- Buyer's Guide
Able Carry Launch A-Grade All-Rounder
I’ve been hearing great things about Able Carry and their products for quite some time now. In fact, I’m almost embarrassed to say that it wasn’t until about 10 months ago, at a Carryology meetup in Hong Kong (where Able Carry is based) at Suburban HK bag shop, when I first got to lay hands on their products. It was here, handling one of their Daily Backpacks, that it clicked. These products were well made, from quality materials, with a ton of thought put into them. Bonus, the products are incredibly nice to look at. Naturally, I was excited when I learned Able Carry would be releasing a new pack and that I’d get to get my hands on it weeks before the launch date. And, a little spoiler alert, I’m more than impressed with this new functional artwork they call “Max”.
Reader, meet Max. Max, meet Reader. First, I want to talk about the product name, which directly correlates with its size. Based off of the relatively big 10L jump in size from the 20L of their Daily Backpack to Max’s 30L capacity… I assumed the name meant “maximum”. And sure, they may very well have meant for that when they named it. But I see it differently. Bear with me. This size puts the Max into that perfect niche of everyday/travel pack, where the magic really happens. In Able Carry’s words “the Max is a 30L everyday backpack that’s ready for work, play, and travel”. I mention all of this because before I got my hands on it and was simply looking at photos and reading the words from the press kit on my laptop’s screen, I just kind of assumed I would feel a “maximum size” on my back once I finally received it. I’m happy to say, it feels “maximum correct” or “just right”, for me. In my mind, the product name doesn’t translate to “huge” anymore, I just think of it like its proper first name; Max. Short for Maxwell or Maximillian. Max is a friend that’s always ready to hit the road, whether it’s for a walk downtown or a weeklong trip. Now that we’ve covered his/her name… let’s dive in.
For me, as a bag designer, a great bag starts with great materials, great hardware, and great construction/patterning. From there, if the designers are creative, problem solvers, innovators, and thinkers… that’s just a wonderful bonus. Max doesn’t skimp in any of these categories. In a harmonious balance, they utilize Dimension Polyant XPac VX21 (a favorite) for lightweight strength and waterproofness and combine it with the tried and true, super durable Cordura 1000D nylon (another favorite) for high wear areas. Toss in YKK RC zippers for the front compartment, which provides extra longevity and YKK water resistant zippers for the work compartment, to be sure your tech gear stays dry.
Ok, so what about that design thinking part that I mentioned? I have to start with Able Carry’s unique anti-sag A-Frame. They use this in their other packs, but here, they improved upon it. This triangle of nylon webbing on the underside of the pack allows it to keep its shape, when empty or filled. It might seem like a minimal tweak, but they removed the front “tip” of the triangle, cleaning up the aesthetics a bit. Additionally, it performs double duty. You can clip on accessories to the loops in the webbing with a carabiner or Heroclip, just in case you might have some dirty sneakers or something you don’t want dirtying up the inside of your bag.
Speaking of the inside… there 3 divided primary compartments that Max has to offer for you and your gear. The front vertical zipper pocket has some basic organization and a removable key lanyard if you decide you don’t want or use that feature (very cool). I found this compartment to be absolutely perfect to keep a lightweight folded up rain shell jacket, so I can quickly access it for nasty weather rolling in.
You’ve got your giant main compartment with a ¾ clamshell opening, preventing your stuff from pouring out while your accessing and/or packing it up. On the interior of the panel, two simple zippered accessory pockets (very similar to a GR1). I love simplicity and organization… these are my dream.
And lastly, your work compartment at the rear offers everything we come to expect from a high tech pack these days. Opening via a ¾ water resistant YKK zipper, it has both access and protection in mind,featuring a zippered pocket for your charging brick, a full-sized tablet sleeve, and a full-sized (16”, possibly even larger?) laptop sleeve that is properly suspended up off the ground. Oh… fun fact, there is a clever hidden pocket in one of these three compartments. I’ll admit, it took me a while to find it. And no, I won’t reveal where it is located (it is not shown here in this article). And no, it’s not the semi-secret passport pocket in the photo at the bottom. Sorry… I promised I wouldn’t tell!
Now, with all these pockets and all these liters of capacity, I was a little worried how this might carry. But after several short day trips and several mile walks/hikes both including various style of packing, the closed-cell foam shoulder straps have blown me away with comfort. The same mesh/foam is used on the backpanel, with a center channel for airflow. While it isn’t some trampoline hiking backpack suspension (and I’m glad it isn’t), it worked well, even for our warm/hot Texas autumn temperatures.
Overall, being the first product I have personally used from Able Carry, I am very impressed with Max. While the name had me worried at first, I now see this as a pack that can do it all; work, play, or travel. Max doesn’t seem to make any major compromises, while offering maximum versatility as well as features. I’m seeing a nice long new friendship being born between Max and I.
If you’d like to meet Max for yourself, click over to Able Carry’s Kickstarter that launches TODAY!