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The Humble Backpack

No longer just a tasty spice in the luggage stew

Tell me what you want, what you really really want.

Five thousand years ago, Ötzi the Iceman headed out on an adventure and never returned. He was discovered in 1991 wearing the first known backpack. Throughout the centuries people have fashioned packs to lighten their loads, carry their children, and free their hands. Taking advantage of technological innovations, the humble backpack has morphed into the most diverse and functional style of luggage known to man. In 1939 Nelson’s canvas over wood frame Trapper Pack was featured in REI’s inaugural catalog. By 1945 wood, canvas, buckles, and straps were ditched in favor of lightweight metal tubing, durable nylon, and zippers. Kelty revolutionized the serious hiking backpack with an ergonomically designed aircraft tubing internal frame, comfortable padded straps, and a hip belt. In 1967 JanSport convinced the University of Washington bookstore to carry a small run of their simple tear-shaped backpacks – they sold out within days. In preparation for the 1989 Hotter’N Hell 100-mile bike race, Michael Eidson fashioned the first CamelBak hydration pack from an IV bag and a tube sock. In 2015 CamelBak sold for $412 million. That same year Timbuk2 introduced one of the first bike messenger bags. Thanks to the meteoric rise in cycling, and their diversification into traditional backpacks, Timbuk2 has become an industry leader with sales exceeding $14.9 million in 2018. These days, one can find a backpack that caters to the most obscure niche activities.

By the numbers – Exceeding wildest expectations

The rise of the backpack has been nothing short of meteoric. Between 2005 and 2019 the backpack category saw a whopping 245% increase in annual sales, from barely $1 billion to just over $4 billion. To put this into perspective, the second highest gain over this period was luggage at just 74%. The humble backpack shot from the fifth to the third most popular category of luggage. As a percentage of luggage sales, backpacks have grown 100%, from 6% to more than 12.5%. In 2018-2019, the luggage industry took a big hit due to the punitive tariffs on U.S. imports of travel goods from China, which jumped from 10% to 25%. In this hostile environment, the average sales increase over all categories was just 3.8% but backpacks grew 6%, second only to handbags at 8%, and much better than business cases/computer bags, which shrunk 8.5%. The backpack is a bright star on an uncertain horizon.

Growing up together – Backpacks for tots, tweens, teens, and beyond

Students of every age, preschool through grad school, have embraced the humble backpack to haul the paraphernalia of school life. Stephen Joseph offers adorable quilted packs for preschoolers in 35 different whimsical designs so even the youngest child can pack their treasures on their backs. JanSport has a plethora of backpacks in sizes, shapes, colors, and price-points that appeal to students and parents alike. Their SUPERBREAK®, available in 30 different colors and prints, will tickle the fancy of the pickiest student. Thanks to “digital burrito” backpacks, young folks can be connected at all times. In addition to the basics, “digital burritos” include a USB charging port, dedicated charger pockets, and headphone cable slots. The Matein Lunch Box Laptop Backpack, complete with a lunch box, dedicated laptop compartment, and a USB charging port, is just one great option. For the fashion-conscious student Moral Code’s 100% Olivenleder leather Avery Backpack offers both ample space for books and a laptop and a secure exterior pocket. Now more than ever, student backpacks are an ultra-functional fashion statement.

Stephen Joseph Kids Quilted Backpacks
Photo courtesy of Stephen Joseph

Stephen Joseph’s Kids’ Quilted Backpacks – available in 35 whimsical quilted designs, there is an adorable backpack that will tickle the fancy of every tot. These pint-sized packs, which easily double as a diaper or change bag, are made of machine washable cotton, include a magnetic snap and a drawstring closure, and are destined to become a child’s “can’t leave home without it” pack. MSRP: $26

Contact info: Conny Rector, connyr@stephenjosephinc.com

Moral Code Avery Backpack
Photo courtesy of Moral Code

The Moral Code Avery Backpack is the perfect companion for students looking for a classy alternative to the sporty nylon backpack. This sustainably built, 100% Olivenleder® leather backpack is cotton-lined, features matte gunmetal hardware and adjustable shoulder straps. Available in cognac and black, this pack has ample space for books, a laptop, and a secure exterior pocket for easy access to valuable personal belongings. This fashionable backpack appeals to students and professionals alike. MSRP: $279

Contact info: Mark Kohlenberg, mkohlenberg@wdmfootwear.com

JanSport SUPERBREAK® Backpack
Photo courtesy of JanSport

JanSport’s SUPERBREAK® backpack is the original student backpack and continues to be a best seller. It is a simple design, just one main compartment, roomy enough for books, notebooks, jacket, and a small front pocket for small, easily misplaced items such as pens, pencils, phone, and wallet. JanSport packs are both lightweight and durable. Best of all, this pack comes in 30 different colors and prints – the perfect way for a child to express their unique style. MSRP: $35

Matein Lunch Box Laptop Backpack
Photo courtesy of Matein

The Matein Lunch Box Laptop Backpack has everything for the busy student. In addition to a special compartment that accommodates a 15.6” laptop, there’s a roomy main compartment for books, notebooks, and other classroom essentials, a hidden back pocket for precious documents, and an insulated, waterproof lunch cooler that’s built right in. Made of water-resistant fabric, this pack is suitable for all weather conditions. A USB charging port keeps tech devices charged and ready for action. MSRP: $49.99

Sporty backpacks – Follow your passion

Name a sport and chances are you will find a specifically designed backpack. CamelBak’s offerings run the gamut from simple hydration pack to complete backpacks with critically placed pockets for all your exercise needs. Their Octane™ Collection of hydration packs are perfect for running, hiking, or city day tripping. Crumpler has a wide array of backpacks that travel seamlessly from remote mountain trail to gritty urban streets. For comfort, ease, and accessibility, their Dusty Trail 30L Backpack is perfect for serious hiking. Their Tucker Bag packs the amazing features of the Dusty Trail into a day-trip/carry-on-sized package. The original Timbuk2 Messenger Bag is still the go-to bag for bike enthusiasts. The popularity of bikepacking, the perfect socially distanced pandemic getaway, is skyrocketing. ORTLIEB, who developed their first waterproof bike pannier in 1981, has a complete range of bikepacking packs for road, mountain, and gravel bikes. They are dedicated to creating the perfect set up for every customer. For those who make the leap to competition, the Dream Duffel Elite Backpack, with separate pockets for clean and dirty clothes, shoes, snacks, laptop, and small personal items, eases race day stress. Weekend warriors to elite competitors can find a backpack perfectly suited to their needs.

Dream Duffel
Photo courtesy of Dream Duffel

While many of us exercise for the health benefits, some are preparing for the challenge of competition. When traveling to compete, a carry all backpack with space for all our essentials is critical. There is nothing more frustrating than arriving at a competition without a critical piece of equipment, such as activity-specific shoes. The Dream Duffle Elite Backpack is a great option for serious competitors. The bag is constructed of heavy duty, water-resistant polyester, and includes a removable zippered mesh-top compartment for stinky gear and shoes. Both the back and shoulder straps are padded and extra comfortable. The pack includes both a zippered top pocket for small and valuable items and an insulated side pocket for event day food and beverages. MSRP: $79

Contact info: Elyssa Danahy, info@dreamduffel.com

Crumpler Tucker Bag
Photo courtesy of Crumpler

Whether heading out on an all-day adventure or stuffing essentials into a carry-on bag for a weekend getaway, Crumpler’s Tucker Bag is just the ticket. The ergonomic, padded, and breathable EVA shoulder straps and back panel are comfortable and help stay cool on hot days and the chest strap secures the pack; side compression and expansion gussets grow and shrink with the load; inside the main body is a laptop sleeve that fits a 15” laptop; the top flap contains a water-resistant pouch for water sensitive valuables and fits like a garbage can lid, keeping everything inside secure and dry. This backpack is perfect for every adventure. MSRP: $269 AUD

CamelBak Women's Octane™ 9 70 oz Hydration Pack
Photo courtesy of CamelBak

When exercising, especially in hot weather, water is critical. The invention of the CamelBak hydration pack was a game-changer for elite athletes and enthusiasts alike. The Women’s Octane™ 9 70 oz Hydration Pack is a suitable for hiking, running, and everyday adventuring. In addition to a full 70 oz of water, this pack features pockets to keep small essentials organized, a secure and easily accessible phone pocket, a stretch overflow pocket to stash an additional layer, and an integrated rain cover to keep your goodies dry. The straps are highly adjustable for excellent fit and stability, and the ventilated hip belt transfers weight to the hips and offers additional secure storage. Wearing your water on your back keeps your hands free for scrambling up rocky hillsides or taking lots of photos of your adventure. MSRP: $125

Timbuk2 Classic Messenger Bag
Photo courtesy of Timbuk2

One of the original bike messenger bags manufacturers, Timbuk2 remains an industry leader, known for excellent quality and functional design. The generous front flap of the Classic Messenger Bag has hidden buckles so your worldly possessions remain safely inside the bag. The strap is made of fine webbing and features a comfortable curved air-mesh strap pad and Timbuk2’s Double-Loop CAM buckle, which adjusts easily and quickly. The waterproof TPU liner is easy to clean. There are essential pockets on both the inside and outside that keep everything organized. This bag is perfect for anyone who rides a bike – commuters, messengers, and joyriders alike. The cross-body design makes it easy to swing the bag around for easy access and the strap system cinches tightly enough to keep the bag from flailing about while riding. MSRP: $79

ORTLIEB Bikepacking Set-up
Photo courtesy of ORTLIEB

In a global pandemic, getting away from it all means grabbing your shelter-in-place companion and heading out on the road to nowhere. More and more people are realizing that the bikes we loved so much as kids are the perfect escape valve – be it for one hour or for one month. Bikepacking is rapidly growing in popularity, and as with all things sport, manufacturers are stepping up and creating packs that make cycling adventures as comfortable as possible. The German brand ORTLIEB has been making exquisite waterproof packs since 1982 so it is no surprise that they have created an entire system of specially developed bikepacking equipment, from handlebar packs to frame packs to seat packs. They offer a variety of packs for road, mountain, and gravel bikes, are happy to educate people about bikepacking, and will configure the perfect package to suit the needs of everyone, from novice to expert.

Cumpler Dusty Trail 30L Backpack
Photo courtesy of Crumpler

Crumpler’s Dusty Trail 30L Backpack is equally comfortable in the outback or traversing Europe by thumb. This bag features an aluminum suspended frame back panel with ergonomic shoulder straps, sternum strap, and removable waist strap with quick access pockets. The main compartment contains a removable 16” laptop sleeve. This pack is made of water resistant ripstop nylon and CORDURA®, the main body has a drawstring closure and the buckled top flap keeps contents secure and protected. With the side compression straps this bag can be cinched down to reduce mass and to keep items from moving about. MSRP: $299 AUD

Gear-specific backpacks – Filling every niche

The outdoor industry isn’t the only area with super-specialized backpacks. Gruv Gear has cornered the market on musician specific bags. Their Club Bag Dekade Edition is the dream digital burrito for musicians, loaded with features for serious musicians and tech-geeks alike. Mobile Edge’s Core Gaming Backpacks perfectly organize and protect all your gear, from laptop, keyboard, game console, cables, and small personal items in a handsome and comfortable package. Whether you are a traveling computer tech, the neighborhood handyman, or a general contractor, the SWISSGEAR 3626 USB Work Pack is the quintessential backpack toolbox. This amazing pack carefully organizes tools down to the smallest of screwdrivers and is infinitely easier to carry than an old-school metal toolbox.

Gruv Gear Club Bag Dekade Edition
Photo courtesy of Gruv Gear

Gruv Gear creates state-of-the-art gear for jet-setting musicians. The Club Bag Dekade Edition is a meticulously designed backpack, destined to excite the most experienced musician. The exterior is made of brushed vegan fabrics while the interior is quilted for additional padding. The set of four Bento mini-cases perfectly organize cables and other small items then slip neatly into their unique compartment. Each pack boasts a 20L capacity, Global Recovery Tag, TSA-friendly laptop-scanning sleeve, an Oktane pocket that wirelessly charges tech gadgets, and optional Sliiv Tech Sleeves to protect valuable laptops. MSRP: $350

Contact info: Jay Baldemor, sales@gruvgear.com

Mobile Edge Core Gaming Backpack
Photo courtesy of Mobile Edge

Whether an avid gamer, professional, or game developer, the Mobile Edge Core Gaming Backpack is a dream come true. Not only does this backpack have three dedicated compartments for laptop, tablet, keyboard, and gaming console, it boasts an external USB 3.0 Quick-Charge compatible port, built-in charging cable, and prewired universal power bank pocket for charging items in each section. There is also an organizer section for easy access to small personal accessories and four zippered side accessory pockets. The bag, made of durable ballistic nylon, boasts a TSA checkpoint-friendly design, padded air-mesh shoulder straps, and a ventilated back panel. For those passionate about gaming this backpack exceeds all expectations. MSRP: $129.99

Contact info: Paul C. June, pj@mobileedge.com

Swissgear 3636 Backpack
Photo courtesy of Swissgear

Toolboxes, while fabulous, can be heavy, clunky, and hard to transport. Enter the SWISSGEAR 3626 USB Work Pack Pro Tool Backpack. Great for mobile tech engineers and neighborhood handymen alike, Swiss Gear has engineered this bag so there is a home for every tool, from a 17” laptop to power cords, hammers, screwdrivers, tape measures, drill bits, and more. The main compartment contains a removable 34-slot tool caddy and the exterior front pocket has 20 divider slots for more tools. A special crush-resistant compartment keeps glasses safe and the built-in USB outlet (battery pack not included) keeps devices charged up and ready for action. The pack sits upright on the EVA molded hard bottom. All of this, and much more, come in an elegant package with padded ergonomic shoulder straps and a padded airflow back panel that provides great ventilation and support. MSRP: $129.99

While many packs focus on activity specific features, some packs are designed to alleviate pain. BackTPack created a unique spine-friendly design that attaches two bags to a backpack shoulder strap system. The Ivarson USA Ivar Alta 35 utilizes the patented IVAR-LIFT Design, an accordion-file design system of pockets, to keep cargo in place. This allows easy access to the pack contents and evenly distributes the load to make this pack incredibly comfortable and easy on the back.

BackTpack3
Photo courtesy of BackTpack

With back pain the most common type of pain and disability among Americans, the BackTPack is a spine-healthy alternative to the common backpack. Available in two sizes, this pack distributes the weight between two side bags, promoting good posture while easing stress on the spine. Like most traditional backpacks, the BackTPack boasts adjustable padded shoulder straps, a sternum strap, and a hip belt. Additionally, each bag offers a well-thought out variety of pockets with zipper, Velcro®, or snap closures and headphone ports. This is an ideal backpack for those who value the health of their spine. MSRP: $79-$95

Ivar Alta 35
Photo courtesy of Ivarson USA

The Ivar Alta 35 features the revolutionary IVAR-LIFT Design. The file-like design of the interior pockets keeps precious cargo perfectly organized rather than jumbled up in the bottom of the pack. This system distributes weight more evenly thus reducing stress on the lower back. The laptop compartment is securely sandwiched between two thick layers of padding. In addition to the main compartment, there is a small zippered pocket next to the handle for valuables and two front zippered organizer compartments. The dual side pockets are perfect for water bottles and other easily accessible necessities. This whole package is housed in durable, water-resistant polyurethane coated nylon. MSRP: $139

Posh backpacks – Arrive in style

Posh backpacks take many forms, from the sophisticated elegance of handcrafted leather; eco-friendly versions of our favorite styles; and backpacks that double as suitcases. The Lewis Backpack from Korchmar and Mancini’s Buffalo Collection Backpack are two examples of exquisite hand-tooled leather backpacks. For those looking for eco-friendly options, the Briggs and Riley Delve Backpacks are classy “digital burritos” in a PVC-coated fabric that resists wear, abrasion, and moisture. The North Point Backpack by Milwaukee Boot Co. combines hand-stitched waxed canvas and leather accents. For something completely different, the Clark & Mayfield Corbett Cork 15 Backpack has all the features you expect in durable, light, and water-resistant natural cork. The Mancini BizTech Backpack maintains the classy lines and features of the Buffalo Collection in a high-performance 1680-denier ballistic nylon shell. The Briggs & Riley Cargo Backpack, available in medium and large, does double duty as traveling office and overnight getaway pack. The Pacsafe VentureSafe Travel Pack, available in 45L and 55L versions, combines the ease and comfort of a well-designed backpack with the functionality of a traditional suitcase and the incredible Pacsafe security features. ALEON offers a backpack version of their “secret agent man” inspired aluminum case, melding hands-free convenience, integral security features, and a traditional zippered suitcase.

Briggs & Riley Delve Collection
Photo courtesy of Briggs & Riley

The new Delve Collection from Briggs & Riley features high-performance fabrics, smart details, and a minimalist silhouette that exudes a cool and classy vibe. These backpacks are available in three unique options: the Medium Backpack, the Large Roll-top Backpack, and the Large Fold-over Backpack. The padded ergonomic straps and cushioned air mesh back panel make these attractive bags extra comfortable. Each bag is loaded with well-conceived pockets and organizer slots for laptops, tablets, and other essentials, including two RFID blocking pockets to keep personal data safe from digital pickpockets. The PVC-coated body fabric protects the bag, and contents, from moisture, abrasion, and wear. The self-repairing YKK zippers feature ergonomic pulls that can be locked together for additional security. These sleek urban backpacks are the perfect work-from-anywhere packs. MSRP: Medium Backpack $249; Large Roll-top Backpack $279; Large Fold-Over Backpack $279

Contact info: Julie Hoffman, jhoffman@briggs-riley.com

ALEON Aluminum Backpack
Photo courtesy of ALEON

There is nothing quite as posh as arriving at the airport with a secret agent style aluminum case. ALEON has made their ubiquitous case even more desirable with the addition of backpack straps. The Aluminum Backpack provides both the security of a regular ALEON case and the hands-free ease of a backpack. Available in two sizes, 16” and 17”, both are fitted with a built-in padded laptop sleeve, a wall organization panel for writing implements and small digital devices, a large zippered section for small essentials, and an over-the-handle strap. The larger pack includes a packing cube that keeps clothes neatly organized. MSRP: $269 (16″); $285 (17″)

Contact info: Carol Elms, carol@aleoncase.com

Korchmar Lewis Backpack
Photo courtesy of Korchmar

Classic Elegance accurately describes the Lewis Backpack from Korchmar. Whether jetting off on a long weekend getaway or meeting an important client, this roomy pack has separate zippered laptop compartment, the main compartment is roomy enough for a change of clothes and an interior organizer panel so small essentials are easy to access. The front pocket is spacious and secured with two magnetic snaps. Nothing screams POSH quite like a hand-tooled, full grain American leather backpack. MSRP: $485

Contact info: D. Michael Korchmar, dmkorchmar@korchmar.com

Mancini Backpack with RFID Secure Pocket for 15.6” laptop
Photo courtesy of Mancini Leather Goods

Posh personified – the Mancini Buffalo Collection Backpack is a perfect blend of contemporary styling and classic buffalo leather. This pack is loaded with carefully thought-out pockets and organizers, including a padded and zippered laptop compartment, a large main compartment, two front pockets with magnetic snaps, one of which includes an RFID blocking security system. This backpack perfectly blends function with fashion. MSRP: $354.99 CAD

Contact info: Perry Kraus, perry@mancinileather.com

Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45 ECONYL® Anti-Theft Carry-On Travel Pack
Photo courtesy of Pacsafe

The Pacsafe VentureSafe Travel Pack combines all the features of a great piece of luggage with the latest anti-theft technology. The pack includes lockable, puncture-resistant zippers and cut-resistant materials. Also included is a stainless-steel anchor cable that will lock the bag to a fixed object. This pack is available in two sizes: the carry-on sized EXP45 and the larger EXP55 for longer adventures. Both sizes boast an internal frame and easily adjustable shoulder straps, hip belt (EXP55 only), and sternum strap, which evenly distribute the weight of the pack while leaving one’s hands free. These packs are ideal for an intrepid adventurer. MSRP: $199.95 (EXP45); $279.95 (EXP55)

Contact info: Stephen Kay, skay@pacsafe.com

Milwaukee Boot Co. Northpoint Backpack
Photo courtesy of Milwaukee Boot Co.

For those looking for an alternative to leather, the Milwaukee Boot Company’s North Point Backpack is handcrafted from 16-oz premium waxed canvas with leather trim and antique brass buckles. There is a secure interior sleeve for laptops and notebooks and critical pockets to keep small necessities organized. The two side pockets are perfect for stashing a water bottle or other essentials within easy reach. This cool, old school pack is a well-organized fashion statement for those who want to add a bit of flare to their life. MSRP: $139

Contact info: Mark Kohlenberg, mkohlenberg@wdmfootwear.com

Clark & Mayfield Corbett Cork Backpack
Photo courtesy of Clark & Mayfield

For those looking for an eco-friendly alternative to leather, the Clark & Mayfield Corbett Cork 15 Backpack is just the ticket. Cork is durable, light, naturally water-resistant, and beautiful. This pack, while simple, has all the essential features. The built in laptop sleeve protects laptops up to 15.6”. The main compartment is spacious. The zippered front pocket has a handy organizer for phones, chargers, pens, keys, and other essential items. Best of all, this beautiful bag comes in four appealing color ways. MSRP: $89

Briggs & Riley @work Large Cargo Backpack
Photo courtesy of Briggs & Riley

Briggs & Riley has created the Medium Cargo and Large Cargo Backpacks with a place for everything. The full-zip gusseted back pocket opens up to reveal a padded laptop sleeve with additional space for books or notebooks. The roomy main compartment is also gusseted so items don’t fall out when the bag is open. The two front pockets contain organizers to keep keys, wallets, passports, pens, cables, and phones orderly and easily accessible. The two side pockets are great for keeping water bottles, sunglasses, umbrellas, and other items close at hand. Made of ballistic nylon, the outer fabric resists moisture, dirt, abrasion, and wear. The adjustable straps are fashioned from comfortable padded neoprene and the padded, aerated mesh back panel allows air to circulate keeping the wearer cool and comfortable. MSRP: $329 (Medium); $349 (Large)

Contact info: Julie Hoffman, jhoffman@briggs-riley.com

Mancini Biztech Backpack for Laptop and Tablet
Photo courtesy of MANCINI Leather Goods

For those who love the classy lines and functional features of Mancini’s Buffalo Collection Backpack, but are looking for an eco-friendly alternative, the BizTech Backpack for Laptop and Tablet is a great option. These beautiful packs have all the essential features – a dedicated padded compartment accommodating up to a 17” laptop, one front and two side pockets with organizers, and a large main storage compartment for peripherals and personal items. The straps and backrest are ultra-padded and super-comfortable. A dedicated media player pocket with headphone porthole allows one to keep up with a favorite podcast while on the go, and the RFID wave-blocking technology keeps personal data and credit cards secure. MSRP: $249.99 CAD

Contact info: Perry Kraus, perry@mancinileather.com

Girl power – No longer a simple shrink it and pink it proposition

These days, manufacturers are engineering women’s gear from the ground up. Women’s specific backpacks generally include ergonomically shaped straps, shorter torso lengths, narrower shoulder widths, and wide padded hip belts to improve weight distribution. Osprey has a wide array of bags for serious female adventurers. Considered by some to be the best serious backpacking packs in the business, their women’s specific Fairview Trek (also available in a wheeled version) are equally comfortable on the trails or dashing through airports. But the great outdoors isn’t the only place you will find fabulous women’s specific travel gear. The Tortuga Set Out Divide Backpack offers all the features of a great day pack in a carry-on size. When traveling to sketchy destinations or exploring dodgy inner-cities, the Pacsafe Citysafe CX Backpack blends style with enhanced security details such as cut-resistant materials and RFID blocking pockets. Even high-fashion handbags have embraced the backpack-style. They run the gamut from the simple yet elegant Hidesign Leah Backpack made of buttery leather with a drawstring and flap closure to the MinkeeBlue Mariah Backpack, loaded with features including storage for a change of shoes or a matching lunchbox. These packs all combine function with fashion.

MinkeeBlue Miriah Backpack
Photo courtesy of MinkeeBlue

The MinkeeBlue Mariah Backpack is designed with a woman’s needs and desires in mind. More than just a fashion statement, this bag has thought of everything. The main body consists of an upper and lower compartment, separated by a zipper. The upper compartment includes organizational pockets and a padded 15” laptop sleeve. A zippered compartment, accessible from the back of the bag, is large enough for workout shoes or the matching lunchbox (sold separately). The pop-out water bottle pocket disappears completely when not in use. The bag is made of vegan leather with blue twill lining and gold-plated hardware, has protective feet, padded shoulder straps, and a handy suitcase sleeve. Comfort meets functionality in this beautiful package. MSRP: $159

Contact info: Sherrill Mosee, sherrill@minkeeblue.com

Hidesign Leah Backpack
Photo courtesy of Hidesign

Sometimes, fashion is its own reward. The beautiful yet simple Leah Backpack from Hidesign is made of buttery leather and has a drawstring closure with a flap to keep items within secure. The pack is fully lined and contains a main compartment with a large zippered pocket. Each bag is handcrafted with an eye on sustainability. MSRP: $168

Contact info: Vikas Kapur, vikas@hidesignamerica.com

Tortuga Setout Divide Backpack: Women’s
Photo courtesy of Tortuga

Men and women are not built the same. Fortunately, Tortuga took those differences into account when creating the Women’s Set Out Divide Backpack. This women’s specific carry-on is expandable, from 26 liters to 34 liters, making it perfect for a short weekend adventure or an extended workcation on a far-flung beach. Both the padded straps and waist belt are created for narrower shoulders and shorter torsos and are ergonomically designed with comfort in mind. The hideaway shoulder straps can be stowed out of sight and the hip belt removed to create a regular suitcase. The main body of the suitcase portion opens fully and contains a mesh divider to separate clean clothes from dirty. The zippered and padded laptop sleeve sits next to the body and a front pocket has a well-conceived organizational panel. MSRP: $179

Contact info: Fred Perrotta, fred@tortugabackpacks.com

Pacsafe Citysafe CX Anti-Theft Backpack
Photo courtesy of Pacsafe

Sometimes our travels take us to sketchy destinations. The ultra-chic, Citysafe CX Backpack from Pacsafe was created with this in mind. Their packs feature smart zipper security and cut-resistant straps and body materials. In addition, they have included a RFID blocking pocket, which protects credit cards and passports from devious scams. The padded sleeve accommodates a 16” laptop and the internal pockets keep essentials neatly organized. Pacsafe is dedicated to creating sustainable products from recycled ECONYL regenerated nylon fabric so these backpacks protect both valuables and the environment. MSRP: $139.95

Contact: Stephen Kay, skay@pacsafe.com

Fairview Wheeled Travel Pack
Photo courtesy of Osprey

Osprey’s Fairview Wheeled Travel Pack offers many of the same great features as their non-wheeled counterparts. They have beefed up the chassis, added oversized 90mm wheels, a retractable handle, and a clever system that neatly stows the padded shoulder straps and hip belt so the pack can be easily checked. Interior and exterior cinch straps keep everything neatly packed in place. The large front panel unzips fully making packing and unpacking a breeze. Both versions are available in a 36L carry-on version and spacious 65L version. MSRP: $240 (30L); $260 (66L)

Man, woman, child, elite athlete, couch potato, white, blue, pink collar worker, CEO, bike messenger, first class traveler or intrepid outdoor adventurer – rest assured, there is a backpack that will perfectly accommodate every mood and activity.

The Humble Backpack
Photo credit: Kerry Pittenger

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