2017's daypacks walk the line between work and play.
Quiver of one (or maybe two)
Consumers (and Millennials in particular) have a host of factors driving them to opt for one do-anything pack as opposed to multiple, activity-specific packs. Not only are people looking to trim down the amount of “stuff” they have, but with 63 percent of the U.S. population living in urban areas, according to a 2015 U.S. Census update, people have smaller homes and less storage space for all that gear. “There will be that customer who can afford to have six or seven packs for every purpose, but there’s a wider group who wants one pack that can cross over,” said Phil Hazeltine, product line manager for Kelty’s Wander Collection.
This season, look for bags that are at home on both the daily commute and the casual dayhike, as well as those built for multisport athletes aiming to use the same pack on mountain biking, backcountry skiing and even casual paddling adventures.
Frontcountry looks, backcountry performance
The ready-for-anything aesthetic is making heavy inroads into daypacks this summer, as seen by the wide assortment of companies adding modern, urban touches—such as cleaner lines, fewer stray straps and leather trims—to otherwise trail-worthy totes. "There are a lot of customers who want one bag to go between their normal, everyday life and to also use for a hike," said Nate Kuder, senior product line manager at Dakine. "[Brands are] trying to simplify packs and make them clean, while incorporating true benefits like cell phone pockets."
Everything in its place
Pack designers seem to have taken a page out of Marie Kondo’s bestselling organization bible, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” as seen by the uptick in brands going crazy for compartmentalization. “We all carry multiple electronic devices, cords and charging devices, and need ways to carry and quickly access [them],” said Eric Betz, Mountain Hardwear’s senior product line manager for equipment and accessories.
Mammut is taking the trend even further, offering an option divided by an inner barrier that essentially turns it into two separate packs. The Seon Transporter 26 (MSRP $140) is ready for both business—with briefcase-worthy work compartments—and pleasure, with ventilated sections for climbing shoes or trail runners.
Loud and proud
Bye-bye, plain old black. As you walk the floor this summer, it’ll be hard to miss the pops of heritage-inspired patterns and tongue-in-cheek prints. Be sure to check out The North Face’s so-ugly-it’s-cool Yosemite sofa print. “People are having with fun their packs,” said Meghan Martens, product manager of gloves, gaiters, shelter and gear for Outdoor Research. “It’s almost like an extension of their personality.”
Named after the largest waterfall in Sequoia National Park, High Sierra’s Tokopah series may be built for the rigors and wonders of the trail, but a funky geometric pattern makes the line right at home on any festival ground. The 6-liter pack (MSRP $50) includes a 2-liter reservoir, reflective hits on both the front and back and a hidden helmet holder. Forty-liter and 65-liter models round out the series.
Improve your work/life balance with Dakine’s 24-liter Nomad Daypack (MSRP $95), the perfect embodiment of an at-home-anywhere bag. Sleek, city-worthy aesthetics partner with a functional main zippered compartment, external storage panel and multiple pockets. Meanwhile, the breathable Air Flow backpanel—which features ventilated, contoured foam beneath mesh to allow for air movement between the pack and the wearer’s back—and contoured shoulder straps keep users comfortable out on the trail.
Watching your weight? With climbing-specific shoulder straps (they’re shaped and tapered at the top to allow for enhanced freedom of movement when reaching on a route), multiple gear attachment points and a removable, harness-compatible hipbelt—all in a meager 29-ounce package—Montane’s Featherlite Alpine 35 (MSRP $145) is perfect for alpinists going fast and light.
Multisport athletes: Meet your next pack. Whether climbing, hiking, pedaling, paddling or even backcountry skiing—yep, it has vertical ski carry straps—the Dry Payload Pack (MSRP $149) from Outdoor Research is ready for adventure. Completely welded and featuring 420-denier ripstop nylon enhanced with TPU lamination, this waterproof, 32-liter number means business.
Hey globetrotters! Need help optimizing organization for your trip overseas? Look to the Stand-by Modular Travel Pack (MSRP $250 for the nylon version, $300 for the canvas version) by Green Guru (#148). At 49 liters, it’s practically a multiday pack that can get all your gear from Point A to Point B. But it breaks down into five different compartments—a backpack, messenger, organizer sleeve and two duffel sacks—so travelers can take just what they need for the day and leave the rest back at the hostel.
The Blitz (MSRP $80-$100) from Black Diamond is ready to take hard-charging alpinists from the base to the summit and back. Available in 20-liter and 28-liter sizes, this nimble pack is made with ultralight Dyneema fabric and features both a removable bivy pad and the brand’s proprietary ice tool PickPockets. Stash a phone in the lid’s waterproof zip pocket so it’s easy to grab for that selfie at the top.
This story first appeared in the Day 4 issue of Outdoor Retailer Daily.