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
Conceived by Mininch — the guys who came up with the Tool Pen, Tool Pen Mini, and Wrenchit — Duoket this time isn’t a tool but is equally ingenious. Duoket is both a jacket and bag, switching between the two at a whim with nothing but a zip/unzip and making it easier to tackle chilly morning commutes without having to deal with carrying your jacket by hand in the evening. The jacket’s multitude of interior zippered pockets become the bag’s inner compartments so that everything stays right where it should be without having to reorganize ever time it transforms. As a bag it’s got both grab handles and a removable shoulder strap and as a jacket it’s got a concealed hood to shield you against rain and both adjustable cuffs and hem to tailor the fit. Available in five colors and several sizes.
Find it at Kickstarter – $120
If you’re the type to always be prepared while never knowing if you’ll need extra carrying room, Patagonia’s Lightweight Black Hole collection was made for you. These ripstop nylon packs, like their non-Lightweight brethren, are near indestructible, yet pack away without adding much bulk, or weight thanks to carefully pruned-down designs. They’re also suited to weather inclement conditions thanks to a TUP-film laminate and DWR finish on all outer fabric. The backpacks are strategically built with breathable mesh shoulder straps and back panels plus an adjustable sternum strap, albeit without padding (there had to be sacrifices somewhere) while the two duffel sizes feature diagonal zippers to grant full access to their main compartment and tubular webbing grab handles that adjust for use as a handle, shoulder strap, or as a sort of oversized backpack. Each also offers well-placed pockets to help organize your smaller objects from your keys to your water bottle(s).
Hit up Patagonia for details – $50 to $100
No, it won’t fit your laptop or tablet, but then again neither device is conducive to being very active. The Helixot XO 6.2 Waterproof Backpack does however liberate you from having to worry about water seeping into and ruining your personal items while sailing, surfing, whitewater rafting, kite surfing, or doing other water sports by way of its coated waterproof fabric that’s held together by welded seams and coupled to a screw cap closing mechanism that doesn’t let so much as a drop of water through. The back-hugging bag also features adjustable pectoral and abdominal straps to get a good, secure fit, and doubles as back protection thanks to rigid support along the spine.
Hit up Kickstarter for details – roughly $131
The Mission Workshop Helmsman Duffle is one bag whose contents you won’t worry much about in the rain, even if that includes your work computer. This heavy-duty 31-litre duffle is made of a durable HT500 outer fabric that’s backed up on the inside by a urethane-coated nylon ripstop liner to block out water, slush, and whatever else the weather throws at you. Hold it by its hide-away grab handles, a removable and adjustable shoulder strap, or even by an optional harness to wear it like a backpack. Or if you’re on a bike strap it to your front-mounted porteur-style bike rack and take a load off.
Find it at Mission Workshop – $255
At its core the Hylete Icon 6-in-1 Backpack is a 40 litre backpack. But if that’s not enough (or if it’s too much) room for your stuff the bag’s got a few tricks up its sleeve to better accommodate your cargo. Its base is equipped with an extendable compartment that adds 20 extra litres of storage, useable in both backpack and duffle configurations, the latter attained by stashing its straps behind its back panel and rigging up the included duffle handle. It’s also hiding a removable daypack inside that’s good for day trips and travel and which converts to a single shoulder strap messenger bag just as easily.
Learn more at Hylete – $250
Basically a series of sequential packing cubes, the Hang & Roll is a way to both better organize and better compress your clothing for travel. The lightweight packing tool boasts eight individual compartments to stash about a week’s worth of rolled up items of clothing. Roll it up when filled to save some space, and when unpacking at your destination just hang it up in a closet using the same straps that kept it nice and compressed. Windows on all the compartments make locating a specific garment easy and all of its materials are waterproof if the luggage or backpack you’re using isn’t.
Find it at Kickstarter – roughly $18
The Incase Tracto Split Duffel is big, weatherproof, and will accompany you and a ton of your gear just about anywhere. As its name suggests this duffel splits open in the center, butterfly style just like good luggage to facilitate packing. Mesh curtains segment the stuff you’ve packed into each half though they of course unzip out of the way if one large main compartment is warranted. Its exterior is made of either highly weather-resistant 1000D Tarpaulin or 1680D Ballistic Nylon, though the latter is also reinforced and lined with more of the former to ensure water won’t leak in. Carry it by its single handle or strap it to your back using the straps, which can be completely detached thanks to quick-release buckles on either end. Available in four sizes with 40, 60, 90, and 120 litre capacities.
Grab one at Incase – $125 to $200