, too, looking battered after less than a week of use.

Painful shoulder straps

A photo of the D-Robe Roll-Top backpack rear straps and padding, on a table with a blue wall and green plant in the background

(Image credit: Future)

The D-Robe’s shoulder strap design is undoubtedly its Achilles heel, or rather Achilles shoulder. Joining and reinforcing the two straps is a concave section of material, which digs into your shoulders and proves very uncomfortable, especially when the bag is heavy.

This isn’t an isolated feature, and other bags have similar reinforcing sections, but on the D-Robe the material used is the same harsh vinyl as the rest of the bag. I was hoping this would soften over time, and to a certain extent it has — I took the bag on a 3-mile hike only lightly loaded, and it was fine.

However, after around a month of testing it’s still uncomfortable when heavily loaded — given the point of the 35L bag is to transport lots of stuff, this is disappointing.

No bottle holder

Another annoying feature of this backpack is its lack of bottle storage. Other roll-tops like the Eastpak Classic ($102) feature a similar design, but there are plenty of options out there with bottle holders, including the Patagonia Fieldsmith.

Not having a bottle holder forces you to store drinks inside the backpack — this can result in your other gear getting knocked and damaged if you have a metal water bottle like me, and may result in water damage if your bottle leaks.

Tight pockets

A photo of the D-Robe Roll-Top backpack front pocket

(Image credit: Future)

While the D-Robe Roll-Top is definitely not short on storage capacity, it would’ve been nice to see better pocket design throughout. The front external pocket is very tight, and only suitable for storing thin items like keycards. I wasn’t able to store my keychain in it.

Excluding the internal zip-up and laptop compartments, the inner pockets are also very tight. This limits what can be stored inside them and results in the main compartment being a jumbled mess of big and small items. It also makes it difficult to see what’s in the pockets, and to reach down to the bottom of them — I was frequently unable to find things stored in them, so ended up turfing all the contents of the bag out on more than one occasion.

All scuffed up

The tough waterproof vinyl used on the exterior of the bag is very hard wearing. However, it scuffs extremely easily. As soon as I started using the bag — literally on day one — I noticed ugly scratches and marks where the bag had rubbed up against tables or walls. This isn’t a huge deal — indeed, some people may prefer the weathered, scuffed-up look — but I’m not a fan.

Should you buy the D-Robe Roll-Top backpack?

A photo of the D-Robe Roll-Top backpack on a table with a blue wall and green plant in the background

(Image credit: Future)

The D-Robe Roll-Top is a decent and competitively-priced backpack, which is definitely worth considering if you need a large, well-made bag that can transport a phenomenal amount of gear and keep it safe from the elements. However, it’s well-worth considering others if you intend to buy this bag for daily or regular use.

Firstly, there’s the lack of a bottle holster, which may result in damaged gear from storing bottles internally. Primarily, though, there’s the strap design to think about, which proved painful when the bag was heavily laden (its primary benefit). I’ve used this bag for a month and my shoulders haven’t thanked me.

Peter Wolinski
Reviews Editor

Peter is Reviews Editor at Tom's Guide. As a writer, he covers topics including tech, photography, gaming, hardware, motoring and food & drink. Outside of work, he's an avid photographer, specialising in architectural and portrait photography. When he's not snapping away on his beloved Fujifilm camera, he can usually be found telling everyone about his greyhounds, riding his motorcycle, squeezing as many FPS as possible out of PC games, and perfecting his espresso shots.