As far as design goes, the Baseline Tennis Backpack from Vessel is a cut above the rest and one of the best-looking bags on the market.
Of course, like any bag, it’s not perfect, but if your bag’s style is essential to your buying decision, you can’t do much better.
External Logo & Branding
In a world where tennis bags often blast their logos as large as possible, one of my pet peeves, Vessel, takes a more refined and subtle approach.
Beyond the companies’ low-key approach to branding where the bag’s design speaks for itself, I’m a massive fan of tennis-inspired bags that aren’t made by racquet manufacturers.
Over time, players switch racquets, leading to them feeling inclined to change their matching bag, which is an unnecessary cost if your bag is from an unrelated brand.
At the front, you’ll find the companies traditional “V” shaped logo on the bottom right corner of the backpack.
Fun fact, the logo’s design bears the shape of a vessel or ship, frequently used to carry or transport items from one location to another. The same logo resides toward the middle of the left strap.
You’ll also find the brand’s wordmark in a few locations on the backpack. Most prominently, it resides on the bag’s side over the top of one of the magnetic closure external pockets.
Next, you’ll find it embroidered at the top of the back panel.
Finally, you’ll find it engraved into the metal strap adjusters.
Overall, Vessel does logo placement the right way.
2 Expandable Exterior Pockets With Magnetic Closure
On either side of the bag, you’ll find two external pockets for storing items like a water bottle or can of tennis balls.
I love the use of magnets, which helps keep these pockets flush and clean looking when they’re not in use, and they’re satisfying to use.
However, my main issue with these pockets is their size and how well or sturdy they hold a water bottle.
First up, it’s a tight fit for two of my 32 oz water bottles – either a Hydroflask or Nalgene. They sort of fit when the bag is empty, but it won’t work when you fill the bag – the pocket becomes too tight, and the bottle won’t be secure.
The largest bottle I’m able to fit is a more narrow and tall 25 oz Swell bottle, but the bottle doesn’t drop to the bottom of the pocket due to how it’s stitched, so it’s less secure. Plus, the elastic is loose around the bottle, which is a bit narrower.
The only bottle I own that fits well is a small 7 oz Swell bottle, which fits easily and allows the magnets to close for a snug fit, but that’s way too small of a bottle to bring to the court.
Some might say, toss the bottle in the bag. However, I prefer not to because most of my bottles have rubber rings for sealing them, which invariably leak from time to time, so I like the bottle to say upright – I know I’m not alone here.
As for a can of balls, these pockets are entirely sufficient because they’re lighter, but they’re still not as secure as I’d like.
Overall, I recognize this is nitpicky, and my solution, because I like to take at least 32 oz of water to the court, is to carry my water. Not a huge deal, but depending on what else you bring to the court can be an annoyance since the bag’s intended to hold my stuff in the first place.
Quick-Access Front Pocket
The front pocket is perfect for grabbing smaller items that you might want to access while playing without wading through the larger compartment.
My only knock on the compartment is the three pen slots, which I find an odd use of organizational storage for a tennis backpack unless this bag also doubles as a backpack for work. I’d prefer a single pen slot, which I would use along with an additional larger like the one that exists.
Compression-Molded Back Panel
The compression-molded back panel is excellent. It’s plush, extremely comfortable, and runs nearly the entire length of the bag.
Ergonomic & Neoprene Lined Shoulder Straps
I’m also a big fan of the shoulder straps, which are comfortable even with a heavier load. They’re curved shape also helps them fit or contour your shoulders more easily for added comfort.
It’s worth noting that the metal strap adjusters are super easy to loosen the straps while maintaining a solid grasp once you find the right length.
Adjustable Sternum Strap
If you max the bag out and fill it with quite a bit of gear, it’s large enough to become heavy, and in these scenarios, the intelligently designed sternum strap adds a welcome addition for support.
You can adjust the sternum strap by sliding it up or down for optimal comfort, which also gives you space for tucking them in when they’re not in use for a clean look. Plus, the straps are entirely removable if you prefer not to use them – perfectly executed.
Premium Waterproof External Zippers throughout
Vessel has included waterproof external zippers that are smooth to operate while also keeping your items dry inside. Although I appreciate the waterproof zippers and the clean look they offer on the outside, I do think they’re a bit overkill.
First, the bag itself is not entirely waterproof. Second, it doesn’t take long once the rain begins for most players to leave the court. Clay courts are an exception, but even then, you’re not hanging out too long unless you’re in a serious competition.
On the plus side, I give Vessel props for the pull tabs. Their extra length makes them easy to grab, and the open design of the pullers allow you to operate the zipper at any angle without them getting twisted.
Last but not least, the bright green color not only looks good, but it’s practical because it makes it super easy to find them, even in low light.
Internal Message & Bag Number Donated
Inside the main compartment, you’ll find an inspirational message along with a number which is unique and corresponds with the quantity of bags they’ve donated through their Buy a Bag, Give a Bag program.
Beyond the reminder that you did some good with your purchase, the patch also gives the bag a refined style you see every time you open it.
Thermal-Lined & Padded Racquet Compartment
The racquet storage compartment on the Baseline Tennis Backpack is excellent, with plenty of space for two racquets. It’s very well padded and features a super durable separator, so your racquets aren’t unnecessarily scraping against each other.
It’s also thermal-lined, which is a nice bonus to help keep the temperature consistent and subsequently helps prolong the tension of your strings when your racquets aren’t in use.
If you’re wondering whether the bag fits more than two racquets, the answer is a resounding no – two is the max.
Detachable Racquet Handle Cover
The backpack comes with a matching and removable zipper racquet handle cover that attaches to the bag’s carry handle at the top.
I wouldn’t find myself using it as it’s more of a hassle and unnecessary for my purposes, but it’s there for you if you’re so inclined.
2 Interior Velour-Lined Zip Pockets
On the inside of the backpack’s main compartment, you’ll find two velour-lined zip pockets, which are perfect for valuables.
For me, the top pocket is perfect for storing sunglasses where they’re unlikely to get crushed or damaged.
The second pocket is larger, which turned out to be perfect for stashing my phone, headphones, and where I’d toss my watch when I want to take it off while playing tennis.
Inside the larger internal velour-lined zip pocket, you’ll also find a simple key clip, which makes identifying and pulling out your keys easier.
I’d prefer the key clip inside the external quick-access pocket for easier access while keeping my keys away from my phone or any other valuable items I choose to store in that pocket, but it’s sufficient as is.
2 Interior Mesh Pocks
On the inside of the main compartment, you’ll also find two smaller mesh pockets for organizing a few essentials. They work great for storing deodorant, sunscreen, energy bars, overgrips, or similar sized items.
Although it’s not a knock on these existing pockets, I do wish that the bag had two more of them since I tend to bring a fair number of smaller items that I’d prefer not to be floating around at the bottom of the bag.
Expandable & Ventilated Lower Footwear Compartment
At the bottom of the bag, you’ll find a sizable compartment for stashing your shoes before you get to the court and when leaving.
It’s ventilated to let your shoes breathe after using them and expandable if your footwear is larger. Although convenient that this compartment is expandable, you’ll have to keep in mind that it reduces your space in the main compartment.
I wear a size 10.5 shoes and they fit great. I’d imagine most players wouldn’t have an issue up to a size 12, but it’s going to get super snug.
I do wish I could lay my shoes on their side, the way you’d find them in the box you purchased them, but tennis shoes are too bulky. Instead, most adults will have to stack them for them to fit, which means you end up losing a bit of space in the main compartment.
Finally, there’s a bit of velcro present to keep the extra material neat when you’re not expanding this compartment.