The whole package

My family members often tell me that I love backpacks and end up endlessly collecting them. I don’t agree with that statement. It may have been truer when I was young and wanted new and shiny things but now it’s not. Now I find backpacks frustrating and disappointing. It’s not that I love them, it’s that I keep buying them hoping that the new one will meet my needs and then it doesn’t quite do what I want.

So I try again. And again. And again.

At this point in time I don’t actually like either of my two main backpacks. One is comfy but a bit small and quite ugly. The other has a fatal design flaw that stops it from being very useful and lacks a laptop pocket. I plan to use them until they die or I get enough money to be able to replace them without it ruining my finances for the month — I inhabit that space where if you gave me $100 it would profoundly improve my level of happiness that is known as being poor and precariously employed — though since second job came along I purchased new pants without checking my account balance and being really stressed so life is better than it was. I also feel this strong need to use things because they are in my possession whether they worked out as planned or not.

I have thought about starting my own backpack company that makes backpacks that solve all the issues I’ve had with backpacks. My criteria include:

  • Cool and stylish
  • Supportive — I have issues with back pain and can’t do anything without proper support and waist straps for my everyday pack
  • Well designed including good internal organization and good external access
  • Has a laptop pocket
  • Performs well in rainy conditions

Usually you have to pick between stylish and comfortable and it shouldn’t be that way. My Hershel didn’t get replaced because they don’t have any concern for people with back issues in their design — no straps, minimal support. Once you’re past 20L I can carry enough weight that I need it. It’s a shame.

I’ve also found a Mountain Hardware backpack that I thought was the answer to all my questions. It looked decently cool in a bike messenger kind of way, it’s “waterproof” and it has great organization. Despite being over 25L there is no waist strap so I can’t go there. I emailed them but they just didn’t think this backpack where you can carry enough stuff to seriously injure yourself — see students with a laptop and textbooks — merits that basic piece of fabric and plastic. Alas. They have an alternative hiking oriented one but it’s just a big trough with no internal order. A lot of money to spend on something that will only disappoint me.

I love Fjallraven. It was everywhere when I was in Denmark and we all wanted the coats and bags. (As a sidenote Kankens are for small children. If you aren’t in elementary school they weren’t designed for you. They now make a photo insert for the Kanken if you want to be a super happy hipster grown up child.) We wanted them so badly but they were a touch on the expensive side so I resisted. I now have one of their backpacks, which is good other than poor external access — aka the deal breaker design flaw — and lack of laptop pocket. I always look at their stuff and imagine buying more of it when I have the funds to do so. I have one of their wallets in part because it reminds me of how content I was when I lived in Copenhagen every time I pull it out.

Today I saw one of their backpacks and I think it might just meet all my criteria. It’s the closest I’ve come so far. It has waist straps and back support. It has good internal compartments and convenient zippers. It is a good size. The material they use is water repellent. And there is a laptop pocket. I can buy it in this deep rich purple (or go with something a little more classic).

Now I know I’ve been fooled before — I’ll see something and think it is the answer to all my problems or at least one problem I spend too much time thinking about — but gosh do I like this one. It seems like it’s got it all, the whole package.

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