Healthy Back Bag by AmeriBag HBBevo bag review

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I work from home, so I don’t use a laptop bag or large gear bag every day.  However, I do like to take my iPad with me when I go to an appointment, and sometimes I may even want to take my 11″ MacBook Air.  I don’t want to have to change bags every time I need to take something different with me, but I don’t want to have to carry a huge, heavy bag every day with my little bit of daily-carry stuff, either.  I’ve tried the Healthy Back Bags from AmeriBag in the past, and they come in various sizes and have plenty of room inside each size, so you can carry a lot of stuff in them.  The original bag shape was narrower than what you see in the above photo, so they weren’t wide enough to even fit a tablet in unless you got one of the largest sizes.

Recently, though, AmeriBag introduce their HBBevo line of bags that are made wider so you can fit a small-sized tablet and a cellphone in the XS size HBBevo and a full-sized tablet and a cellphone in the Small size HBBevo.  They also make Medium, and Large sized HBBevo bags.  I found a shiny, red Small HBBevo in GoGo Vinyl on sale for about $25 at Amazon a while back, and I decided I couldn’t pass it up at that price.  It was shiny, red, and big enough for my iPad.  What could be better?  Turns out it was even a bit better than I hoped!  

All images can be clicked to see a larger image.

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The shape of AmeriBag’s Healthy Back Bags has always reminded me of those leather wine skins people carried decades (centuries?) ago.  As I mentioned, the HBBevo is wider than the standard AmeriBag, but they still remind me of the wine skins.  These bags are available in leather and in nylon and other fabrics.  This bag is the first AmeriBag I ever saw in vinyl.

The Small HBBevo that I got is 17″ tall X 11″ wide X 6″ thick, but it has a cone shape, so it’s considerably narrower than 11″ at the top end.  It weighs about 1.1 pounds empty.  The vinyl is probably even a little lighter than some of the standard fabric HBB bags I’ve owned, and it’s much lighter than the one leather HBB I tried.

You can see in the top picture, one side of the bag has a zipper pocket that’s the width of the bag.  Behind the zipper pocket is a slip-in pocket.  The zipper is silver colored, as is all the hardware on this bag.  It’s hard to see in this picture, but the zipper is sparkly, in keeping with the overall shine of this bag.  The fabric and the leather bags use much more sedate zippers and hardware.  This bag is for fun, but the other bags can be used for business as well as everyday.  The browns and blacks would work as well for men as for women, too.

The picture directly above shows two small flapped pockets with magnetic closures.  There is no slip-in pocket on this side.

All the AmeriBags have a single strap, and the HBBevo is no different.  The single strap is adjustable, so you can wear the bag on your back over one shoulder.  It can be adjusted long enough that you can wear the bag cross-body, completely across your back.  I find cross-body is much more comfortable, because it spreads the weight of the bag and all your gear across your entire back, instead of resting it all on one shoulder.

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The outer “spine” of the bag has an open pocket that could hold a thinner water bottle, but I’ve found that the vinyl makes it a little hard to slide a plastic bottle in this pocket.  It “grabs” on to the plastic and makes it hard to push the bottle in or pull it out of the pocket.

If you click on the image for a larger view, you’ll be able to see the Healthy Back Bag logo has been embossed on the top of this pocket.  This is the only branding on the GoGo Vinyl bag.

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This part of the bag rests against your back, whether you wear the bag on one shoulder or across your back.  The zipper that opens the main compartment is against your back, making the contents harder for a pickpocket to access.  This zipper is also shiny silver, like the one on the side of the bag.

You can see a black, padded strip at the top of the strap.  This is cushioned to add a little extra comfort when you wear the bag, and it helps the bag stay in place as you wear it.

One note about the strap length adjustment:  On every other AmeriBag I’ve owned, the strap was easy to adjust; you just slide the adjustment strap along the strap itself to lengthen or shorten.  This vinyl bag is the exception, because the vinyl sticks to itself in the tight adjustment buckle, and it’s very hard to slide the buckle.  Because I do like to wear the bag cross-body, I adjusted it once, and I’ll just leave it this way.

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This is one of the little flapped pockets on the outside of the bag.  The magnet closures are encased in the vinyl, which makes them snap together very quietly.  The magnets hold well.  The other pocket is slightly bigger than this one, but it has the same magnet closure.

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Because of the shape of the bag, you can see that the pockets aren’t square, but even this little pocket is big enough to hold my Brutus the Bulldog Self Defense Keychain I told you about last year.  I don’t have anything I carry in the other pocket.

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This is the interior of the slip-in pocket on the opposite side of the bag.  It also has the magnetic closure.  This pocket is partially lined with a light gray nylon fabric.  It extends the full width of the bag, but just like the other pockets, it’s not a square pocket because of the rounded shape of the bottom of the bag.

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I carry my iPhone 6 Plus inside its mophie juice pack battery case in the zipper pocket on the front of the slip-in pocket.  There’s plenty of room to spare in this big pocket, but I like to keep only the phone in there so I don’t have to worry about scratches.

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You can see the little pocket on the spine of the bag has a nylon lining on the outer flap, but the other side is the red vinyl.

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You can see that I have a ton of stuff in this bag, and it zipped up easily.  I’ll pull the big, black sleeve out so you can see the interior better.

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The interior of the bag is completely lined in the gray nylon fabric.  All edges have been re-inforced with black binding.  You can see there are open pockets, zippered pockets, and a pen sleeve along the sides.  There’s a slip-in pocket in the spine, and there’s even a key clip, which you’ll be able to see better in a later photo.

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The black sleeve isn’t part of the bag.  It’s a sleeve that I had for my 11″ MacBook Air.  Although specifications don’t state that the HBBevo bags are designed for laptops, I was able to fit my MBA in along with the Dooney & Bourke checkbook wallet in the big open center of the main compartment.  There was room to spare in there, too.  I think the MBA would have fit a bit better if I had a tighter fitting sleeve (that one was much taller than the laptop itself), or if I had just stuck the laptop in its clamshell cover in the HBBevo bag.

The other three items were all stored in the slip-in pocket on the inner spine of the bag.

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Now let’s look at the right side of the bag as we look into it.  Here you can see the key clip.  There’s a zipper pocket that goes across the entire width of the bag, and there’s a slip-in pocket behind it.  Up beside the key clip is an angled slip-in pocket.  I slide the keys on the key clip inside that angled pocket to keep them from flopping around and scratching up stuff in the bag.

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This is what I keep in the pockets on the right side of the bag.  Spread around in the zippered pocket and the slip-in pocket behind it, I have a zipper pouch with an iPod shuffle and headphones, an iPod nano, a blood glucose meter in the black zippered pouch, a keyring with three Swiss Army knives and an LED flashlight, my Keyport Slide 2.0 with my car key and security fob for my building, a little mirror that looks like a MacBook, and an Estee Lauder compact.

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This is the left side of the bag, as you look into it.  There’s a pen sleeve, a big slip-in pocket, an angled slip-in pocket, and there’s another little slip-in pocket beside the pen that I haven’t found anything to fit in yet.

ameribag-hbbevo-bag-16On this side, I keep my clip-on sunglasses in their case, a Monteverde stylus pen, a padlock, and two lanyards with ID cards on them.

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Under all these pockets on the left side is a big zipper pocket.  You see my iPad Air 2 inside this pocket, with plenty of room to spare in there.  The inner wall of the iPad compartment is padded to protect the tablet from the contents of the rest of the bag.

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You should be able to fit any tablet about the same size of the iPad Air 2 or even a bit bigger inside the zippered tablet compartment.

I had everything you see in these pictures in the bag when I was photographing the exterior of the bags.  I could have fit more in the bag, but I don’t really need to carry anything else on a daily basis.  I almost never carry my laptop in the bag, but I can if I need to.  I do frequently carry my iPad in the bag, along with all the other stuff shown here.

One thing I really like about the GoGo Vinyl version of this bag is that it’s pretty waterproof.  I’m not saying you could submerge it and the contents would stay dry.  I’m saying that I don’t have to freak out if I have to walk to my car in the rain.  The main zipper is against my back instead of being pelted by rain, and the vinyl itself is impervious to rain.  I don’t have to worry that an expensive leather bag will get water damaged, either, and I don’t worry that the water would just soak through a fabric bag to the contents inside.

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Here’s the bag on my daughter’s back.  She’s 5’2″, for reference.  She’s wearing the bag cross-body.

When the bag is loaded up with everything you saw in these pictures, including the laptop and its sleeve, the HBBevo bag is heavy.  Wearing it cross-body spreads the weight out across the back and makes it much easier to carry, and it feels like a lighter burden, in my opinion, than carrying it on one shoulder.

As I mentioned, I got lucky and got the Healthy Back Bag from AmeriBag in the red GoGo Vinyl for only about $25.  Amazon still has the GoGo Vinyl version in both red and black for about $45 for the red or $80 for the black.  If vinyl isn’t for you, go to the AmeriBag website, where you can find a variety of leather and fabric HBBevo bags in a variety of sizes.  Prices range from about $60 for the smaller fabric versions to $250 for the larger bags in leather.

Because it does remind me of those wine bags, I don’t think this bag is overly feminine.  I think even men might like the bag in some of the darker colors in either fabric or vinyl, and women might like some of the brighter colors in addition to the neutrals.

The bag is comfortable to wear, because AmeriBags designed their products to minimize the stress on your shoulders and back that some bags can cause.  AmeriBags are always very well made, in my experience, and they wear like iron.  You can fit a lot in the HBBevo bag when you need to carry a lot of gear, and you can use it as your everyday bag when you don’t need to take everything along with you.  You can’t go wrong with one of these HBBevo bags from AmeriBags.  But if you intend to use it as a gear bag, be sure you select the HBBevo line, because the standard Healthy Back Bag shape isn’t wide enough for tablets or small laptops.

Source:  I purchased this bag for myself.  You can find the HBBevo in GoGo Vinyl at Amazon, or visit the AmeriBag site to see all the HBBevo models.

 

Product Information

Price:$80 at AmeriBag, as reviewed. Prices range from $60 to $250, depending on size and choice of leather, nylon, microfiber, or vinyl
Manufacturer:AmeriBag
Retailer:AmeriBag
Pros:
  • Vinyl keeps contents dry
  • Big enough for a full sized tablet, cellphone, and daily carry items
  • Can even squeeze in a smaller laptop
  • Organized
  • Comfortable to wear on a shoulder or cross-body
Cons:
  • With the vinyl bag, the strap adjustment is difficult because the vinyl sticks to itself
Posted in: Bags, Reviews, Tablets, Ultra Portables
{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Julie Strietelmeier April 14, 2015, 10:07 am

    Ooooh shiny!

    • Janet Cloninger April 14, 2015, 12:45 pm

      I was always jealous of that red vinyl Timbuk2 bag you used to carry. When I saw the chance to have a shiny red bag of my own, I jumped at it! 😉

  • meistervu April 14, 2015, 2:04 pm

    So, are these sling bag healthier than a backpack? I would think that a back pack has a better chance of distributing its weight more evenly. Am I missing something?

    Mind you, I am not talking about a badly designed backpack overloaded. Instead, let’s do apple to apple comparison: same content, a this sling bag, and a good back pack.

    • Janet Cloninger April 14, 2015, 2:16 pm

      I don’t know of any studies that directly compare a Healthy Back Bag to a backpack, so I can’t address how they would distribute the load. I do know that it was originally designed by Margery Griffin after she had back surgery and needed a bag that’s more comfortable than traditional women’s purses and handbags. I know from my own experience that wearing these bags cross-body is more comfortable than normal purses with narrow straps that cut into my shoulder because of the weight of my bag and contents pressing on one relatively narrow strip of skin. And they are more comfortable than the kind of bag you have to carry in your hand or wear over your forearm, with all the weight of the bag dragging that arm down.

      You can read more here about how they designed the bag and its organization pockets to distribute the weight. https://www.ameribag.com/About-Us.html

      I don’t like backpacks as my daily bag, because they are usually bigger than I need, they’re hot because they cover so much of my back, they don’t look good with dressier clothing (for women), and they somehow can cause my shirt to get pulled up under the backpack itself.

      • meistervu April 14, 2015, 2:50 pm

        Yes, I am sure they are a lot more comfortable than purses or handbags for carrying heave things.

        These bags have been around for a while. They are called sling bags by many people. Bicyclist messenger bags work on the same principle: keep the weight closer to your body and have it rest on your back so that it doesn’t move much. Those messenger bags actually look a lot better than the bag review here for your back in that it has a flatter contact area with your back which distribute the weight better. But they are not as fashionable as the bag here.

        I used a camera sling bag for my SLR. The advantage is that you can access the gear without taking it off unlike a backpack.

        • Janet Cloninger April 14, 2015, 3:51 pm

          Yep, there’s a lot of bags on the market these days. Isn’t it nice that people can choose the bag they like that works best for them instead of being stuck with only one or two choices?

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