I’m a huge gear and gadget guy. I also am a huge backpack guy. I love finding the best way to carry my gear everywhere I go. Maybe you can relate — as I look to coffee shops opening back up, and offices allowing you to return to work, I start thinking about that commute. I start thinking “Wow, not only am I going to actually have to wear pants, but I will need to carry my things to work again.”
Maybe you have a bag you love, maybe you don’t. Regardless, these bags are worth considering. They are some of the best gear bags I could find, with storage and organization for even the most gear heavy nomads.
H2 Hex Anti-Microbial Backpack (Kickstarter)
In case somehow you have not been affected by 2020 so far, here’s the deal. Everyone, regardless of your stance on masks or no masks, is more aware of germs. Hex decided to not only answer the growing need to transport gear back to the office but created one to do it cleanly.
My favorite part of this backpack, and the one that caught my eye the most, is the wireless charging zone on top of the backpack. Especially in this world right now, I’m a little more cautious about putting my things down. I make sure to grab a sanitized cart, a clean pen, and use my CleanKey on any other surface.
With my Hex backpack, I can wirelessly charge my phone on top of my backpack — keeping my phone off of a dirty table and eliminating getting out a wireless charger that then gets dirty. Beyond this, there is a plethora of storage and even a laptop or tablet sleeve. Hex utilizes only one of the traditional side spots for a water bottle holder, freeing up the second side for a padded phone holder. Hex also includes a rainfly waterproof cover, utility straps, luggage passthrough, and more.
H2 Lander Traveler 35L Backpack ($175)
Weighing in at one of the bigger bags I reviewed, I find myself quite fond of the Lander 35L Traveler Backpack. As I have found to be very useful and now expected, Lander’s bag is waterproof and has great cargo sections. What I love most about this bag is the unique rolltop entry, with the accessibility of a zipper as well. I can reach my items while still having the beneficial functionality of a rolltop.
The icing on the cake for this bag is the beautiful color it comes in. I can only describe it as the fabric version of the midnight green color that the iPhone 11 is offered in. The crashpad is perfect to hold my iPad Pro or my Macbook while the internal storage is great for gear organization. For my chargers and quick access items, I love the front organization. I can fit all of my gear and yet still have room to add a change of clothes, pair of shoes, or my pajama pants in case my work pants are too uncomfortable to wear again.
H2 Timbuk2 Never Check ($200)
Timbuk 2 stepped it up with this bag and answers the cry of every EDC-er (Every Day Carry). The cred of an EDC aficionado is to be prepared for anything (or maybe that’s the boy scouts…). Either way, the goal is to be prepared for everything, at all times. Daily, I find myself with a knife, multitool, writing utensils, and more, just in my pockets. If you include my bag, I have a whole new level of preparedness.
With the Never Check Expandable Backpack by Timbuk2 I can do just that. I never have to worry about checking if I packed my cables, chargers, hard drives or even my change of clothes because they have designed this bag to hold it all. Making this bag more distinct, I find myself loving the ability to hold on to it like a briefcase. I don’t carry it like that frequently, but having that handle and the side access design is incredibly useful when it is on the seat next to you on a plane (hello flying during COVID), or on a coffee table, everything is within easy reach.
Additionally, because of its organization, I can fit a lot in this small frame, meaning I do not have to decide which portable charger to bring, I just bring all three.
H2 Boundary Errant Pack ($160)
Hello fans of modular. I have always been a fan of being able to make something fit my needs with the slightest of ease. Boundary has designed this beautiful backpack to work alongside several add-ons or modular internal/external pieces. These are designed for camera use, gadgets, travel, commuting, and even planning a weekend.
This bag has a zipper but also has a unique fold over and clasp-close top. This allows for attaching accessories but also makes for a very unique access point. To solve the potential internal storage reachability problem, Boundary allows the entire back side of the bag to be zipped open. I have come to love this feature, relying on it for quick and efficient access to my tablet, Macbook, chargers, and cables. The way my tech pulls safely away from other items I happen to be carrying is remarkably satisfying.
The second feature that blew me away is how the wet/shoe storage compartment is seamlessly integrated. When unused, this compartment isn’t even noticed. When it is used, from the outside looking in, it continues to remain unnoticed. I love the ability to tuck away a pair of shoes or a wet raincoat after walking indoors without the worry of it dampening my tech or other products.
H2 Incase Commuter with BIONIC ($100)
I’ve mentioned a lot of bags with a lot of cool features, daring outer looks, uncompromising storage, and varying capacity. Maybe you’re looking for something a little milder. Something that does exactly what you need, while looking incredibly minimalistic.
I have found the Commuter Backpack by Incase and BIONIC to be just that. Simple, tried and true, minimalist, and beautiful. While some backpacks attempt to shock and awe with new features, Incase decided to do just what is needed, and do it very well.
I love this bag for when I know where I am going and what I need. I have found it perfect for trips to the coffee shop, heading in for a meeting, carrying my day’s gear and looking sleek while doing it. While the bag has a laptop sleeve, I opted to trust my Macbook in the laptops sleeve, and while the internal organization may not have as many pockets as other bags, the matching organizer accessory pouch is remarkably handy.
I find myself carrying what I truly need for that day, which is freeing. When I head to get some work done, I bring only what I need, I don’t lug around everything I could possibly get done that day. This helps me stay more focused and mentally organized.
H2 Coalatree Compass ($80)
While the world is struggling in so many ways, it may be time to consider how to be more eco friendly. Coalatree did just that in creating their Compass backpack. Made from recycled plastic bottles, I feel a little more responsible strapping this bag on my back. This is due to the recycled materials this bag is constructed from and the wonderfully hidden pouches that hide sensitive documents like a passport and wallet.
To maximize this bag’s emphasis on security, it has TSA approved zipper locks and is completely slash-proof. While the security is top-notch, it does not compromise in storage, comfort or features. There are a multitude of internal pockets and padded areas for tablets or a laptop. I can fit all of my gear in this bag without it feeling cramped, plus I have the peace of mind that my belongings are safe while strapped to my back.
H2 Lojel City Bag ($110)
As simple as it is, there is one thing that stands out most to me for this bag: ease of access. This bag is clearly designed with this one value in mind. I could talk about the stretchable side pocket to accommodate my 32 oz. water bottle, or the comfortable mesh cushion panel, but that does not match the ease of access to my gear. I have learned to love, and heavily rely on, the easy access top pocket as well as the beautifully designed internal pockets. So much so that when I look to my other bags that don’t have a top pocket I get frustrated. Without needing to open up this bag all the way or lay it on its side, I can reach all of my quick access products.