Light backpack for work and travel
June 12, 2012 2:29 AM   Subscribe

I am trying to find a light backpack that I can use daily to work and also for short trips, and that does not look too bad. More details after the cut.

My partner and I started looking at backpacks that can hold a few changes of clothes and toiletries for day trips to substitute our huge and heavy Targus (capacity of 40 litres and 1.5 kg). We have a good sized Puma (best link I could find; 22 litres and 400g). We want something along the lines of the latter to travel.

I also wanted the backpack to double as a work pack --- I carry my small laptop, a notebook, an umbrella, and some odds and ends. In other words, if it works for a three-day trip it will also work size-wise for work. But I wanted it to be better looking than our Puma.

This is a laundry list of the characteristics I am looking for, in order of importance:

- Weight: less than 700 g.
- Capacity: between 20 and 30 litres.
- The main compartment (or a sizable one) should have two zipper pulls that can be locked with a cable lock like this one.
- Available in the UK.
- Price range: up to £ 40 (might be stretched if I convince myself that this is a case where it is better to invest more right away).
- Durable and not too flimsy.
- Better looking than our Puma; it would be good if it were fairly unisex that it would suit both me (I am a 1.60m -- 5'3" early-30s female) and my SO (1.80 m -- 5'11" early-30s male); if not, I prefer to err to smaller, more delicate and feminine bags.

I have looked online quite a bit (including old AskMes) and I am quite overwhelmed so far. I found North Face ones pretty, but the Flyweight seems flimsy and I am not sure about the zipper pulls; others seem quite heavy (almost 1 kg). Are they really heavy or have I overlooked something? Others I have looked at: Kanken (lovely but very expensive), Berghaus, Jansport, Eastpack, Lowe Alpine, Highlander, Osprey.

Is there anything that could fit the bill?
posted by natalinha to Shopping (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds like a Pakuma Akara backpack would be a very good fit for your needs.

I've had mine for several years and have used it on a daily basis to carry around my beast of a work laptop. It has seen me through a fair amount of international travel and been used for a range of outdoor activities. It is in pretty much the same state as when I bought it.

I think it meets all your criteria, although the K1 model (23 litres) appears to be currently retailing in the region of £50 (which I think is definitely worth it).
posted by oclipa at 2:58 AM on June 12, 2012

Lulu lemon Cruiser. Best backpack I have ever owned.
posted by JoannaC at 5:26 AM on June 12, 2012

I've hauled a North Face Ion 19 around the world for years and use it almost-daily to work. It's held litres of petrol on India, litres of booze in SF, Macbooks of various kinds, and the occasional animal here and there. I've crushed a few of the buckles (replaceable) and severed one of the webbings in a motorcycle crash (just sewed new webbing in its place) but otherwise it's going strong. I don't like the newer models quite as much, feature-wise, but TNF does make a good day pack.

That said, for a 3-7 day trip, I'll use a larger Vaude that's better in the rain and has an internal frame to keep the heavier loads off my back. I can't fit a long weekend of stuff in an 18-20L bag, so I'd rather have the right tools for each job. They certainly make a good bag as well and have plenty of options in the hiking/trekking categories that seem to fit your needs.
posted by kcm at 5:53 AM on June 12, 2012

Probably more than you are willing to pay, but do check out Tom Bihn Bags. I have the Smart Alec, which holds my 15" laptop plus books, thermos and lunch-kit with ease and seems to have been built out of adamantium. You can beat it up and it still looks new.
posted by LN at 5:54 AM on June 12, 2012

Thanks for all suggestions so far, I will look into them this evening!

I just forgot to mention that the backpack is for short urban trips, not so much for hiking or trekking.
posted by natalinha at 7:03 AM on June 12, 2012

My husband and I both get a lot of use out of our Deuter bags. We both have a Futuras in different sizes, and they've held up to a lot of abuse.

I'm having trouble finding one that exactly meets your specifications. This has the size and weight, but no zipper pulls. This is a little heavy and a little more expensive. Maybe this? But if you find one that suits you, it will last forever.

And if you decide that you don't want to share, they have bags specifically sized for smaller frames.
posted by oryelle at 12:39 PM on June 12, 2012

Thanks for all your help! I found the Pakumas a bit expensive for their look, but smart. Tom Bihns were out mostly because of price and unavailability in the UK, but they do look awesome. I looked at all Vaudes and wanted them all, but couldn't make myself buy any right now. In the end I found one that met all criteria: Deuter Spider. As they are releasing a new Spider model, I found a new for only £ 30 at a shop online! :)

Thank you all again!
posted by natalinha at 1:17 AM on June 13, 2012

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