Trying to find the perfect travel bag is akin to trying to find your soulmate – most times, you have to go through a few duds to get there, but when you find “The One”... there’s no looking back. This winter, we found five of those, and we’re sharing them with you. From backcountry missions to weekend getaways, we’ve got you covered.
Boundary Prima System Ultimate Modular Pack ($199)
Why We Chose It: We’ve been on the hunt for the perfect backpack for a few years now – and after testing out Boundary’s Ultimate Modular Pack, we’re confident that hunt is close to being over.
Why We Liked It: There are multiple reasons we fell for the Boundary pack – the durable, water resistant fabric, the unique magnetic closures, the multiple entry points for quick access to whatever product you need on hand, the internal, removable camera case, and the lightweight feel of the bag itself — there wasn’t much about this bag that didn’t blow us away. We took it to the office, we dragged it out to the desert, we rode our bike with it on, and it continued to perform. Bonus points for fitting a female frame as well as a male frame.
Tester Tip: The inner pocket of the bag is basically one giant opening, so you’ll want to utilize the camera bag as well as your own organizational accessories, otherwise it might start feeling like a bottomless pit in there.
Cotopaxi Nepal 65L Backpack ($230)
Why We Chose It: This winter had us on the hunt for a durable pack to withstand some wear and tear, and comfortably carry all of our gear during those four-day and beyond backpacking trips.
Why We Liked It: This pack is made for trekking. Decked out with pockets in all the right places (and easy access), it has compartments made to store everything from trekking poles and ice axes to sleeping bags and water bottles. Bonus: It’s exceptionally comfortable, displacing the weight evenly on the shoulders and hips so you can pack more, and feel less strain on your body.
Tester Tip: For those who pack light, or who just want a backpack suitable for a quick weekend warrior trip, use the compression straps to adjust the size of the pack to rid yourself of unnecessary backpack space.
Herschel Coast Duffle ($130)
Why We Chose It: Because if you've ever had a Herschel backpack, you'll know their gear is quality that looks good in the mountains and the city. And not every adventurer needs (or wants) a classic duffle – Herschel’s Coast Duffle is a step up.
Why We Liked It: Large. Durable. Cool. It's large enough to pack for several days, durable enough that you can throw it around and not worry about damage (to your clothes or the bag), and cool enough for the Sierras or Hollywood's Chateau Marmont. Also, the price point: affordable without sacrificing quality.
Tester Tip: If you go with all black (which is never a bad choice) add some flair and uniqueness by tying a bandana around a strap, so you can easily sort your bag from the next. If you want color, we suggest Forest Night Tarpaulin.
Osprey Kamber 22 ($150)
Why We Chose It: Osprey has been around longer than many of our testers and has long-represented pinnacle performance in packs. Their recent introduction of snowsport-specific offerings immediately delivered top-tier product for skiers and snowboarders. When you’re flying somewhere with either of those activities on the itinerary, your backcountry pack needs to double as a travel bag.
Why We Liked It: The Kamber 22 has the lowest volume of any male-oriented option in the lineup, and if you can avoid stuffing it until the zippers bulge, it’s small enough to fly with (or very close to small enough if we’re going by airlines’ technical dimensions). This leaves the option for a rolling carry-on up to 45 liters. Of course, your pack needs to perform while navigating lines more critical than those at airport security or Panda Express, and it functions as well as any backcountry bag we’ve tried.
Tester Tip: Buckle the waistbelt when walking down an airplane aisle if you prefer not to slap each sitting passenger with an errant buckle.
Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45L ($199)
Why We Chose It: We’ve reviewed Patagonia’s Black Hole duffels in our gear guides before and loved them, so when they added a suitcase shape to the Black Hole line, we had to get our hands on one.
Why We Liked It: Durability, organization and comfort. The Black Hole line is weatherproof and has a virtually rip-proof exterior. The MLC shape unzips and opens like a book, allowing easy organization of garments in a configuration that mimics a traditional suitcase. But unlike the suitcase stored in your attic, the Black Hole MLC is light to carry even when filled to the brim, (and also has handles, a shoulder strap and backpack straps for a diversity of carrying options).
Tester Tip: This bag can hold more than you think. We used it for a five-day trip and were able to pack a fleece, sweaters, pants and two pairs of shoes.