The Timbuk2 Robin Pack is the San Francisco-based brand’s cleanest take on an urban rolltop backpack yet. Its weatherproof rolltop closure closes with magnets and opens with a simple pull towards the bottom and has room for a 15-inch laptop alongside the rest of your gear. Magnets also play a roll in holding a smaller front pocket closed as well as in joining the two halves of its sternum strap instantly. Tons of other subtle/hidden features include hidden expansion panels to boost capacity when necessary, a reflective bottom panel that won’t shine until struck by headlights (at which point it will, brilliantly), a reflective ripstop rainfly for keeping your gear safe through heavy downpours, and one stretch side pocket on either side.
Learn more at Timbuk2 – $180
It’s slimmer and more compact than most Costanza-sized wallets, though the Vessel Wallet really sets itself apart thanks to two unique features: a two-way sliding card compartment and a concealed drawer. The former helps you quickly find the card you’re looking for by swiping the ones in the way downwards before swiping the right one up — somewhat like making your way through modern-day dating app profiles. It’ll hold up to five or six cards in this compartment along with stuff that most wallets end up squishing in the drawer, like gum, a couple of pills, an SD card or flash drive, or even a condom. The compartment is also big and wide enough for cash, though a removable money clip will handle fatter stacks of that nicely.
Learn more at Kickstarter – $65
Designing a bag to replace all your bags may be a nigh-impossible task but the Tab Convertible Bag comes as close to that elusive goal as any. Using an innovative cinch system, Tab can be collapsed or grown to three sizes — 31, 46.5, or 62 litres, depending on what you’re carrying — or even packed down into a compact ball for storage. It’s not just stuck to being a duffle, either, with straps that can be configured for backpack wear to safely lug heavier loads. Despite all of this it’s still rather light at 1.2 pounds, weather resistant thanks to a DWR ripstop nylon build fitted with waterproof zippers, and features an electric blue inner lining that makes finding stuff inside easier and that’s starkly contrasted with its murdered out black exterior.
Pledge for one at Kickstarter – $90
This is one product you’ll really, really hope to never actually put to the test. In the rare and unfortunate event that you do, though, the Arc’teryx Voltair 30 Avalanche Backpack might just save your life. Instead of gas cartridges the Voltair uses an electric centrifugal blower powered by a rechargeable LiPo battery, achieving identical pressure and fill speeds as traditional systems but with several added benefits, including pulsing of additional air once full to keep the 150 litre balloon inflated even in the event of small punctures on rocks and the like. Its electric and quickly reusable nature also allows for testing the system in the field so you know what to expect if you ever need to pull the trigger, and a charge can easily provide multiple deployments in a single day — that is, if you’ve got the guts to head back out after an avalanche. It’ll of course also hold 30 litres of your other gear as well and plays nice with the TSA, unlike compressed gas cartridges.
Pick one up on Amazon – $1,300
Keysmart carries keys. Klecker Knive’s Stowaway Tools are about as small as keys. And so Huckberry’s Compact EDC Kit was an inevitability. This tiny contraption holds and organizes a few of your keys alongside three tiny tools: a bit driver with reversible bit, a folding pocket knife, and a Griffin Pocket tool, itself equipped with four wrenches, a bottle opener, a pry tool, and a scoring tool. It’s sort of like a Swiss Army Knife that also opens the door to your house, and includes 10 inches of flashy orange 550 paracord as a lanyard.
Pick one up at Huckberry – $60
A bracelet can only contain so much paracord without being impractically bulky. A belt, on the other hand, has a lot more to work with. And the RattlerStrap Titan Paracord Survival Belt pushes this to the limit: the entire belt, except of course its titanium buckle, is weaved of 550 utility cord, and 80 feet of it no less, giving you plenty of rope (and string, if you peel apart the outer sheath and access the 7 inner strands) in the event of an emergency. As an added benefit there are no holes since the prong can be pushed through anywhere through the cord, allowing for adjustment in quarter inch intervals. Plus if you ever actually end up unravelling it and using it for an emergency RattlerStrap promises to handle the daunting task of remaking it for you gratis.
Organization is definitely the Triple Aught Design Parallax Messenger Bag’s forte. From the outside it looks sleek and minimal but open its magnetic self-aligning/mechanically locking buckles to reveal a cavernous amount of storage space, with multiple Helix attachment points to secure a range of accessories that include Transport Cubes, Transport Pouches, and Admin Panels. A range of cleverly configured pockets inside and out stash smaller goods within reach and a 15-inch laptop across the back. The most unique of these is a front drop pocket with Helix attachments for an Admin Panel that can slide down for quick access and slide back in just as quickly (see second image for a look). It’s also made of a highly durable and weather resistant ripstop nylon, includes an ambidextrous shoulder strap that adjusts for wear on either side, and has a concealed external welt pocket that’s got three rows of 1-inch webbing for attaching bike lights and the like.
Find it at Triple Aught Design – $300
Matador knows a thing or two about lightweight, packable products. And the Matador Beast28 Packable Technical Backpack is their most impressive piece yet. The 28-litre pack is full-featured and made of PU-coated ripstop nylon, with a compartment plus routing for a hydration bladder, waist and sternum straps for added comfort and weight distribution, several gear tethers and anchors to strap on extra gear, plus a variety of pockets that keep everything tidy. Despite all of this it weighs in at an impressively low 20 ounces (560 grams) and packs down into a tiny compression sack, taking up a fraction of the space that most daypacks do to establish its place as your go-to bag for travelling light.
Grab one at Matador – $90