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Hands-on with Harber London’s City Leather MacBook Backpack

It’s now time to take a hands-on look at Harber London’s luxurious City Leather MacBook Backpack. The brand delivers higher-end leather goods for just about any Apple product, and its carriers have been a real highlight for me after getting a chance to give them a go. The City Backpack on display here, though, is easily one of my favorite designs in its lineup of back-mounted bags ready for lugging around MacBooks and iPads in style, but is it worth the hefty price tag? While it is just what you expect from a bag handmade in Spain and constructed of premium leather, let’s dig in and find out for sure in the latest entry to our long-running Tested with 9to5Toys series.

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Hands-on with Harber London’s City Leather MacBook Backpack

The Harber London City Leather MacBook Backpack is a luxurious leather home for all of your everyday carry, any MacBook between 13 and 16 inches, an iPad (as large as Apple’s 12.9-inch model), a dedicated loop for an Apple Pencil or pen, water bottle pockets, and more. You’ll also find a series of other smaller zipper compartments on both the inside and out, including a larger front pocket with a magnetic receptacle for the removable keychain and a smaller one along the top for sunglasses and the like.

This MacBook backpack is handmade by expert artisans in Spain from premium full-grain cowhide leather with a 100% cotton twill fabric lining the inside. You’ll also find custom-made aviation-grade aluminum buckles that adjust like butter and remain strong after you have them where you need them, as well as a thick leather strap along the back to slide over the telescoping handle on your carry-on luggage. A pair of vertical leather straps along the front both look fantastic, in my opinion, and allow users to strap newspapers, jackets, blankets, and other things of that nature to the bag.

Here’s a closer look at the spec sheet:

  • Slim leather backpack for the city, 13 L capacity
  • Built-in laptop compartment: fits 16″, 15″, 14″ and 13″ laptops
  • Built-in tablet pocket inside: fits iPad Pro 12.9″ with keyboard attached & smaller tablets
  • Water bottle pocket inside
  • Chest/sternum magnetic strap included
  • Comfortable custom-made aviation-grade aluminum buckles
  • Keeps everything organized in one place
  • Handmade by expert craftsmen in Spain
  • Made with full-grain cowhide leather

9to5Toys’ Take

While I was a big fan of the Harber London Office Backpack that we reviewed previously, and still am, the City model here delivers a more streamlined and thin form factor without comprising all that much on capacity, which I very much appreciate. It just sort of sits on my back better – maybe this is just a personal thing – with a more sleek design overall while still providing more than enough space for a couple of nights away or my EDC.

But considering the sort of two-sided symmetrical design with straps going down both sides of the bag – a traditional backpack set where you would expect them to be as well as a pair down the front that adds to the aesthetics of the bag and allow users to strap a jacket/sweater to the carrier – the thinner design was clearly intentional here.

It’s the kind of bag that looks great as a backpack and can also be carried via the pair of top loop straps like a brief-style solution without looking out of place, much like the carry-on strap mentioned above. I love this aspect of the design, both from a form and function point of view.

While the straps themselves aren’t quite as plush and comfortable as the Office Backpack, they are actually more luxurious and high-end looking to my eyes. But don’t get me wrong here – they aren’t the type of thin leather straps that are going to dig into your shoulders after long days on your back, either. The straps also have a more business-ready look to them, with notable stitching details that elevate the overall look of the carrier. Some other brands in the higher-end leather segment can sometimes deliver an almost too artisan, raw leather strap design that can often come at the expense of comfort, but Harber doesn’t.

There’s a nice bonus chest/sternum magnetic strap included for free, although it might have been better if it was made of the same color leather treatment as the bag. The included and detachable key clip that connects magnetically to a receptacle on the inside of the front compartment is also a wonderful little touch that actually does carry the same leather as the bag proper.

On the inside, the accent cotton twill lining is a nice touch, and while I might have preferred to see a more plushy and soft treatment inside the MacBook and iPad sleeves, there’s no worry of anything getting scratched. The tab seen above doubles as a nice place to store an Apple Pencil (or any pen for that matter), as well.

The hardware throughout is also just as impressive as the Office pack mentioned above. The strap buckles look as beautiful as they are functional – you can easily adjust the fit here while wearing it with absolutely no struggle like some buckles out there, and everything stays nicely in place when you do. The same experience carries over to the zipper quality – I really love the leather zipper pulls here as well – much like the metal on the included keychain and sternum strap.

I have a feeling this will ring true for just about all Harber London accessories, but the only real downside to the City Backpack is the price. The over $570 cost attached to it isn’t cheap, but in my opinion, after testing out loads of leather MacBook backpacks, it feels and functions like an $800+ piece of kit worthy of housing your pricey Apple gear. I can’t know for sure how it will patina over the years just yet, but I have a very strong feeling it will stick around in good shape for more than long enough to find out. If you’re the type to appreciate fine handmade leather goods and like what you see from the imagery, it’s hard to imagine you wouldn’t be happy with your purchase here.

Buy the Harber London City Leather MacBook Backpack

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