- Buyer's Guide
In the South Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic, a former firefighter by the name of Martin Kubes sews up some of the cleanest work you’ll ever see in the world of EDC softgoods. Martin’s social feeds are a pleasure to scroll through every day, with work-in-progress bags and accessories, each one tailored to its future owner’s needs. Most of our readers have probably seen his work in this fashion, but many fewer have had the pleasure of experiencing the bags themselves. Martin is a one-man shop, and it’s so very clear that he takes great pride in his craft, so wait times for backpacks often float around 20 weeks or more.
However, if you’re lucky enough to get in line, and patient enough to wait, you’ll have a REHOSE work of art that you can call your own. When Martin gave me that opportunity, we both decided on his classic FLASH Flip and the newer BUDDY 22. Over the past few months I’ve been using these for daily outings, hikes, and lengthy trips. They’ve easily become some of my most used packs this year, so let me tell you why.
Medium to large EDC and travel backpack with intuitive access points and sharp design elements
In the timeline of REHOSE, the FLASH Flip could be considered one of the OGs; an iteration of the even older FLASH model. This most recent FLASH Flip brings about some updates to the previous design, such as ultra-clean stretch bottle pockets and a padded boot. This is the bag to strive for if you often catch yourself in a bit of rain or if you often need to adjust the amount of gear you’re carrying throughout the day, thanks to the adjustable flap.
The FLASH Flip is part roll-top, part top-loader, and part panel-loader. In practice, this means you have three ways for loading and accessing. The most obvious is annotated by the hefty AustriAlpin Cobra buckle; the front flap. Unclasping the buckle gives you top-load access to the entire volume of the bag at a listed 25L. I found the capacity was probably closer to other common 28L bags. The handle at the mouth of the flap gives an easy grab point to hold the bag while you stuff your gear in, but it also allows you to rip down the front panel, similar to the Mystery Ranch Spartan, giving you full-frontal access to the compartment. This is the way to go while packing your bag up, but you may want to avoid it while out and about so your gear isn’t at risk of tumbling out. For me, the easiest way to quickly access my gear was to keep the panel unzipped just until the fold in the flap. Your gear stays just as secure but it allows simple side access into the main compartment to grab a shell or insulation layer.
The pocketing on the FLASH Flip is smartly designed around access to the main compartment. For smaller gear, your best bet is to utilize the side-access front pocket; great for a snack or small first aid kit. The interior is lined with pockets on all sides except the back, which has a row of PALS for the optional laptop sleeve or other accessories. On either side are open-top wand pockets which are most readily accessible via the top opening. The top of the front panel is home to a zippered pocket with some built-in volume. This is a great spot for more secure gear, while still being easily accessible just under the front flap. Further down the front panel is a mesh pocket for other smaller bits you don’t want floating to the bottom of your bag.
Besides some hardware differences, both the FLASH Flip and BUDDY series share a harness, which is one of the highlights of Martin’s work. More on that below as we dig into the more compact BUDDY 22.
Midsize do-all backpack with pleasingly simple access points and a sleek exterior
The BUDDY 22 is an evolution of an older top-loader, the BARREL, and comes in both the pictured 22L size and a 30L size which is more oriented for one-bag travel or those with heftier daily carry requirements. For me, the BUDDY 22 has been the surprise hit of the year. This is the everyday backpack from REHOSE as of this writing. Everything about it makes it easier to go about your day with all of your gear protected and in its place, all while looking absolutely slick.
The smooth-as-butter horseshoe zip allows you to pack and access the contents of the main compartment in three separate ways, just like the FLASH Flip; side access on either side, top-loader access, and full panel access. While the means of access are fundamentally different from its sibling, it still checks many of the same boxes depending on your preferences. With the FLASH Flip, I found the easiest mode of ingress and egress was via the side zips, meaning I’d pack my most used items near the bottom. However, with the BUDDY 22 I found the opposite to be true. While side access is still intuitive, I tended to pack things like my camera at the very top of the bag, treating it like a top-loader. The row of PALS at the top of the back wall meant I could easily mount a camera cube or any other bits of gear so it was immediately accessible. The horseshoe zipper makes opening the top flap incredibly easy, and you can accomplish it with one hand after some practice. Just like with the FLASH Flip, utilizing the entire front panel zip is the best way to load up your gear before heading out on your adventure.
One of the most welcome additions to the BUDDY line of bags is the top quick-access pocket. Just enough room for your keys, wallet, earbuds, and maybe a snack. Since it sits right behind your head, you can even access it while wearing the bag if you’re even the littlest bit flexible. One of the cooler things about this bag is that all of the pull-tabs are 550 paracord (color chosen by you), and the way they’re attached to the bag allows them to be used for a little peace of mind by running the zipper pull through them. This is true of both this quick-access pocket as well as the main compartment.
Besides a vertical slash pocket on the front panel, the rest of the bag is compact with nothing to get caught on as you make your way through urban environments or other crowded areas, which is where it really thrives.
I’m not big on micro-organization in bags. I don’t need pen slots or anything of the sort; I bring my own pouches. And for those who follow in these footsteps, the BUDDY 22 is the king of macro-organization. There’s pocketing aplenty and each zippered or open-top pocket is perfectly in its place. When you pop open the lid, there’s a gusseted side-access mesh pocket that lives right below the top quick-access pocket. Thanks to the gusseted design, it can hold a surprising amount, but I’d keep heavier items elsewhere.
Once you’ve gotten a look down the barrel, the BUDDY presents you with several intuitive places to stow your gear. On either side near the top are angled, zippered slash pockets. I used these as extended quick-access pockets for things like my power bank, Peak Design Mobile Tripod, or a small gear pouch. Below the pocket-adorned lid is a wall of loop. Martin ships these bags with a small hook-backed pen and tool panel, but as I alluded to above, that isn’t my jam, so I opted for a blacked-out Carryology P13 Signal patch. Below that, still on the front panel of the bag, is a larger, gusseted mesh pocket. The wand pockets from the FLASH series also make a return here, and since the BUDDY typically does not come with exterior bottle pockets, this is where I stowed my water bottle of choice, a Slim memobottle. These won’t fit a larger Nalgene-style bottle, but I was able to easily stow my Peak Design Travel Tripod in the opposing wand pocket.
The harness, which is shared between both bags, is hyper-comfortable thanks to the wide, dense straps, and is utilitarian enough to commute through the urban jungle or an actual jungle. The load-lifters are easy to grab, adjust, and stow, without getting in the way. Honestly, this is one of the only harnesses that I don’t mind load-lifters on, as I usually prefer them left off in the name of simplicity. REHOSE has designed one of my favorite harnesses for EDC to date.
It’s difficult to write anything other than high praise for the REHOSE family of bags and the work that Martin puts into them. The wait list is long because, as you’ll hear from Martin himself, details matter. That mantra shines through in every custom, made-to-order item that leaves his shop. Bags like these could only come from someone who is truly passionate about their craft, and when you see them first-hand, you’ll redefine your own sense of what a high-quality bag is.
I’ve truly fallen in love with REHOSE, and I hope it’s easy to see why. My BUDDY 22 has been everything from an office bag and one-bag travel bag, to something I’ve hauled diapers and bottles in. When you decide to take the plunge, be sure to peruse the REHOSE social accounts for some inspiration, where Martin documents almost every bag he makes. The variations of colors and sets of features are truly unique to each of their owners, and each is worthy of the incredibly high standard of the REHOSE name.