What Features & What's Perfect Size For Your Daily Pack?

What Features & What's Perfect Size For Your Daily Pack?

Range Govindan
Oct 4, 2010

Every day, you carry around your tech in a bag or backpack. Sometimes it's filled to the brim with books, notebooks, a laptop, and a camera. On other days, it's almost empty. How can you decide what the best size for your daily bag/pack is? What are the best options?

When I started carrying around my laptop every day, I decided that I needed a dedicated pack, not just a sleeve inside my usual bag. The trouble was that I had a 17-inch laptop at the time and needed a bag that could hold it securely. I also tend to carry around my DSLR every day, so I needed something that would be able to hold that as well. Naturally, I also carry around books, notebooks, pens, pencils, etc. I also carry part of my lunch in my backpack, so I needed something that would suit me. The climbing backpacks might look cool and have a lot of technical functions, but you don't need anything like that as your daily pack. Believe me, I've used an Osprey Atmos 25 and 35 as a daily pack and I had problems. The main issue is that a lot of climbing packs have an integrated frame, which hugs your back. While this distributes the weight adequately, it curves the main compartment. This means that getting a laptop or some books inside is next to impossible.

However, almost all of those climbing and hiking backpack companies make something that will hold a laptop. One of the most important issues is that the backpack shouldn't be too heavy when it's empty. My own usual pack, an Oakley Kitchen Sink, is quite heavy empty, but I like using it since it's got a lot of interesting features. The other thing to look for is a dedicated laptop compartment. It's usually best to get one that fits your notebook size. That way it will sit securely in place. You can always leave your notebook inside a sleeve inside your pack, adding extra padding.

Another thing that's crucial is pockets. Nice, big side-pockets will be able to hold your water bottles, drinks, pencil cases, and other stuff. A big front pocket allows you to store more fragile things like a camera, cell phone, iPad, etc. Also, a dedicated pocket for sunglasses is always nice.

It's usually best to get a pack that's slightly bigger than you think that you'll need. That way, you'll be set if you ever need to pack extra stuff in it. Expandable packs are a lifesaver. I use my Oakley Kitchen Sink when I go grocery shopping and have never had any problems packing it full thanks to the expandable bottom pocket, which allows me to store a lot of groceries inside it.

Lastly, you'll want a pack that has compression straps, so that it can be made smaller and more compact when it's next to empty. This is a really good feature, since your pack will look a lot quite small if it's compressed. If you're not lugging around a lot of stuff, you don't want a giant empty pack on your back.

[top photo via Raisinhell, others by Range]

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