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Backpacks

Boreas Tsum Trek 55 Backpack :: Drive By Review

by , April 19, 2016

Another motorbike roars past us onto the parched red dirt of the landing strip. The guards angrily shake their AK-47’s in protest. Profanities are exchanged in Bambara. This landing strip is the best road for hundreds of kilometers so who can blame them for wanting to open their throttles a bit more than the usual Malian roads allow for? Minutes later a plane touches down. Amidst the whir of the engine I grab my travel companion, the Boreas Tsum Trek 55, give a deft nod to the guards, and jump aboard the plane bound for the bustle of Bamako.

Boreas Tsum Trek

It’s this margin between the bush and the bustle that the Tsum Trek has been designed for. Equally suited for a few days on your back trekking deep in the bush of Mali as it is being thrown into the back seat of a faded taxi for a few more days in the urban chaos of Bamako. A firm disciple of one-bag travel, I had the Tsum Trek loaded with a sleeping bag and stove for my first week in Mali. A week later the Tsum Trek produced from its depths a dusty oxford and laptop to see me to some more professional endeavours in Bamako. The Tsum Trek is Boreas’s latest offering for the modern-day adventure traveler who doesn’t quite know where their ramblings will take them.

Boreas Tsum Trek

Who It Suits

Adventure travelers without much of a plan. It’s too small for a full-out backcountry pack and too big for a jaunt around town but at 55L it hits the sweet spot for someone looking to move effortlessly between both. It’s got a stowable hipbelt, shoulder straps and duffel handle and can be discreetly covered with a rainfly, meaning it will work no matter where you find yourself. The features of the Tsum Trek feeds this adventure itch.

Boreas Tsum Trek

“It’s too small for a full-out backcountry pack and too big for a jaunt around town but at 55L it hits the sweet spot for someone looking to move effortlessly between both.”

Boreas Tsum Trek

Who It Doesn’t

Adventure travelers with a set itinerary. The Tsum Trek is a definite hybrid pack and we like it for that. But if your travels will have you hiking long distances there are much larger packs, with heavier-duty suspension systems and wider shoulder straps. Likewise if you need somewhere to stow a laptop or a pack that can see you to an impromptu meeting, there are smaller and more discreet packs for the urban traveler.

Boreas Tsum Trek

“…if you need somewhere to stow a laptop or a pack that can see you to an impromptu meeting, there are smaller and more discreet packs for the urban traveler.”

Boreas Tsum Trek

The Good

The elegance. The Tsum Trek is a very beautifully designed pack. Its inverted teardrop shape is pleasing to the eye. The way the pack carries thanks to the curved suspension panel and mechanics of the shoulder straps is delightful on the back. The way the internal pocketing catches your small things and “bouquets” upwards with your larger objects is brilliant for your sanity.

“The way the pack carries thanks to the curved suspension panel and mechanics of the shoulder straps is delightful on the back.”

The access. Aside from a top pocket and the usual Boreas hidden daisy chains, all access is within the single main pocket which is accessed with a global zipper. It’s a very workable area to pack with, particularly at the top. Internally there are two side sleeves and a center tie-down which are great for keeping a sleeping pad and a tent out of the way until you need them later in your travels. These internal tie-downs are covered with smaller zippered pockets which make a great place to store your passport and lots of cash when you are in ATM-less areas.

Boreas Tsum Trek

“Internally there are two side sleeves and a center tie-down which are great for keeping a sleeping pad and a tent out of the way until you need them later in your travels.”

Boreas Tsum Trek

The discreetness. The Tsum Trek has a way to shut itself in when it dons the included rainfly. The fly completely wraps around the front of the pack and onto the top and lower quarter of the back. It’s further secured with a buckle and loops to the shoulder straps, meaning it’s not going to gradually slide off. With the rainfly on there’s no exposed pockets available to inquisitive hands. And with the hipbelt and shoulder straps stowed it becomes a very basic and nondescript pack that can be quickly tossed anywhere.

Boreas Tsum Trek

“With the rainfly on there’s no exposed pockets available to inquisitive hands. And with the hipbelt and shoulder straps stowed it becomes a very basic and nondescript pack that can be quickly tossed anywhere.”

Boreas Tsum Trek

The Not So Good

Taken with the caveat that the Tsum Trek is a hybrid between a backcountry and urban pack, there’s not a whole lot to dislike about it. The two things we disliked stem from the reverse teardrop shape of the pack. First the shoulder straps are quite narrow and the foam is not quite thick enough to ensure a comfortable carry with a fully loaded pack. Considering that the upper third of the Tsum Trek bulges out significantly the pack can seem to teeter at times, suspended only from those narrower shoulder straps. Second, with the reverse teardrop shape you absolutely need to pack your heaviest items at the bottom of the pack or you might actually fall backwards.

Boreas Tsum Trek

“…the shoulder straps are quite narrow and the foam is not quite thick enough to ensure a comfortable carry with a fully loaded pack.”

Boreas Tsum Trek

Others to Consider

The Tsum Trek is the latest in a long and impressive line of adventure travel packs from Boreas. In particular check out the Lost Coast or Muir Woods.

For a more urban feel the GORUCK GR2 is the undisputed champion.

But for a sleeker, less military feel, Alchemy Equipment’s Carry On is a fantastic option.

Boreas Tsum Trek

“Considering that the upper third of the Tsum Trek bulges out significantly the pack can seem to teeter at times, suspended only from those narrower shoulder straps.”

Boreas Tsum Trek

Verdict

If you haven’t a clue where your travels will take you but there’s a good chance they will involve some combination of a winding dirt trail and getting hopelessly lost in the streets of a foreign city, Boreas’s Tsum Trek is for you. It’s a hybrid pack in the truest sense of the word with an extremely elegant design and layout that will easily carry whatever you think you’ll need for your next adventure, no matter how vague.

Boreas Tsum Trek

The Breakdown

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Geek (Performance)

Space & Access
7
Organization
7
Comfort
5

Style (Design)

Look & Feel
6
Build, Materials & Hardware
7
Features
6

Stoke (Experience)

Warranty & Support
9
Brand experience
9
Value
7
X Factor
6

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