Buyer’s Guide – Casual Backpacks

by , November 28, 2012

Most of our Buyer’s Guides focus on finding the product sweet spot between rational and emotional appeal. For this Casual Backpacks guide, we get to break out and play mostly on the emotional side.

After hauling all sorts of work and tech through the week, a casual backpack is something you can grab for a day off in the city. It might take a sweater, refreshments, a book and some headphones. This is simple carry that leaves lots of room to hit your emotional g-spot.

A clean silhouette speaks of a casual weekend, some fabric interest should avoid obvious synthetics, and the whole thing should be quick and unfussy to shove random things into (one big main section usually works a treat). Oh, and if there’s an ongoing place for heritage in carry, this is it.

So on with our list of casual backpacks…


[R] Topo Daypack

Yep, this is classic new age heritage, right down to the double pig snouts and woven label. But unlike a massive unnamed new/old brand, the Topo is built really well with great materials and care. It gives you a clean and simple pack that you can throw around and grow old with.

Interested? Buy it now.

[R] Gregory Kletter Day

The Kletter has one of the most attractive silhouettes we’ve ever seen. The fabric is interesting, the hardware has personality, and the color options are nailed. This is heritage but with reinvention. There is annoyingly little in the way of organising, but you can pack your own module or two. This thing is about simple unisex carry in a beautiful form.

Interested? Buy it now.

Fjällräven Kånken

Ahhh, the classics. Like a VW Beetle, Ferris Bueller, or those white IKEA high chairs you see in every cafe around the world, the Kånken has grown up with more people than Elmo. It’s blocky, it has lots of handles, and the straps are pretty basic. But there’s something so primal about the Kånken that you fall in love. Oh, and the Mini is pretty rad for your mini kid too.

Interested? Buy it now.

Incase x BEAMS

Incase seems to have had a little burst of creativity recently, and their collaboration with Japanese retailer royalty is a worthy mention. We need to mention that we haven’t yet had a chance to play with this bag, but it looks so fine that we wanted to squeeze it into our list regardless.

Interested? Buy it now.

[R] Blk Pine Workshop

Solid. Unfussy. Nailed proportions. Understated cool.

Interested? Buy it now.

Buck Products

I’ve worked in a famous design studio where the first thing they taught you was to draw in the studio style. It was through this restrained and minimal style that you would train your brain to reduce and simplify at every step. It feels like Buck came from that same sketch style, as their products shine with a fresh naivety that makes you smile. Hmmm, maybe I need to get out more…

Interested? Buy it now.

Gravis Battery

Ahhh yes, another classic Gravis that will slowly disappear into Asia as the brand flees the US and Europe. There are lots of colorways, in lots of interesting fabrics, often on sale. Grab one while you can, as they’re a great basic that will serve you well.

Interested? Buy it now.

Kletterwerks Kletter Day Pack

The second pack in this list that we haven’t actually played with; we’re setting some kind of record here. But then Dana Gleason and his son are behind it, so we figure it’s about the safest bet you could make. The godfather of ‘acutely important backpacks’ brings back some classics from the vault, with a tweak or two for modern conveniences. What’s not to love…?

Interested? Buy it now.

  • Solomon

    Add this to the list. North face shuttle series day pack which is the sold out backpack in Japanese apple store bite20.

  • The Bag Collector

    Also that diagonal zip makes the Topo Pack looks like a GoRuck for the civilian crowd.

  • superpants

    the Gregory Kletter Day pack links to rakuten, has anyone ordered from them before? i’m in the states and looking at a different bag there but since this article link to the site i just thought i’d ask. There’s a ton of cool bags that seem to be only for the japanese market.


    • David

      Rakuten is a super legitimate Japanese shopping site (think Amazon). That also explains why they carry Japanese products.

  • Pingback: recent press on the web | Buck Products

  • john

    I just bought the Kletter Day and I’m digging it so far.

    If anyone has any suggestions as to what the center-left buckle on the back is for, I’m all ears. I was thinking you could use it to secure a bedroll vertically but it seems a tad small for that.

    • ando

      Securing that ice axe you probably use every other day :)

      Check the window shot in our Dana post to see how they attach:

      I guess it’s a head nod back to when simple packs like this were actually taken into the backcountry.

      • john

        OH MAN I’ve been looking for a place to stow my ice pick FOR YEARS!

        Ok sarcasm over – thanks! That’s the first picture I’ve seen of that strap in use!!

  • SR

    Any idea if the Kletter Day pack can carry a 15in Macbook Pro ?

  • Sabih Ahmed

    Anyone with some idea on the Kelty Captain for this list? Like/Dislike?

  • Taylor Welden


  • The Bag Collector

    Either Taylor had a stroke while he wrote this, or his account got hacked/spammers are clever.

    Hope it’s the latter, mate.

  • Taylor Welden

    Haha, thanks for looking out man. It was in response to some total nonsense spam post that was above mine yesterday (since removed). Their post made even less sense than mine. I nearly had an aneurism trying to come up with something even half as nuts.

  • The Bag Collector

    That’ll teach me to ignore the third option!

    One thing I never understood about spam is when they present random crap – I understand they’re trying to break through the spam filters, but… then what? Is all the nonsense a probe to see if they can get through/register an account, and THEN they start posting links about ROHLEXES and V1agr4?

    Or do they just LIKE posting garbage?


  • ando

    Random rainbows win when doubled. Follow my link to greatness :)

    (couldn’t resist)

  • Taylor Welden

    You got me!

    I love lmgtfy, one of my favs.

  • The Bag Collector

    As a frequent LMGTFY user, you never think it will happen to you.

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