Gear trends: 2015 day packs

New day pack designs offer more options between sport-specific and loaded multi-use models. See what's ahead for 2015 at outdoor retail.
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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2014 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Aug. 6 – 9. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives.

Day pack designers might require a split personality to satisfy today’s customers.

On one end, avid hikers, climbers and bikers are demanding core, sport-specific models to meet their niches’ needs. On the other, millennial, multi-use consumers not only want their packs to cover every outdoor adventure, but also make do in the city and airport as well.

For companies like Mammut, the market is trending toward specificity. “Alpine sports are multi-faceted and highly specialized,” said Product Manager David Furman. “There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. Climbers want well-thought-out, specific features.”

Mammut looks to meet those specifics with its new Neon Speed 15 day pack (MSRP $80), a minimalist, 14.5-ounce, multi-pitch rock or ice climbing pack with attachments for ice tools, trekking poles, ropes, gear loops, helmet and crampons.

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While minimalist and lightweight features maintain their popularity in day packs, other consumers are demanding the extra comfort and support features of larger multi-day packs, even if they add a little weight. Ventilation and organization solutions serve as key examples, as more consumers chase intensive done-in-day pursuits or want crossover abilities in their packs for traveling or commuting.

“We’re seeing strong growth in smaller technical packs below 30 liters,” said Deuter USA President Bill Hartrampf, touting the company’s new Airlite series, a range of light, hydration-compatible Aircomfort packs ranging from 14 to 28 liters. “Users are looking for light weight, small capacity, ventilation and/or hydration features,” he said. The six-model AirLite series (MSRPs $99-$119) weigh in between 1 pound, 4 ounces and 2 pounds, 5 ounces and feature a longer, AirComfort back system that Hartrampf said reduces perspiration by 25 percent. They are top loading, but also come with U-shaped front zipper to quickly gain access to mid-pack gear.

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Organization plays a bigger role in Kelty’s Capture 15 and 25 (MSRPs $69/$79)designed for hiking, running, skiing or biking. “Organization is a big focus,” said Marketing Manager Scott Kaier. “These have strategic pocket and compartment placement to keep gear handy.” Both are panel loading with externally accessible hydration sleeves, employ ventilated shoulder straps with twin pockets for storage and include a sternum-strap “Action Pocket” capable of holding a smart phone for hands-free point-of-view recording. The Capture 25 features a shove-it pocket for extra gear while the 15 comes with compression wings for securing loads. “It’s all about comfort and convenience,” Kaier said.

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Montane comes to Summer Market aiming to add day pack comfort in a lightweight package for women. Its just-under 2-pound Yarará 32 Mountain Pack (MSRP $139)features a back panel that’s molded to the female form and accommodates shorter torso lengths, plus it has soft channels to wick sweat and provide ventilation. Split shoulder strap construction provides a women’s specific fit around the bust. The North Face nurtures the day hiking niche with its new Litus packs for men and Aleia line for women (MSRPs $100; 22L/$130; 32L), starting at 1 pound, 15 ounces and featuring a trampoline-style suspended-mesh back panel with contoured PE sheet.

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As more consumers carry sensitive tech gear in their packs, the need for versatility and protection arises. One trend in this vein: the completely waterproof day pack (no need for a rain cover), which we saw last year from Sea to Summit and this year from Mountain Hardwear, the latter with its new Scrambler 30 OutDry Pack (MSRP $130). Also, be on the lookout for wider and padded water reservoir pockets that can double as laptop sleeve.

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Hydration compatibility in the traditional sense — for liquid storage — is also high on designers’ lists. Marmot makes waves with its non-wave-making Aquifer 24 (MSRP $129) in its run/ride/hike/climb/train Momentum category, featuring a Hydrapak Shape Shift Reservoir that reduces sloshing. Weighing in 1 pound, 12 ounces, the 24-liter, roll-top closure pack comes with a padded waist belt and a ventilated suspension system to keep wearer’s cool when climbing. Marmot also debuts the 32-liter Eiger (MSRP $169) for alpinists and ski mountaineers, made from durable, Pertex 300-denier nylon with strong Dyneema reinforcement threads.

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Ultimate Direction tackles hydration and the trail with its Fastpack 30 (MSRP $174), a streamlined backpack for minimalist adventures. Taking inspiration from its Signature Series hydration vests, it features wide shoulder straps for comfort, with the left strap including a front-mounted water bottle pocket and the right a large zippered pocket. It has a roll-top closure allowing it to convert from 30 to 22 liters, water-resistant construction and a foam/HDPE framesheet for support.

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Maintaining the sport-specific approach, but focusing on many of the above-added benefits, Black Diamond rolls out new packs in its Trail and Crag series. Highlighting its Trail Series is the hydration-compatible Nitro 26 (MSRP $140), featuring the brand’s reACTIV pivoting hip and shoulder pad suspension with a high airflow back panel, zippered panel access, fleece-lined electronics pockets and pole attachment loops. The Crag series includes the Creek 50 (MSRP $190), a top-loader made from a durable, waterproof, haul-bag fabric with padded shoulder straps, a removable dual-density hip belt and thermoformed back panel.

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There will be plenty of talk at the Gregory booth about its recent sale to Samsonite, with particular note of its reach and growing popularity in Asian markets, where the style and fashion of packs are playing a big role. Gregory debuts a new logo for 2015, plus brings its Sunbird day packs to North American and European retailers at Outdoor Retailer. Included in the cotton/polyester, chrome tanned leather and steel alligator clip line-up is the Kletter, Trailblazer and Offshore (MSRPs $99-$149) built as practical day packs with ample storage.

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Vaude makes a splash on the show floor with several jack-of-all-trade, sporty hiking day packs in the Prokyon line in 24-, 28- and 32-liter capacities. The hydration-compatible packs come with the brand’s two-pull-loop, adjustable F.L.A.S.H. NT shoulder straps typically found in its larger packs, plus a mobile phone pocket on the shoulder strap.

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--Eugene Buchanan

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