Stubble and Co Adventure Bag Review | As good as it’s cracked up to be?

Stubble and Co is a British backpack brand on a mission to create versatile bags that stand the test of time. 

The Adventure Bag is built using sustainable practices and is crammed full of features that claim to make travel as easy as possible. 

To test these claims, I’ve travelled across the UK numerous times with the bag – COVID has continued to keep me grounded for the time being! I’ve taken the bag on buses and trains, walked miles with it on my back and spent numerous nights in hostels, hotels and B&Bs. I’ve dealt with icy mornings, deluges of rain, thick fog and unseasonably warm spring days. 

In this Stubble and Co Adventure Bag Review, I lay out my thoughts and feelings about this bag to help you make the most informed choice before spending your hard-earned cash!


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Disclaimer: Stubble and Co sent us their Adventure Backpack free of charge for this review. We wrote this review after months spent testing and evaluating The Adventure Bag. The review was not sent to Stubble and Co  prior to being published. None of our reviews are ever edited to keep a brand happy!


Stubble and Co Adventure Backpack: At A Glance

  • Dimensions (cm): 55cm x 38cm x 24cm
  • Capacity: 42-litres
  • Weight: 1.8kg
  • Straps: Nicely padded shoulder straps and removable hip belt. The sternum strap is webbing. 
  • Guarantee: All Stubble and Co bags come with a two-year warranty.
  • Pockets: Three main compartments with tons of smaller organisational spots.
Pros
  • Clamshell opening
  • Comfortable
  • Compressible 
  • Weather-resistant 
Cons
  • Frameless
  • Internal pockets get in the way
  • Expensive
  • Right on the limit of hand luggage size


An In-depth Review of Stubble and Co Adventure Backpack

Materials

The Stubble and Co Adventure Bag is made from an array of different textiles and fabrics. Areas of high wear feature thicker, more durable materials to ensure longevity. Other parts of the bag are made from thinner fabrics to save on weight and ensure a more comfortable carry experience. 

The materials used to make this bag are as follows:

  • Ripstop 200D Recycled PET (Front)
  • 600D Recycled PET (Sides)
  • 200D Recycled PET (Lining)
  • Tarpaulin (Base)
  • Recycled PET Webbing
  • 3D Poly Air Mesh (Padding)

Stubble and Co Adventure Bag – The Good Bits

Organisation

The first thing I noticed with the Stubble and Co Adventure Bag was the sheer amount of available pockets. While I’m not a huge fan of all of them (I’m looking at you, internal bottle pocket), the vast majority are well thought out and efficiently serve their purpose. 

Upon opening the bag, the three main internal compartments are obvious. Each is closed with a mesh panel that unzips — like those in a suitcase. 

There’s one large compartment in the back section of the bag. But it’s not just a big empty space. It contains the water bottle pocket, laptop sleeve and shoe compartment. Each of these can only be accessed from the outside of the bag, with no entry points on the inside. The rest of the large compartment is an open space for storing large, but compressible items, like trousers, jumpers and coats.

The front section of the bag features a large and small compartment. The large one takes up two-thirds of the space while the small one takes up around a third. The smaller compartment can be accessed from the outside of the bag. This makes it ideal for storing items you’ll need on the go. I tend to use this to store cables, chargers, a book and other odds and ends. There’s also a small zip pocket inside the smaller compartment for storing small, loose items.

The larger of the two compartments can only be accessed by opening the bag up. It’s perfect for the rest of your clothes: t-shirts, shorts, pants and socks, etc. 

As well as the main pockets, the Adventure Bag also features a small external pocket which is accessed via a zip on the front of the bag. There’s also a small pocket on the shoulder strap which can be used to store really small items like credit cards or a small amount of cash. This is ideal for travel because it means you don’t have to dig your wallet out every time you need to buy food or drink while on the move. 

Finally, hidden behind the back panel, is a small secret pocket that’s ideal for keeping small important items hidden. Passports, cash and important paperwork can all be easily hidden away. 

Another aspect of this bag that stands out is how easy it is to keep all the straps tidy. All the webbing that’s used for tightening and fitting your pack can be secured away so it doesn’t hang loose while you’re on the move. It’s a small thing but one that helps keep your bag more streamlined and reduces the chance of you getting caught on anything. 


Suitcase Like Opening

Here at South East Asia Backpacker, we’re huge fans of bags that feature clamshell or suitcase-style openings. The Adventure Bag has zips around three sides, allowing you to lay it completely flat when unzipped. This makes loading and organising your gear much easier than with a top-loading backpack. 

Each half has a zippable mesh screen that stops your stuff moving around too much. It helps keep everything in place and allows you to find what you need without having to dig through all your belongings. It’s also easy to see through so you can often find what you want with just a glance. 

Inside, the lining is bright orange. While it looks cool, this isn’t solely for aesthetics. The bright colour makes it easier to find and organise your gear inside the bag.  


Comfort

The Stubble and Co Adventure Backpack is comfortable to carry and handles full loads well. Honestly, I was surprised at just how comfortable the bag is when packed full considering it’s frameless. I expected it to be great for light loads but struggle when full — as it turns out, that’s just not the case. 

The padded straps hug your body well and the hip belt distributes the weight of your gear nicely. There are load lifters on the straps so you can customise the fit depending on your body shape and how much you’re carrying. We recommend ditching the hip belt if you’re carrying less than around 8kg. It can be a little flappy and tends to get in the way when not tightened. When carrying more though, I wouldn’t be without the hip belt! 

On that note, the system of removing and attaching the hip belt to this pack is one of the simplest and easiest I’ve come across. It takes all of 30 seconds and can be done at any time. 

The back panel is lightly padded around the middle of your back and has lumbar support which doubles up as the mounting point for the hip belt. While not necessary on a travel bag, these areas of light padding improve the overall carry experience of the bag. 


Compressible 

Don’t misunderstand me here, this is not a packable backpack. However, due to its frameless design, the bag can be folded and squashed down when not in use. It won’t fit in your pocket or anything but it does make storing the bag easier while you’re not using it! 


Carry On Size

Okay, this is a contentious one. Carry on size limits vary between airlines and The Adventure Bag is right on the line. For some airlines, you’ll have no issue getting it on as hand luggage. But for others it’s just too big — having a 42-litre bag that’s completely carry on compliant is just too good to be true!

Thankfully, the backpack features compression straps on the sides. Providing you don’t fill it, you can use the compression straps to squash it down enough to get it into most airlines’ carry on limits. These compression straps can also be used to fix things like travel yoga mats or sleeping pads to the outside of the pack if necessary.

Note: Even though the bag might fit into carry on specifications, most airlines have a weight limit for hand luggage. This is usually 8-10kg but can vary. The Adventure Bag can hold 10kg without breaking a sweat so be careful with how much gear you pack — this is especially true if you travel with a laptop or other heavy electronics. 

If you do need to check the bag, or just want to be safe when storing it on trains and buses, there’s a stowable strap cover in a small pocket on the bottom of the bag. This is easy to affix and stops your straps getting caught or tangled in transit. 


Weather Resistant

This isn’t a waterproof backpack. It won’t keep your gear dry if you submerge it and it will eventually wet out in a big storm. 

However, the bag is made from waterproof materials, the seams are all taped and the YKK zips are all water-resistant. This all means that you don’t need to worry if you get caught out in an errant downpour. Your gear will remain safe and dry for extended periods.

If you’re likely to be out in a lot of bad weather, Stubble and Co sell a lightweight Adventure Bag Storm Cover which will keep everything dry even in the worst conditions! It packs down small and can be stored in the same pocket as the stowable strap cover. 


Sustainability and Ethics 

Stubble and Co have sustainability and ethics at the forefront of every bag they make. The bags are built to be timeless — there’s no need to upgrade your style every season. Stubble and Co also offer an in-house repair service for their backpacks. Rather than just selling you a new one, they’d rather repair the bag you’ve already got! According to their website, they don’t “normally charge for repairs” and all their bags come with a two-year warranty! 

They use recycled plastics where possible and all packaging is 100% recyclable.

👉 Check out our ultimate guide to sustainable backpacks! 👈

Stubble and Co only work with suppliers that have passed BSCI audits to ensure workers are being treated ethically and legally in their workplace.  

They’ve even gone one step further and created a carbon zero warehouse which I’ll let them explain!


Stubble and Co Adventure Bag – The Bad Bits

The Large Compartment (and all its sub-compartments)

The Adventure Bag is stacked full of organisational pockets which is generally a huge plus. The problem is that these compartments, specifically the laptop sleeve, bottle pocket and shoe holder, take up a ton of space in the bag’s largest pocket. Even when empty, the thick lining encroaches into the pocket, making it challenging to cram all your gear inside. 

When in use, these compartments can be a real headache to work around. With a pair of shoes inside, the shoe holder takes up around 20% of the main pocket’s capacity. To be honest, that’s probably a price worth paying for keeping your stinky, muddy shoes away from your clean clothes but I prefer the solution in Tropicfeel’s Shell Backpack. That has a packable pocket on the bottom of the bag that can be used to store shoes or stowed away when not in use. 

The laptop sleeve also takes up a lot of space which is acceptable when you consider the padding that keeps your computer safe from knocks and bangs. But still, it makes the large pocket less effective than it otherwise would be. 

It’s also worth noting that the laptop sleeve can be tough to use if the bag is full. If you store your laptop in a thicker case as I do, it’s a challenge to slide it in and out of the bag. Stubble and Co say the laptop sleeve can house a 16-inch machine but I’m not convinced. My 13 inch MacBook Air, in a case, is a tight fit! 

Finally, we come to my biggest gripe with this whole bag — the internal bottle pocket.

I’ve never used a bag with an internal bottle pocket and was curious as to how useful it would actually be. After testing and evaluating the bag, here are my thoughts:

It takes up too much of the internal space in the large compartment. I can work around the shoe pocket and laptop sleeve as I think they’re integral to what makes this bag so good, but the bottle pocket feels unnecessary. Plus, if you pack the bag too full, it becomes a real chore to cram your bottle into its pocket! 

I get frustrated with bottle pockets that I can’t reach while wearing the bag. This is my biggest bugbear with the Osprey Farpoint 40 too. I like to be able to reach back and grab my bottle without taking the bag off. 

I would much have preferred to see a stretchy mesh pocket on the outside of the bag. 


Frameless

Stubble and Co’s Adventure Bag generally benefits from its frameless design but only if you pack it well. Frameless backpacks always take some time to get used to and the Adventure Backpack is no different. 

Depending on the gear you travel with, you’ll need to learn how to pack it most efficiently. If you pack bulky or hard items in the largest pocket, you’ll feel them pressing into your back as you walk. The workaround is simple, make sure you pack large items of clothing like coats and jumpers first. These act as cushioning for harder bits of kit.


Carry On Specification

I’ve mentioned it above so I won’t go into it again too much but when packed full, this bag isn’t really carry on size. It’s right on the limit and smaller, regional airlines may well not let you take The Adventure Bag on as hand luggage. Plus it’s easy to pack it well over the carry on weight limit!

 Be prepared to check the bag if asked. Having a packable daypack alongside The Adventure Bag will allow you to take your travel essentials as carry on and store the rest of your gear in the hold. 


Price 

Good travel backpacks are always expensive and The Adventure Backpack is nowhere near the priciest of the bunch. However, it’s significantly more expensive than the Osprey Farpoint or Fairview 40. If you’re on a tight budget, this isn’t the backpack for you.


Final Thoughts On The Stubble and Co Adventure Backpack

Stubble and Co’s Adventure Backpack is an excellent choice for travellers with the budget to spare. It holds plenty and when you’re used to it, is easy to pack. The suitcase opening is excellent for backpackers who like knowing where everything is and the built-in organisation is top-notch. 

 The internal bottle pocket could be rethought in my opinion but the laptop sleeve and shoe compartment are welcome additions a travel bag. I adore the waterproof construction which keeps your gear safe from errant weather, which is especially useful if you travel with valuable electronics!

Overall, the bag is super comfortable to carry and allows you to carry a lot of gear with ease. Even with the hefty price tag, this is one of the best travel bags I’ve used and I’ll continue using it long into the future!


Tim Ashdown | Gear Specialist

After a life-changing motorcycle accident, Tim decided life was too short to stay cooped up in his home county of Norfolk, UK. Since then, he has travelled Southeast Asia, walked the Camino de Santiago and backpacked South America. His first book, From Paralysis to Santiago, chronicles his struggle to recover from the motorcycle accident and will be released later this year.

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