The ISM Bag Review: Simplicity Redefined

Bag 101

By Russell-Harvey Fernandez (@onetechtraveller)


How do you stand out from the crowd with a classic backpack design? Create something to a high standard, executing a premium experience that delivers on your mission. That’s exactly what the ISM Classic Backpack has done, a productivity tool for the creative. With a strong aesthetic and obsession for details inside and out, it’s hard not to fall in love with a carry that empowers you to create


Designer Aesthetics, Premium allure

A recap on the ISM Classic backpack, it measures 30cm wide, 43cm long and 13cm deep. Full-grain leather are used for the bottom half of the bag, shoulder straps and rear trims. The rest are built of waterproof nylon, with mesh padding and ventilation on the rear and under-strap.


If you’re hesitating between different styles of bags, the ISM Classic backpack is a versatile day carry. Dress up or dress down, it’ll always compliment your style of wear thanks to the simple, modern aesthetics and materials. It’s lightweight, yet feels premium all-round. The structure holds itself with a stiffened frame so it doesn’t cave in on small loads. It intentionally relaxes on the main zipper opening for brighter access and visibility of the main space and two compartments towards the bottom. A bag-wide pocket stores small items with reasonable flex to fit in a few flat items.

There are two accent colours for the ISM Classic Backpack – gunmetal black or gold zipper and matching logo trim. I really like the gold trim as it comes across as sophisticated and premium, matching well with the build quality of the Classic. The gunmetal black is also a great option for an anonymous and subtle visual. Both bags look great on men and women, complimenting any outfit.

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Diving into the ISM details

I’m methodical when it comes to understanding the flow of a backpack. That is my workflow, access, storage, carry and function. The 17.2L of space is good for a day backpack for your tech and productive essentials. The separate laptop compartment offers 2 dividers to slot in up to a 15″ laptop, a tablet and another item in front of it if you choose to. Bear in mind this eats into the ISM Classic Backpack main space to keep its slimline exterior profile.

You do have the flexibility which is nice and I found sometimes flat items fit better in the main space or laptop compartment for a secured and protected fit. I like the fact the latter space is separate for organised access too. If the outside feels premium, the inside feels like luxury. ISM left no detail unattended to. Every pocket or divider edge is polished and stitched with a leather trim. The inside lined with svelte, navy polyester is smooth to the touch and classy.

Each zipper has their own personality – the front with a long leather zip-pull and detailed leather trim bordering the gold zipper, the main compartment with black zippers hidden underneath the nylon material for a cleaner look, and the laptop compartment with an aqua-guard sealant to weatherproof and protect the tech devices inside. ISM’s attention to detail is what really uplifts the premium experience of the Classic backpack.


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What can it fit?

What do I carry with me? My setup neatly organises my essentials, fitting perfectly inside. I can bring my full laptop suite which includes my 13.5” Surface Book, Laptop Stand, Microsoft Designer Keyboard and FODI origami flat stand. I can literally bring my full setup to the café in this slimline day backpack. Sweet. My Arc Touch mouse slides nicely into the main compartment pocket on the top, together with my wallet. The bottom pockets take my ISM Limited Edition Power Bank and portable hard drive.

The USB pass-through built into the left side of the bag lets me charge my phone on while keeping the power bank inside. A great touch. Any books will need to be in the main space or laptop compartment, as well as any documents. My Nintendo Switch case, travel organiser and flask set me up for the day. If it’s a sunny day, then I also bring a spare shirt and sunglasses. You can carry a mirrorless camera and lens if you have a slim camera cube but I don’t see the ISM backpack as one designed for it.


Wearing the ISM Classic backpack is a pleasant and comfortable experience. The leather shoulder straps are comfortable by material, so when you add extra mesh padding, it absorbs more weight, making it easier on my shoulders for the whole day. The webbed seatbelt-like material and metal links let you adjust the shoulder strap length for a tight and looser fit. It’s not really made for something you can do on the fly, but once it’s set, you’re set.

I use the carry handle on the top of the ISM Classic backpack a lot if I’m picking it up. It feels solid in the hand, well-built and balanced. Essentially, it works as you’d expect. Reinforced leather stitching secures the shoulder straps and I imagine this bag will last for many years to come.

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Built for the creatives of the world

This kind of backpack is not built for free-flowing access to your backpack at will like other functional backpacks. What the ISM Classic backpack is built-for however, is readily available access to your creative tools and be productive once you’ve arrived. And for that, they achieve it with thoughtful storage options, well-organised tech compartment and great visibility into the bag to take out with ease.


There are a lot of backpacks that either sacrifice design for functionality, functionality for design but nothing really hitting both. The ISM Classic Backpack is a great example of something that strives for both with great execution. This is a day backpack that offers a lot of storage options in a compact, small footprint. It offers depth that you don’t need to hold back on what to bring, though it’s minimal, contemporary and modern aesthetics encourages that way of thinking to keep you lightweight and agile.

The mix of nylon and leather give both durability and luxury at the same time. And although the compartments get tight as you pack items inside the ISM Classic Backpack, I always felt my items were comfortably accessible and protected with the premium feeling materials. If there is something I take away from using the ISM Classic Backpack as my everyday carry, it’s that even simple designs can be exciting and sophisticated.

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