Speck Candlepin Backpack: You Get What You Pay For

Jason Cockerham

Community Review Team Leader
Dec 9, 2010
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Speck has long been a name associated with quality, affordable smartphone cases. It’s Presidio line of cases have been bought and loved by millions the world over but a lot of folks aren’t aware that they also have more than just cases. The company also sells a lot of other smartphone accessories from magnetic vehicle mounts to backpacks. I recently had a chance to look at their Candlepin backpack and after a couple weeks with it, I’m both intrigued and disappointed with what it has to offer. Let’s take a deeper look at it.


Master Front.jpg

The Candlepin backpack (yeah don’t ask me about the name, I don’t know either) is made out of canvas and only comes in one color option, grey and black. Honestly, this is the part that disappointed me the most. The canvas on the backpack is very thin and feels like it might rip if I pull on it too hard. I’ve used other canvas bags before, even ones in this price range, but this still feels like some pretty janky canvas. The basic, old-school Jansports felt better than this. This carries over into the zippers as well and it doesn’t give you that satisfying, quality feel that you get on some more expensive backpacks. Overall, it just doesn’t feel like a quality bag. I don’t think it’s incredibly unworthy of it’s $40 price tag, but I do wish they had gone one step up in their canvas game.

Master back.jpg

The thin canvas aside, the shoulder straps are pretty good and It’s pretty comfortable to wear with about 10 pounds of stuff in there. If you carry around a lot more it may feel a bit different for you. I do like the color too, Speck did a nice job on the great and black. The other thing that I’m not a huge fan is the pocket placement. I’ll get into this more in the next section and I do admit that my issue is entirely subjective but for me and my gear, it just doesn’t quite work as well other bags that I’ve had.

Master pockets.jpg

There are four main pockets on the backpack which may not sound like a lot but it’s actually plenty of room. There’s of course the main pocket for all your larger things, then a smaller front pocket for accessories and things, and small pocket above the second front pocket, and lastly a small pouch on the very outside of the bag.


Speck did a good job of building a lot of carrying capacity into this bag. The main pocket can hold quite a few things including easily accommodating my 15” MacBook Pro. I also carry a notebook along with occasionally my iPad and a book. All of my stuff will fit quite easily with plenty of room left for other stuff. It’s certainly large enough to carry multiple textbooks or whatever else you may need.

Main pocket.jpg

Unfortunately, to make room for the main pocket, they had to make the rest of the compartments much smaller. The secondary pocket is designed to hold a table and a few other small things such as a charging cable and maybe a few pens and pencils. The small top pocket is great for your smartphone and it’s even felt lined to help guard against scratches and things. I ended up putting my wallet in there. Finally, the last pocket on the front is very slim but is great for maybe a wallet or some things you might need quick access too. I didn’t really want put anything too valuable there cuz I felt like it was just a bit too easy to access.

Secondary pocket.jpg
Small top.jpg
Master side.jpg
Front pocket.jpg

Verdict: Good for Some, Bad for Others

For $40, this is a decent backpack. It is quite roomy and comfortable to wear. I am a little concerned about how well the canvas will hold up over time but again, it’s forty bucks. If you need a new backpack for the kiddos but don’t want to spend a lot of money, or you’re a college student on a budget, or you want a backup bag, then this is a great buy for you.

In my case, this back just doesn’t fit my needs. For my gear, I need a little bit smaller main compartment and lots of room for little things. I prefer several smaller pockets for my computer charger, phone charger (which includes wall wart and cable), some pens and pencils, my wallet, and my headphones. I also throw in some other small things from time-to-time so my situation just doesn’t quite work for this bag and honestly, I’m not too disappointed by that. My other backpack still works great and I’m happy to stick with it until something else comes along, like maybe one from OnePlus.

If you want to pick up this Candelpin bag from Speck, head on over to their website and grab one.

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