Carryology delivered. Your inbox. every two weeks.
Only the best stuff (and giveaways!), we promise.

Road Tests

Road Tests :: Côte&Ciel Isar Rucksack (SXSW ’13 edition)

by , June 26, 2013

Cote Ciel Isar Rucksack Road Test 16

That is one fancy backpack.”  

I heard this statement, verbatim, at least a dozen or more times while having the Côte&Ciel Isar Rucksack‘s padded straps slung over my shoulders during the week-long city-wide takeover of South by Southwest 2013.  We’ve actually done a serious in-depth Road Test (Part 1 and Part 2) on this incredible pack a few years ago, back in October of 2010.  Being that this review is now slightly dated and that they’ve made some minor updates to the design since then, we were interested to take another fresh and current look at this truly interesting pack from a slightly different angle.  Kind of like Côte&Ciel’s (French for “coast” and “sky”) take on carry…from a slightly different angle.

Cote Ciel Isar Rucksack Road Test 10

Myself, being a bit of a car nut who has owned a bunch of old SAABs, Ando’s brilliant description of the C&C brand, “the SAAB of the carry world”, really peaked my curiosity.  I wanted to know more about their brand and this flagship product of theirs.  Without hesitation, I reached out to the friendly folks over at C&C to propose the idea of a brutal and incredibly-demanding week-long SXSW-edition Road Test of the Isar Rucksack.  They agreed and were excited at the idea.  And so was I… even though I knew from previous experience what the tiring and endless week had in store for my mind, body and soul.

Cote Ciel Isar Rucksack Road Test 19

Some background…SX takes place across the entire city of Austin.  Because of this, I’d be primarily bicycling on my Surly Crosscheck, walking, driving, and cabbing to venues all over.  I would be spending something like 12-18 hours out there in the fray each day, all week long, without stopping home except for sleeping at the end of the night/morning.  Because of all this, I’d need everything on me at all times.  Stuff like a backup clean shirt, bike tools, bike lights, phone charger, water, sunblock, real badges/passes/credentials, fake badges/passes/credentials, and though unlikely, even gear in case of rain.  Plus, my bag would need to hold everything that is given to me/forced upon me at the events during the week, which is enough to fill a VW van or two.  It would also have to seamlessly blend into some grungy events as well as some “classy VIP” parties that I’d sneak/get into.  I use the quotations loosely, as I don’t take these events very seriously.  Additionally, in previous years temperatures have ranged from 90°F to 30°F in a single week, though usually hovering in the 90’s.  So I’d need options and gear for both extremes.  These factors are a lot to consider.  If a backpack can stand up to a week at SX, it can handle nearly anything.  I was hopeful that the Isar Rucksack could deliver.

Cote Ciel Isar Rucksack Road Test 1

Well, it delivered.  It stood up without flinching to the gauntlet of SXSW.  However, my plans changed with a lost (or potentially stolen) camera at the end of the week-long festival.  This quickly eliminated 100% of the product shots I nabbed of the Isar in action; hanging with bands, BSing with minor celebrities, meeting Grumpy Cat herself, in action shots on my back while riding my bicycle, and being in attendance at some unforgettable SX events.  All completely gone.  Wonderful.  I did maintain all of my careful notes on the Isar throughout the festival, so I was still ahead in that respect.  I just wanted to explain this in order to be totally honest with you folks, the photos shown have been taken after the fact to recreate and represent the moments/scenarios/features that my notes refer to.  So you’re not going to see the massive crowds and hoards of SX hipsters in the background as planned.  However, the lighting and focus should be much better in these shots, so maybe this was a blessing in disguise.  There was one photo of the Isar I discovered that made it through unscathed…a blurry iPhone photo (above).  Snapped around 3AM of the final Saturday night of SX, as we were closing down a showcase on the East Side.  Let’s start here, at the end.

Cote Ciel Isar Rucksack Road Test 2

The Isar Rucksack had taken a beating that day, but still looked fresh, clean and new thanks to the waxed canvas main pack fabric.  Although I never ended up getting caught in the rain during the whole festival, that particular day the Isar had all sorts of liquids spilled on it, from cold water to warm Lonestar beer; who knows what else. And it all slipped right off without leaving a mark behind.  Not to mention, it kept all that moisture away from my laptop that I had with me.  This is thanks to the canvas fabric used for the pack’s exterior.  Though the C&C website doesn’t actually provide detailed specifics of the material, it is a lightly-waxed, cotton-based canvas with just enough weight (oz/yd) to the fabric to make it durable and long-lasting.  About as thick as a canvas work jacket.  Possibly 16 oz/yd in weight, but that is just my guess.

Cote Ciel Isar Rucksack Road Test 3

Speaking of carrying my laptop (13″ MacBook Air), the past 5 SXSW festivals I’ve been to I refrained from bringing a laptop out into the madness with me for many different reasons; theft, water damage, and the fear of impact/drop protection, just to name a few.  I wouldn’t have even considered carrying it with me even once, but the Isar’s thickly padded laptop compartment, located in the inner depths of the bag, gave me the initial confidence to give it a try.  So I did.  After the first day I ever brought a laptop with me to SX I decided to give it another try.  And then another.  Then a couple more tries.  Quickly my days of carrying a laptop into SX went from zero to multiple.  Even with getting tossed around, dropped on the ground, tripped over, bumped into, and so on, the laptop was protected from any form of damage whatsoever in this soft secure bunker.  To get into this rear protective zone, you take off the pack and unzip the dual full-length zippers that follow the perimeter of the backpanel.  It opens up like a clamshell, giving you unhindered access to all your tech goodies.  The process is shown below (click photo to enlarge).

Cote Ciel Isar Rucksack Road Test 8 large

There are five pockets in total back here (one being zippered).  This rear zippered pocket I used for items that I needed somewhat frequently, as I personally found the rear easier to access than the front, YMMV.  A laptop or two, a tablet or two, charging cables, and plenty more could slide easily in the back.  Côte&Ciel eloquently describes their inspiration for the protective aspect of their bag designs, “We take inspiration from nature in a design and production process we call organic construction.  The form and function is conceived as a body, evolving from the interplay of organs, bones, muscles and skin.  And your device sits right at the heart of it, with our compartment construction working as a protective skeleton that’s surrounded by a fabric skin.

Cote Ciel Isar Rucksack Road Test 7 large

Carrying the rest of my gear was a breeze, thanks to the two separate main compartments.  We covered the rear “gadget zone” compartment above.  On the opposite side, the “front zone” was really nice for tossing in crushable items like extra clothes or a (bulky) Dickies jacket I acquired via a giveaway at some party.  The two compression straps inside efficiently helped to minimize volume as well.  Now this is where the Isar functions almost like a duffel, without looking like a duffel on your back; a wide mouth opening, large volume, zippered access, interior compression straps, then cinching down tightly with the two exterior straps.  Shown above (click photo to enlarge), is the step-by-step process of how the front compartment goes from open to closed.  I wanted to clearly illustrate this transition, as I felt that it hasn’t been accurately shown in other reviews or sources online, baffling me until I had the chance to interact with it hands-on.

Cote Ciel Isar Rucksack Road Test 4

Inside the front area, there are also two nicely sized zippered pockets.  Located at the top of the interior, the smaller of the two pockets (shown above) was perfectly sized for my portable cell phone charging kit that I bring out to festivals and events where I’m constantly on the move (made up of two 2000mAh LiPo batteries and various cables for charging…clutch).  Easy to access when necessary, but packed away enough so they’re out of the way when I didn’t need them.  At the right side of the front zone opening, running parallel with the zippered access, is the rectangular and larger of the two zippered pockets (shown below).  This was used for all the extra stuff; keys, bike lights, bike multitool, wristbands, badges, tube patch kit, etc.  Peace of mind to know that all my important stuff was tucked away into one zippered pocket that would be nearly impossible for anyone else to access while wearing the pack on my back, due to the bag’s unusual access to the front compartment.  Additionally, the dual main compartments (separated by a triple layer wall of fabric) allows for an easy method of carrying in sneaking in an extra ounce or two of the firewater that the security guy at the entrance would quickly find (and remove) in a more traditional pack.

Cote Ciel Isar Rucksack Road Test 5

Since SXSW 2013 stayed relatively cool, in the 80’s and 90’s (in Celcius: 27 up to 37),  the padded backpanel wasn’t a problem with sweat.  And that is usually a big issue for me, as I perspire a lot when I ride my bicycle in the blazing Texas heat of Spring and Summer.  Though, I imagine if the mercury were to rise over 100, the non-ventilated cotton canvas backpanel could have been uncomfortable.  Keep in mind, this isn’t some adventure pack that uses airmesh (blech!) or a fancy hovering breathable suspension, so know that getting into it.  For me, as long as it remained relatively cool, it was surprisingly not an issue at all.  The padding on the shoulder straps and back was nice, thick, squishy and comfortable, which was a bonus.  Especially since I was wearing this pack on my shoulders for multiple hours daily.

Cote Ciel Isar Rucksack Road Test 12

Over-the-left-shoulder visibility.  I’ve talked about it before.  It might seem trivial and nit-picky, but it is a real life thing.  In the US, we ride on the right side of the road.  Coincidentally, this is also the side of the road that we bicycle on.  So when you’re making a left turn and/or just checking for traffic behind you, it is important that you can see over your left shoulder.  I was worried that the Isar’s unique front panel would block my rear/peripheral vision.  It didn’t.  That flap stayed out of the way, located more towards the center of the pack while I was peddling in the prone position down in the drops.  Never had an issue.

Cote Ciel Isar Rucksack Road Test 13

The build and quality are what I would expect of a bag that costs at least $100-$150 more than the Isar’s current price tag (€189 / $248).  For what you get, and for what goes into this, I’m baffled by the price.  The custom hardware is fantastic, a detail that you don’t see very often.  Six heavy duty metal zipper pullers with laser etched branding feel great on the fingertips, plus four metal webbing adjust hardware bits (three small, one large) with the same custom laser etching.  The zipper sliders are large enough and easy enough to use while walking and even while biking.  Same goes for the webbing adjust hardware.  No fumbling around over tiny zippers or headaches messing with straps.

Cote Ciel Isar Rucksack Road Test 6

And when the Isar was put to the test on the ground, in gravel/dirt/hot pavement and among several thousand moving feet, I never feared a hole, rip or tear.  In fact, even after the SX week of abuse (and the use I’ve given it since then), there doesn’t seem to be any visible wear whatsoever.  I had figured that I would spot at least some scuffs or battle scars, maybe a loose thread.  At least something you’d notice.  But even three months later, it still looks as if it could go up on the shelf as new.

Cote Ciel Isar Rucksack Road Test 11

Let’s finally get back to that comment, “That is one fancy backpack.”  Curiosity comes included with the Isar Rucksack.  People will take notice of this quirky aesthetic.  Now, don’t get confused, I use the word “quirky” in the most positive way possible.  As I’ve mentioned my old SAAB passion above, this is the word that would get lovingly tossed around a lot in those circles.  Côte&Ciel explains a bit about their design and aesthetic, “In progressive shapes that embody modernity, simplicity and style,” following with “travel goods that balance modern fabrics with architectural shapes, to make sure bags, rucksacks and sleeves that complement your lifestyle.”  The Isar Rucksack is certainly one of the most unique packs I’ve ever used and seen out there in the softgoods world.  The pattern-making on this must have taken a ton of refinement to get dialed in to this perfect size and silhouette (for reference in the photo below, I am 6’0″ tall and this is the Medium option).

Cote Ciel Isar Rucksack Road Test 21

The extremely innovative and unique lines/shapes/access points of the Isar are perfectly balanced with the beautiful muted olive tone and its real-world functionality.  In other words, it doesn’t just have a pretty face, it has some serious thought and brains behind it.  And though there is no way to quantify this theory, I felt like it balanced looking suitable for both the grungier SX events and the “classy VIP” events.  For example, you wouldn’t wear a tuxedo to a punk show where they’re throwing uncooked chicken and you wouldn’t go shirtless with jorts to a major design firm’s interaction design party in the W.  The Isar walked that line confidently and successfully.  It looked good when it needed to and dressed down and casual when it needed to.  All of their products (bags, sleeves, pouches and more) share this aesthetic and mentality, each are worth a careful look.  Myself, I think the aesthetic is great-looking and nothing short of innovative.  “Built for entrepreneurs on the move.”  I couldn’t agree more.  SXSW 2013 approved.

Reader's Review

Be the first to review

All Reviews

  • http://www.sygyzy.com/ David

    Wow, great review Taylor. Love to see a quality bag that stood apart from the horde, years ago, still is unique and as nice in its updated form.

  • Daniel

    Great review! I have the C&C rucksack for almost two years now, have taken it all around the world. If I would say that I bought it a month ago, everyone would believe me. I have this one: http://emea.coteetciel.com/store/isar-rucksack.html

  • http://www.davidetarasconi.net Davide

    I’ve been using this backpack for over a year now – daily commuting by bike.

    The “front zone” compartment has a terrific carrying capacity: I used the Isar as my only baggage for a four-days trip to Barcelona (up next: Berlin and Lisbon) and it worked just fine. I believe I can even use it for a week-long trip.

    What I love the most about that compartment is that you can load it to the extreme (e.g. when my mum loads me with 15 kgs of food to bring home) and it doesn’t lose its characteristic shape. It kinda adapts organically to the contents, so to speak.

    About the sweating: since I’m usually on the move on my bike I was worried about perspiration too. But for havingsuch a heavy and robust built, I must say I never considered buying a lighter backpack – even if Cote Et Ciel flat backpacks are REALLY tempting.

    Apart from a slight problem with straps’ holders – they are not notched, so I had to sewn the extra strap chords to make the straps stay in a fixed position – best backpack ever.

    • http://www.coroflot.com/TaylorWelden Taylor Welden

      Thanks for the message, Davide. Great detailed information and insights you have here. I’m loving the Isar more and more as I use it daily. I can’t wait to see what it looks like in 20 years (after it finally starts showing some wear!).

      Also- nice modification here. Usually most mods we see are a bit sloppy. This looks clean, effective, professional, and like it was actually done by the manufacturer. Great work.

      • Doug

        Davide: Can you let us know what size bag you used for your trip to Barcelona?

        Taylor : I want to thank you for this great review. I have had my eye on this bag some time, for its unique design. Your review truly opens up the bag for us. Sadly, their website is very poor in detail, I would like to ask your insight/opinion.

        1) I re-read the previous reviews of 2010 from David and from Ando . You commented: ” Being that this review is now slightly dated and that they’ve made some minor updates to the design since then“. Could you explain what you discovered in the most recent edition of the bag ? I am curious to know if these new changes are significant enough to refrain from buying an older model.

        2) I have difficulty determining the proper sized bag. I want to carry an Asus 15.6″ laptop and want to have room for a weekend of gear and for biking. I’m 5’9″ similar build to you (in photo) but think I should be looking at the large model (17” laptop). Is there such thing as too much bag to be hauling around, ergonomically speaking or otherwise?

        Thanks for any input

        • http://www.davidetarasconi.net Davide

          Doug, I’m not sure but I think it’s the medium version – it carries a 13″ MacBook (I didn’t bring it in Barcelona so I had an extra few inches available).

          Speaking of size: I’m a big guy (6’1″/1.85, wide shoulders) and I think that even the medium one could be a bit too big for smaller body frames.

          But, ergonomically speaking, it’s not a big deal: the straps are beautifully designed so even if the backpack may look bigger in shape, it won’t be a problem carrying it around.

          • Plamena

            I am actually running exactly into a size problem as far as the ergonomics of the bag. I have been pining after the Isar Rucksack for months. I finally got the medium size in grey melange for Christmas. It is a beautifully designed bag. All of the detailing is really well thought out and it is constructed quite well. However, for the price and the amount of thought clearly put into it, the bag is quite a poor fit for anyone who is not fairly wide and somewhat on the taller side. I am averagely sized for a woman by all criteria at 5’5″ and 135 lb and the medium size is a surprisingly uncomfortable fit for me. The straps are way too wide and keep pushing against my upper arms. They are also anchored very wide at the bottom of the pack, presumably to fit the entire computer compartment which adds to the issue of pushing out into my arms.The handle at the top is awkwardly placed low on the straps so it rests against the vertebrae on ma neck. The bag is quite long and there is a lot of excess room at the top for both my 14.5 and 15″ laptops.The extra flap of material to which the straps are attached makes it somewhat hard to get to the zippered compartment. Also, the buckles holding the large front compartment down are quite fiddly to loosen and tighten. This bag is one of the nicer looking every day bags I’ve seen and I really wanted this bag to be right but it seems like it was designed to fit a larger person. I wish this design was offered in a size that was more friendly to a medium/smaller frame.

        • Aaron

          Hi this might be rather late but I hope it helps. I had the same question as you as I have a 15.6″ Asus Zenbook which is very thin but longer than the 15″ MacBook Pro. I’ve just bought a medium-sized Isar rucksack and the laptop fits perfectly.

          What they mean by 13-15″ is that the protective laptop pocket only comes up enough to completely cover a 15″ laptop, but there is space above it before the closure to accommodate a slightly longer laptop like mine. I was tempted to go for the large one as well simply to carry more stuff if I ever needed to, but I’m only 5’6″ and I didn’t want something too comically large for lighter, everyday use.

  • Jean

    Anyone knows somewhere else besides the C&C site where I can buy one…?

  • http://placesiremember.wordpress.com Joyce

    Great review! Ever since I read your first review (found it about a 1.5 years ago), I’ve had this bag in the back of my mind ever since… I think it might be time to finally treat myself to one.The only drawback to me is that it looks rather big!! I’m a petite 5’5″ girl and I’m worried that’ll it’ll look monstrous on me. I also thought about the larger size to be able to carry my 15.5″ laptop… how tight was the laptop compartment? Do you think it would fit?

    • http://placesiremember.wordpress.com Joyce

      (forgot to subscribe to followup comments)

      • Taylor

        Heya Joyce,

        Thanks for your message!

        I think the Medium sized Isar wouldn’t be too big for you at all. Especially if you didn’t fill it with a ton of bulky items like I did for these photos. Personally, I say go for it. What type of 15.5″ laptop do you have? Unless it is a monster brick, I think it would fit with no problem at all. There was a TON of room leftover when I had my 13″ Air in there. I was thinking a that a 15″ could easily slide in there.

        Now all that is left is choosing one of the colors from their amazing color palette. Tough call there! Any that you’ve had your eye on specifically?

        • http://placesiremember.wordpress.com Joyce

          The colors are all amazing! If I could afford it (and justify it to my boyfriend, considering all the bags I have) I would buy more than 1 color. I just ordered the canvas one in medium, grey! 🙂 I live in Europe so it wouldn’t be too inconvenient to exchange it if needed. But I think my Samsung laptop should fit — and my next one will be a 15″ macbook anyway! I’m thinking/hoping the bag will last me a long time, and be flexible for my everyday biking commute, as well as weekend city getaways/travels, on flights… so many possibilities! Is it geeky to be so excited about it? 🙂

          I think my main worry about the bag looking big… is that all 20-30 L bags (what I need to carry with me everyday) look big on me regardless of model 🙂

  • Doug

    Ha Ha, I had to put my original reply aside for a bit before posting, (see above reply from Davide, Taylor comment), to return and read Joyce’s comment. She hits it with the very same points and questions I have. I’m ready to click buy, if C&C can re-stock the olive color.

  • http://www.HiImDean.com Dean Grove


    I can chime in here a little bit,specially as I won a earlier Version of this Bag in a previous Carryology Contest (woot woot).

    The bag is awesome, but if you aren’t the tallest of guys, can look huuuuuuuuuuge. Also more than one time, the vertical opening was referred to as looking like a Vagina by friends of mine (and me).

    I’m 5’6″ (168 cm for the correct part of the world) and I am pretty sure i got the large back. It basically covers all my back,nearly my ass and goes upto my Head.

    But,its designed beautifully and the colour is amazing on this one.

    But, the bag is beautiful, it has its areas where it shines, but sometimes it’s also a bit meh.

    How big is the

    • http://www.HiImDean.com Dean Grove

      Just ignore the last sentence,brain went full retard and never went back.

  • Pingback: Week In Review ~ 29 June | Carryology()

  • http://kvet.ch/ emory

    A great-looking pack. I wish the opening for the front section was to the right instead of the left, having sideways access to it via my right would allow me to fish things out of it easier like I would with a messenger bag.

    I don’t know if I understand the differences in materials on their website though. The “Melange” is an eco-yarn but I don’t know if it’s water resistant or (how could it be?) waterproof. I can’t tell if the Melange bags are waxed like the regular canvas ones or not and I’m feeling kind of dumb that I can’t find an answer to that. Canvas? Techno-Canvas? Melange? Benefits/cons to each? Bueller?

    Also, The Twin Touch line seems to only be in Medium, not Large, and they charge a USD$100 premium over the other models. Kind of puzzling since it isn’t clear why that would be, not to mention the land-mine Weathered Taupe Ivar running USD$670 in “Alias Lux Leather”, whatever the f’k that is. I’m guessing it’s made by tanning the skin of unicorns.

    • tt

      -the main compartment isnt that easy to get to. so even if it were on the side of your preference, it would not be easy to grab things in there.
      -the melange (eco-yarn) is a shinier (but textured) surface. feels more tightly woven. almost artificial. i like it because it is more resistant to discoloration than the normal heavy canvas.
      -havent test water proofness. is it that big of a deal? you could wax or weatherproof your bag with a tin of wax from Barbour or any like protectant
      -LARGE laptop people… the large bag will swallow huge 15.6″ workstation-grade laptops.
      -semi complaint: the side strap doesnt allow the duffel compartment to fully flop open. this is a different design from previously (with the buckle)
      -bigger complaint: sometimes the bottom strap tends to rub up against you inadvertently

  • rousseau

    to those that own the medium version of the bag, are there any confirmations that a retina macbook pro 15″ would fit in it? and if so how snug as I don’t fancy scraping the edges as I zip the bag up 😛

    • http://www.coroflot.com/TaylorWelden Taylor Welden

      It will absolutely fit nicely for you, no worries. SendC&C an email to confirm, but you’ll be all good.

  • Adam

    Hi! Echoing the question posed earlier, what’s the diff between the older and the newer models? You mentioned the buckle? Did the old plastic buckle come completely undone, and the newer metal one just allow the strap to lengthen? How about the look of the part that actually holds against your back? Any detail on this is so appreciated – the 2011 model is sold on ebay for $183 – a big savings.

  • Nate

    How big is the “large” model in liters? Can’t seem to find it listed anywhere…

  • Pingback: What In My Laptop Bag – Fall 2013 Edition | Brent Ozar()

  • Adan

    Hi, how is it going?
    I was thinking in this backpack for a self-gift, hahaha…but I’m not sure abt the size!
    I’m a 1,78m wide shoulders guy, MacBook Pro 13″, and I used to carry on some other e-devices and notebooks. Now I can’t ride , but as soon as I can I’ll ride my bike again.
    What sizes is the right for me? It’s the big one so big or the medium one will be enough?

    Thanks and merry Christmas

    • TeamCarryology

      Hi Adan, if you’re over 6ft then go the large, if not, try the medium.

      • felix

        I bought the large version 3 months ago and so far I’m fully content with it. This review inspired me to buy it, and I tested it in a shop (It was incredibly difficult to find a retailer! )

        I’m glad for the extra space the larger version gives me when I need it. Personally, I don’t think the difference between the 15″ and 17″ pack is huge.

        It’s an amazing bag, and I can just recommend it!

  • Conrado Cruz

    Hi all,

    I’d like to share my frustrating experiences with the Cote et Ciel Customer Care, which started the day I received my order and lasted until the next week.

    I received a nice tax refund this year, and based on the review of this bag I decided to splurge and get the Alias Leather Isar Rucksack. Sure, it costs at least 7x as much as any of the bags I own, but a product in that price range is bound to be high quality. And a company selling high price point merchandise is bound to have attentive, responsive customer service. Right?

    The unit I received had a defective zipper for the laptop compartment (see the attached image). I contacted their Customer Care, and I was asked to file a warranty request using their online help ticketing system. A warranty request for a defective product on arrival? Other companies would just ship me a new unit with directions on how to send the broken one back. But whatever.

    I filed this request, and I was told that the warranty department would respond to me ‘soon’ about my bag. Then nothing.

    I followed up the next day, again through the online ticketing system. I was told that it has not been 48 hours yet and the warranty department would respond to me ‘soon’. And that ‘if my request is approved’ then I will get a replacement unit. A weekend passed with no reply.

    With frustration escalating and desire for this product rapidly declining (and still no response from warranty), I follow up again the next week. I was told that the warranty department is handling the case, and that I should give them the ‘production number’ and they will ship me a new bag. No directions on where to get this number, and nowhere on the invoice that says what this number is.

    I finally just gave up. Yes, the bag is beautiful. The leather is smooth and the color is nice and neutral. Its a very unique design—I have not seen anybody yet with this same bag. I imagine it will hold all my stuff quite nicely. From the quick tests in front of the mirror, even though the bag is big it looks proportionate to my 5’4” frame.

    But, for the one week the bag was in my possession, it stayed in my office drawer. I could not use it due to the broken zipper, and Cote et Ciel puts the customer through hoops to get any response, even for basic customer service responses.

    I am returning the bag today. In the scheme of things, I don’t think its unreasonable to expect a faster exchange process for a product that is received broken. Or at least better communication from customer service. But this one question-one answer system they have is frustrating. They do not provide updates, and it generally takes one day to get a response, if any.

    Oh well. Maybe it was not meant to be.

    • JoeDay1

      As an update to Conrado Cruz’s experience, it doesn’t seem Cote & Ciel have improved their customer service. They may be too small to have a good overseas operation, but I can’t imagine it would be too difficult or expensive from an overhead standpoint to be more responsive and forthright with their website and their ordering process and have a few more options for customers.

      Here’s what’s turned me off to this company. My old backpack died and I needed a new one quickly for a trip. My trip started on a Thursday evening. I placed my order first thing on the preceding Monday morning and selected the express delivery option. According to C&C’s website, they “dispatch orders on a daily base [sic] from our warehouse in … New York.” They advise that they use FedEx, and the “Express Shipping” option usually delivers in “24-36 hours . . . but dependent on the delivery location can also take longer.”

      I knew my order would be iffy in terms of getting to me in Washington State before Thursday evening, but I figured that they could get the order out Monday or Tuesday at the latest and they’d still have 48 hours to get the bag to me before I took off Thursday evening. I decided to submit a “ticket” to the help desk immediately upon ordering, explaining my situation and asking if there was any way to expedite the shipment and if they could give me information on when I might be able to expect shipment/delivery. I told them I was willing to pay more for any expedited options and that I would be grateful for any help they could provide.

      It took more than 24 hours for the help desk to respond. By that time, a shipping label had been created that indicated my bag would be shipped “Express Saver.” FedEx’s website advises that this option delivers shipments in three business days. As an aside, although I immediately received a subscription confirmation to C&C’s newsletter that I signed up for on its website, I still have yet to receive an e-mail confirmation of my order. The FedEx site indicates that my estimated delivery is Friday. Help desk could provide no help, offered no alternatives other than to cancel my order.

      Here’s what I think a good online retailer can easily do to ensure their customers receive adequate service, especially when they’re buying a premium priced product:

      1. Provide accurate shipping information. The only express option C&C provides is FedEx Express Saver, which doesn’t seem to guarantee delivery to anyone, anywhere in the 24-36 hours the website indicates. C&C could make the option they use clear and advise customers that FedEx provides shipping in “three business days” which is no less than 72 hours, or double the amount of time C&C notes for express shipment on their site.

      2. Have a phone number where someone can talk easily to a live person. Even if this person had told me there was no way to expedite shipping, it would have saved me time and hassle, and made me more willing to come back to C&C in the future.

      3. Provide a variety of shipping options. If C&C partners with FedEx for US deliveries, and ships from NY, why can’t they provide any of FedEx’s options, like 2nd day air and overnight?

      Seeing how C&C wasn’t any help and no other website seemed to offer the color I was looking for, I decided to go to option #2, Mission Workshop. The difference in customer service was like night and day. I was able to immediately reach a live customer service rep in the MW store. He checked stock and even called me back to tell me he had incorrectly indicated what they had in stock during our first conversation. I received this call back from him as I was placing the order, so he saved me/us the hassle of having to re-order or change an order and have more opportunity for things to go awry on my very tight timeline. He told me if I ordered before 4 PM my time, the shipment would go out that day. In addition, as a bonus, because one of the options for the main pack I wanted was out of stock, MW agreed to upgrade me to another pack with the VX fabric at the lower non-VX price. I placed the order online, immediately received an e-mail confirmation, and within an hour received a UPS shipment confirmation. I had to pay an arm and a leg for overnight because of the day I lost with C&C, but at least i know I’ll have a good pack for my trip.

    • jj

      I’ve been lusting after this pack since I saw it the other day. This feedback, and that of the other responder, has me hesitant. I think you’re completely right. For this price point, the customer service should be on it.

  • Matthew Kuzyk

    Just bought this pack, I’m loving it, but am I the only person who realised how LOUD this thing is? It’s constantly rustling due to the touching fabric.

    I got the eco-yarn version too, but in large.

    • J.

      I am thinking of buying the large rucksack for my new laptop. The problem is my laptop is 17,3″ (16.46 x 10.61 x 1.54 inches). Is there a possibility it might not fit in the 17″ pocket?

  • Justine Rudock

    Does it come in a small? This looks perfecto for me but I’m a pretty small lady and don’t want to be carrying anything too bulky on my bike.

    • TeamCarryology

      Sorry Justine, only in medium and large. How tall are you?

  • Inni

    Hello I am about to purchase this bag, I just wanted to know if I would be able to store my DSLR camera in this bag anywhere? and if it would be protected I only use a short 1.8/50mm lens. thanks

  • Pingback: リュックは見た目と機能性!クールなバックパックブランド4選 | Smartlog[スマートログ]()

  • Pingback: リュックは見た目と機能性!クールなバックパックブランド4選 | Smartlog[スマートログ]()

  • Pingback: On the Cote et Ciel Isar Rucksack - Matt()

  • Pingback: Côte&Ciel – Sacapuche | redingote. - Blog mode homme et magazine culturel()

  • Pingback: Bags – Scott Jack()

  • Pingback: ファッション初心者のためのカバン選び:リュック・トート・メッセンジャーの比較とオススメ8選()


Carryology delivered. Your inbox. every two weeks. Only the best stuff, we promise.