Personally, I prefer a tote bag to a backpack. Sure, the weight's more evenly dispersed when it is spread out across both shoulders, but the tote offers easier access to the contents inside — and I rarely carry enough to warrant wearing a backpack. However, if I had the choice, I wouldn't wear either one: I'd stuff what I need to bring with me inside the pockets of a chore coat or cargo pants, because carrying a bag only makes sense when I'm towing a lot of stuff.
However, sometimes we're forced to, especially in the summer — when we need to bring supplies to the beach or snacks (and a book and headphones and maybe even a few bottles of beer) to the park. But what about when the bag is empty? It's a big, cumbersome accessory we'd rather leave behind, but wouldn't dare to because, well, we spent money on it, right? We plan to use it again some day, so we bring it back home (or tuck it under the ledge of the bar or between our feet at the table).
Epperson Mountaineering's Packable Climb Tote solves this pressing, albeit minor, problem. The bag, made in the U.S. from windproof nylon ripstop, is sizable when open, but it can pack down into its own accessory pocket that hangs on the inside. The top closes with a drawcord, while the straps turn into daisy chain on the side for attaching a water bottle or other add-ons. This way, when the bag is empty, you can stuff it into a jacket pocket or carry it by hand.
Sure, this seems like a simple issue, but think of it the opposite way, too. What if you're out without a bag — say going grocery shopping — and you end up with more than you intended? Fear not. The bag can unfold from within its own pouch, serving as a back-up bag when you spot an unexpected must-have or your other bag hits its max.