Harber London Classic Rucksack review: timeless design, premium materials

A classically styled backpack with lots of modern touches

T3 Platinum Award
Harber London Classic Rucksack review
(Image credit: Harber London)
T3 Verdict

The Harber London Classic Rucksack looks at home on the commute, in the office and on weekends away, by managing to look smart without being formal, and casual without being scruffy. Handmade in Spain from leather and recycled materials, this is a backpack we recommend.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Timeless, elegant design

  • +

    Made from premium materials

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Laptop section is not suspended

  • -

    No waist or sternum strap

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If you’re a commuter looking for a bag that’s smarter than a messenger bag but less formal than a briefcase, then a rucksack is a good option, as long as you choose the right design. The Harber London Classic Rucksack is that design, a rucksack that has been created for the urban streets rather than the side of a mountain. It’s a great looking backpack, handmade in Spain from premium materials and we’ve featured it in our list of the best backpacks.

I’m a big fan of Harber London luggage – the Harber London Laptop Briefcase was my first experience of the brand and the Classic Rucksack exudes the same style and quality as that briefcase, but with a more relaxed look.

The rucksack is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles, a material which feels more like heavy duty canvas, while the lid, straps and carry handles are made from full-grain leather. The buckles are apparently aviation grade aluminium. The bag’s capacity is 17.4-litres, its dimensions are approximately 40 x 29 x 15cm (15.7 x 11.4 x 5.9”) and it comes in four colours: black, camel, mocha and olive.

On the inside of the rucksack, there are two padded compartments – one for a 16” laptop and a second one for a 13” tablet. There’s also a zipped compartment on the inside and two additional pockets lower down.

Harber London Classic Rucksack review: interior view

There are padded pockets inside for a laptop and a tablet as well as a smaller zipped pocket that could take a phone, wallet and passport

(Image credit: Harber London)

On the outside of the bag, you get a hidden pocket on each side of the main rucksack, each of which could fit a sports water bottle. One of these pockets contains a removable magnetic key chain. There’s a small, magnetically closed pocket on the front, under the leather lid.

Speaking of that lid, it’s made from gorgeously soft leather and while it features leather straps to close it, the buckles on them are ornamental as the straps actually have magnetic closures on the back to make accessing the internals much faster. That would be a security risk but that is taken care of by a zippered closure beneath the lid. If you want to carry more than fits in the body of the bag, there are also a couple of straps included so you can strap additional stuff – such as a tripod, coat or picnic blanket – to the outside.

Harber London Classic Rucksack review: extra straps

The leather straps fasten with magnets, while the two removable front straps add an extra carrying option to the backpack

(Image credit: Harber London)

Moving round to the back of the bag, the shoulder straps are full grain leather with thin foam padding, and they swivel for extra comfort. There’s also a grab handle and a trolley sleeve you can slip over a suitcase handle. The back of the backpack is also where you access the two hidden side pockets.

Harber London says the plastic fabric is waterproof but I wouldn’t want to take the bag out in a torrential downpour as it wouldn’t be kind to the leather and I suspect that heavy rain would find its way around the lid of the backpack into the main body of the bag.

Harber London Classic Rucksack review: rear view

Carrying options are the swivelling shoulder straps, a grab handle and a sleeve for your suitcase handle – all leather

(Image credit: Harber London)

Harber London Classic Rucksack review: verdict

I love the Harber London Classic Rucksack. It’s smart enough to take to the office but casual enough for weekend trips and while it has a retro design it has lots of modern extras to bring it up-to-date. It’s a perfect size for a daily commute and would also work well as an aircraft carry-on bag – but probably not your only bag for a short break unless you travel really light. 

Are there any negatives? Just a couple, depending on how you plan to use the bag. The 16” laptop compartment is not suspended from the bottom of the rucksack so it won’t provide as much protection as a suspended compartment – so if you’re the sort of person who throws their rucksack down onto hard floors you might want to look elsewhere. It’s also not best suited for lugging heavy loads or for long cycle commutes as it doesn’t come with a waist strap or sternum strap  – but then I would not want to subject a bag of this quality to rain and road spray. Cyclists will want to check out our guide to the best cycling backpacks and messenger bags instead.

Paul Douglas
Global Digital Editorial Strategy Director, Future

Paul Douglas is Global Digital Editorial Strategy Director at Future and has worked in publishing for over 25 years. He worked in print for over 10 years on various computing titles including .net magazine and the Official Windows Magazine before moving to TechRadar.com in 2008, eventually becoming Global Editor-in-Chief for the brand, overseeing teams in the US, UK and Australia. Following that, Paul has been Global Editor-in-Chief of BikeRadar and T3 (not at the same time) and later Content Director working on T3, TechRadar and Tom's Guide. In 2021, Paul also worked on the launches of FitandWell.com and PetsRadar.