Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post, and the item(s) featured are also received at no cost for reviewing purposes, but the opinions are mine and, as always, honest. Read the full disclosure here.

I am a very picky person when it comes to handbags. Besides having to like the style and color, the bag has to fit my needs in terms of weight, size, number of pockets, strap length… I could go on. I like my bags to be organized, because I hate digging through them to find something, so lots of pockets is always a good choice, especially when traveling.

My husband and I go out for walks in the nature a lot, sometimes in the rain, and I was looking for a good nylon bag that would repel water and look stylish. I wasn’t really successful, and had to give up. I was recently approached by Beside-U to try one of their bags, and when I saw the features they are offering, I knew this would be a match made in heaven. These bags were all I was looking for, and more.

Beside-U is a company that specializes in offering quality bags with additional security features, that make their bags very different from other brands on the market. The bags they offer are stylish, functional and provide security, so that every woman would want to keep one of them beside her – hence the company name Beside-U. Their selection of styles and colors is enormous, and it was really hard for me to pick just one bag for testing. After much deliberation, I decided to go with Ballona, which is 2018 spring addition to their Forever Young collection!

Ballona has wonderful features:

  • Detachable security whistle
  • Water repellent
  • Teflon Shield + Fabric Protector
  • Fabric interior with graphic
  • Zip pockets
  • Cellphone pocket
  • Pen holder
  • Water bottle pocket
  • Inside key clip
  • Adjustable shoulder straps

The only feature I wanted and this bag doesn’t have is the locking main compartment, which would be very handy when traveling. I always bring my bag with me when I use airplane washrooms, but most people don’t, so this particular feature would be awesome to have. Maybe this will be a good way to justify buying one more of these bags? I recommend that you browse other bags offered by Beside-U that may have this feature if you are as interested as I am.

Ballona comes in 4 colors, and the one I will show you here is Night Blue, which is a dark blue with light gray contrast zippers and gold hardware that goes nicely with the deep blue color of the bag. Other colors offered are Pool Blue, Dreamy Blue and Castlerock Gray.

The inside of the bag features a light gray printed fabric, a big main compartment, two large cellphone pockets and one RFID protected zip pocket. Although my phone is older and can easily fit in cellphone pockets in most bags, I can appreciate that Beside-U made their cellphone pockets larger, so that they can fit the newest cellphones, that are often quite big. I don’t normally use these pockets for my cellphone, though, but I like having them to organize smaller things I don’t want to have to dig for in the main compartment.

I started with describing the inside of the bag instead of the outside because of the RFID protected pocket. In my opinion this is what completely distinguishes these bags from others on the market. If you are not familiar with the term, RFID stands for Radio Frequency IDentification. This technology is used in almost every debit and credit card with a chip, and enables us to use that convenient “tap” for paying. However, this also makes stealing personal information from the cards and duplicating them easier (this is called RFID skimming). To protect your card from this, you can simply put your whole wallet inside this big pocket. Just make sure you keep the pocked zipped up, otherwise it will not work. This pocket has a mesh inside, so make sure not to use it for any sharp objects that may damage it.

I have to note though, there are articles around the internet saying that RFID skimming doesn’t happen in real life (although it is 100% possible to do it). As a cautious person, I like having this additional layer of protection. Yes, the bank will cover you if it happens. But once somebody bought a Yamaha scooter with my credit card, and I had to go through the whole hustle of replacing the card. The worst thing is, I will never know how or when my credit card info was stolen, and it doesn’t feel good. I will let you decide do you need this security feature, but personally, I would like to have it in all my bags, even if it’s just for the peace of mind.

Beside-U_Ballona_RFID_bag_review_inside

Beside-U bags are made of durable nylon material that repels water with Teflon Shield + Fabric Protector, making it very easy to clean and maintain. I am not talking thin, cheap nylon – Ballona is very sturdy, and although I didn’t have it for very long, I can feel the quality. One of the reasons I chose Ballona is the number of pockets – this bag has front, side and back zip pockets, and a few more without a zipper. The front side of the bag has a large zip pocket, and two smaller ones, one without a zipper. These front pockets are perfect for storing items you need to access easily, but wouldn’t mind if they got stollen (the front of your bag should never be used for your phone or wallet). I normally store wipes, lip balms, a small mirror and similar items in front pockets.

Beside-U_Ballona_RFID_bag_review_front_pockets

The back pocket has a zipper, it’s quite wide and has medium depth. I normally carry my phone in the back pocket for easy access, and this pocket can easily fit a large phone and a few more smaller items without fear that something will fall out when opened.

Beside-U_Ballona_RFID_bag_review_back_pocket

One of the side pocket is a zippered one, but this is the pocket that goes towards your back, so again I’d only use it for items of smaller value. I do appreciate having another outside pocket to organize everything better, and I like how it didn’t add to much bulk to the bag.

Beside-U_Ballona_RFID_bag_review_side_pocket

The other side of the bag has a water bottle pocket, which is a feature I really wanted. None of my other bags have this pocket, and it’s very convenient for carrying water, especially in the summer. I like that this pocket is at the front when I carry the bag, so it’s easy to access the bottle. Here I have a David’s Tea tea press squeezed in, and it barely fits, but it’s inside securely. A smaller bottle will easily fit in, but not a very thick one (but who carries huge bottles around anyways? they are too heavy in my opinion). For reference, a Bkr bottle is too big for this pocket.

Beside-U_Ballona_RFID_bag_review_water_pocket

Other great features of the bag are the detachable security whistle and the inside key clip. As far as I know, the whistle is added to all the bags as an additional layer of security in case of an attack (God forbid!). It’s one of those things you hope never to need, but it’s good to have. I like that the whistle doesn’t really look like one, and at first glance it just looks like a bag charm.

As I mentioned above, the inner zip pocket of the bag has a mesh inside, so it may not be the best choice for keys that may damage the mesh. Ballona has a key clip that you can use to easily attach your keychain to, and then pull to find it in the unavoidable mess of the main compartment. I love that this strap is red, to be easily noticeable – it’s the little things like this that really show me how much thought the company put into designing these bags.

Beside-U_Ballona_RFID_bag_review_whistle_key
Left: security whistle       Right: key clip

If you were wondering throughout the review how big this bag actually is – well, here it is! I am sure some of these items will give you a visual indication of the size. Also, I can fit all of this into the bag easily, and there is still room for a few more items (no, I don’t always carry all of this, but sometimes I do). The dimensions are: 27cm L * 24cm H * 12cm D. This is a little big bigger than what I normally like to have around for short walks, but it’s great for a full day out and about.

Beside-U_Ballona_RFID_bag_review_what_fits_inside

The only feature of the bag I am not sure of is the pen holder, but honestly, any of the available pockets would work for this. I love the wide adjustable straps, because I can carry the bag as a shoulder or a messenger bag, depending on my needs. With all these features, this bag will be used a lot. I am thinking I will need to get one more for my mum, too, she loves this type of bags for casual days.

Ballona retails for $110 CAD and qualifies for free shipping. You can purchase this bag from beside-u.ca and I highly recommend you to browse their whole range – it will be hard to choose one, and I am sure you can find a bag that fits your style!

What do you look for in a bag? How do you like this one? Do you think you need all these additional features, especially the security ones?