The Herschel Supply Co. Heritage Backpack is a classic-looking offering from a company specializing in packs that feel like something your dad would have carried to and from school in four feet of snow, uphill both ways.
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Whether or not you believe the old man’s stories is one thing, but we have to admit, old school bags have a unique style that Herschel is able to replicate well. We can’t help but wonder how they’ve incorporated modern backpack features into such a classic-looking pack, and how those features will work with the vintage styling. Let’s dive in and find out!
Materials & Aesthetic
The pack’s exterior is crafted from polyester with a polyurethane accent material. The polyester has a nice feel and a heritage quality that takes us back to a simpler time when phones couldn’t play music.
At the time of writing, there are 24 colorway options available. Considering all of the unique options on the Herschel site, there is something for everyone.
Three things change depending on the colorway that you choose. First is the color of the polyester pack material. The second is the polyurethane accent material. The last change is the logo patch color, which is placed on the bottom right of the front pocket.
On the Navy colorway that we have on hand, the logo is white and contrasts nicely with the polyester and leather-brown colored polyurethane. It may be a little too noticeable for some, but we think it matches the design’s heritage feel in a general sense.
As far as zippers are concerned, we’ve got two on the Heritage Backpack. They’re both YKK #5, complete with basic metal YKK zipper pulls that have Herschel imprinted on the top. They’re smooth enough for our liking and feel adequate for the job they’ve been tasked with.
Both of the zipper tracks have a fabric welt covering them, which is a nice inclusion. The polyester isn’t terribly weather-resistant, and we notice water soaks through after short trips in the rain, but it’s capable enough during a drizzle.
The fabric welt ensures that the zipper isn’t the cause of water getting inside the pack, as it’s covered by polyester. This isn’t foolproof, as water can sneak underneath if it’s raining at an angle, but it is a nice addition.
We also applaud the choice to put the polyurethane material on the bottom of the pack. It’s more water-resistant than polyester, so it repels water better and doesn’t latch onto mud or dust, either.
The shoulder strap adjustors are Duraflex hardware and work just as well as other hard plastics we’ve tested from the brand in the past. We expect quality from them, and quality we received.
One of this pack’s most noticeable external components is a pig snout, which heritage-style backpack brands like Herschel have become known for. They look a little like a play button, too, and have roots in outdoor adventuring.
You can loop a shoelace or strap through the center to tie a pair of shoes or pouch on the pack’s exterior. This is great when your shoes are wet or muddy and you don’t want to dirty the pack’s inside or if you need a little extra space for gear once you fill up the pack completely.
The pig snout on the Heritage Backpack works just as well as expected and looks…well…heritage. Depending on the colorway you opt for, the color of the pig snout will match the color of the polyurethane accent.
Depending on the kind of traveler you are, you may or may not need a water bottle pocket. Unfortunately for those who enjoy carrying a large bottle of water, the Herschel doesn’t have a pocket to accommodate your healthy habits, so hydration must be stored inside the main compartment.
The top handle is the same polyurethane material we see throughout the pack and feels comfortable to hold. There isn’t any padding, so the top handle can be bothersome to hold onto for extended periods if the pack is too heavy.
The shoulder straps are about as basic as we’ve seen, but they work well enough. They’re straight lines; there isn’t any curvature to them at all. They have a fair amount of padding and are aerated, which is nice for hot days. There are also strap keepers to manage any extra strap slack, which is nice.
The back panel is just polyester—there isn’t any aeration and only a little padding. It can get a little toasty on moderately warm days, leading to a sweaty back.
It doesn’t conform to your back when the pack is full. It almost feels like a pillow that got hard, pushing all of the weight from the pack onto one portion of your back instead of spreading it throughout. We only notice this when the pack is completely full; it isn’t an issue any other time.
There’s a cord pass-through on the top right-hand side of the pack for a charging cable or pair of corded headphones to run through. When we tested this for the first time, our headphones got stuck inside, and it took over 5 minutes to remove them. It was a set of 3.5mm headphones that used to come standard with an iPhone, so nothing out of the ordinary. Surprisingly they weren’t broken, as we really had to hammer them to get the cord out, but either way, we were pretty put off using it for the rest of the testing period.
We ended up trying a few charging cables, and they met a similar, but not as tragic, fate. It took a while to get it back through, but only 30 seconds or so, compared to the 5 minutes it took us the first time. The pass-through isn’t as integrated as we’d like for other reasons as well, but we will get into that soon.
Inside The Pack
Moving inside the pack, we’ll start with the front pocket. This is a pretty straightforward offering, but it excels for small flat or quick-grab items like a wallet, phone, pair of headphones, or a small book or eReader. Smaller items like chapstick or dongles are a little too small and can be hard to find, but this is the best place in the pack for those items, as there isn’t a smaller compartment.
There’s a key clip in this compartment, but it’s a little different from others we have run into. Most key clips have a string attached to them so the keys can move around a little. In this case, the key clip is connected directly to the liner, so the keys can’t move around as much. This may reduce jingling, but it makes it so that you can’t take the keys out very far to unlock a door without taking the keys off the ring. The ring is also extremely hard to manipulate. We thought it might wear down a little, but it hasn’t, and those with larger hands or arthritis may struggle to manipulate it.
Heading over to the main compartment, we find another Herschel staple awaiting us. The interior polyester has vertical red and white stripes, which add contrast and flair. It’s fun to look at, and most of our gear is dark enough to stand out against it, making things easier to find.
There isn’t a lot going on inside the main compartment; it’s really just a large empty area apart from two liner pockets. The first of the two is the laptop compartment, which fits up to a 15-inch laptop. Our 15 inch MacBook Pro fit with room to spare, so you might be able to sneak a 16-inch laptop here so long as it has a thin form factor.
There’s a fair amount of padding on the far side from the back panel, which is nice for comfort and protection. The other side of the compartment doesn’t have any padding, which is a little disappointing. Whatever you place in the main compartment rests directly on top of your laptop, which we aren’t a huge fan of as it puts the tech at a higher risk of damage.
The only other pocket is small and directly below the cable pass-through we talked about earlier. We’re a little confused by it because a phone won’t fit inside. Maybe it’s our age showing through, as our first intuition is to place a CD player here to listen to Young Buck’s criminally underrated 2004 album Straight Outta Cashville. Since it’s hard to find a CD player these days, a phone is the next best thing.
That said, a standard iPhone 11 doesn’t fit inside the pocket, leaving you without a place to store your phone as you listen to some tunes. Some battery banks we have did fit, like the Anker PowerCore Speed 20000 PD Portable Charger, which is tall and skinny. Depending on the battery bank you have on hand, using it as a place to stow a portable charger may work. It just doesn’t seem super intuitive, and most of the time, we just left it empty. If you have a better use for it, please let us know because we’re dying for it to be useful.
Overall, the Herschel Supply Co. Heritage Backpack is a modern backpack with a classic feel. We have to admit, we wish more modern features made the cut, but it does all of the basic functions you would expect from a pack at this price point.
A tech pouch is almost essential for a pack like this; otherwise, there isn’t anywhere to stow smaller tech goodies like dongles and chargers without getting lost in the sauce. Whether you go with some personal internal organization or just let it fly in the main compartment, you’ll at least look like you know where all the good coffee places in town are, so you’ve got that going for you.