I travel through airports. A lot. I also like to get after it outside. So backpacks just make sense as travel bags for me. That’s why this 30-liter pack from Eddie Bauer works.
Hold up, you say? Eddie Bauer? That of the storefront placement next to the Banana Republic at your local mall (when malls were a thing)? Yes, that Eddie Bauer and things have changed recently for the nearly century-old outdoor company. In 2016, EB recommitted to its roots, promising to go back to performance gear–instead of just khaki shorts.
So in that vein, I would call the Adventure Trail Pack a rad little compromise between hardcore backcountry pack and mid-city satchel. Slick-looking ripstop nylon makes up the bulk of the backpack’s material base (with a couple of useful innovations). The first is a power mesh pocket on the front of the pack for flip-flops (if you’re traveling), wet gear or other stuff that didn’t make the main compartment cut. Then the back has a nifty airflow system so you don’t sweat all over the thing when you’re out called the FreeCool. Basically, all the padding is guarded by lifted mesh that keeps your wet, sweaty back off the pack and allows for air to flow more freely so you can dry.
The pack also has another new(ish) feature I actually think should become standard in packs, now. The top lid actually zips to the pack, so it doesn’t flop all over the place like the tops of most backcountry packs, that usually have some sort of strap to pull the top over a rip chord closure. EB’s feature definitely discourages that floppy feel you can get if you load a top pouch incorrectly.
The straps that secure across the chest and waist have a smaller, more city feel and the pack is extremely lightweight (as a big-bodied, card-carrying neanderthal, I think I would destroy it if I took it on a multi-day backpack trip). But for day touring in the winter on skis or snowboard, hoofing it down to the beach, or traveling through airports, this piece is perfect. A separate compartment on the inside can fit a hydration bladder but doubles nicely as a slip for the laptop. With its tool-carrying loops and ski straps, EB’s Adventure Trail pack has a hardcore outline but is ideally suited for the city. The takeaway? If EB is trying to re-invent itself, this is a really good place to start.