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Carry Awards

Best Active Backpack Finalists – Carry Awards

by , December 18, 2012

The term ‘active’ covers a broad range of backpacks, and that’s fine by us. These are backpacks that hike trails or huck cliffs. They can be bike biased backpacks for pounding pedals, or military issue rucks for grinding it out in desert storms. To keep it manageable we’ve shied away from big hiking backpacks, instead focusing on more versatile day and overnight size packs.

In our nominees you’ll see a diverse bunch. Each of them has a target activity that they shine in, but each is then also versatile enough that you can use it for travel or relaxing. Get in a vote for your favorite!

Arc’teryx Quintic 28

Ahhh, the Quintic. Odd name, but incredible silhouette, fresh feature layout, and a design that feels truly and thoughtfully 3D (rather than the typical extruded 2D form). This is a remarkable pack from a pioneer brand in carry.

Boreas Bolinas

When Boreas launched, our whole Carryology team started frothing. These guys innovate in countless ways, have deep insights about better ways to carry, and somehow manage to get lots of that into the Bolinas’ minimal package. A very accomplished backpack.

Topo Klettersack

The Topo Klettersack is an odd inclusion amongst this list of sport jocks, but it is a refreshingly simple and relaxed backpack, that works a treat for weekend play or short excursions. We love seeing it in here.

Mystery Ranch 3 Day Assault

It’s occasionally embarrassing how much we respect Dana Gleason and the companies he has built, but bags like the Mystery Ranch 3 Day Assault help justify our obsession. While this pack is not new, the optional Spadelock laptop accessory has opened it up to more urban use. The 3 Zip opening is awesomely practical, from hauling SLR’s to packing for a trip away, and the whole bag oozes versatile carry despite its military origins.


Triple Aught Design FAST Pack Litespeed

The Triple Aught Design FAST Pack Litespeed is another military/tactical pack, but one that has had great success making the jump beyond special forces to an EDC audience. It’s narrow profile gives great freedom of movement, and it’s bombproof construction lets many trust their lives to it (or just their lunch and sweater).

Klättermusen Ratatosk 2.0

Klättermusen doesn’t have the broad global reach of many other brands here, but their mountaineering inspired carry goods have a cult following in Europe and Japan, where the Swedish brand mix eco cred with a unique aesthetic. The Ratatosk 2.0 is one of their simplest bags, but also one of their most practical.

Osprey Stratos 24

Osprey had several packs nominated, but it was the Stratos 24 that came out ahead. It ticks every box for a ventilated outdoor pack, with a dynamic form, full feature set and appealing silhouette.

Voting has closed and winners have been selected. Check out the winners here. 

  • Alex

    I’d love to vote for the MR 3DAP, but it looks like that’s not an option on the survey. Let’s be honest, that should be the ONLY option here!

    • Leather

      Well, that was quite embarrassing… Thanks for the call out Alex, much appreciated.
      You can now vote for the MR 3DAP.


      • Alex


  • Rawmin

    Hmm.. some really nice packs here. I like that you guys are engaging the community but honestly it’s a bit hard to judge when you haven’t used all (or any) of these packs. That is unless you base it purely on aesthetics. Also, comparing a backcountry ski pack to a day hike pack is a bit like comparing apples to oranges. I’m not trying to be cynical. I’m a fan of Carryology and just sharing my opinion for the benefit of this site. That said, I voted for the Boreas based on fresh aesthetics (I haven’t used any of these packs). Cheers.

    • http://www.carryology.com/ ando

      Agree with the vibe Rawmin, which is why we have a panel of industry crew to also chime in. It means it’s a combined result from the broad carry community vote, as well as specialists who spend their days playing with this stuff.
      It’s our first year of trying for this, and we’re enjoying refining the process as we go 🙂

  • http://www.twoeightnine.com Matt

    Did you just randomly pick some bags? The Osprey is bad bag. I used it this summer before returning it first chance I had. Fit and comfort wise it’s not bad but an active bag needs to perform. Though the suspension is even too tough and stiff on a long hike.

    The zippers are a tough pull because of their garages. If you’re above the bag and trying to open it, like when you’re hiking and set it on the ground, the material presses presses against the zipper.

    The top pocket is nearly useless, it’s just a mesh sack that makes things tough to find.

    Even worse, the pocket makes using a hydration bladder a huge pain in the ass. It’s in the way. If you have anything in the pocket you have to take it out to get the bladder and behind the pocket.

    The clip for the bladder is practically hidden in the bag. It sits in an awkward place above the frame in a place where the fabric is tight. Getting to it is tough and then it’s way too small to easily clip.

    The pockets on the side are a little suspect too. Not enough give for some waterbottles and even with the ones I could fit I was worried that they were putting too much stress on the material.

    The raincover’s location/size isn’t the best either. It takes up that entire space under the grey. You think you have a lot more room in the bag than you really do.

    I’ve owned 4 or 5 Osprey packs and this one was the first where I said “no way.”

    • http://www.carryology.com/ ando

      Incredible input Matt.

      The bags up here are there through a combination of reader votes and panel selections. But it also demonstrates how different needs want different solutions. While a few niggles presented using it (as they do with every bag), it looks like your use patterns really didn’t agree with it.

      We look forward to seeing how others vote.

  • IanK

    If one Osprey bag had to make the list, it really should have been the Raptor 18 or 14. I prefer the 14 litre, but I don’t overpack. The front external pocket is the perfect size for a U-Lock, the helmet holding mechanism is genius, and……well…..it’s just a well-designed bag!

  • Al

    My EDC bag is the 3DAP. Incredible bag that I find new reasons to love every day. However it may be a bit large for the “Active” catagory. I think the Litespeed (which I also own) is likely the better choice in the catagory. When MR releases the Litespeed sized version of the 3DAP (the ASAP), I think they’ll OWN this catagory!

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