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Updated: 1/20/2021 | Balsa 201 Backpack Review

Balsa201 Backpacks (left to right): Camo Backpack and Quilted Backpack

What is Balsa 201?

Balsa 201 launched in 2013 and is based out of Seoul, Korea.  Their goal is to provide stylish and sporty accessories that are lightweight and practical. They sell gym bags, totes, backpacks, and clutches. I visited their site and found a timeline of their history (in Korean).

Fun fact about me: Did you know I can read and (kinda) write in Korean?

Balsa 201 Backpack Review

I love quilted textiles. Call me a grandma but I love the timelessness of quilt patterns. Take Chanel for example. Their quilted handbags never go out of style. I opted for a lighter color backpack to contrast with my mostly black wardrobe. I live in Seattle and we’re known for minimalist monochromatic fashion (think New York City). Lots of blacks and navys and maybe the occasional pop of crisp white. It’s constantly raining here which probably attributes to our dreary garb. With that being said, if you’re wearing color or prints in Seattle, you’ll stand out like a sore thumb. But that’s OK! YOU were made to STAND OUT!

I chose the Balsa 201 grey quilted backpack ($185) to break up my mostly black wardrobe. I figured a little color, or more so tint of white, wouldn’t be great when it gets dark in the PNW. I was intrigued by the red accent in the back of the bag. The backpack looked very sleek and urban. I figured it’d be perfect for this Seattlite!

Fast forward 4 days, I received my backpack in the mail. Carbon38 also included a free drawstring backpack as they do with all their orders. I was ready to switch out my old Herschel backpack for something fresh!

I received the backpack and was impressed at how light it was. The backpack weighs only 19 ounces! The straps were padded and sturdy. I began to unzip and explore the various compartments. I was very impressed with how easily the zippers unzipped…maybe a little too easily. The quilted design was very attractive and the red strap in the back added just the right amount of non-black to my wardrobe.


  • Plenty of compartments and pockets! Totally digging the functionality of this backpack. Compartments/pockets include one (1) padded laptop pocket, three (3) front pockets and two (2) open side pockets to stash your water bottle and other belongings.
  • Zippers are smooth! Maybe a little too smooth. I don’t want a thief to easily dig into my bag while I am traveling.
  • Double zippers! The double zippers are AMAZING! I can zip up my backpack in either direction. I would get frustrated with my Herschel backpack’s one-directional zippers.
  • Charm ready! This may not be a big deal to others, but I use purse charms to adorn and personalize my backpacks and purses. I love how the zipper pulls are large and sturdy enough to hang multiple charms.
  • Very lightweight! The backpack is a mere 19 ounces. This is the lightest backpack I’ve owned to date. I am very impressed!
  • Padded straps. The straps are smooth and soft. Adjust the straps to your desired length.
  • The material is durable. The construction of the bag is solid. I can tell it’s gonna take some work to run this bag into the ground. The material is soft yet durable. It exterior appears to be made of material similar to Patagonia’s Nano Puff jackets.
  • Material and pattern are attractive. There is a slight sheen to the fabric. The exterior itself is pretty soft to the touch. The quilts run diagonally. The backpack looks classic, minimalistic and urban.
  • The backpack is 100% VEGAN!


  • High price point. Balsa201 backpacks go for $185. It’s hard to wrap my head around how something so lightweight could be worth that much.
  • The red strap in the back is not sewn onto the backpack. I cannot figure out why the backpack was constructed that way and what the purpose of the strap is. 
  • The top handle started fraying after 3 weeks of wear. I was very disappointed with the quality of the backpack. Something that costs so much should’ve lasted much longer.

Should I Buy the Balsa 201 Backpack?

I do not recommend the Balsa 201 backpacks. While the aesthetics of the bag is great and appealing, the quality fell short of my expectations. The price point is very high, and for what I received I expected sturdier material. I was very excited to add this backpack to my arsenal. Unfortunately, I had to return it. 

Where to Buy Balsa 201?

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Alex Tran AKA Schimiggy is a fitness fashion, travel, justice, and food-obsessed raconteuse. She currently resides in Seattle and teaches yoga while writing her heart out. Schimiggy Reviews is a lifestyle blog where Alex shares her passions and interests with the world!

1 Comment

  1. Katherine Axt Reply

    Hey lady,

    Hope you’re well–love reading your reviews. Has anyone else had trouble with the Carbon38 code not working? I can’t get it to take for some reason. 🙁


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