Qwstion Backpack in Raw Canvas Review

5 Dec

I’ve been hunting around for a backpack that I can use as a carry-on for when I’m travelling light. I found exactly what I wanted at Qwstion, and bought the backpack in raw canvas for €150 plus €20 shipping, which worked out to $229.32 AUD.

The photos on the Qwstion website make it look very pale, but in real life the colour is warmer – a bit more straw-like.

image from Qwstion

It’s super plain, which I love. The busy design of my North Face backpack got old very quickly – half the time it didn’t match what I was wearing, so I knew that I wanted something very neutral and pared-down for my next backpack.

Something else I learned from my North Face experience was that I prefer a backpack with one large compartment instead of two smaller ones – this is surprisingly difficult to find. I’ve been using my Sea to Summit backpack as my BJJ bag (and impromptu grocery bag) but it’s not really designed as an everyday backpack. It has no small pockets, and I always end up fishing around for my keys, wallet and phone.

The Qwstion backpack has a large compartment for my main stuff, a roomy and easily accessible front pocket, and also a small passport-sized pocket at the back.

image from Qwstion

Also you can completely unzip it like a suitcase.  I originally thought the multiple zips were a bit unnecessary, but it turns out that the top zip (the one that’s closed with the latch in the above photo) makes it really easy to access the laptop without having to rummage through the rest of my luggage. There’s a nice padded laptop sleeve (padded on the bottom too, which is very important!).

image from Qwstion

I got the chance to test it out on a recent trip to Sydney. We went for 6 days (3 days for my cousin’s wedding, plus 3 days of James working) and we packed everything in carry-ons – the Qwstion backpack for me and the Red Oxx Airbag for James. Our bags were legally sized for the plane, but waaaay over the 7kg weight limit – I think my laptop alone weighed 3kg. Still, I think Virgin is pretty relaxed about it since there were a lot of people bringing on bags that didn’t look like they fit in the size or weight restrictions. The Qwstion is a fair bit smaller than the Airbag, and easily fit under the seat in front.

When we arrived at Sydney we had about 5 hours to kill before we could check in, so we spent a bit of time wandering around the city. James’ Airbag isn’t designed for that, since all the weight is over one shoulder, but I was fine with my backpack (though my feet were killing me). James didn’t complain about the weight, but he did say that he wants a backpack for leisure travel purposes. The Airboss is great cos it fits so much and keeps his shirts flat, but it’s not ideal for extended walking. There is an Airboss with backpack straps, but you lose the third compartment, which James uses.

Here is my bag sitting next to James at Bourke Street Bakery. It was raining lightly when we were walking around, but nothing inside got wet and the outside of the bag dried very quickly. In fact you can still see the raindrops on James’ face and t-shirt, but my bag is looking nice and pristine. =)

And here is the Qwstion in action. It’s very boxy, which isn’t ideal aesthetically, but it means I can fit more stuff in. James likes the rectangular shape because it fits well with his rectangular packing strategy.

One trip isn’t much of a basis to judge the bag (after all, I was originally pleased with my North Face backpack), but the Qwstion held up really well, and it seems very well designed and built. I don’t think I’ll use the handle on the side that turns it into a suitcase, but it’s not that obtrusive so I can live with it. It’s basically a soft, expandable suitcase that you can carry on your back. =)


20 Responses to “Qwstion Backpack in Raw Canvas Review”

  1. Wen December 13, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

    like like like! just a little bit expensive…but again you have to pay for its design….

  2. emily April 9, 2012 at 10:16 am #

    I’m on the fence about getting this, it looks so cool compared to most “tech-y” backpacks. Did you feel like it was more comfortable than the northface one for walking around, even with a laptop inside? Thanks for the review, there’s so many options out there!

    • pamperedhousewife April 9, 2012 at 10:31 am #

      It’s pretty different from the North Face one – I suspect the NF might be a bit more comfortable (especially since it has a waist belt), but the advantage of the Qwstion backpack is that it fits a LOT more inside – if you’re a light packer, enough for a week-long trip – so it’s far more comfortable for the amount carried, if that makes sense.

      I’m happy the review helped you! Please let me know if you have any other questions. =)

  3. Guest June 6, 2012 at 8:01 am #

    Do you think a Guy can rock this color? How easily does it get dirty? Can you wear it in the winter and summer because it looks more like a summer bag?

    • pamperedhousewife June 6, 2012 at 10:00 am #

      I hadn’t thought about it as being a particularly gendered colour actually! =) If it helps my husband had no issues at all in carrying it. It’s definitely more of a summery colour but I wouldn’t have any problems using it in winter. Though if I could do it again I think I’d go for one of the darker options (maybe one of the greys) because the beige shows marks quite easily. I hope that helps!

  4. Guest June 8, 2012 at 9:42 am #

    Oh ok. Right now I am deciding between the Shiny Black and the Raw Canvas.
    pictures in link.
    You said earlier that marks get on it easily. From what kind of activities? I was wondering if I just used it for summer if it would be ok. And even if there are marks are they easily washed off?
    I’m asking since you you already have the bag.

    might be easily dirtied
    looks more unique

    more common
    longer lasting

    If you were me which would you pick between the 2 between the Shiny Black and Raw Canvas

    • pamperedhousewife June 8, 2012 at 11:45 pm #

      I’ve mainly used the bag for travelling so it’s had marks on it from sitting around at the airport and my feet resting on it on the plane. The marks are quite easy to remove – I’m just lazy. =D

      I prefer the canvas to the black, just because I worry that the shiny black would be a bit loud (especially since it’s a big bag). But it’s a very simple bag so maybe you afford to play around with the material – it really depends what would suit your wardrobe better! Best of luck with the decision. =)

  5. Guest June 9, 2012 at 8:07 am #

    Thanks for all your help

  6. Guest June 10, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

    Oh I have one last quick question. I saw in your picture that the bag looks bigger than normal. I was wondering if it normally looks that bulky or is it that you filled your back pack really full?

    compared to this picture (http://postimage.org/image/gqxfpmt5f/) it looks much more full.

    • pamperedhousewife June 10, 2012 at 3:36 pm #

      The pack was pretty stuffed – I think I had about a week’s worth of clothes in there!

  7. Jon February 5, 2013 at 8:55 pm #

    So how sturdy is this backpack? is it still holding up to the test of time?

    • pamperedhousewife February 5, 2013 at 9:41 pm #

      Yep it’s doing really well! I use it several times a week for carting around groceries (pretty heavy) and snow clothes. The stitches have remained secure even though I often pick up the grocery-laden bag with just one strap. The bottom of the backpack is a bit stained which is to be expected because of the light colour. I also randomly get compliments on the backpack from complete strangers! =)

      • Jon February 10, 2013 at 8:22 pm #

        I think that was my main concern purchasing any backpacks in general, bought 2 backpacks that didn’t last a year so I wanted to make sure my next one was going to be a good one, seeing as this backpack is pretty steep on the price 🙂


  8. Christy April 24, 2013 at 11:40 am #

    Hi pamperedhousewife 🙂 I am considering this backpack and was wondering whether you thought you could get a pair of shoes in there, toiletries, and clothing for a woman of your size (5’5″ 115lbs) for a week. (Assuming 3 pairs of jeggings, 6 t-shirts, 3 lightweight cardigans, undies, a rainjacket and a fleece jacket? I wonder if the other model, “The weekender” would be a better fit for me. Love the minimalize look of this one though. Thanks.

    • pamperedhousewife April 24, 2013 at 11:57 am #

      Hi Christy!

      I reckon that would all fit. I recently went on a 6 day trip and everything I wore packed in the bag – I could easily have fit more in. From memory I took a pair of Converse shoes, ballet flats, socks/undies/bras, LBD, shorts, 3 tshirts/blouses, rain jacket (bulkyish, not a shell), cardigan and toiletries (plus I wore leggings, boots, t-shirt and a long cardigan).

      Anything that’s thin/lightweight you’re going to be able to pack a lot in. As long as your fleece and rain jacket aren’t super thick you should be fine.

      It’s a great bag – I keep getting random strangers approaching me and asking where I got it. =)

  9. Christy April 24, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

    Ok great, thanks! Yes, my raincoat is lightweight and packable. re: random strangers noticing it. It’s funny because it’s such a simple bag that you think it would not be noticed. And yet you and I (and others) notice it. I guess it’s just a certain magical combination of design, materials, and colours 🙂

  10. timokratia February 26, 2015 at 2:16 pm #

    It’s a great review, thank you so much!

  11. Daniel March 22, 2016 at 2:24 am #


    My question is about the rigidity of the bag when not packed out. I’m looking to have it as a daily bag when I might only have my laptop and cables with a water bottle but then the extra size gives me the versatility to take it on weekend and over night trips.

    However when I’m using it day to day nearly empty will the bag look ok? The material doesn’t look to have much support and I’m worried it will just be a saggy mess most of the time haha.



    • pamperedhousewife March 22, 2016 at 12:15 pm #

      Hi Daniel,

      It does look a little shapeless when empty (though I kind of like the look!). But all it takes for the bag to hold its shape pretty well is something like a light jacket loosely filling up the rest of the space. The material is pretty thick – if you put the empty bag on the ground it’ll sag, but if you’re wearing it on your back the line of your back helps to give it shape, if that makes sense!

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