Thursday, October 06, 2011

Review: Sea to Summit Ultrasil Daypack

I love my Flip & Tumble reusable bag. It's the perfect blend of compact and durable. Toss it in your pocket, and you've got a reliable extra bag you can count on. There's only one area where it's a flop: it fails the Wife will be seen in public while I use it test. Sure, it's fine for groceries. And maybe for carrying books back from the library. But as a general purposes bag, uh, no thank you. Too close to a purse, I suppose.

On the lookout for a more versatile replacement, I decided to give the Sea to Summit Ultra Sil Daypack a try. It's a backpack, so it got Shira's seal of approval off the bat. It's also wonderfully compact. I can drop it in a cargo-shorts pocket and there's a minimal amount of bulge. The only thing that jumped out as an issue was the thin little straps. It's hard to tell, but they really are quite narrow:

I thought, there's just no way this bag is going to hold up. And yet, it has. It's totally become my favorite bag.

The volume, 20 liters, seems just right for typical everyday carry. I can toss it my pocket as we head out of the house, and fill it with library books, or a few items from the store. And if I don't end filling it, it's tiny enough that it really doesn't matter. The material is impressively strong. I've used it for day hikes where I carried a 2 liter bladder and various other outdoorsy stuff. Yesterday, I brought it to a conference and filled it with my netbook and portable office, my urban "survival" kit, a water bottle (a Vapur collapsible bottle, another item worthy of a rave review), and a snack. As you can see, the bag nicely swallows up the contents:

When I arrived at the conference, they handed me a messenger bag (mostly for scwhag, but also a vehicle for conference materials). I was able to drop the daypack right in the messenger bag, and be on my way. If I had brought a larger bag, I would have probably end up carrying around both.

I've tried other foldable backpacks in the past. But they usually suffer from one of two problems: either they don't fold down that small, and so the fact that its packable isn't really of much use, or it is compact, but rips easily because the material is so flimsy. From what I can tell, Sea to Summit cracked the problem and found a way to deliver the best of both worlds.

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