Review: The Em Travel Backpack by Mokobara.

Note: This… story is at least two months old now, but I think it deserves to be on the internet for someone looking for reviews of this thing in India. I’ve just taken it out of my drafts to publish, and yeah, that’s it.

For the first time a couple of weeks ago (at least at the time when I’m drafting this), I left for Vietnam – my first solo trip and the first international trip as well.

A problem for me was I had only a regular sized suitcase – perfect for domestic trips, perfect for perhaps 10-14 days away from home as long as I do not carry any specialised gear.

This time, however, I did carry some specialised stuff – a pair of hiking shoes and a raincoat.

A rough visual guess would say I was out about 30% volume from the get-go. I needed something that would replace this and give me more space to stash 2 to 3 days worth of clothes that I no longer could in my suitcase.

First option was to consider carrying two suitcases: a small cabin luggage, and a regular sized check-in luggage. I quickly dismissed this. It is not practical for one person to safely, securely, and stress free carry two luggages. On top of, of course, a regular backpack.

I had been bombarded with Mokobara’s ads for months on Instagram. They sure know I like collecting bags of all kinds. I looked to see if they have anything that could help me.

Narrowing in.

The Em Travel Backpack is a hit.

It’s supposedly a 45L backpack. How they measure it is still a mystery to me. Entering the raw dimensions into a volume calculator places the bag at 32.44 litres. Upon contacting their team, I was told they arrived at the 45 litres capacity claim in the following manner:

The team has gotten back to us with an update, the measurements are calculated using a different method, we calculated by filling the backpack with balls, and then fill those ball in a Jar to calculate the volume.

Mokobara’s customer support team.

Huh. Well, OK. I guess as long as the bag solves my issue. Let’s not be pedantic. We’re flying out in a few days, remember?

They are a brand who always have a discount on, which is equivalent to not having any discount on. Sometimes they have “extra” sales, which is where I grabbed this bag off their metaphorical shelf.

It arrived, I was happy, and I began to place things into definitive places. There is a joy in having marked spaces:

  • Hang your keys here!
  • Stash your passport here!
  • Clothes go here!
  • Liquids go here! It’s leak-proof!

Perhaps that was the allure for a part of my brain: a backpack that was neatly organised.

This is where I fucked up, though.

First few days.

The bag has two striking problems for me:

  1. The shape is very rigid. This makes it great as long as you’re using it to capacity. At half capacity, it retains its big shape and becomes annoying to carry around.
  2. Perhaps my back is less forgiving, but I also did not enjoy carrying it around, starting at roughly 60-70% capacity. It just doesn’t feel right, no matter how far or short I pull/push the straps. It was always hanging “away” from my back (that’s the most visceral way I have of explaining this), putting more pressure on my shoulders alone than necessary.

These two reasons alone make it a less than ideal purchase for me.

What now?

Well, I was able to return it for a full refund. I wasn’t sure if they’ll respect their “no questions asked” 30 day return policy. But they did. I made sure not to use the bag at all and keep it clean. They did ask me why, and I told them, but on the face of it, I think they’d have approved the return regardless.

I bought another bag from a local shop while in Vietnam, and this bag had just become dead weight to carry around until I reached home.

What did I learn?


Marketing is marketing. Find out ways to figure out if something is a good fit for you after you look past the marketing.

Which brings me to: test things more thoroughly. While I visited their in-person store, I didn’t actually test the bag. With the amount of money that was quoted to me – as much as a big brand suitcase, I needed to be more diligent with my money and purchase.


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