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“Built for speed, made to last.” That’s the Velomacchi motto, and it’s a line I can get behind, especially when it comes to backpacks, one of my all-time least favorite things to purchase. That disdain isn’t due to me hating backpacks — quite the contrary. It’s because I use them like I use everything else in my life: hard. With such a need for durability, my expectations often make the backpack search difficult and disappointing.
Backpacks are vitally essential to my lifestyle. Traveling as much as I once did (in the “before” times), it was just me and my backpack against the world. Packed to the hilt and strapped to my back on planes, trains, automobiles, and motorcycles, humanity and I were rough on bags. My bags would often be the first thing to go after a year of heavy use. The Velomacchi 35L Giro backpack, however, promised more.
Thoroughly testing a backpack’s usability and longevity is essentially impossible to do in only one or two weeks. Hell, even a few months is particularly hard to adequately say, “Yeah, you definitely should buy this backpack,” or “Run! Run far away and never return!” That’s why this review isn’t a few weeks, months, or even a year in the making. It’s been three years since I took possession of this superbly crafted backpack.
Three years I’ve spent with the Velomacchi 35L Giro backpack. That’s three years of the kind of rough and tumble treatment that Velomacchi says it can withstand. Three years of motorcycle trips, airports, and cross-country moves. Can a backpack, one that says it’ll hold up, actually do it? Is the Velomacchi 35L Giro backpack actually as good as the company says it is? Let’s talk about my ultimate backpack test.
Unboxing the Velomacchi 35L Giro Backpack
Given that it’s been three years, I don’t remember exactly how the Velomacchi was delivered to me. I don’t recall if there was a box, a bag, or just sent via carrier pigeon and dropped onto my head. What I do recall is that my initial reaction was, “Yeah, this feels solid AF,” and I was eager to test out the bag in a host of situations, not just on the back of a motorcycle.
As for how Velomacchi describes the bag, according to the company’s site, “A high-speed, watertight and versatile backpack with a magnetic hidden side pocket along the back of the bag designed to carry a computer or tablet for extreme commuting during the weekdays. The back panel opens to slide in a hydration system to explore the trails on the weekend.”
The bag itself features a roll-top watertight 35-liter pouch capable of protecting all your valuables; I’ve personally left on weeklong excursions with only this bag in tow. There are motorcycle tie-down anchors for storing the bag on the back of your bike, along with adjustable backpack straps for pitch-perfect comfort on your shoulders. Velomacchi also included a watertight laptop pouch that fits up to a 16-inch laptop, has space for emergency contact information, and is compatible with a hydration pouch.
There’s also a magnetic sternum clasp that keeps the bag secure across your chest and back, although it’s not as robust as Velomacchi’s 28L and 40L Speedway Backpack clasps. Add a lifetime warranty with “no hassle” returns, and you have a product that has all the right features to stand the test of time, but will it last? After three years with the bag, I finally have the experience to answer that question.
Getting After It With the Velomacchi 35L Giro Backpack
- Good: Last backpack you’ll ever need.
- Bad: The latch’s strap could be more robust in holding the strap tight.
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This bag has been with me during the past three years on press trips to and from Europe and across the United States. It’s been stuffed into overhead compartments, underneath seats, and into the back of countless trunks. It was even shipped from one end of the country to the other after getting lost the only time I had to check it. It’s been driven across the country not once, not twice, not even five times, but a total of 10 times — packed against leaking baby bottles, leftover food, and all manner of other items required to deal with small children.
On the back of motorcycles, for The Drive and countless other publications, it’s seen heat, wind, rain, snow, and the dirty, sand-strewn, muddy side of the road numerous times when taking a break or stopping to photograph a motorcycle. It has spent miles upon miles upon miles attached to my back getting whipped around in canyons, forests, and deserts. Suffice it to say, I’ve treated it with the same disdain as I’ve treated my broken, scarred-up, and concussed body.
Guess what? It’s never let me down or shown similar scratches and scuffs featured on my person.
Let’s talk about the snowy incident alluded to above. On a particularly cold January day a year and a half ago (pre-pandemic), I set off from Los Angeles to Las Vegas on the back of a Harley-Davidson Street Glide. January in both cities is fairly mild, with some light wind, possible rain (though unlikely), and cooler temps. Indeed, Las Vegas and Los Angeles were mild. You know what wasn’t? The mountains and the high desert.
Along Interstate 15 exiting Los Angeles County, you begin a climb though the mountains. The air is different up there, a totally different climate than in the L.A. Basin. Just past Fontana, the weather dipped from cloudy skies to frigid rain and then light snow. The Velomacchi was full of my clothes for a week, two laptops, and my Fujifilm camera. I could live without extra clothing. I could get them dry-cleaned in Vegas somewhere. My laptop and camera, however, would’ve set me back thousands of dollars and untold grief as I attempted to restore the settings and files I needed for work.
Not a hint of weather touched the contents of that bag.
The ruggedness of the Velomacchi’s Acquaforte material, made primarily from high-tensile nylon, has also routinely come into play. Not only have I thrown the bag onto gravel-strewn dirt, atop tables, and onto the gross floors of countless airports, I’ve also witnessed my children knock the bag down too many times to count. Three years of use and abuse, and there’s still nary a scratch on it. I recently said in my Honda Ridgeline review that I missed my calling as a quality-assurance inspector, and I approve this bag with flying colors.
What’s Good About the Velomacchi 35L Giro Backpack
Everything? I’ve gone through about 15 backpacks in my time, including crappy examples from Amazon, a semi-solid one from Adidas, one from The North Face, and even a Carhartt, and the Velomacchi clearly stands out from the bunch.
Far more rugged than most anything out there, it’s equally at home hiking, motorcycling, traveling, or used in countless other ways. Not having to worry about your items getting drenched or have to be concerned about ripping, scratching, or damaging your bag is, honestly, worth its weight in gold if you travel as much as I once did.
When empty, it’ll easily fold into a small corner of your closet, never taking up the same room as a roller bag or hard bag. There isn’t much I’d change on this backpack, although there are two points of contention I’ll talk about.
The straps are great, never binding on my armpits or causing much shoulder strain. And the backing is padded for extra comfort when you don’t have something like my Alpinestars GP Pro Jacket on while traveling through airports.
What’s Not Great About the Velomacchi 35L Giro Backpack
This is a great bag, but it can be better. My issue comes down to two things: the sternum clasp and the roll top’s cinch.
The magnetic sternum clasp is a great idea, however, it’s just not powerful enough in its current form. It works 90 percent of the time and does a great job when on the back of a motorcycle during a cruise. If you decide to take the scenic road home, the one with more turns in it than the Nürburgring, well, you’re gonna find yourself reattaching the magnetic clasp every few turns as your body stretches the magnet’s capabilities. Something more secure, like the one on the Speedway line, would be a good addition here.
The cinch strap on the roll top also loosens with a little bit of pressure. Say you’re going on a long trip, as I used to, and you want to fill your bag to the brim. You can, but if you fill it up and there’s a bit of pressure on the roll top, the cinch strap is going to lose tightness as you move the bag around, reducing the bag’s watertight seal. Compacting and rolling your clothes helps, but it’s still a slight issue. A change to the clasp’s design might help keep it in place better.
Our Verdict On the Velomacchi 35L Giro Backpack
There are a lot of rugged backpacks out there. None are as good as the Velomacchi 35L Giro backpack. None offer the same level of capability, watertight enclosure, and looks. This is a comfortable backpack you can wear for extensive motorcycle rides, take on a long vacation (those will be happening again soon), or bring on a hike in a national forest.
FAQs About the Velomacchi 35L Giro Backpack
You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.
Q. Where does Velomacchi’s name come from?
A. According to the company, it’s a combination of the Italian words velocita and macchina, or velocity machine. The company says you pronounce its name, “velo makki.”
Q. How big of a hydration pack can I fit in a Velomacchi backpack?
A. Velomacchi says it’s tested up to 3.0 liters, but the most suitable version is between 1.0 and 1.5 liters.
Q. Can you wash the Velomacchi?
A. You can with cold water and a gentle detergent. Consequently, I just left mine out in the rain after a particularly gnarly off-road session, and it did the trick.
Q. Is it fully waterproof?
A. Listen, you can’t dunk or submerge the bag into a lake or something, but rain, sleet, and snow aren’t going to get in.
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The Drive's Gear section is our brand-new baby, and we want it to grow. In the interest of clarity, we want you, our dear readers, to know that the products we review come from a variety of sources, including those we purchase ourselves and those we receive from manufacturers. No matter the source, we maintain our editorial independence and will always give you our honest assessment of any product we test.
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