Everyday Backpack Roundup — 2018

Backpacks have been around forever, and for good reason — they’re great for carrying around your essentials, whether that’s a laptop and files for work, shoes and clothes for hitting the gym, or water and extra layers for a hike. But because backpacks can be used for so many different things, there’s massive number of options and variations out there.

So we’ve rounded up a few of our favorites for everyday use — i.e., these packs are not intended for technical climbing, backcountry skiing, multi-day backpacking, etc. We’ve outlined here where each one excels to help you figure out which might work best for you.

So check out the options below, and let us know if you have any other suggestions or products you’d like us to review in the future.

Patagonia Refugio Pack 28L
Stated Volume: 28L
Measured Weight: 653 g
MSRP: $89

Best For: a bit of everything

Blister's Everyday Backpack Roundup — 2018
Patagonia Refugio 28L

The Refugio is one of the most versatile packs here, and is a great option if you’re looking for one pack you can use for everything — from commuting to work to day hikes on the weekend.

With one large main pocket, a padded laptop sleeve, another compartment with plenty of sleeves and other pockets, and an external, zippered stash pocket, the Refugio offers plenty of organization options. Its mesh straps and backpanel provide better breathability than the Douchebags Scholar pack (see below), and they work well for most casual hikes. The Refugio is the most technical / outdoorsy-looking pack here, but if you like the aesthetic, the Refugio works very well for both urban and outdoor use.

Douchebags The Scholar
Stated Volume: $99
Measured Weight: 755 g

Best For: stylish simplicity

Blister's Everyday Backpack Roundup — 2018
Douchebags The Scholar

With only the essential features and a minimal aesthetic, the Douchebags Scholar is worth a look if you think the other packs here look a little too “busy.” The Scholar feels perfectly at home in the city, but its non-ventilated backpanel and stripped-back straps mean that it’s not the best option for longer and / or hotter hikes.

The Scholar doesn’t have a lot of features, but it has most of the ones you’ll probably need for day-to-day use. A laptop sleeve, two exterior accessory pockets, and front compression straps let you split up your gear without compromising the pack’s clean look. So if you prioritize simplicity over maximum features and trail-capability, check out The Scholar.

Mystery Ranch Robo Flip
Stated Volume: ~21L
Measured Weight: 796 g
MSRP: $99

Best For: wet weather

Blister's Everyday Backpack Roundup — 2018
Mystery Ranch Robo Flip

Mystery Ranch is known for their burly backpacking, hunting, skiing, and military packs, and the Robo Flip takes the durability and weather resistance of their technical bags and packages it in a more urban-friendly style. With TPU-coated panels and a top-loading main compartment, the Robo Flip will work well when you run into a bit of precipitation on the way to work or on a hike.

In terms of features, the Robo Flip is pretty minimal, with a single main compartment, one top accessory pocket, a laptop sleeve, and an internal sleeve for your water bottle. However, all those features work well, and I really appreciate the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your thermos isn’t going tip over and spill all over your possessions inside the pack.

The Robo Flip’s straps are the most supportive of the packs here, and when combined with its mesh backpanel, they make the Robo Flip a very good, more minimal alternative to the Patagonia Refugio if you don’t want a ton of pockets and compartments.

Deuter XV 3
Stated Volume: 21L
Measured Weight: 918 g
MSRP: $130

Best For: clean styling and plentiful organization

Blister's Everyday Backpack Roundup — 2018
Deuter XV 3

While it might look simple on the outside, the Deuter XV 3 has plenty of pockets and organization options. It has a padded laptop sleeve with several other interior pockets for your small essentials, an interior zippered accessory pocket that’s great for a phone or sunglasses, and an exterior zippered compartment with even more pockets. And despite all that organization, the XV 3 maintains a simple design that doesn’t look out of place in the city.

Its roll-top closure doesn’t offer the quickest access, but it also includes a water-resistant zipper that lets you access the main compartment. The XV 3’s detachable waist belt and ventilated straps and backpanel mean that, like the Robo Flip and Refugio, it can handle moderate day hikes in addition to casual use.

If you like the minimal look of The Scholar or Robo Flip but want the ability to separate and manage all of your smaller items, the XV 3 could be the pack for you.

Aer Duffel Pack 2
Stated Volume: 24.6L
Measured Weight: 1251 g
MSRP: $170

Best For: carrying lots of stuff in separate compartments

Blister's Everyday Backpack Roundup — 2018
Aer Duffel Pack 2

The Aer Duffel Pack 2 is the best option here if you want a bag that can seamlessly transition between work, the gym, and travel. It’s also the most feature-rich pack here, with a ton of pockets — a separate laptop sleeve with smaller zippered pockets inside, a bunch of small exterior pockets for accessories, a large main compartment with a vertical-access zipper, a deep, exterior water bottle pocket, and a separate, ventilated pocket for your gym shoes / stinky clothes.

The Duffel Pack 2 is the bulkiest option here, but if you like to carry a lot of stuff and keep it all neatly organized, it’s an excellent option. Its construction is also extremely burly, particularly in the 1680-denier ballistic Cordura version.

3 comments on “Everyday Backpack Roundup — 2018”

  1. Once again, Blister on point reviewing stuff I’d actually want to buy.
    May I make one humble suggestion: would you guys mind adding actual weights for each of the packs?
    I know these are primarily urban/commuter models, but knowing how much pack weight you’ll have to schlepp along w/ your gear is always relevant.
    (Case in point: my bombproof, brilliantly organized photography backpack from Lowe Pro has only been used once in 10yrs b/c it weighs 3x as much as any other pack I own, and I’m not even willing to lug that extra weight around town.)

  2. There was no better place to put this but I wanted to share one of my strongest annoyances with backpacks. The sternum strap slider is in my opinion a plague on the backpack landscape. Of the mainstream companies, Gregory, Patagonia and BD are changing this with more robust and more easily repairable options. I am done buying backpacks with a fragile plastic clip taking such a role in carrying comfort. There is no good reason for its existence apart from laziness and a lack of attention to detail.

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