A short collection of backpacks perfect for urban adventures, day hikes, or with an additional sleeve, a passable laptop bag. For the most part these are all fairly practical designs with emphasis paid to high-performance synthetic materials making these suitable for daily or hard use.
Tom Bihn Synapse
Tom Bihn makes fantastic utilitarian bags with enduring quality. From personal experience I can say they just never wear out. The simple smooth lines of the Synapse hides the multitude of pockets to carry all the things you could possibly need for a day. The pockets in this bag are an organisers dream come true, there are pockets for just about everything. Other features of the Synapse include splash proof ykk #8 zippers, an exterior construction made with 1000 denier Cordura, an interior constructed with Japanese Dyneema/nylon fabric, and lastly Tom Bihns’ amazing attention to detail.
Jansport 767 Burhorn Backpack
The Jansport 767 Burhorn Backpack is a reissue from their Heritage Collection. Originally designed in 1980, this classic has a weathered cordura shell and seatbelt webbing straps. Lots of room and beautiful styling. When this bag was issued the craze in my part of the world was LL Bean bags – I’m sorry I missed these when they were first introduced. Curable bag with a beautiful classic look.
Sadly these seem sold-out. Would love to find a new source.
Black Diamond Bullet Pack
Another recent purchase for both day hiking near our house (we live in the hills) and a possible choice for upcoming day trips to Hong Kong. We haven’t received this one yet, so I can’t personally attest to the quality, but I have heard only great reviews for this small backpack from Black Diamond. The Black Diamond Bullet pack has a streamlined and simple design that I am often attracted to. It features an internal pocket for hydration reservoir, a zippered front pocket with key fob, and an adjustable sternum strap and webbing waist belt.
Further proof that good bags don’t always need to cost a bundle.
REI Flash 18 Backpack
Quality construction, versatility, and its simple design are what attracted me to this very inexpensive bag.
I have used this bag extensively on my travels and its’ perfect as a stow-able backpack to use while your larger bag stays in your hotel room. Its’ lightweight materials and construction are an asset to packing light but it took me ages to figure out how to close the bag easily. I’ll put the blame on myself as my wife had no problems with the quirky closing pull.
Features include a hydration-compatible design, lightweight shoulder straps that supply comfortable load carrying, twin daisy on the front of the pack, and internal organiser slots. Its made with 140-denier ripstop nylon.
Again, not all great bags need to be expensive.
Lafuma Naia 25 Daypack
The Lafuma Naia 25 Daypack offers a women-specific fit which might answer one of my wife’s constant complaints that our current bag never feels right on her shoulders. It’s made from 420-denier polyamide which will help keep in one piece on and off the trail. The large main compartment, 2 interior zippered pockets, and 2 exterior front pockets provide 25 liters of space in total – more than enough for our needs. Our current backpack does a great job of keeping the pack off our backs, important with the weather we have around here, hopefully the mesh on the back panel will provide similar comfort. The included raincover is a nice addition.
Rapha Fixed Backpack
A great biking backpack with just enough room for a laptop and some gear. The Rapha features a slim aerodynamic shape with 11 litre capacity, supportive ‘spine’ padding, lightweight straps and single adjustable chest strap. Also features waterproof zippers and a padded laptop sleeve.
The Fixed Backpack has been designed for lightweight urban commutes and carrying your everyday essential kit. It combines elegant, pared down styling with specialist road riding performance features. There is enough room for a lap-top, shirt, book and tools – just enough to keep you moving fast through the city. Capacity is approximately 11 litres. The pack will fit a regular sized laptop – an Apple Mac Book, or something similar.
Gravis Staple Backpack
Gravis’ simple all-purpose lightweight backpack is for everyday use. It features T=three compartments, the front compartment has pockets for organising your small stuff, the main compartment is perfect for books or larger items, while the rear compartment holds your laptop, allowing you to open at airport security without revealing everything else in your bag. Overall, not very heavily padded but certainly not bulky and able to resist the water from a light rain.