- Buyer's Guide
My personal interest in Carryology strikes right through to the tag line: Exploring Better Ways to Carry. The articles that really get me excited are the pieces about innovation, be it materials, concepts, or processes: the Camelbak Hydration Reservoir Timeline, Let’s Talk Dyneema Bonded Leather, Dyneema vs X-Pac, and Furoshiki.
So, when I saw the call for someone to review the ONFAdd Wrapping Backpack, I was genuinely intrigued. A bag that “is capable of wrapping things of many shapes, from paintings to chairs”? I’m in.
- Name: Wrapping Backpack
- Brand: ONFAdd
- Format: Backpack
- Measurement: W 55 D 35 H 10 (cm)
- Weight: Approximately 1555 grams; 3.4 lbs
- Material: Progress polyester, smoky twill liner, double russel mesh, Foamcore
Who It Suits
People interested in alternative backpack architecture. I enjoy this piece as a sort of ever-present brain teaser that makes me re-think the way I pack and carry things. Also good if you carry oversized and odd-sized items.
Other key demographics: carry geeks, bag nuts, unicorn hunters, and grail-drinkers. They only made 30 of them. In Japan. Out of all Japanese-made materials. It is a rare bird.
Who It Doesn’t
I’ve just gotta put it out there right away: it’s $830. See also “they only made 30 of them. In Japan.”
Its materiality is also clearly aimed at a more urban application vs. outdoor or adventure travel use.
The core concept of this is what intrigued me from the start, so I had to know more about the design thinking behind it. Fortunately, ONFAdd’s Yasunori Fujikawa was happy to spend a little Skype time with me to give me some background on the philosophy behind both the brand and the bag.
ONFAdd (Of No Fixed Address) is a community-driven brand which serves as a platform for innovation and disruption; their mantra is “Unleash The Habit.” As such, they are more interested in pushing boundaries and challenging assumptions, which explains why they predominantly produce limited runs of interesting objects, rather than commercial products. The most notable exception to this is their disposable rain footwear to protect your fancy kicks.
Oh, and they are always looking for collaborators and contributors, all of you habit-unleashing creatives out there.
The basic idea behind the Wrapping Backpack is that it has no shape; it conforms to the objects you are carrying. This is a great feature if you want to carry something odd-shaped that wouldn’t normally fit in a backpack…over Skype I watched Yas wrap up a desk fan in it. Weeks later, while traveling back from visiting my parents, I had a typically weird hodge-podge of family visit artifacts: a painting, my running shoes, an AeroPress I had shipped to their house to save me from crappy coffee-pod coffee, some small organizer pouches, and a few days' worth of clothes.
Depending on what’s inside, this bag can morph from a minimal and flat silhouette that hugs your body, to a stout little cylinder reminiscent of the Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor. There’s a sleek, matte finish on all of the materials, and the system of straps and buckles provides just enough detail interest to break up the form nicely. This is all assuming you’ve loaded it evenly; carrying bulky and/or odd-shaped items can form it into bizarre geometries, but it is this morphability itself that makes this bag stand out.
"The basic idea behind the Wrapping Backpack is that it has no shape; it conforms to the objects you are carrying. This is a great feature if you want to carry something odd-shaped that wouldn’t normally fit in a backpack."
As I mentioned before, all the materials are made in Japan, so it’s been challenging to drill down into the vendors. Some materials are pretty standard: a “smoky twill” water-repellent liner (feels like 210D nylon) with a “double russel mesh” poly spacer mesh back panel, laptop sleeve, and strap underfacing. The shell material is cryptically listed as “Progress: Water-repellent, anti-fouling, oil-repellent polyester.” It has a nice silky hand though I do have to say I have already been able to “foul” it a bit under normal travel use; it’s not a fabric to be abused.
Zippers are reverse-coil #5 YKKs, and while the pulls have a very pleasing matte finish, I do have a personal aversion to standard tab pulls. That said, it’s pretty easy to add some cord for a different aesthetic; if you need any direction in this, Bo Ismono recently put out a handy video tutorial.
All the buckles are also produced by YKK Japan, and are of the robust quality you associate with that name.
Other than the ability to morph into the shape of its contents, the thing that I like most about this pack is the way you can use it to organize clothing; it’s as if you took a bunch of packing cubes and pouches and stitched them all together at the edges. This makes for a harmonious and Zen-like user experience at your destination; just unfold the bag and there are all of your neatly categorized items, laid out in crisp little rows.
There is also some nice access when the bag is closed; the small pockets at the top are perfect for storing the items you need while at your seat on a plane. The laptop/tablet compartment is also very accessible, zipping ¾ of the way around so you can get into it from the top or either side.
"Other than the ability to morph into the shape of its contents, the thing that I like most about this pack is the way you can use it to organize clothing; it’s as if you took a bunch of packing cubes and pouches and stitched them all together at the edges."
In general, the Wrapping Backpack carries nicely and has a solid workflow. The only real comfort issue I found was a direct result of its versatility in carrying odd-shaped objects: by conforming to the shape of its contents, the back panel can deform and end up in an awkward shape, as there is no rigid frame sheet. This is easily rectified by carrying something flat in the laptop compartment.
As I mentioned before, I am a little skeptical of the long-term stainability of the shell material, but since I like a little patina, I am not particularly concerned.
- Furoshiki-inspired design morphs to accommodate a variety of bulky or odd-shaped items
- Allows for convenient organization of the contents
- Laptop compartment keeps tech easily accessible with ¾ zip
- A conversation starter that stands out with innovative form
Not So Good
- Back panel can deform when conforming around contents (requires flat item in laptop compartment to prevent this)
- Shell material will scuff up under normal travel use
This pack delivers on ONFAdd’s mantra to “unleash the habit.” It challenges the idea of what a backpack can be, and it is a welcome detour in this world of clamshells and top and panel loaders…is this a “demigorgon’s mouth” loader? A “blossom” loader? It defies definition.
Over the course of a few days carrying this around Outdoor Retailer, this bag spurred many a conversation with other Carryologists and bag designers, who I could visibly see wrapping their heads around the idea of the Wrapping Backpack. It’s that sense of wonder that keeps me reaching for this bag from my personal quiver…it’s a refreshing and innovative new way to carry.
This review was written by Andy Storms.
Andy's an independent technical softgoods designer who specializes in development prototyping.
When he’s not running seams on his beloved Juki 9010, he enjoys metal fabrication and finish carpentry, tricking out his AWD camper van, and fly fishing for salmonids in the Pacific Northwest.
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