On a recent expedition to Southeast Asia, we had the pleasure of lugging around our gear in one of Osprey’s many Travel Trek Backpacks: The Farpoint 55. And lucky for that, because our plan B was a not-quite-ergonomic big garbage bag. As its name suggests, this pack can be crammed with about 55L of goods of which 15L are conveniently detachable through the zip-away removable daypack, lined with a zippered front slash pocket perfect for quick-access items. With heavily padded top and side carry handles, a peripheral LightWire™ alloy frame suspension, and compression straps inside and out, this pack can be comfortably carried through first class airport lounges or zip-lined across the typical jungle creek.
Of note, every Farpoint zips open wide like a carry-on, meaning it’s a cinch to get at your stuff inside without much digging. And like a carry-on, we were able to sneak it onto every flight cabin by popping off the day pack, both cutting down wait time and the risk of lost baggage en route to every destination even though it doesn’t technically meet the TSA’s size requirements. But should you decide to check it instead, a zip-up cover protects its straps from conveyors and careless baggage handlers. Else, its resilient 210D double ripstrop nylon construction, 3.7 pound weight, and forty pound capacity just add to its versatility as an ideal backpacking adventure companion. So spin the globe to a far point and see where the wind (and a lot of jet fuel) takes you.
Travelling with a notebook computer and a bunch of related gizmos can be a drag, particularly when the TSA agent does his or her job properly and makes you pull your laptop from within your pack before passing it through the X-ray screener. Case Logic’s Checkpoint Friendly Laptop Backpack makes frequent flying bearable thanks to a TSA-compliant dedicated laptop compartment that opens flat at the pull of two zippers, thus helping you zip through security while protecting your device from bumps and bruises via plush padding. Otherwise, a luggage strap holds it nice and tight against your carry-on, strap management features keep excess strap material rolled and out of sight, and an organization panel provides slots and compartments for all your junk to remain easily accessible, even from the comfort of a legroom-less budget airline seat.
As versatile as a duffle gets, the Carter is Property Of’s answer to a weekender that’ll also carry your groceries, gym gear, or work stuff without breaking a sweat. Carter’s thick, distressed denim outer comes in either green or brown and is fitted with heavy leather trim, YKK zippers, plus thick cotton grab handles on both the top and side for lugging it around like a standard duffle. Else, it opens right down the middle for full and immediate access to its contents, and wears either as a traditional backpack or across your body like a sling.
Check it out at Property Of – $320
It doesn’t matter what you’re lugging to your workout because Goruck’s Gym bags were built to handle it. Each duffle boasts one large main compartment for shoes, clothes, towels, and the like, plus external pockets on each end and another inside for stashing valuables. Like all Goruck gear they’re backed by a lifetime guarantee, though you’ll likely never need it since they’re made with double-layered 1000 D Cordura, fitted with YKK zippers, and stress tested at critical points with a 400 pound strength check.
Find them in 20- and 38-litre models at Goruck – $75 to $95
Bike-mountable messenger bags needn’t look the part, though that’s not to say that Nisnas line of bags are in any way conventional. The Kul Rex keeps its shape thanks to a racing stripe-adorned wooden spine along its underside that also protects its contents while looking sharp coupled to a handsome brown leather. Its two closure straps adjust to fit snugly over most flat bar bikes, a third keeping it from swinging, while the multitude of internal pockets and compartments carry along a tablet or small laptop, books, pens, and whatever else compact gadgetry you’ve got in an orderly manner.
Camo packs may help you go unnoticed in the shrubbery or the last row in class, but at night and on a bike that level of stealth is the exact opposite of what’s good for you. Enter Chrome’s Reflective Camo Series, a line of packs that gives you the best of both worlds – an awesome camo pattern in the day and extreme reflectiveness after sunset – thanks to an overlaid rain print that bounces back light from up to 100 feet away. They’re also each made in the USA using bombproof & weatherproof materials such as abrasion-resistant Cordura, a truck tarpaulin inner liner, and five-bar seatbelt webbing, meaning they won’t fall apart unless you’re trying (and even then).
Check out the lineup at Chrome – $95 (Victor), $180 (Citizen; right), $200 (Barrage; left)
We’re huge on the idea of having one bag that can adapt to our all of our daily needs. A single pack handy enough to hold all of our workout gear for early morning visits to the gym, yet stylish enough to double as a serious briefcase for a day at the office. That’s why we’re so jacked about MATT & NAT’s Raylan handbag from the Unify Collection. It’s got a spacious main compartment with zip closure, a 14″ laptop compartment, two large front pockets for easy access to important gear, and both an adjustable shoulder strap and loop handle for carrying.
Check out the Raylan and other minimalistic designs at Matt & Nat – $175
Ansel Adams said, “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” Booq’s Slimpack is a compact backpack designed to carry all the essentials to make your next shoot a success. It carries one to two DSLRs, four mid-size lenses, a large zoom lens, tripod and a 10” tablet, all protected by densely padded dividers and accessible from either the top or back. Designed to stand upright on its rubberized bottom, the Python also has plenty of pockets inside to hold accessories, a 1680D ballistic nylon upper treated to resist water, and a deployable poncho in case of heavier downpours. A large top compartment is ideal for headphones, or setting the camera down in between shots. Finally – and importantly – it’s also comfortable, with Airmesh back padding and shoulder straps that adjust to fit most any body type.
Bags with millions of organizational pockets are great for on the go use, but once we’ve arrived at our destination, favoring accessibility is a no-brainer. Enter Lay-N-Go Traveler, a simple voluminous bag that’s perfect for your grooming tools or everyday items and that unfurls to grant full access to its contents at the loosening of its nylon cord. It’s made of water repellant polyester for dirt-resistance and durability, features a lip around its open surface to keep your goods from rolling off, plus a single zippered pocket on the inside for stashing smaller items or hiding valuables.
At first glance, Chrome’s Bravo Night might not seem all too suited to the darkness considering its black-on-black design. Its massive 3M reflective panel says otherwise. Besides its spectacular nighttime visibility – provided a bit of headlight illumination – from up to 100 meters away, Chrome’s Bravo is built to last thanks to a Cordura outer shell, welded-waterproof military grade truck tarpaulin inner, roll-top main compartment, and weatherproof YKK zippers. Otherwise, it comfortably carries a 15-inch laptop in its front compartment and a ton of clothing/groceries/whatever in its main thanks to its vertical expandability, going from a 20-liter commuter to 40-liter monstrosity.
Find it at Chrome Industries – $180