- Buyer's Guide
Sixth Annual Carry Awards: Reader’s Choice Awards
From fabrics to functionality, and hardware to styling, our readers know excellent gear when they see it. And they also have their finger on the pulse when it comes to hard-working brands that deserve a shout-out. So we celebrate that passionate knowledge through our Reader’s Choice Awards.
Our Sixth Annual Carry Awards winners are chosen through a carefully balanced combination of our specialist panel, our knowledgeable readers and a handy algorithm that ensures fairness across the board. However, the Reader’s Choice Awards are based entirely on readers’ votes. Take a bow, worthy winners; you’ve won the hearts and minds of savvy fans with high standards…
From day one Aer have made it their mission to create minimalist yet functional carry with understated urban styling. Their Day Pack is a culmination of years spent honing and refining along these principles…and it’s just so good. Everything comes together right, with clean aesthetics complementing the great organization that’s perfect for a day in the office, digital nomads on the go, and more. All the elements you need for casual and formal settings alike, without feeling cluttered. Factor in the quality on offer and the price tag, and you’ve got great value too. Added bonus? It’s a category winner across the board, scooping our Best Work Backpack award too.
Aer’s Tech Sling keeps you agile on the go, combining a sleek and compact design with convenient organization for your work and EDC essentials. Like the pack above, the quality build and functional design comes in at a price point that’s great value for money. A dedicated compartment fits up to 13″ tech, while the sling strap and top handle allow for flexible portability during the commute and more professional environments. Another excellent offering from Aer that demonstrates their prowess in practical minimalism.
The MPL30 brings together design expertise from the likes of Patagonia and GORUCK. And it shows. This ruggedly sleek pack offers an ergonomic fit that will keep you roaming in comfort all day long. Add to this its awesome access with a wide-opening main compartment and a choice of handy pockets, and you’re definitely onto a winner. What really helps it stand out is its versatility. Tough enough for the outdoors, yet understated enough for urban environments, this is a pack that embraces day hikes, trips to the gym and weekend getaways equally well.
When you’re after low-key aesthetics, adaptability, and excellent technical construction, the Arc’teryx LEAF Courier Bag 15 is a sure bet. This messenger fuses all these elements flawlessly to create a bag that’s equally at home in the office, about town or keeping essentials close during your travels. Multiple entry points and customizable organization let you easily access gear and get creative with pouches. And with its flexible carry options you can keep the bag secure on the go or within easy reach depending on your needs. A superb example of refined active design, this stealthy piece was also crowned our Best Active Messenger.
Clean aesthetics, great access and understated security features all in one bag? No problem for this considered collaboration between Quiksilver and Pacsafe. All the aspects of a great carry-on are here, from the clamshell opening for easy packing and gear retrieval, to stowable straps and top and side grab handles. There’s even a removable dry bag that’s useful for separating wet or dirty items from the rest of your gear. The pared-back exterior easily blends into a variety of settings, while discreet anti-theft features such as slashguard protection, a PopNLock security clip, Roobar™ locking system and more offer peace of mind without drawing unwanted attention.
The Breccia combines the comfort of a hiking pack with travel-friendly features to help you easily navigate a variety of urban and outdoor travel environments. A range of pockets and top and front access ensures gear is within easy reach when you need it. If you need more organization, the bag can also be paired with a range of optional modular accessories. And if you need to stow the bag in a tight space, the stowable hip belt and shoulder straps enable a clean silhouette to avoid snagging. The bag can be carried as a backpack or a duffel, and features a tough, weatherproof build that will withstand years of demanding use. And for even more functionality, the removable frame pad doubles as a half-size sleeping pad or picnic mat.
The Elko nails all the elements of a top-notch EDC piece. Compact and lightweight enough to easily carry in a pocket or bag? Check. Durable enough to withstand regular use for years to come? You bet. Multifunctional while still maintaining a clean, minimalist form? Definitely. The Elko combines a pocket knife, pry bar, bottle opener, screwdriver, and keyring in one. Ideal if you want to keep carry bulk to a minimum but still be able to take care of diverse EDC and DIY needs. And double celebrations, as this pint-sized performer also scored our Best EDC award.
There’s been no shortage of heritage-inspired carry in recent years. But appealing aesthetics alone don’t make for great gear. The WOTANCRAFT Commander succeeds where many have failed before, successfully bringing together handsome heritage styling with considered functionality for photography use. Features such as left and right side access and a host of pockets keep camera gear within easy reach so you’re ready when great shots present themselves. The detachable shoulder pads and removable chest strap boost carry comfort on the go. And it’s rugged Cordura and vegetable-tanned leather construction will take a beating and keep on going in demanding environments. It’s a great option for photographers who want to side-step the swathes of functional but boring camera bags out there and embrace carry with character, and it gets our solid nod of approval with a High Commendation too.
The ARKTYPE Dashpack embraces its name with a slim and versatile design that keeps you agile on the go as you move swiftly from the commute to the office to relaxing in your local cafe. Handmade in the USA, the weatherproof pack leans towards a tactical style that’s still low-key enough to suit more informal work environments. Inside you’ll find a suspended and padded 15″ laptop sleeve, while the rear compartment stores a 13″ laptop and a 10″ tablet if required. And with quick-access front and side pockets and exterior webbing on hand, you can keep those day-to-day essentials within easy reach. The Dashpack nails that tricky balance of rugged yet understated style in a compact, practical pack that easily navigates changing EDC needs and environments.
Adaptable clothing staples are key for travel packing, and Outlier have really excelled in this niche with their Slim Dungarees. The slim, stylish aesthetics suit formal and informal environments alike, while the stain-resistant, water-resistant and fast-drying construction is ideal for travel use. The Workcloth Doubleweave Canvas also features a slight two-way stretch to keep you comfortable on the go. And for added functionality, they include a choice of five pockets for storing smaller travel and EDC essentials. They’re also category kings, having received our Best Travel Clothing award.
Many toiletry bags are single, pouch-like compartments with no or minimal organization. Not so great when you’re trying to access specific items in a crowded space. But Gravel’s Explorer Toiletry Bag takes a different approach. Mutiple pockets and a handy clamshell opening do away with frustrating rummaging. There’s even waterproof storage for liquids to protect the rest of the contents in case accidental leaks occur. The case itself also features a burly, water-resistant build that will embrace mile after mile of travel use for years to come. Plus with its useful strap you can easily hang the bag wherever travel leads, from tree branches to towel rails and door hooks.
Creating art can sometimes get a little messy. But at least your supplies will stay neat and accessible with the Etchr Art Satchel. The sleek, weatherproof design lets you tailor organization to your specific needs through a range of modular components. And this bag doesn’t just take care of physical media. Digital artists can also secure their tech at the ready for whenever inspiration strikes. In addition to storing your art supplies, this nifty satchel takes things a step further by serving as a mobile workstation too. It can be used sitting down or standing up, or alternatively connected to a tripod for stable, extended use.