- Buyer's Guide
Able Carry Max Backpack Review
Ever since Able Carry’s first Kickstarter with the Daily Backpack, they’ve won respect from fans and the industry alike for their clean, urban-styled packs.
And this year, the small Hong Kong outfit took home their very first Carry Award, with the Able Carry Max winning Best Carry-On. But the thing is, this is more than just a travel pack, it’s one helluva all-rounder too.
I’ve been running the Able Carry Max for several months and absolutely love this pack. It’s been my go-to bag for most of my carry needs. I have used it for coffee shop workdays, short trips, day hikes, and even a photography outing.
Here’s how it performed…
Who It Suits
If you like technical materials and looks, like the Dimension Polyant X-Pac used here, you will love this bag. It’s strong, light and holds its structure when half-filled.
If you’re after a clean, well-featured travel pack, then you know this is a winner already.
And note, the Max is big, so be aware of that, it could be overkill for your daily needs if you carry light. But its size is also a plus, if you carry lots of gear and need it for varying scenarios, it can totally do crossover work.
Who It Doesn’t
If you are looking for a small daypack or EDC bag, this is not for you. Check out Able Carry’s other options.
It works alright for a photography bag with an insert, but I would instead use a dedicated photography bag for most cases.
As a hiking pack, the Max works well, but without a waist belt bouldering or things like that might be a bit hard.
As mentioned above, the materials and construction are outstanding. The fabric is Dimension Polyant X50 (or VX42 and VX21 on other models), which if you are familiar with this fabric, you know is a bomb-proof material. The zipper for the laptop compartment is a waterproof YKK, which, mixed with the fabric, makes this area secure from any water that may try and ruin your day.
The laptop compartment will easily fit my 15″ MacBook Pro (Able Carry says a 17″ laptop will fit in this space). The laptop sleeve is suspended, so even if your pack drops to the ground, your laptop should be safe. There is also room for other items in this compartment and ample organization options. You have a small mesh drop pocket and a zippered pocket, providing four mesh pockets and a larger area to store AirPods, small hard drives, or other items.
The main compartment of the bag is 25L with a semi-clamshell opening. This is nice, so if you open it all the way, all your items do not spill out. On one side of the main compartment, there is a mesh drop pocket about the size of a pair of gloves or a rolled wind shell. There is a webbing daisy chain on the back panel if you need to attach a panel of some nature.
The front, by the zipper, has six webbing loops to attach other items if needed. On the front panel, there are two pockets; one mesh sized to fit things like a journal or thin pouch, and the other ripstop nylon, which is perfect for a pen case or sunglasses case.
The pocketing and organization don’t stop there. The outside of the pack has several other organization options. On one side, there is a water bottle pocket that expands into the interior of the main compartment. With smaller bags, this can be an issue, but I like this feature due to the size of the Max. There is a small slim pocket on the opposing side with a short webbing daisy chain. This pocket sits perfectly to access quickly without removing the pack. When traveling, I use this area for my passport and keys as it works well, and the pocket is not glaringly obvious. The front panel on the pack’s exterior has another quick-access drop pocket. Inside there are two mesh sleeves and a webbing key clip. I have been utilizing this pocket for either snacks or my gloves/hat during cold weather most of the time.
The pockets still don’t stop there. There are two “hidden” pockets on the Max. One is right above the laptop compartment on the pack’s interior. A zipper is tucked under a fold, which opens up to the foam back panel, but there is a small Velcro pocket. This is perfect for placing any sensitive documents while traveling. The second pocket is on the pack’s exterior, just above the straps. This zipper is also tucked under a small fold. It may not be as hidden as the other pocket, but I didn’t notice it for the first week of using the pack.
When it comes to the organization and the pocketing of the Max, this company did a stellar job. The straps are comfortable even when fully loaded, which is nice because 30L can get heavy. Throughout the pack, you can find various webbing attachment points, so you can attach other gear if you need to.
Not So Good
Honestly, there is not much in the way of negatives that I can say about this pack. It is well thought out, comfortable, and it looks good. It would be nice to have some sort of waist belt when fully loaded, especially if you decide to use it more as a hiking or adventure pack than an everyday bag. The water bottle pocket expanding into the interior might be an issue for some, but I did not have any trouble with this feature.
As I mentioned before, I have been using the Max for several months, and it is my go-to bag for a lot of things. It is built exceptionally well, and I know this pack can handle a lot. I love the organization layout and the overall aesthetic of the bag, and I think you will too.