There’s no way to make outdoor equipment light and packable — like really light and packable — without making sacrifices. A rugged duffel can’t be genuinely tear-resistant if the material that it’s made of is thin enough to pack down into a wad that can fit in your palm; a backpack that weighs less than seven ounces probably won’t have enough bells and whistles to make it functional. Matador, somehow, is flipping this assertion on its back, and it’s newly-revamped Advanced Series truly is the best example of durable and weatherproof ultralight travel bags.
Matador has made packable travel goods its primary beat. It makes small accessories smaller, producing tiny travel towels and a blanket that’ll fit in your pocket, but the Advanced Series is aggressive in shrinking larger items without diminishing the aspects that make them great. For example, there’s the Freerain24 2.0, which is made of waterproof Cordura fabric with sealed seams and taped zippers. It’s 24 liters — an ideal size for a daypack –, but it weighs 6.6 ounces and will fit in your pocket.
The Advanced Series gets even lighter than that though. In addition to the updated Freerain24 (and the Transit30 2.0, a five-ounce 30-liter duffel) there’s the all-new Freefly16. The Freefly is simpler than the Freerain. It’s still very weather-resistant with sealed seams and zippers and waterproof Cordura nylon, but it’s smaller at 16 liters and lighter at 4.8 ounces and replaces the rolltop construction with a classic U-shaped zipper. There’s also an additional front zipper pocket for small items and two expandable side sleeves that are big enough to accommodate water bottles and snacks.
Both of these backpacks are markedly better options than the drawstring sacks that many travelers opt for to save weight and they aren’t prohibitively expensive either. If your budget allows it, pick up one of Matador’s award-winning toiletry pouches too — they’re fantastic.
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