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Road Tests

Road Tests :: Côte et Ciel Rucksack | Part 1

by , October 28, 2010

Road Test | Côte et Ciel Rucksack | Part 1

Heading to the Big Apple next week for a United Nations event and being the consummate planner, my mind was filled with worry. How should I pack? What should I bring? And, of course, how would I carry it all?

I turned to my brethren at Carryology and Ando came back with a quick suggestion for a day/travel pack that would meet my needs. Enter the Côte et Ciel Rucksack from the Parisian fashion group, Paper Rain…

The bag has an organic, almost alien-like appearance with naturally flowing contours. It comes in two sizes (fitting 15″ and 17″ MacBooks or equivalent) and 4 colors. I was sent the 15″ model in Grey Melange (thanks guys for providing this pack to us for review).

Upon receiving the backpack, I knew I was in for a treat. The bag is made of CetCcycle which is from recycled PET bottles. I was surprised to read this in the literature because the bag is rugged yet soft at the same time. There is a heft to the bag thanks to the thickness of the fabric, but it manages to remain comfortably light.

The compartment design is where this bag really sets itself apart. It sports a dual design with a rear area which places your laptop against your back, with a bevy of slots and pouches for magazines, an MP3 player, headphones, and small accessories. The rear compartment is well designed, even sporting a storage flap to hold magazines snug and two elastic pieces on the side to make sure the back doesn’t open too wide.

There’s already one detail that worries me. Having the laptop against your back is great for security (harder to have it stolen in crowds), however in my initial use it has proven to be quite cumbersome to unzip the rear compartment because the shoulder straps get in the way. In an airport security line, one would likely have to place the bag on the ground and use two hands to open it up to withdraw the laptop. In fact, if you are looking for a bag for repeated retrieval and storage of items (metro pass, water bottle, camera), this design might pose a problem.

On the front of the rucksack, after you unbuckle two latches and undo a single zipper that runs the length of the bag, you’re presented with a view not unlike one you’d be looking at when packing your weekender bag. The design geniuses figured out a way to combine a small duffel bag with a backpack. The inside is lined with a luxuriously soft material and even has two tie-down quick-release straps to get those bulky sweaters under control. There’s an additional pouch perfect for toiletries or keeping underwear and socks separate from the main compartment.

I have mentioned the clips a few times but haven’t given them the attention they deserve. I am sure you are all familiar with the standard clip mechanisms where you squeeze the sides and it comes out. They are found on nearly every pack these days. The clips on the Côte et Ciel rucksack are different. You squeeze the center and it releases. The cool part, however, is that they swivel. This means the bag has some freedom to stretch and lean to accommodate your goods.

This post is meant to serve as an introduction to the bag. Watch this space for my full review after I return from my trip where I will have put the rucksack through its paces. I’ll go more in depth about how well it performed carrying various loads, how the hardware (zippers, clips) held up, and if any of my initial concerns were warranted.

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