- Buyer's Guide
Three Reasons Why The Code of Bell X-POD Should Be Your Next Sling
Approximately a year ago, Shiro Suzuki launched his company Code of Bell and their freshman effort, the X-PAK, on Kickstarter. After successfully delivering slings to some four hundred backers, Shiro is back with a new product, which he hopes will advance his grand vision for not just his brand, but how we all carry our (small) things.
You see, Code of Bell believes that most of the time people don’t need a large backpack or messenger because they aren’t really carrying that much stuff. You can ignore students or business folk, who are lugging large laptops, chargers, and books around; they clearly need the size and weight of larger bags. However, for cruising around town, a visit to the county fair, or even trekking through the streets of London on an extended vacation, what do you really carry with you? Phone, cash, water, mints, earbuds and sunglasses? You get the picture. You’re carrying light.
With respect to his first launch, Shiro thought it would be too jarring to start off with a smaller bag, so X-PAK was still capable of carrying a laptop. With this second iteration, Code of Bell has the opportunity to iterate and improve and convince the carrying public to re-imagine what an EDC bag is and what size bag they really need to carry daily essentials.
The X-POD launched on October 1, 2018 and is the smallest bag that Code of Bell offers to date.
I’ve tested it and I’m totally digging. Here are three reasons why the Code of Bell X-POD should be your next sling.
It’s super versatile
The X-POD is all about flexibility and adjusting to fit your carry needs and style. For starters, the bag can be worn, comfortably, in a variety of styles. You can wear it on your back in a classic sling style, on your waist behind or in the front, or even across your chest. The main strap has two adjustment points which moves the position of the respective buckle halves and this provides incredible flexibility on bag position on your body. Note: In the shot above, I am actually wearing the pack upside down, depending how you look at it. Since it has access on both sides, there is no real concept of what’s the top or bottom. I actually think this way is more comfortable so I’m sticking to it.
Focusing on the main compartment, you have a 2L volume that expands to 4L in a very clean and clever way. In its default compact configuration, the X-POD tucks the extra space underneath. At a quick glance, it would be hard to tell that it has an extra 100% of storage space hidden away. When you need the space, it expands effortlessly to accommodate. I easily fitted a pair of sunglasses (with case) and a 21 oz water bottle inside on my walk. I could have easily stuffed more in there if I wanted.
On the go, you have options for accessing your stuff. The main compartment has the normal shorter zipper on top which is how most users will get to their gear. However, if you put the X-POD down on a flat surface, you can flip the bag upside down, exposing a longer zipper that runs the length of the compartment. This gives you a wider, sort of doctor’s bag opening for maximum access and visibility of your belongings. Both zippers are water resistant so you can rest assured your items will stay dry.
The main compartment is best for larger, bulkier items, or items that are easier to grab, but that doesn’t exhaust the storage options. Closer to your body is a large compartment framed by 1680D ballistic nylon, while lined with that sweet high-vis orange. Inside you’ll find a flat area with some decent expandability, with zippered pockets on both sides. The area at the rear of the bag is one large zippered pocket, while the other side has two zippered areas. I found these pockets perfect for small and easy-to-lose items such as memory cards, flash drives, and chapstick. The mesh walls mean you can easily spot them, and the relative snugness of the pockets means there’s little jiggling around or space for items to get lost in. Inside, you’ll also find a key clip attached to a strap that’s the perfect length.
The production bag is going to come with two compression straps which you can use to tighten things down in the main compartment, or to carry additional items, laced to the outside of the bag. So if you want to carry a travel tripod or a rolled up jacket, you can just put it in front of the bag and tighten the straps.
Finally, each of the wings that hugs your waist or your shoulders, depending on your mode of carry, hides little zippered pockets that can hold a surprising amount of items, so long as they are small – think coins, keys, lip balm, or a spare battery for your digital camera.
Incredible quality in build and materials
When I received the X-POD sample, I was immediately impressed with the build quality. But only after using it a few times and really looking at how it all pieced together to make a great sling, did I come to appreciate the excellent materials and build quality. Let’s start with the materials.
The front of the X-POD is constructed of a 4-layer sailcloth material, similar to X-Pac. The main body is a 1680D ballistic nylon for abrasion resistance and durability. YKK weatherproof zips keep your valuables dry. There’s a generous helping of Hypalon throughout the bag from the zipper pulls to the loops for the compression straps. Zippers without pull loops have nice plastic tabs which make grabbing a breeze. The stock plastic buckle is beefy and secures soundly, while the plastic strap keepers do a great job, even accommodating rolled up slack.
I primarily wear the X-POD on my back, and even then, there are so many positions you can choose to position it. You can keep it high near your shoulder, in the middle of your back, or lower near your hips and side. The wings that flank the bag, similar to what you’d find on a hiking pack’s waist belt, are padded and designed to contour to whichever body part you place them near. This means that the wing acts as a shoulder pad if you have it behind you and up high, or holds on to your side if you wear it as a waist pack. The rear of the bag is made of soft, breathable padding which is really comfortable. It doesn’t take long to adjust the bag once it’s on your body, and if you want to switch positions, taking it off and moving it to a new location doesn’t take long at all.
The X-POD represents the next step in Code of Bell’s journey to bring the best sling bags to market, but also is their way to subtly influence that same market. With the belief that the sling can be an extension of one’s pockets, the X-POD’s size encourages users to really evaluate what they need to carry on a day-to-day basis. Chances are, you may need more than what you can fit comfortably in your pant pockets, but not nearly enough to fill a typical 16-24L daypack. The answer probably lies somewhere in between; closer to the smaller end of the spectrum. With construction rivaling high-end makers, top-notch material choices, flexibility in how you carry it, and plenty of options for stowing your goods, the Code of Bell X-POD should be a top contender if you are looking for a small, organized, and fashionable sling.