“City to mountain” is a cliché used far too often in the outdoor space — as is “trail to tavern,” “street to slopes” and “backcountry to bar.” It’s just marketing speak to help make an outdoor product more accessible and usable to the average consumer. When it comes to backpacks, however, there is some truth to the “city to mountain” mantra. An everyday city pack needs to be durable, have ample storage and have a muted design aesthetic unlike the colors often found in high fructose corn syrup–based sweets — so as not to stick out from the crowd. A new crop of outdoor-minded packs fits those criteria like a glove. Some are designed specifically for the city but also excel in the outdoor space while others are backcountry-bred through and through. We consider ourselves backpack connoisseurs, and these four packs are our favorites for a city to mountain, do-it-all backpack.
Millican Smith The Roll Pack 25L
Millican is based in Keswick, which is part of England’s Lake District, and is named after the self-proclaimed “Professor of Adventure,” Millican Dalton. Millican has a number of collections, but our favorite is the Mavericks collection. The bags are simple, constructed of durable and weatherproof Bionic Canvas and aluminum, rather than the industry-standard plastic hardware. Without getting too nerdy: Bionic Canvas is a blend of 56 percent recycled polyester, 40 percent cotton and 4 percent high-tenacity polyester. They are the perfect companion for a commute to the office or a spirited day hike. The Roll Pack 25L is the perfect size for a day hike and has enough room to carry all of your essentials for a day at the office — including separate laptop and tablet pockets.
When it comes to waxed canvas bags, one brand stands out above the rest. Based in the mountains of Scotland, Trakke makes each of its bags by hand. The Lecht is the brand’s most outdoor-oriented pack that comes complete with a removable hipbelt, two side water bottle pockets, a lid-style opening and a laptop sleeve. The Lecht comes in five different colorways of waxed canvas — which will only get better with age and wear. Twenty liters of space is plenty for the daily commute and if that commute happens to get you caught in a rainstorm, the weatherproof zipper will keep out any moisture.
Evergoods is a newly launched brand that has roots in GoRuck and Patagonia. The founders took what they learned at those institutions and created an ultra-functional pack fit for city life, outdoor pursuits and travel as well. It’s a panel-loader design, which means that the front flap of the pack zips completely open to allow access to the interior of the pack. For heavier loads and hiking applications, the MPL30 features a removable back panel, side compression straps, hipbelt pockets that are actually functional and well-padded shoulder straps. A laptop sleeve, exterior pockets and interior organizational pockets give it added function for city life.
Boundary Supply Prima
Launched on Indiegogo, Boundary Supply’s Prima pack system exhibits impeccable attention to detail and features some of the best clasp closures we’ve seen spec’d on a backpack. They are magnetic and easily snap securely closed. If you’re a photographer, the Prima has a soft, camera insert that can be accessed from the side. The insert can also be taken out of the pack completely and used as a standalone camera bag. It’s a sophisticated day pack that ticks all the boxes for commuters, outdoor adventurers and photographers alike.
Datum Trecknos Roll Top
Datum Outdoor was founded and is based in the small California town of Chico, but that’s not where it began selling its line of rugged bags. Since its inception, Datum’s line of American-made, water-resistant and durable Cordura fanny packs, slings and backpacks has only been available in Japan. But not anymore. After finding success in the Land of the Rising Sun, Datum is finally bringing the goods back home. The Trecknos Roll Top is the brand’s largest pack at 26L. If you’re looking for a made-in-America brand that no one has heard of, this is it.