I'm searching for the perfect stuffable day pack
As I slowly move away from the backpackers’ lifestyle and explore more grown up travel, I find myself yearning for some of my old gear. It might have been beaten up, scuffed and stained, but it was comfortable and it worked!
One item that’s been hard to give up is my daypack. I’ve mostly moved to bags and satchels, but there are still times when a small backpack is best, such as hiking and transporting snorkel gear to the beach. My old daypack (originally a zip-off from a main pack), was about 15L in size and, while comfortable, was just a tad too small and the design made it difficult to squish up.
Enter the Verto 26 from Northface’s Summit Series. This 26L daypack is ultra-light and can stuff into its own pocket. Designed for serious climbers who want a day bag for short excursions from base camp, it’s extremely durable and has a compression system double as a sleeping bag stuff sack (or maybe a laundry bag?)
I love that it holds two sets of snorkel gear, towels, and snacks for a day at the beach. It would also be perfect for packing blankets and a full picnic or even be used as a light overnight bag for short excursions from my main base. While it is available in some bright colors (yellow, anyone?) I went for basic black with grey and just a hint of red so I would have a lower profile when using it in the city.
The only downside was the price – I paid about $70 and saw many packs for under $35. However, all the other packs had a smaller capacity, were made of basic nylon, and had poorer quality straps. The Verto 26 comes with a chest strap, adjustable back straps, interior pockets, water bottle storage, and little details like an exterior reflective cinch cord (great to stuff a damp sarong on the outside of the bag). Some of the other packs were little more than nylon grocery bags redesigned to look like a backpack.
I’ve used the Verto several times now and I’ve always found it be comfortable and easy to use. I think this is a great example of a well-timed splurge to get far superior gear. This pack is exactly what I was looking for – it gives me extra space, plenty of organization, durability, stability, versatility, and I can really see it having tremendous potential in all my travels.
November 2014: I've been travelling with the Northface Verto 26 for over a year now and it has come with us on two major extended trips, as well as many camping excursions. The pack has held up very well and remains durable. It has proved quite useful while camping as a great day bag for the beach and easily holds all our towels, treats, and accessories. But during our two major backpacking trips (a month long, round the world trip and a second month in Europe), it was scarcely used. During our round-the-world trip, it made only one appearance, towards the end of our visit in Australia and even then we really only brought it on our day hike because we felt guilty about traveling with something and not using it! During our time in Europe, it was only used as a glorified laundry bag. It did make for a great laundry pack but we also could have used one of our regular backpacks.
I think the reason we aren't using it more is that it's almost TOO roomy inside. Small pieces of gear, like water bottles, phones, books, wallets, just end up in a pile on the bottom of the bag as there are no interior compartments (understandably, as it's a stuff style bag). Bigger items, like a laptop, kind of clunk awkwardly against my back (again, understandably as it's a stuff bag with no padding). It really works best when it's carrying several large, soft, squishy items (like extra sweaters on a hike) and a few smaller items. I still think it would be a fantastic day pack for someone doing backwoods camping but the time has come for me to realize it's no longer earning a place in our pack. Despite its light weight and compact design, we can't justify taking something we only use once or twice a trip. That space could easily be used to store an extra shirt or two and that would be much more useful to us. Instead of taking a 'back up" bag, we're going to focus on finding a better everyday day pack.
As always, I welcome and encourage your comments. Have you ever paid more than average for a piece of travel gear? Was it worth it?
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