- Buyer's Guide
Best Active Backpack Finalists :: Third Annual Carry Awards
We thought we’d kick off the Third Annual Carry Awards with a bang! Best Active Backpack, a regular fan fav, seems to always bring out the best in brands, with performance and innovation the focal point.
And just to clarify for the masses: when we say the word ‘active’ we’re not generally talking about big, lumbering hiking backpacks that you can shove your entire life into. We’re talking about adaptable bits of kit that give you freedom to move, accelerate and push through space. Whether it be military issue rucks, slimline outdoor or bike packs, these all should haul diverse loads in comfortable ways.
In our nominees you’ll see a eclectic bunch. Each of them has a target activity that they excel in, but each is also versatile enough that you can use it for travel or just for day-to-day activities. This is a hard one…but have fun and go for it!
Your voting form is latched to the bottom of this post. You have two votes to use as you will…
Allocate your 1st choice with 2 points
And your 2nd choice just with the 1 point.
Sometimes there’s an itch that takes awhile to scratch, which was apparently the story with the AG™ (Anti-Gravity) suspension system for Mike Pfotenhauer, the still active founder of Osprey. The AG wraps and warps and bends around you like a Playdo sculptured mesh, with awesome levels of comfort, breathability and movement. This is a substantial innovation, well deserving on any kudos fired into its atmosphere.
This cult classic has been updated in a slew ways – the team at TAD worked closely with their customers, penciling down the qualms and queries over the past 4 years of use and abuse, and came out with one seriously wicked update – resulting in an even more versatile and dialled pack. We got our paws on one of the first if you need a reminder 😉 – it’s totally rad.
While Boreas was founded with a very outdoor vibe, the brand is just starting to creep into more urban aesthetics. The Kezar mixes a great geometric silhouette with the awesome Bootlegger system, giving you a well resolved suspension for a very versatile pack. This is a legit all-rounder with styling to boot – it’ll look equally sharp gunning down stretches of tarmac atop your vintage Triumph or traipsing up mountain passes for a weekend spent among the sticks.
You have to try the Swingarm shoulder straps to understand how good they are, but for now, take our word that the slight movement you get as your pack straps adjust to a tilt is awesome. The pack then combines beautiful welding, forming and proportions for a versatile outdoor play piece. This is BD at its best.
Every time we’ve spotted this pack slung across traveling Japanese, it’s turned our heads. The details are nailed, the proportions are interesting, and the division of pocketing and sections works well. We love seeing Porter play with more youthful shapes, and it’s something we’d love to see more of in ’15.
Somewhere between Steampunk and Star Wars lives the modular Ember backpack. Utilising Fidlock magnetic clips and a stack of modular pocketing, you can customise and tweak this pack in countless ways. And as far as 2014 was concerned, this was the one pack that thrust shockwaves through the community, sparking imaginations of Carryologists everywhere – there’s certainly an X-factor here, and we dig it.
Ridiculously beautiful. All performance, no frills. Silly expensive. And incredibly hard to get your sweaty little claws on (we’re telling you, this thing is a unicorn!). Pretty much a winning formula for an instant cult classic. Well played, Arc’teryx [insert over zealous applause here].
The Nike SFS Responder was perhaps a little too inspired by Mystery Ranch’s 3Zip format. But when NikeLab has taken that pack, and pushed it much further, they’ve created something really interesting. You can lay this pack wide open, access any part of it, and configure in multiple ways. It’s kinda rad.
We’ve fallen in love with this innovative Kiwi brand, and the Liquid Agility brings their awesome load carrying into a versatile smaller capacity setup. If you need to carry heavy loads over irregular terrain, this is probably your single best way to do it.
ILE have been making neat bike and camera packs out of SF for several years now. The Apex is a simple roll-top – think the less in more mantra – made for less demanding excursions, but it wins you over with charisma and purpose.
This is an update and a darn good one. If you want an urban pack that does it all, this should be on your list. Sleek styling, big capacity, lots of features, ventillation and improved visibility are all there in spades – Timbuk2 called this their Especial, for a reason.
*Voting closes 22nd Feb.