Backpacks

Cult Bag :: Gravis Metro

by , November 22, 2011

We give the low-down on an awesome value classic

You can get change from a $50 bill. That’s how much the Gravis Metro often costs. You see, it’s been around awhile, in countless colorways, of which there are always some on sale. But guess what? It’s still a better backpack than 98% of the bags out there, so we figured it was time to give it a good ‘ol Road Test and share some of the key points…

The Gravis Metro backpack has been around for years, almost unchanged. It’s a full featured laptop backpack suitable for study, work and/or play. It’s well worth the money around the $100 mark, and it becomes epic value as the sale reductions increase.

One of the rad things about the Metro is that it works well with very little in it, and also works well as you cram it full for some travel. There’s no compression straps to synch, or zip sections to expand, just a nice pattern that compresses well and keeps the contents close to your back.

The base has a significant angle that helps it achieve this. The downside is that you typically need to prop this bag against a wall or chair leg if you’re putting it beside you on the ground.

One of the secrets to the Metro’s longevity is the subtle folds and sophistication in the pattern work. That overhanging belly on the top pocket lets it sit flat when empty, but gain significant depth when needed. You can’t get this sort of fold if you’re filling your panels with foam like many brands do these days. There’s an old school zip flap (which has made a big comeback of late), subtle form patterning, and usually some pretty sweat zip-pulls to finish off the story.

The top pocket is not the only impressive bit of organizing. Those long front pockets work a treat for stationary, tech or umbrellas, and have loads of internal bits to help keep it all sorted.

The main section also gets the org treatment, with flat pocketing that only comes out when needed. Low pockets in main sections generally aren’t much use (contents get crushed), but these don’t get in the way and there’s plenty of other options if you have delicates.

The main section also opens right up for horizontal access, which is great when packing more clothes for a longer trip.

There’s a designated laptop section against your back, accessed through a 3/4 zip opening.

The laptop section has a suspended neoprene floor, utilising the only real structure in the pack to keep your laptop safe.

One significant note on these 3/4 laptop sections is that you have to remember to zip them up. If you don’t, you might well see your laptop go into frisbee mode as you swing your pack onto your shoulder (true story).

The back panel and straps are solid without being remarkable. They fall into the same airmesh trap as pretty much every backpack in the world, but we can’t hate on that too much.

And then there’s the variety. This pack is like Nike SB Dunks, available in countless colors and fabrics.

We have a few Metros between us, of which we’ve photographed the Black Shine and the Artillery colorways. Our advice on selection is to go for thicker backed fabrics like the Ultra Violet or Burnt Orange Tarpaulin, which have PVC or TPR backings. The bag was originally designed with thicker backings in mind, so many of the more recent versions with PU backing can feel a little too lightweight and unstructured.

You can see which is which from the way the fabric wrinkles (the black one pictured is lightweight PU, the green one is heavier weight PVC/TPU backing).

Summary

Finding bags that fit in for work or play is hard. Finding them for not much coin is even harder. The Gravis Metro is an awesome backpack that we continue to return to. It works for girls or guys, and teens or adults, depending on the colorway you chose. The frisbee laptop and airmesh are the only downsides we can see to a true classic. Thanks Gravis, for many happy trips/days/adventures.

  • http://brianpark.me Brian Park

    I expect a $500 bag to be nice, so it’s refreshing to see something this good AND this cheap get its due. Nice work.

  • James

    I bought this bag a few months ago based off your past posts about it and couldn’t be any happier with it. My main bag is a Chome Ivan and I wanted something that could keep up with that only smaller and this won. Such an awesome bag and I’m picky! Nice job giving this bag the review it deserves. It’s a darkhorse.

    • http://www.bellroy.com ando

      Yeewwww!!! Happy to hear it James!

  • Irene

    Thanks for your post. It’s very clear and sort of solving all my questions. However, I am still not sure if this bag is too long or big for me (I am 5’2 or 5’3). Can you help me to answer this question? Thank you!!

    • Ando

      I think so long as you are not super ‘dainty’, the bag should work well enough for your size. My wife is 5’6″, and it looks fine in a street cool way on her. However if you are really slim and wear pretty things, it may feel a touch large.
      That was the best way I could think to answer it. I hope that hasn’t offended anyone :)

      • Ando

        PS: That guy shown wearing it in the photo’s is 5’8″

  • http://www.popwuping.com Clark

    I’ve had a couple different Gravis bags to carry a laptop with and the zippers always sucked. I liked the way they looked, they were cheap and the bright interior is extremely useful but I was never hooked on the quality. Have they changed?

    • Ando

      Ahhh, bummer. We’ve not had any zipper issues on ours. There’s a few that have been getting worked for several years around our office, and other than some skateboard griptape abrasion on one spiral, all the zips are running well.

  • Fred

    Mine is 10+ years old and still going strong. I’d say I got pretty good value out of it.

    • Ando

      What’s that, about 3 cents a day? That sounds like pretty rad value to keep things neat and protected :)

    • http://www.loftwerk.de rk

      same here. and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

  • Valter Neiva

    hello everyone I’m torn between buying the Metro Black vice (all black) or the Metro in black waxed canvas. I like the nylon version better and it is cheaper , but I am afraid that is less durable than the version in waxed canvas.
    What should I buy?

    Thanks, Walter

    • http://www.bellroy.com ando

      Haha, I think the Carryology guys would be split on this one too. I like waxed canvas more, some of the other guys like the look of Nylon. Just go the one that makes you feel better, as it should last pretty well regardless.

  • Valter Neiva

    Its just that the waxed canvas is only 10€ more than the nylon version, and im afraid of lousing a good deal…

    • http://www.bellroy.com ando

      Haha, but you’ll forget how much you paid for it soon, while you’ll always notice how right it feels. Go the one that connects best to your emotions, and you’ll be happier in the long run :)

      • Valter Neiva

        Thank you ando, one more question. I will buy online, so i can not feel the material, i rely only on the aspect, but i have several bags in waxed canvas and know that is strong fabric. Does the metro vice black have the PVC coating that you were talking about? Once again thank you for helping me, it’s good to talk to someone who also likes bags!

        Link to the site:
        http://www.zebraclub.de/gravis/metro-backpack-black-vice-237373-008-schwarzer-rucksack.htm

        • Ando

          I can’t be sure, but that image does look like there’s a TPE coating (the newer version of PVC backings) giving it some nice structure. I think that looks a great version with the micro ripstop. If you like the vibe, go for it :)

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  • james

    Hi

    I’m intrigued to know what is the same airmesh trap as pretty much every backpack in the world ?

    Metro is an epic bag, BUT, having vertical zippers on pockets can sometimes be an easy way to lose small items !!!

    Great review.

    JC

    • Valter Neiva

      Yeah its really the same airmesh. I have the bag for one week now and im very pleased, but wish it have more structure to it and perhaps made of cordura with ykk zippers but then it wouldn’t cost 45dollars.
      With the vertical pockets, you are right.. Things just fall if you’r not careful.

    • http://www.bellroy.com ando

      The ‘same airmesh trap’ is that they use airmesh. Lots of us hate the stuff. It’s abrasive on bare skin, doesn’t actually do much in the way of ventilation, lacks durability, and just looks naff. If you want to see better stuff, the Boreas guys are playing with some great options in a tech look: http://boreasgear.com/products/bolinas/
      Or you can just use nylon jersey laminates on a perforated foam base.

      • Valter Neiva

        Yes, and it catches sand… Not great stuff, but its standard on backpack in this price range.

  • Greg

    I was wondering if the backpack can fit my alienware m17x. Its a pretty huge laptop. Bigger than a regular 17″ laptop

    • http://www.bellroy.com ando

      Hmmm, hard one to say. It fits an Apple 17″, but there’s not much room around it (at all).
      Gosh, I just checked pics of your pooter out online. Man that thing is scary! Haha, I’m guessing you’re into your gaming…

      One of the best sites for checking this stuff is Rushfaster. They have lots of laptop brands and models that you can check against bag fit. I couldn’t find your’s, but with a touch of research, I think you’ll be able to work out a similar sized model: http://rushfaster.com.au/alldept/1/laptop-bags/#LaptopFilter=374&BrandFilter=gravis&

      Hope that helps!

      • Greg

        Well, if it barely fits an Apple 17″. I doubt it can fit my alienware.. haha. I’m using it for gaming and work purposes. Need a heavy duty laptop to support all my engineering/architectural softwares. And of course, a lil bit of gaming as well :D Thanks for the site btw, i found my model. And guess what? it doesnt fit!

        Guess i have to keep looking.

        thanks again :)

  • Yu-Wen

    Hi Ando

    Just a quick question – I am hoping to chuck the usual guy stuff (wallet, keys and phone) into the external pockets. Is the top horizontal pocket large enough to fit a normal size wallet (ie. one which could fit into a jeans back pocket) or would this stuff have to go into the 2 vertical pockets.

    Great review by the way

    Yu=Wen

    • Valter Neiva

      3 wallets if you like and key and everything :)

      • Yu-Wen

        Thanks Valter – I ended up getting the Black Shine version…its pretty cool and seems a little water resistant which is awesome. The material is a little thinner (raincoat type?) than the other nylon…but pretty much it was 43 dollars when compared with 100 for the other materials – so hoping to use it till it breaks.

        • Valter Neiva

          I’m glad i could help! Love the bag and use it all the time, but yes it will brake with extended use, i wish they make it in 1000d cordura with decent ykk zippers, perfection.

  • Zi-Su

    Hi! Is there something like a good online seller which sells more Metro models?
    Thing is, the standard places only have the standard models but I’ve come across some more unusual versions, which I really liked. The only sites with somewhat different versions I found looked a bit dubious.
    Generally how are the various Metro models generated? Different by country maybe?

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  • http://www.gingerbeardman.com matt

    Gravis recently announced the fugly Metro 2 XL and I think that this bag has now been discontinued :’(

    • Ando

      It’s going to be interesting to see how this all plays out…

      With Gravis becoming an Asian focused brand, and that whole heritage thing still playing crazy strong in Japan, the OG Metro does feel like it might get dropped. Having said that, it’s still being offered on their website alongside the Metro2 for now.

      I guess we wait and see…

      • matt

        So, yes, it seems that they’ve kept the Metro after all. Hurrah!

  • Katherine

    Great review, was wondering how you can fit in the main compartment though, specifically for larger textbooks and A4 binders?

    • http://www.carryology.com/ ando

      No problems. It swallows them up.

  • peter leong

    what country is the bag made in? so cheap. comparatively

    • http://www.gingerbeardman.com matt

      Country of origin was China, and build quality was always excellent. In fact it has improved even more as the years have passed. Fabric and feel does vary between colour way or model, but they’re all solid.

      I’m not 100% sure about the origin of the latest models. Gravis is now a Japanese-focussed company and may have switched their production. Hopefully somebody with a recent model bag can chime in?

      Interestingly Gravis are still producing the classic Metro, even after the introduction of the new Metro 2. They also produced a Metro Mini, which I am waiting to receive. I’ll report back.

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