- Buyer's Guide
Best Everyday Bag – The Sixth Annual Carry Awards
When Black Ember first showed up on the scene, it sent shockwaves through the Carry World. Never before had a bag brand surfaced with such difference. Such individual flair, modernist aesthetics, and new thinking around exterior modularity. Since then, they’ve continued to grow and refine. And the Citadel Minimal is their most ‘universal’ and considered offering to date. Cleaner and stealthier in aesthetics, allowing it to play in more formal environments, but still pushing the boundaries of performance fabrics, urban functionality, and what a ‘waterproof’ pack can be.
The IPX-06 waterproof rating gives it a licence to go anywhere (rain, hail or deluge), while urban commuters can carry in low-key style thanks to the 900D 3-layer Micro-Hex fabric, designed to reduce reflection and avoid that ugly sheen. Digging down, there’s exceptional pocketing and custom hardware for enhanced organizing and performance. And notably with its bomber build, custom hardware and waterproofing comes weight, and to counterbalance this the Citadel puts extra muscle into its harness, combining a contoured back panel with 3D shoulder straps for a comfy fit all day long.
Superb work, Black Ember. You’ve truly delivered on efficient, adaptable and sleek everyday carry, that’s as nailed as it is unique.
These are the pieces that just missed out, and in most cases, by the smallest of margins. To them, we award a High Commendation. The below were of outstanding quality, displaying fine craftsmanship and design flair. With honor, we bow our heads in the utmost respect and kudos. If this were a dais, they’d be biting their teeth into silver medals, while their flags were hoisted into the horizon – a feat not to be overlooked. And we’re sure they’ll be back, to take it one notch higher, next year.
We like to keep things transparent here, and The Brown Buffalo is a long-time contributor of ours. But there’s a reason for that – and a reason why the Conceal Backpack deserves a High Commendation. His skills in bag design are masterful. He’s worked with major names such as Nike and Head Porter, and his own brand based in California maintains those rigorous standards.
The Conceal Backpack’s construction walks that line between the personality and soul of handmade but with the exactness and flawlessness found in machines. It simply feels like quality in your hands, and when you pore over the details you see that everything has been considered. Laser lined stitching. Super durable fabrics including a choice of 525D Ballistic Nylon CORDURA and 1000D Nylon CORDURA, with a 500D STORMPROOF lining and burly YKK AquaGuard zips for weather protection. And just enough organization and space to keep everyday items within easy reach, while maintaining a clean and clutter-free design.
Extra features also bring unobtrusive functionality to your setup. A self-standing design, a structured build that looks good whether the pack is full or carrying smaller loads, plus a luggage passthrough sleeve. Tough but tailored, the Conceal brings versatility and low-key style to work and weekend setups alike. This is a home run!
TAD scored top honors in last year’s Best Work Backpack award with the Axiom X25. And they deliver another dialed-in performance with the Axiom 18. A more compact baby brother to the Axiom X25, this pack is designed to keep you agile. Lightweight, weatherproof and durable, the Axiom 18 features a VX-21 ripstop shell and water-resistant YKK zippers for all-day protection from the elements. On point with adaptable organization, it opens wide with a clamshell main compartment for easy access, a range of external and interior pockets for smaller essentials, as well as additional attachment points to add pouches.
The Axiom 18 Pack finds that sweet spot for a minimal daily carry bag. Sufficient space to carry your day-to-day supplies, while maintaining a lean and pared-back profile. This is a considered and solid effort, highly adaptable and well suited to those who carry light. Congratulations, TAD!