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What We Use: The Greatest Backpack of All Time

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BOREAS LAGUNITAS.
We’ve all had plenty of backpacks over our lifetime. You can point to the JanSport you had in high school or college, the trendy messenger bag you threw over your shoulder on the commute to work, or the handmade leather satchel you found in an obscure artsy shop in New Mexico made by a barefooted hippie named Kai.

Whatever you used, they served their purpose and have either moved on long ago or have been thrown to the back of the closet with hopes of being rediscovered when your style changes—again.

Perhaps the greatest backpack (yes, greatest) I have ever used is the Lagunitas made by Boreas. Known more for their adventure travel packs, Boreas is now venturing into the general use/commuter niche with this model. It’s no-nonsense, understated appearance hides the versatility that the bag truly possesses.

In total, it has just four zipped pockets: two small ones for keys or power chords or the like, a medium-sized, waterproof top pocket for your wallet or gear you need to access easily, and the big one for clothing, documents, laptop or even a hydration bladder, as the pack has two hydration ports.

At first glance it looks like a small-capacity pack, but the Lagunitas has the ability to expand because it’s made of durable, lightweight nylon, making it the lightest backpack I have ever used. I was surprised how much stuff I was able to load in it on a recent trip: a 15-inch laptop, a Kindle, SLR camera, a jacket, large notebook, and a couple of sandwiches.

For ergonomics, the Lagunitas uses what they call SUPER-TRAMP. It’s a suspension system consisting of a metal bar that can be adjusted easily with the tug of a strap. It’s the same structure that a hiking pack uses, only simplified and downsized for the daily user. It effectively arches the bar, lifting the pack off your back—an ideal setup not only for hot days or on the bike, but all the time. Load the pack up pretty heavy, and you won’t feel the weight as much as you would in the traditional backpack.

So what’s missing from this pack? Not much. But it could use another medium-sized, zipped interior pocket for stuff you don’t want accessible to the outside world. Overall, this pack is perfect for daily use, whether that means going on day hikes, commuting, or slogging around town. It’s light, durable, fully adjustable, has a unique suspension system and is understated. Perfect! $140; 25-liter volume; 970 grams; colors include Ecliupse Black (shown), Truckee Green, Marina Blue; boreasgear.com

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From Issue 24. Buy it here.