When you travel, you need to carry things. Like a phone, a passport, travel documents, a laptop, the latest issue of Shooting Sportsman, headphones, pens, a pad, business cards, a water bottle, snacks, toiletries and a change of clothes for when—not if—the airline loses your luggage. This requires more than a briefcase. You need a pack—one that is roomy, organized and that fits “in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you.” Something that lets you tote plenty of gear and put your hands on items with minimal rummaging. We shrugged on five packs to see which would best bear the burden.
Orvis’s Battenkill Businessman’s Backpack has plenty of carrying capacity and a place for everything. As part of the Battenkill line of luggage and bags, the pack features 18-ounce green canvas and oil-tanned leather and is lined with the company’s signature plaid. The roomy main compartment—which closes with a lockable zipper—has a padded laptop pocket and a zippered security pocket. The front organizer pocket unzips to reveal two zippered security pockets, two pen slots, a padded tablet-size pocket, a slash pocket, a business-card sleeve and a snap hook for securing keys. There is an exterior front zippered pocket, a zippered pocket on the top flap, a zippered side pocket, a bellows side pocket with brass-stud flap closure and a water bottle pocket. There are adjustable padded shoulder straps, a top grab handle and a rear slot that allows the bag to be slipped over the handle of a rolling suitcase. It’s the ultimate travel companion.
Dimensions: 18” (h) x 17” (w) x 7” (d). Weight: 3 pounds 2½ ounces. Price: $279.
As the name suggests, Tom Beckbe’s Classic Camo Daypack is designed for everyday carry. The pack has a heavy-duty, 14-ounce cotton-canvas shell and a waterproof interior liner. A weatherproof hood covers the zippered main compartment, which is roomy and has three slash pockets, as well as the zippered and padded rear laptop compartment (which can be accessed separately) and a zippered security pocket. There are two large front pockets and two cinchable side pockets. (The hook flap closures that secure the front pockets and the weatherproof hood are not the easiest to operate.) There are padded shoulder straps, a removable sternum strap and a top grab handle. The pack gets bonus points for being field worthy.
Dimensions: 21” (h) x 15” (w) x 6” (d). Weight: 2 pounds 15 ounces. Price: $325.
Although it is not a conventional backpack, the Gokey Pathfinder Shoulder Bag offers comfortable, hands-free toting. The bag is beautifully crafted with Indian Chocolate and Bootlegger leather. The zippered main compartment—which is lined with an attractive “Trade Route Map Tapestry”—is roomy and contains one large slash pocket, two small slash pockets and a business-card sleeve. The compartment is covered by a hood with three brass snap closures and buckles. There is also a zippered rear pocket. The wide shoulder strap can be adjusted for height and attached to either side of the bag’s bottom with brass buckles. The bag comes with a leather ID tag and a carabiner for securing additional items. The bag has no padding, and there is no grab handle on top.
Dimensions: 16” (h) x 12” (w) x 6” (d). Weight: 3 pounds 3 ounces. Price: $349.
The Filson Journeyman Backpack gets the job done with minimal bells and whistles. Made of 14-ounce oil-finish Tin Cloth with cotton Rugged Twill in the back panel and reinforcing the base, the pack keeps contents dry when the weather is wet and nasty. The spacious zippered main compartment is protected by a “gutter” along its entire length and contains a padded laptop sleeve, a slash pocket and a zippered security pocket. A gusseted front snap pocket contains a slash pocket and two pen holders. The padded Tin Cloth-and-leather shoulder straps are lined with moleskin and adjustable by brass buckles, and there is a top grab handle. Colors: Otter Green (shown), Cinder and Tan.
Dimensions: 17½” (h) x 12½” (w) x 5” (d). Weight: 2 pounds 10 ounces. Price: $395.
Wren & Ivy’s Timeless “1817” Backpack is a beautifully made pack that is both stylish and sturdy. It is made with waxed twill canvas and vegetable-tanned bridle leather and has solid brass hardware. The main pocket, which closes with a locking zipper (lock included), contains a padded laptop pocket, a small slash pocket, two pen holders and a clasp for keys. A large zippered front pocket has an interior zippered mesh pocket. Two side pockets are said to be for holding water bottles but are too small for that purpose. The padded canvas-and-leather shoulder straps are adjustable with brass buckles and have integrated D rings for attachments. There is a top grab handle as well as a sleeve on the back that will slip over the handle of a roller bag.
Dimensions: 18½” (h) x 12” (w) x 4½” (d). Weight: 3 pounds 12 ounces. Price: $315.