Carry a few vinyls in it. Or don’t. Wax & Jackson Record Totes look inconspicuously great either way while boasting the square-ish shape needed to lug a small stack of vinyls around, when you need to, alongside books and work and other things not categorized as play. The bag comes dyed and bonded in either olive or mustard colors, both made of 24oz British water-resistant cotton canvas and adorned with fine vegetable-tanned leather straps and solid brass hardware. They’re both also handmade in England to be super hard wearing. And considering the company sells just these two bags and small bottles of vinyl cleaning fluid you can bet it’ll live up to its expectations.
From afar it may look like your run-of-the-mill airy, lightweight drawstring backpack. But a closer look at the Action Drawstring Backpack Pro reveals features unheard of in this space. It’ll store and organize your stuff across five compartments, amongst them three YKK zippered pockets, on top of securing your action cam to your torso via an optional GoPro compatible center mount. A hydration-compatible pocket and tube routing hardware also handles your CamelBak (or other) hydration bladder, if you’re into that sort of thing. The Action DB Pro also solves the cord unevenness problem with Channel-Anchored drawstrings that always keep both sides balanced, and its Hypalon plus water-repellent DWR fabric construction keeps its contents shielded from adverse weather.
Find it at Kickstarter – $45+
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
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
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
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