Anyone who’s ever done a day of hiking knows that, sometimes, you just want to sit down and take a break for a couple of minutes to rest your weary legs. Trouble is, nature hasn’t gotten around to accommodating our ever-so-reasonable desire to have chairs everywhere we go. Oftentimes, taking a load off can mean the indignity of flopping down on the ground (like some sort of… animal!), getting your clothes all dirty and ending up less content than you were before.
Thankfully, the good folks at Fjällräven have come up with a solution to this problem: the Singi Stubben backpack ($250), which doubles as a stool.
Not the kind you step on, mind you, but the sort you’d find in a bar — a backless place to sit. You can’t tell just from looking at it, but beneath the sustainable fabric skin (a new feature for the bag) lies a metal endoskeleton that provides added strength far and above what you’d expect (kind of like a Terminator). The folding top cleverly conceals a padded cushion, which provides a place for your tired tuchus to rest once you set the bag down on its base.
The 27-liter main compartment can be accessed either through the top or, if you don’t feel like undoing the handy clasp, using a zipper around the periphery of the front. Two smaller zipper pockets on the front offer room for smaller items you want easy access to, while daisychain loops on the sides provide a way to suspend more gear if need be.
Having tested this pack camping and as a daily travel bag, I’ve found it to be quite handy. The frame is light enough that you’d never know it was there, though it does restrict the bag’s capabilities a bit; larger objects like (my giant-sized) hiking boots took some Tetris-ing to get past the mouth of the bag, and you don’t have the ability to pack it to the limits of the fabric the way you can with a squashy bag. The welcome tradeoff? The seat itself is much more comfortable and sturdy than you’d expect from, ya know, the top of a backpack.
But while the stool function is certainly cool and clever, I’ve actually found this trademark feature to be helpful in another way. With most backpacks, loading them vertically is a bit of a pain; you either need to reserve one hand for holding the bag upright, leaving you with just the other hand to grab items and stuff them in, or you’re stuck trying to balance it somehow and hoping it doesn’t fall over and spill all your stuff on the floor (a particular annoyance of mine at the gym.)
With the Singi Stubben, though, those concerns disappear; the pack will stay upright with the top open until the stars turn cold. Once the gyms reopen and I’m back in the habit of popping by after work, you can bet this bag will be my daily companion.