Carryology delivered. Your inbox. every two weeks.
Only the best stuff (and giveaways!), we promise.


Colfax Design Works T.O.A.D. 13L Dry Lumbar Fast Pack


Colfax Design Works T.O.A.D. 13L Dry Lumbar Fast Pack Review

by , September 27, 2023
Be the first to review

It has been interesting to see the progression of Colfax Design Works over the past few years, a soft goods design studio based in California, with a history of producing American-made gear that is tough as nails and built for exploring. If you remember them, the Recon Pack and its smaller follow-up the SDP_01 were pretty amazing packs – designed for motorcycle commutes and built with black X-Pac and their custom MOLLE-style A.M.C.S. (Advance Modular Cargo System) for attaching gear and pouches.

I’m sad to say that a lot of their old work has disappeared both from their site as well as their Instagram. A brand pivot in early 2021 seems to have pointed them in a new direction, at which point they cleaned the slate and started fresh. 

It isn’t just their Instagram that has changed. Their new gear is still made in the USA and still built to last, but with a different aesthetic and I’d say a different ethos as well. You no longer see the large expanse of top-stitched webbing grids on their new bags. Things have been simplified and streamlined. Some might see it as a step back, but I think that these newer bags, with their iconic silhouettes and the removal of those fussy elements, look tougher than ever. It is a design philosophy by ultralight brands, pairing down to the essential elements that make a pack, with the exception that CDW prioritizes durability and toughness ‘to suit the harshest conditions’.

Colfax Design Works T.O.A.D. 13L Dry Lumbar Fast Pack

Their original TOAD duffel was a marvel. Simple in idea, but technical in construction. It was a beautiful piece of kit that I always wanted but never got my hands on, so when it came up, I jumped at the chance to review their T.O.A.D. 13L Dry Lumbar Fast Pack. 

Colfax Design Works T.O.A.D. 13L Dry Lumbar Fast Pack


  • Name: T.O.A.D. 13L Dry Lumbar Fast Pack
  • Brand: Colfax Design Works
  • Format: Lumbar Pack
  • Measurement: 13" x 12" x 5" in | 33 x 30.5 x 13 cm
  • Capacity: 13 liters
  • Weight: 27.2 oz | 1.7 lbs | 0.77 kg
  • Zippers: YKK AQUASEAL
  • Material: 500D Cordura© with waterproof coating, mil-spec webbing, YKK AQUASEAL© zipper, ITW mil-spec hardware
  • PriceUS$379


Who It Suits

This bag is for people pushing the boundaries. Let’s be honest, there are cheaper ways to keep your things dry when you go out for a hike. But the rugged nature of the bag means that you can focus more on the adventure and worry less about your gear. If you’re someone who explores extreme environments or has life-saving gear that needs to be kept dry and protected, this is the right bag. Also, if you just want a straightforward design that is as rugged and weather-resistant as possible or you’re keen to support American-made gear.

Who It Doesn’t

Those who are looking for a day hike bag and are on a tighter budget should probably look elsewhere. This bag isn’t cheap, and with a few sil-nylon dry bags, you can keep your gear just as dry. The box-of-a-bag stands out visually as well as financially. While the bag is surprisingly comfortable for its boxy shape, it is going to stand out and grab people’s attention, so if you’re trying to go incognito, again, it may not be the one for you.

Colfax Design Works T.O.A.D. 13L Dry Lumbar Fast Pack



My first thought when I saw this bag was of firefighters. The kind that get air dropped in near forest fires and have those low-slung lumbar packs that allow them to move their upper bodies more freely. I mean this in a good way. It immediately brings to mind thoughts of toughness and hard work. 

It is an interesting bag visually. They’ve pulled together and combined very different elements – you’ve got this literal box of heavy-duty fabrics that they’ve welded up. It has visual weight and presence. Then nearly everything else is webbing. Unlike heavier straps with textile and foam all stitched together, the webbing shoulder straps and waist belt fold and bend and flow. That contrast in materials and in movement is part of what makes this bag so striking.

Colfax Design Works T.O.A.D. 13L Dry Lumbar Fast Pack


There are a few different ways you can make a bag waterproof – rain flaps/covers that redirect water or taping seams after they’ve been stitched, and then there is welding. Radio frequency welding uses high-frequency radio waves to heat plastics and when they begin to melt, the two surfaces or materials blend together. For this bag, the seams, lash points, and anchor points have been attached or sealed by welding layers of the 500 denier Cordura body textile together. 

An interesting part of this bag is that they’ve lined part of the bag. They’ve welded the main seams but still left enough seam allowance that you can also attach a lining. It is a pretty clever bit of bag-making. It gives you the stitch-less exterior for waterproofness, while letting you add a bit more organization inside the bag. 

Colfax Design Works T.O.A.D. 13L Dry Lumbar Fast Pack

Materials & Hardware

The bag is built from a 500D Cordura with a heavy waterproof coating applied to it. The coating gives the fabric a lot more weight and body than you would usually see in 500D Cordura.

Colfax Design Works T.O.A.D. 13L Dry Lumbar Fast Pack

The one access point on this bag uses a YKK AQUASEAL zipper. This should not be confused with YKK AquaGuard, which is water-resistant but not waterproof. The AQUASEAL on the other hand is totally waterproof and can be completely submerged in water. It, like the other seams on the bag, is welded into place with RF tech. And the end result is a bag that can go places other bags simply can’t. We’ll ‘dive’ more into that later.

Colfax Design Works T.O.A.D. 13L Dry Lumbar Fast Pack


The simple shape of the bag, with its one access point, makes it seem like the feature list will be small, but they’ve managed to put a lot of useful bits into this thing. There are lash points on the base, front, and sides. The back panel doubles as a luggage pass-through. There are elastic bottle pockets on the interior. The interior back panel has a slip pocket for a small laptop or large tablet, and the front of that sleeve is covered in Velcro-style ‘loop’, so you can attach hook-and-loop pouches and organizers as needed.

You’ve got a carry handle on the back, a grab handle on the front, and multiple anchor points for the adjustable/removable strap setups. The bag comes with multiple strap options that’ll let you set the bag up for a few different modes of carry: lumbar pack (backpack), waist bag, and crossbody/shoulder carry.

Colfax Design Works T.O.A.D. 13L Dry Lumbar Fast Pack


Access & Space

It doesn’t get much more straightforward than this. You’ve got your one zipper into the bag. It runs along the top and nearly halfway down the sides. The main textile is soft enough that you can easily spread the opening when the bag is unzipped and easily access your gear. 

Colfax Design Works T.O.A.D. 13L Dry Lumbar Fast Pack

Pockets & Organization

Again, you get more than you’d expect from a first glance. There are multiple lash points on the exterior for either securing the bag down or attaching other things to it. On the interior, they’ve added a sleeve on the back wall for flat items, which will fit a small laptop, a tablet, or a notebook and maps. 

You can attach hook-and-loop pouches and organizers to the back wall for keeping smaller items from sloshing around the bottom. I’ve already got most of my gear split up into pouches, so when using the bag, I could just toss those in, and I’d already have things organized.

Colfax Design Works T.O.A.D. 13L Dry Lumbar Fast Pack

Comfort / Fit

Fit and comfort for the pack depends on how you pack it and how you carry it. With very minimal padding and straps made just from webbing, how you set it up will make a big difference in comfort. 

The padding on the bag consists of a square panel of thin foam and spacer mesh. There are anchor points at the top with plastic tri-glides, where the shoulder straps can be attached. Behind the back panel are webbing loops where the bottom ends of the shoulder straps can hook in as well as the waist belt.

Colfax Design Works T.O.A.D. 13L Dry Lumbar Fast Pack

Colfax Design Works T.O.A.D. 13L Dry Lumbar Fast Pack

Lumbar pack – The shoulder straps are just 25mm (1-inch) webbing that attaches to the top and side of the back panel. The webbing does a suspenders-style crossover on the back. The good part about this setup is that you can adjust the strap lengths from both ends to get just the right fit. The bad part is that the 25mm isn’t going to carry much weight comfortably. The adjustable straps help keep the bag in place over the shoulders, but the waist belt is what really makes the difference. Also removable, the waist belt is made from 38mm (1.5-inch) webbing and doubles back so the weight is spread out over a larger area. Once the waist belt is clipped into place and tightened down, all that weight on the shoulders disappears.

Colfax Design Works T.O.A.D. 13L Dry Lumbar Fast Pack

Carrying the bag this way, you end up with a lot of webbing hanging around and a couple of times I had to stop and figure out which bits went where. Just something to keep in mind.

Colfax Design Works T.O.A.D. 13L Dry Lumbar Fast Pack

Waist bag – To be honest, the bag felt a bit too big to wear with just the hip belt and nothing over the shoulders. It was less an issue of weight, and more that it felt a bit awkward carrying something that large and boxy. While the waist belt held most of the weight, the shoulder straps kept the bag hanging more comfortably.

Crossbody – I carried the bag as a lumbar pack for trail hikes, exploring along the beach, and for the photoshoot. When carrying it around town, however, I swapped out the straps and wore it crossbody because I wanted a more casual look. 


Right off the bat, I’ll say – this bag is waterproof. Apart from the other testing I did for the different carry modes, I also put the welded seams and AQUASEAL zipper to the test by heading down to the ocean and jumping in. 

Colfax Design Works T.O.A.D. 13L Dry Lumbar Fast Pack

Colfax Design Works T.O.A.D. 13L Dry Lumbar Fast Pack

I covered some of my gear in a light-colored t-shirt that would easily show any signs of water. I fully submerged the bag a dozen different times and checked the contents at various points. Every time I opened the bag up, the contents were completely dry. Finally, I strapped on the bag over my wetsuit, jumped in the water, and had a swim around. Still dry. 

Colfax Design Works T.O.A.D. 13L Dry Lumbar Fast Pack

The Good

  • Completely waterproof
  • Multiple carry modes
  • Durable materials and construction
  • Made in the USA

The Not So Good

  • Expensive – $379 USD
  • Not much integrated organization
  • The straps can be difficult to manage.

Colfax Design Works T.O.A.D. 13L Dry Lumbar Fast Pack

Colfax Design Works T.O.A.D. 13L Dry Lumbar Fast Pack


This is a bag that stands out in a lot of ways – from its exceptional toughness and waterproofness, to its boxy, lumbar carry style and hefty price point. If you’re someone who loves having lots of little features and frills, and compartments to put things in, this isn’t going to be the right bag. But if you’re a purist at heart, someone who wants to eliminate the unnecessary and work with tough, straightforward gear, Colfax’s lumbar pack might be a good fit. You can check out the T.O.A.D. Dry Lumbar Fast Pack and other new Colfax gear at colfaxdesignworks.com.

Colfax Design Works T.O.A.D. 13L Dry Lumbar Fast Pack

This article was written by Aaron Puglisi, professional designer and maker behind Denier Lab, an experimental carry design space on Instagram.

The Breakdown

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Geek (Performance)

Space & Access

Style (Design)

Look & Feel
Build, Materials & Hardware

Stoke (Experience)

Warranty & Support
Brand experience
X Factor

Reader's Review

Be the first to review

All Reviews


Carryology delivered. Your inbox. every two weeks. Only the best stuff, we promise.