Review: Bellroy’s City Pouch Premium Edition looks nice but is flawed

If you don’t want to overload your pockets with the bare essentials, the Bellroy City Pouch is a good carry.

As much as I love my everyday carry bags, sometimes I don’t need more than a few things when I go out and about, like on my daily walks. But I also don’t want to carry too much in my pockets because it ends up being uncomfortable (especially with female pants and, you know, the whole pregnant thing I’m going through right now). That’s why I’ve been searching for a small and lightweight bag to take with me when I don’t need more than a few small things.

I recently came across some of Bellroy’s offerings and thought the City Pouch would be a great fit for what I’m looking for. To top it off, the Premium Edition of the City Pouch is made with leather rather than the woven fabric of the regular version. I like leather goods when I want to dress it up a bit, and the City Pouch Premium Edition does a good job for what I need it for, though it’s not without its own flaws.

Bellroy City Pouch Premium Edition

Bottom line: 1-2 sentence summary of your opinions of this product.

The Good

  • Made from premium, environmentally certified leather and recycled fabrics
  • Durable and water-resistant
  • Has organizational pockets and key clip
  • Can hold a small e-reader or tablet in the padded pocket
  • Soft, adjustable strap

The Bad

  • Looks bulky when packed too full
  • Exterior pockets don’t open all the way
  • Hard to pull the front zipper
  • Cannot change out strap
  • Pricey

$129 at Amazon
$129 at Bellroy

Bellroy City Pouch Premium Edition: Price and availability

The Bellroy City Pouch Premium Edition can be found on Amazon and directly from Bellroy’s website. It comes in three colors: Black Sand (pictured in this review), Lichen Gray, and Desert, though the last color seems to have sold out. The City Pouch Premium Edition runs for $129. But if you don’t care for the leather with the Premium Edition, you can get the regular City Pouch between $65 to $79, depending on the color you get.

Bellroy City Pouch Premium Edition: Just the essentials

The Bellroy City Pouch Premium Edition is a fairly small and slim bag. It only measures 6.69-by-2.76-by-7.87 inches total and weighs around seven ounces when empty. The City Pouch is made with a durable, water-resistant woven fabric, and the Premium Edition has the addition of soft and supple leather panels. All of the materials that are used to make the City Pouch are environmentally certified so that you can feel good about your purchase. In fact, the leather on the Premium Edition of the City Pouch is actually softer and even more robust than what Bellroy traditionally uses in its wallets. It has a bit of extra body to retain shape over a long period of time.

There are three compartments to the Bellroy City Pouch Premium Edition: one zippered front pocket, a main zippered compartment, and an open pocket on the back. The Bellroy logo is imprinted on the leather panel in the front, right underneath the zippered pocket.

The City Pouch is a small bag that will carry your iPhone and other bare essentials while retaining a slim profile.

There’s a padded sleeve section in the main compartment that will hold a small e-reader, such as a Kindle Paperwhite or another small tablet. However, you’ll need to double-check the dimensions, but due to the size of the bag itself, you won’t be able to go bigger than that. However, the size is great for stashing away even an iPhone 12 Pro Max, so feel free to use the City Pouch to easily carry your favorite iPhone.

Across from the padded sleeve is a stretchy mesh pocket that is divided into two. These pockets are perfect for storing small items that you don’t want to lose, such as hand sanitizer, battery pack, AirPods Pro, a small notebook, lip balm, a pen, and more.

Between the sleeve and the pockets is a slightly expandable space for everything else that you need to carry, such as masks, portable chargers, and more. Bellroy says that the City Pouch has an expansion gusset that will grow as you fill the bag up, so even though it looks small and slim, it is surprisingly spacious for what it is. There is also a key clip that is sewn onto the inside of the main compartment, giving you easy access to your keys or other small items that you don’t want to leave behind.

The front zipper pocket is perfect for storing frequently used items that you don’t want to lose. The back slip pocket is great for storing things like receipts, documents, and even your iPhone for quicker access. However, since it doesn’t have a method for staying closed, you’ll want to be careful of putting small, loose items that can easily get lost if jostled around.

This pouch is a great when you dont’ need to carry a lot, making it perfect for walks and other quick errands.

The strap is pretty unique on the City Pouch Premium Edition (and even on the regular versions). It’s made of a soft webbing that is comfortable to wear, and it’s adjustable. But it is about an inch wide around the middle, where it would go on your shoulder, and then it tapers off on the sides to a smaller width. This helps with making it comfortable to wear for longer periods of time and easier to carry the weight.

While the Bellroy City Pouch Premium Edition is a little smaller than I’d like for my daily EDC bag, I have found it to be useful for my daily walks. It allows me to comfortably carry my iPhone 12 Pro, along with some hand sanitizer, a portable battery pack, a notebook with pen, my Bellroy Flip Case card wallet, lip balm, and a small flashlight for when we walk the dog at night.

Bellroy City Pouch Premium Edition: Quite a few flaws for the price

While Bellroy claims that the City Pouch is spacious and will expand as you fill it up, it does lose the slim profile when you do this. And when the City Pouch is not slim, it looks bulky and, well, unpleasant. I wish it was just slightly bigger.

I also found the front zipper pocket to be a bit hard to pull. For a compartment that is meant for your frequently used items, it’s almost impossible for me to zip it open or closed with just one hand — two are always required.

The external pockets do not open up fully to the edges, restricting the opening a bit. The front zipper is also a bit hard to pull.

I’m also not a fan of how the openings on the front and back external pockets don’t reach the edges of the pouch. Instead, it stops a little less than an inch away from the edge of the bag, making it harder to get things out when you need them. I’m unsure of why this was the case, but it makes the pockets feel more restrictive than they should be.

And while the strap is comfortable, I’m not too happy that you can’t remove it and replace it with something else if you want to mod it. I enjoy my Tom Bihn bags because they usually let you change out the straps if you want to, so it would have been nice to have this option with Bellroy too.

Lastly, there’s no denying it — the Bellroy City Pouch Premium Edition is a little pricey at $129. If you don’t mind just having the woven fabric material, you can get the regular versions of it starting from $65, but you won’t have the leather panels and the more elegant look that comes with leather.

Bellroy City Pouch Premium Edition: Competition

The Bellroy City Pouch Premium Edition isn’t the only bag out there that’s designed to hold just the bare essentials. There is the Incase Hipsack w/BIONIC® that we reviewed a few weeks ago. This bag offers plenty of room for your iPhone and other necessities, and it can be worn around your waist or as a crossbody bag. Like the City Pouch, the Incase Hipsack is also made with environmentally friendly materials, as it’s made with reclaimed plastic from the ocean.

Another option is the WaterField Mini Hip Sling Bag. This small, lightweight bag has a premium look and feel thanks to the waxed canvas or ballistic nylon materials mixed with leather accents. It will hold your iPhone and other small items that you need to carry without overburdening you, and it can be worn as a waist or sling bag. It’s slightly cheaper than the City Pouch Premium Edition as well.

Bellroy City Pouch Premium Edition: Should you buy it?

You should buy this if …

  • You want a minimalistic bag for the bare essentials
  • You like something that looks classy and elegant
  • You prefer something with organization

You shouldn’t buy this if…

  • You’re on a budget
  • You need to carry more stuff
  • You want something that has easier access to pockets

If you are in the market for a simple and lightweight bag that will hold your iPhone and the bare necessities, then the Bellroy City Pouch Premium Edition is a decent bag to consider. It’s made with environmentally sustainable fabrics, including leather, which gives it an elegant and professional aesthetic. It could hold your small e-reader or tablet, and there are organizational pockets to keep things neat and tidy. And despite the small size, the City Pouch can expand slightly to fit what you need, though it may lose the slim profile.

out of 5

However, there’s no denying that the City Pouch Premium Edition is a little on the pricier side (although you can get the regular version for less), and it has some flaws. For example, it gets rather bulky if you pack it too much, losing the appeal. It is also a bit too small for something like an iPad mini, and the openings are a little restricted, with the front zipper being a bit hard to pull at times. And while the strap is nice, it’s not removable, so you can’t modify the bag with something else that you may find more comfortable.

Bellroy City Pouch Premium Edition

Bottom line: Bellroy’s City Pouch Premium Edition is a small and lightweight bag for the bare essentials. While it looks nice, it has some flaws and is definitely pricey.

$129 at Amazon
$129 at Bellroy

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