Packs are on the rise from the airport to the trailhead.
The Middle Child
Mid-size, (30 to 50 liter) packs remain popular for their utility on weekend trips without looking overbuilt for shorter trips. John Sears, Gregory’s vice president of design and development, sees “a renewed fascination with backpacks from a broad perspective” everywhere from car commercials to the airplanes when he travels. His reasoning? “Backpacks, by their very nature, symbolize the freedom the younger generation is seeking,” he says. The good news for retailers is that millennials are graduating from the broader book bag market to more specialized and better-built packs. Once backpacks are established as a part of their daily lives, people look for quality.
The luggage market hasn’t traditionally been embraced by the outdoor industry as a core product category, but some brands are thinking it should be. Rob BonDurant, vice president of marketing for Osprey Packs, knows his brand may not be as big a player in luggage as it is in backpacks, but says there is a fully developed audience that sees Osprey as a luggage brand first—and that’s where Osprey is seeing growth potential. “In the next five years, most new customers won’t come to us for backpacking,” BonDurant says. “They will come for a sports-specific or commuter piece.”
Osprey’s Fairview 70 ($200) is a women’s-specific travel pack with a suspension system designed for travelers who carry their gear on their backs. The design includes a stowable harness and hipbelt, but doesn’t forego organization. The Fairview line also includes carry-on-sized 40- and 55-liter options.
The redesigned 50-liter Gregory Alpinisto ($219) makes good on the oldest trend in gear, becoming lighter and more stable, thanks to a 7001-series aluminum frame. Features include an uneven gridded backpanel that prevents snow from sticking, full side zippers, a new ski carry system, and ice axe attachments.
Eagle Creek’s Packable Tote/Pack ($TBD) is a lightweight, theft-resistant travel bag with the outdoor looks of a canvas field bag. Adjustable backpack straps also work as grab handles to use the bag as a tote.
The everyday-size, 26-liter Cadence ($89) by Granite Gear is a boxy roll-top/commuter pack with a channel-molded backpanel, water-repellent outer fabric, and lots of lined (read: gadget friendly) stash compartments, including the obligatory padded laptop slot. Coming to a bike lane near you.
This article was originally published on p. 38 of the Day 0 issue of Outdoor Retailer Daily Winter Market 2017.