- Buyer's Guide
Unveiling the Arc’teryx LEAF Courier Bag 15
We received this pre-release production bag approximately 6-weeks ago and have been anxiously awaiting the official green light go ahead from the folks over at Arc’teryx LEAF so we can share this article with the world. Though a select few have been able to get their hands on one of these early, today is the official product release, being unveiled at SHOT Show in Las Vegas. Introducing the Arc’teryx LEAF Courier Bag 15.
As you may or may not be aware, Arc’teryx is a parent company which focuses on outdoor/sports/adventure/travel products, with two other sub-brands/product families under their roof: Arc’teryx Veilance (a high end future-forward collection which includes the Nomin backpack and other gear and apparel) and Arc’teryx LEAF (made specifically for Law Enforcement Armed Forces). The Courier Bag 15 falls under the LEAF product family.
Let’s dig in.
This Courier Bag 15 was specifically designed for the demanding LEAF customers in mind. That being said, the Courier 15 could fit right at home in the Veilance collection with some minor design adjustments that would tailor the bag more towards a high end civilian customer versus the LEAF customer. Aesthetically speaking, this bag does not look like a military pack at all, which are normally covered in MOLLE webbing and made from a loud MultiCam camouflage fabric like some of their other packs in the LEAF collection (no disrespect at all, as these features are critically necessary for soldiers in war zones). While it is a beautiful execution of clean form following function and minimalism, currently only available in a low-shine black (my favorite) and with a simple small black-on-black embroidered icon on the exterior, visually it’s almost… forgettable?
That’s not a negative comment at all. In fact, it means the designers at Arc’teryx successfully achieved their goal. Why is that you ask? Well, the Courier 15 wasn’t made for soldiers kicking in doors engaged in close quarters combat situations. Just look at the model who is wearing the Courier 15 Bag on the product webpage; he’s not in combat uniform, but rather super subdued civilian looking clothes. To put it simply, it was designed for Jason Bourne-type operatives (more or less). “Grey man” is another term that is often used. Basically a plain clothed officer or soldier who is going undercover and wants to blend into their surroundings, not have any attention drawn to them, and be absolutely forgettable. Like spies. More on that towards the end.
The Courier Bag 15 does just that, while carrying all of their critically important gear. For those who need it, it can carry a firearm, while it can also hold a laptop and gym clothes equally as well. Whether you’re on the city streets of Singapore, New York City, Auckland, Berlin or the dark alleys of Marrakesh, Baghdad, or Moscow, it blends in seamlessly. The classic silhouette means it could be carried by a tourist, a local, a business person, student, or anyone for that matter. A spy could walk right by you on the street with highly classified government documents and dangerous materials in their bag and you wouldn’t think a thing of it. Not until you take a closer look under the hood anyway.
Other than it’s ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ sleek and minimal looks, what else does the Courier offer? Well, it is made by Arc’teryx after all and they’re known to be pretty insane about the details while focusing on the big picture. Generally speaking, they always nail it.
The materials used here are of the highest quality, made from Arc’teryx’s “DONGJIN 310gsm/9.1osy 630d HT Nylon Plain Weave with DWR”, which means lightweight, super durable, matte finish, and waterproof. Everything you’ve come to expect from these guys. And every critical stitch line is then seam taped for extra water resistance.
The zippers are water resistant YKK zippers. Honestly, while this bag can’t be submerged for SCUBA divers (it doesn’t need to be), it can easily float in water. I tested it out in the bathtub for about an hour and floats effortlessly without anything inside getting wet.
While walking with it down along Town Lake here in Austin, Texas one evening, I tossed it in and let it float by the shore for a while. Again, no moisture made it in. While in most situations water will be coming down from above in the form of rain droplets versus from around and below, I’m guessing this bag can handle a constant downpour forever without issue (yes, actually forever).
And at first I was a bit concerned with the buckles as visually they don’t look like any military grade buckles I’ve seen before… upon further inspection, they’re made by ITW (who makes buckles for all of the high end military gear out there).
I was also super excited to discover that the main adjustment hardware on the shoulder strap is actually made from a matte black coated metal, with minimal dead bird branding on it. Additionally, the shoulder strap is removable/ambidextrous for left-handed folks.
The included stabilization strap that attaches to the main strap with some thick Velcro-backed hypalon fabric is also a bonus, as it is often a separate additional extra ($$$) from many brands.
Now, to my favorite part of this bag. The access. This is next level design here. Super simple yet super functional. You have your standard flap with two buckles which can be folded over top of bulky items (such as a rain shell) and then closed down. To keep that webbing clean, they incorporated their own webbing management system as well. Nice.
Once you’ve got the main flap open, you’re looking at two zippered pockets.
One is a pocket with a water resistant zipper for quick-access smaller items (anything from a pen, a flashlight, multitool, cellphone, etc).
Then the 2nd zippered pocket is actually the access to the cavernous main compartment, which is super trick, as that zipper adds even more water resistance to the whole system. The messenger-style flap plus a zippered lid creates two levels of protection for important items inside. Awesome. One additional note, I personally believe all zippers should go left to right. The zipper slider being on the left when the zipper is closed and then pull it to the right to open it. Apparently the designers at Arc’teryx think so too. Cleverly, they made it so when you’re actually wearing the bag, you’re looking down on it (upside down) so the zippers open from left to right from your perspective.
And my favorite two zippers? The secret quick access side zippers. Both of these water resistant zippers are hidden with dual rain guards (one on each side of the zipper), which makes them more or less disappear. They added one zipper on each side of the bag for right-handed and left-handed users, so you can have immediate discreet access to the main compartment without having to swing the bag around in front of you, unbuckle the two buckles on the messenger flap, flip it up, unzipper the main compartment zipper, and grab your item. Slick.
Because of these zippers, you can actually access the main compartment while the bag is slung over your shoulder and on your back/side/hip. Reach across your waist, unzip, and you’re in. This is particularly useful for field agents who need to access their firearm without drawing attention. And it places your hand directly at the rear female/loop Velcro panel where one would attach their holster for a quick draw. Or for us civilians, you can attach various modular pouches in order to grab your iPad or a stick of Fruit Stripe bubble gum.
For $279 (MSRP from LEAF), you get a whole lot of bag. Weighing in at a mere 970 grams (that’s 2.14 lbs), this bag feels like it can hold a whole lot more than 15 liters of volume (its advertised capacity) worth of gear in an extremely well thought out manner, all while being extremely accessible from multiple positions and access points. Ultimately, this bag is made for undercover agents and spies, so it can definitely hold up to any abuse you can throw at along your travels, adventures, and daily life.
Speaking of spies… the team over at Arc’teryx loved our recent James Bond EDC post so much that they decided to get in on the fun. After plenty of convincing, John Laviolette, Product Line Manager of LEAF agreed to show us his Everyday Carry (he doesn’t like to be the center of attention, ever). John is responsible for all specialist military and law-enforcement product development over at Arc’teryx Equipment, so we just knew his EDC would be awesome. We were not disappointed!
John’s EDC loadout that fits tidily in his Courier Bag 15:
- ECONOMIST Magazine – The World in 2018
- LEUCHTTURM1917 – Notebook Medium (A5 – Black)
- ARC’TERYX LEAF – GORE TOF BD450 MultiCam Document Holder, not available commercially (Note from Editor: I want one of these BAD!)
- THULE – Gauntlet 3.0 MacBook Pro Sleeve (13” – Black)
- ARC’TERYX LEAF – Product Catalogue 2018
- BOSE – QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones II (Black)
- PETZL – e+LITE
- ARC’TERYX LEAF – Courier Bag 15 (Black)
- ARC’TERYX – NORVAN Jacket (Black)
- BELLROY – Travel Wallet (Black)
- Canadian Passport
- APPLE – MacBook Pro (13” – Space Grey)
- LAMY – Lx Rollerball Pen (Ruthenium)
- RAYBAN – Cockpit RB3362 (Gunmetal/Gray Gradient)
- OTTERBOX – DryBox 3250 (Black)
His top 3 travel items and why:
- The Economist Magazine… in continuous print since September 1843.
- APPLE – MacBook Pro… the ultimate communications and information management tool for professionals.
- ARC’TERYX NORVAN Jacket… a multi-purpose tool for the global traveller who wants to conduct PT – rain or shine – and always be able to represent a brand that is globally synonymous with wet weather protection.