Apr 14, 2014

If you can, try to ignore this guy's bulging forearm veins and take a look at these pants.  They remind me of Charharts, without weighing thirty-five pounds.  They are made of some synthetic material that allows you to bound up mountains without chafing, as well as more standard activities.

The Desperado and Exile seem to me as the best-looking of the Kuhl line, with the 'tactical" look.

"The Law" pants 



Site: http://www.kuhl.com/kuhl/mens/pants/desperado/

Kuhl Pants are Kewl

Last month I said to myself, "Hmm, I need a backpack."  An innocent enough thing, that slowly turned into an all-consuming quest to find the best one.

Maybe it's because I'm getting older, but more and more I feel a need to ditch the old junk and just invest in something that fits my personality.  Call it vanity if you must, but really I think its a basic interest in personal apearance.  A Jansport or bargain bin backpack just screams "derelict," and when I see a grown man with one I can't help but view him a bit unfortunate, possibly homeless.  And no, duct tape doesn't help.

After looking at EVERY backpack image on Google, and toying with the bad idea of making my own, I found a handful that are pretty sweet.  This quest also gave me a good idea of which companies are doing original designs.

All of these companies have a pretty good track record for making very durable and quality deigns, but keep in mind that this guide focuses more on the designs that I found most appealing, which is less bright neon hiking and more dark urban strolling.  

Company - Tumi
Favorite Pack - The Alpha Bravo 5
Price - 250-300$

Tumi is a pretty well respected name in luggage and bags, but I always viewed their stuff as a little...how to put this...snobby.  Yep, more runway than Jetway in my opinion.  But the Alpha Bravo Knox has a certain appeal to it.  It's a little military, a little stylish.  I think the zippers would look a little better if they weren't there and replaced with flaps...but hey, still a nice look.

You might expect this bag to be a wee bit cheaper having been made in Thailand, where I'm told the workers are paid in encouraging smiles, but what it lacks in affordability it makes up for with design.  Inside the pack it has a separate compartment for your files or random paperwork/flat stuff, which is pretty nice, and in my opinion every pack should have.  

  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 12 x 17 inches; 2.5 pounds

Company - VSTR
Favorite Pack - Nomadic Pack
Price - 395$

Now we are getting into the "Ooph, 400 bucks" arena.  Well, yes, but this pack is damn cool.  As you can see from the side view, the laptop satchel compartment detaches.  The VSTR Nomadic is aptly named, as it does look like something a nomadic person might carry over some scorched apocalyptic wasteland.  But again, like the Tumi, the Nomadic also somehow pulls off a sophisticated look.

Available at www.VSTR.com

Key Features:

•Included compact stowable nylon hammock for those last-minute sleepovers

•Zip-off stylish removable laptop bag

•Durable waxed cotton canvas exterior and nylon interior for weatherproof coverage and extended travel

•Wet/dry storage with waterproofed zipper, wisely placed at the bottom of the bag

•Ergonomic and storable back straps for when you decide to check your bag

•Plenty of pockets on the side of the pack for quick access to little incidentals

•Rucksack entry with ample internal volume for a week’s worth of necessary wears

•Excellent styling that transitions from extended surf travel to fancy jet setting

•Minimal logo placement

•Zipper pull tabs that double as leash ties

Company - Ignoble 
Favorite Pack - Cora Classic Rucksack
Price - 250-300$

L.A-based company Ignoble is just one of many companies making it known that American quality and engineering does still exist.  In fact, you might notice that many of the packs in this list are either startup companies or based in the U.S.  I think this is because independent companies have to work a lot harder to stand out if they are going to make a squeak in the loud corporate world.

The Cora Classic is a well-constructed rucksack made with 400d high density nylon, with a YKZ zipper across the back, which I'm told is about the best zipper there is.

Also, much like Mission Workshop (see below) all of Ignoble's products are very stylish and unique.  I didn't see one backpack in their arsenal I wouldn't wear.  

Check out Ignoble HERE

Company - Ember
Favorite Pack - Ember Backpack
Price - 200-500$

Do I even need to say anything here?  Well, read more here.

Company - Mission Workshop 
Favorite Pack - All of Them!
Price - 200-500$

Although I'm a pretty big Ember fanboy now, I think Mission Workshop is still the king of cool when it comes to backpacks.  Like Ember, they offer tons of customization on their site.  If the Ember is a little too "Mad Max" for you, Mission Workshop is a good alternative with its more sleek style.  

For my money, I'm leaning toward the Fiztroy with its very simple design, although I am also equally leaning towards the Arkiv Field Pack, which essentially means I'm standing still, clenching my bank card.  Regardless, I will probably end up going with one of these packs.  300$ might be a lot to spend, but these things are built to last, and I think they would make a good conversation piece.  

You can check out their site here .

They also sell quite a bit of other drool-worthy stuff.  

So there it is.  There are a few I left off the list that were pretty cool but just didn't do it for me.  Dakine, Carhartt, Herschell...

The Nixon Landlock almost made it on here but I just couldn't shake the opinion that it looked like something a teenager skateboarder would smuggle wine coolers out of his mom's house with.

What did I learn from this quest?  Well, that there is lots of money to be made in the backpack design industry.  Ember made a quarter of a million in sales off Kickstarter.  Mission Workshop is on fire.  And yet, there is a paucity of sleek and stylish backpacks out there.   It was actually a shock to me.  Almost all the backpacks I painstakingly checked out offered hardly any "cool" factor whatsoever.  It boggles my mind that these giant companies can't hire a few art-design students who would draw up a better design in about 5 minutes, which is exactly what these upstart companies are doing.

I hope this post has shed some light on whats out there.  Obviously, everyone's taste is a little different.  You may like penny-loafers and green alligator-skinned "carry-alls" (man-purse).  You might like bags with all sorts of horrible netting.  You might even think this abomination is the bee's knees...

All spelling errors were done on purpose to annoy you.  

Guide to Badass Backpacks

When I started looking for a backpack last month I had already figured out my criteria for it.  I wanted something that had pouches on it that were easy to access, rather than digging around in the main compartment.  I wanted something that stood out and didn't blend in with all the other North-Face-style yuppie-wear.

Then I saw this...

The Ember backpack is fully customizable.  You can add a slew of pouches, snaps, handles and more.  The bag features fleece lining to keep your precious lil' gadgets precious.  It's got waterproof lining...yada...yada...whatever it looks fricken rad!  

But as-per-usual there is a catch to this awesome backpack.  Apparently, it's so awesome, that it's not really for sale.  

Okay well it was...for a "donation" on kickstarter (when you donate money for a product that is actually called purchasing, but whatever...).  The project has already raised over a quarter of a million and has concluded, therefore I guess you and I johnny-late-shows will have to wait for these to become available by Ember.  


check it out here

Ember Tactical Backpack




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