I like bags, particularly backpacks.
More precisely, I like the idea of the perfect backpack, but I have tried so many in the past 12 years that I know it doesn’t exist yet, and I am not even sure if such a goal is attainable.
I should have posted reviews of all those bags when I was using them, except that, frankly, I was never expecting the list to become so long.
As the saying goes, the best time to start writing backpack reviews was 12 years ago when I started buying them. The second best time is now.
The perfect bag
Let’s start with my bag’s content.
- A laptop. Lately, a 16″ MacBook Pro.
- An iPad mini with its pencil.
- A camera with its lens. Currently, it’s a Leica SL2-S with a 90mm f/2.
- A tech pouch with cables, power adaptors, and a power bank.
- An extra battery for the camera.
- My wallet and passport.
- A pen, a pencil.
- A few FFP2 masks.
- A headset. These days Airpods Max.
- A pair of reading glasses.
- Sunglasses if the destination is sunny.
- My keys and an Air Tag.
My ideal bag contains all that. It’s as small as possible given the content, has separate pockets and compartments for everything, and offers accurate protection for everything.
I don’t care about having a waist or sternum strap, but I want the shoulder straps to be extremely comfortable and sturdy.
I want the bag to have a rigid structure, so it keeps its shape when not full, and a flat bottom, so it stands on its own.
Multiple access options are a must, ideally a rapid one for the camera. In addition, passport, wallet, and keys must be securely held and easily accessible.
Of course, it must be waterproof. That goes for the zippers too, and they must be smooth; that’s a potential deal breaker. Stitching and dividers must be high quality, not cheap thin crap. Velcro usage has to be minimal, and when unavoidable, only the best should be used.
A big plus for magnetic latches and usage of metal over plastic.
Last but not least, the perfect bag can be any color, as long as it’s black or grey.
The full list of bags
As a first exercise, I will try my memory and list all the ones I have ever owned and then check which ones aren’t on the market anymore to eliminate them from the list. What’s the point in reviewing a backpack no one can buy?
Hold my beer. I’ll be back in a minute.
All right, between working from memory and checking my email archive, I identified a list of 32 bags. Most of them are backpacks, and they are still on the market. So when the name is
stricken through, it means they are not sold anymore; when it’s in italics, it’s not a backpack.
Before you picture me in a room full of bags, I must tell you that I have gifted or sold all of them but two. I love bags, but I hate accumulating things.
Over the following weeks, I’ll share what I think of them, and as I publish those reviews, I’ll add links to the list below. Please don’t be scared because I didn’t keep most of them; they weren’t all bad. Most were quite decent, but they didn’t function for me.
Python Pack Python Blur Boa Flow Cobra Pack
- Creator’s Road Mentor
- FreeLine BP 350 AW
- Fastpack BP 150 AW II
- StreetLine BP 250
- Urbex BP 28L Plus
- Chicago Medium
- McKinnon Camera Pack 35L
- McKinnon Cube Pack 21L
- Peak Design
- DNA 16 DSLR
- DNA 16 PRO Messenger
- The North Face
- Custom Classic Messenger Bag
- Altmont Original