Category Archives: Bags

CamelBak Ultra 10

CamelBak Ultra 10 Hydration Pack – Comparison Old VS New

CamelBak Ultra 10 Hydration Pack – Comparison Old VS New

I’ve been thinking about getting a hydration pack for some time now. I have an REI Flash 22 that holds a hydration bladder, but it’s more of a daypack that can carry water and for running it’s not ideal. I looked at the Osprey models and some Ultimate Direction ones, but in the end I went with the CamelBak Ultra 10. I found a good deal on the 2016 CamelBak Ultra 10 at Amazon, but after trying the CamelBak Ultra 10 2017 version on locally, I opted for it.  Text below, and a video review below that. 

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2016 on the left in blue and the 2017 CamelBak Ultra 10 Hydration Vest on the right. 

The 2017 (black) Ultra 10 Vest is much lighter, weighing in at just 18 oz and the 2016 model weighs over 25 oz. Keep in mind that’s (obviously, right?) with no water in the bladder. If you add 70 oz of water they’re both going to be much heavier. 

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I like the fit of the 2017 (black/right) better. It’s lighter, sure, but the material is thinner and seems less bulky all around. There’s a lot less padding between the hydration baldder and the back panel, which is mesh, on the 2017 version. 

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The CamelBak website claims there’s about 200 cubic inches difference between the sizes of the packs, with the new (2017) version being a little smaller. To me, it appears to be completely in the bottom three inches of the large, main compartment. In day to day use and with a reasonable load for a long run, I can’t imagine ever noticing a difference. 

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The chest straps on the 2017 version (again, black, right) are thinner and the buckles are smaller. I find the buckles small enough to be difficult to manipulate and much harder to buckle than the 2016 version. Both models have the stretchy lower strap and static upper strap. Straps on both models can be moved up and down to accommodate different users. I found the ones on the older model to be easier to move, but I think once users have them set to personal preference they’ll probably not move them much – I don’t think I will anyway. 

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The shoulder straps on the 2016 model have an adjustment strap and side-release buckle. Also, the straps on the 2016 version aren’t as breathable as the mesh straps on the 2017 version. The 2016 version requires the straps to be undone when accessing the water bladder in the back (at least it much easier if you undo them) but the water is easier to get to on the 2017 (black) version. 

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The zippers on the 2017 version seem to be a bit smaller, although from the photo it’s not obvious. In reality they’re close enough that nobody will probably notice. The zipper pulls are different, but I’m not sure that matters. 

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This is the crux of my decision process right here. My phone (Samsung Galaxy S5) fits in the chest pocket on the black 2017 version, where it simply won’t fit in last years’ model. That was the clincher for me. I want to haul my phone with me occasionally, and this is the perfect spot for it. I fact that it fit a little better in the newer model sealed the deal for my. 

Thanks for looking! Good luck. 

Video below: 

 

 

 

Nomatic Kickstrarter Travel Bag First Look and Review

Nomatic Travel Bag Kickstarter First Look and Review 

When the Nomatic Travel bag went live on Kickstarter in the summer of 2016, it was pitched with all sorts of hyperbole (like most Kickstarter stuff). It was supposed to change the way I travel, keep me more organized, and make packing a breeze. Plus it has over 20 new features that, of course, no serious traveler can really live without. 

I wanted one. Kind of. The pitch video was cool, the bag looked usable and clean. I love bags.

I couldn’t justify another bag though. I simply have too many. I have too many and I’m caught up in this “Made in the USA” phase right now that involves Topo Designs, GoRuck, and Tom Bihn bags more than any others. I’m not against bags made elsewhere; I’ve owned lots of them. I have several Patagonia bags I like and tons of other bags made elsewhere. My Strayfoto Youtube channel stands as a testament though that I’m partial to bags made in the USA. I’ll usually spend my money on those over most other options. 

Luckily my buddy wanted this one bad enough that he ordered it. He was kind enough to let me borrow it for a fist look.  Video below, text and more photos below that. 

It’s a decent bag. The zipper to the main compartment is under the shoulder straps instead of on the outside of the bag. This gives it  a very clean look if it being worn backpack style. It looks pretty sleek that way (yeah, I wish I’d shot some photos of that too before I gave it back). Nomatic Travel Bag from Kickstarter

If you’re using it duffel bag style, then the shoulder straps are on the bottom and you’ll have to flip it over to get into the main compartment. It’s not a big deal, but something to consider. Someone pointed out to me on YouTube that I’m an idiot and the duffel straps merely pull through and lift up on the same side as the entry, making the back part of the bag the bottom. This makes more sense than the way I was doing it, and makes the straps seem long enough with no worries. The main zipper appears to be waterproof. Nomatic Travel Bag from Kickstarter

There’s a ton of pockets and they’re well-organized. There’s a fleece one for a phone or glasses, and there’s an RFID one that should block some forms of ID theft. Nomatic Travel Bag from Kickstarter

Shoulder straps are wide and flat with a little padding. I like shoulder straps like that; I find them more comfortable than thick ones. It’s got a sternum strap. The top handle is well padded and seems like you could carry it by that handle without too much trouble. All in all it seems like a well-built, well-designed bag. Nomatic Travel Bag from Kickstarter

Without really having a chance to use it I was cautiously optimistic that it was a good bag. I thought the laundry hamper / mesh bag was a little cheap and the dopp kit or shaving bag matched. These both seemed like afterthoughts rather than quality matching accessories. I know I’d rather have a larger laundry bag than that one and I’d rather my existing dopp kit than the one the bag came with. Nomatic Travel Bag from Kickstarter

All in all though, the Nomatic travel bag seems like a decent attempt at a travel bag, especially from a company that has made only wallets, notebooks and some quartz watches up to this point. 

As of this publication (Feb 2017) I can’t actually find out where to buy the bag. The link on the Nomatic page takes visitors to an Indiegogo page that doesn’t seem current. This is what led to my confusion in the video above. Hopefully the folks at Nomatic can get this cleared up and get this bag to more than just the backers at launch. 

 

UPDATE:

Someone on Youtube asked about a padlock for zipper RFID compartment and whether or not the padlock would work on the other zippers too… I never even noticed the lock.. I went back and found it. Yes. It’s there and it works on the RFID compartment and on the main zipper too. no others though, they’re not the right style. Photos below. I believe any TSA lock would work the same. Enjoy. 

Thanks. 

 

 

 

Ogden Made Two Bit Klettersack Review

Ogden Made Two Bit Klettersack Review and Video

Ogden Made Two Bit Klettersack Review

Ogden Made Two Bit Klettersack

Recently a buddy left his daypack at my place. Because it’s made in the USA, I couldn’t resist the temptation to review it. It’s called the Two Bit klettersack by Ogden Made. Ogden Made is a Utah-based company that has a modest range of gear from hats and t-shirts, to accessory bags and messenger bags. All the bags are made in the USA, and seem to share a simple yet functional design. ( I really want the Camo Snap-Back…)

Ogden Made Two Bit Klettersack

The Two Bit Klettersack is a top-loader design with metal closure hardware to secure the top pocket/flap. There’s two water bottle pockets (one on either side), and an access zipper that allows access to the lower half of the main compartment. The water bottle pockets are on the smallish side, and definitely eat into the interior of the pack. The access compartment, although not really large, opens easily and provides welcome access to what you want – which, in a top-loading pack, is always at the bottom. Every. Single. Time.

Ogden Made Two Bit Klettersack

The measurements on the Ogden Made website add up to make this bag measure somewhere around 33 liters. It’s not really anywhere near that big. As far as comparable daypacks go, I’d say this slots in around the same size as the Topo Designs Mountain Pack, which I reviewed here. The Two Bit Klettersack really wears more like it’s a regular sized 23-26 liter daypack.

Ogden Made Two Bit Klettersack

The computer compartment is accessible from the side zipper so users don’t have to access the top flap to get at the laptop. The back padding and straps are adequate for a pack of this size and not too padded. The straps are flat and wide, which I like.

Ogden Made Two Bit Klettersack

Ogden Made also offers a camera module called the Monte that fits in the zippered access panel at the bottom of the pack. On the website it seems to swallow a modest amount of camera gear and still allow reasonable access. It’s a feature I’d like to try out at some point. It’d be interesting to see how much I like it over several months.

The Ogden Made bag seems like a valiant early effort from a Utah-based company trying to keep manufacturing here in the US, which I admire. I don’t really love the metal hardware for the top flap, finding it finicky and not that easy to engage. It’s not awful, and I agree it’s a welcome departure from the long-standing tradition of ITW Nexus side release buckles, but I which they were easier to use. The Two Bit Klettersack is a decent pack. I wouldn’t call it on par with some other, more refined bags; it falls a little short when compared to some of Topo Designs more recent offerings, or any of the GoRuck bags, but it’s a great start. It actually reminds me a little of the first Topo Designs daypack I owned, and Topo has really matured and refined their packs over the last few years. I hope Ogden Made can experience the same level of refinement and growth. It’s always good to get my hands on some gear made in the USA.

Check out the video below for a better look at the features and check out my Strayfoto YouTube channel for more made in USA stuff and daypack / luggage reviews.

Topo Designs Mountain Pack Review and Video

Topo Designs Mountain Pack Review

I picked up the Topo Designs Mountain Pack a few weeks ago (it was a gift actually) and I’ve been hauling it around every day. It’s a decent medium size daypack. I like the bright colors, and I like the main compartment access from the zippered front panel.

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I usually carry a water bottle, a book, a jacket and a first aid kit when I’m out guiding and driving tours, and occasionally I’ll add a camera to the mix. The Topo Mountain Pack has held up well and been comfortable to wear. I think I could easily overpack it and it’d morph into a cylinder and be lame to carry, but as long as I’m careful it’s not too bad.

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Like I say in the video review, I think the top panel closure is a little difficult to manipulate. I see these types of closures on lots of bags now, and while I think they look great, they’re a little more difficult to work than the good old-fashioned side release buckles. The shoulder straps too are a departure from some of the older Topo Designs bags I’ve had, and I like the earlier models a little more. The shoulder straps on the older models are actually thinner and a little more comfortable.

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The Topo Mountain Pack is great backpack for folks that want a daypack that can do most stuff and still be fun to use. The laptop compartment isn’t anywhere near the level of protection offered by GoRuck, but it’s adequate for careful use. Topo Designs bills the Mountain Pack as as “one pack that can do it all.” I find that the Topo Designs can do just about everything well except be adapted for hydration bladder. A hydration bladder would easily fit in the laptop compartment and really allow this bag to go from travel to campus to the mountains seamlessly. I don’t know why most of their daypacks don’t have this feature. It’s a feature that GoRuck has incorporated into the outstanding GR1, and Topo could easily add this feature to truly make this “one pack that can do it all.”

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Other than the lack of a method of putting a bladder in the bag, I really like it. It’s (according to the Topo Designs website) 21.5 Liters and about 11X17X7 inches.

Check out the video above and leave any comments about the bag or let me know if there’s any other bags you’d like to see reviewed.

 

REI Flash 22 Lightweight Backpack Review and Video

REI FLash 22 Lightweight Backpack Review

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Check out the video review or keep reading for the old fashioned way… Thanks.

I’ve got daypacks, klettesacks, backpacks, knapsacks, shoulder bags, messenger bags, laptop bags and camera bags, but I never, for some reason, seem to have the perfect bag for any one thing. A few years ago Leah and I bought a couple REI Flash 18 backpacks for some light trail running. They’re good little bags, they hold a water bladder plus a little food and some light clothing. Perfect, right? No. Because I lost mine. Sure, maybe I loaned it someone or someone borrowed it without asking and never returned it… I don’t know. It’s gone. That much I do know. As much as I love Topo Deisgns bags, none of them are really lightweight and none of them are set up to accommodate a water bladder. I’m usually fine with a water bottle on a hike, but if I’m running I like to have a bladder. It’s easier to access and easier to carry and often it’s lighter once it’s empty – it certainly takes up less room once it’s empty than a water bottle does.

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At any rate I started shopping around. Bad idea. Now I’m pretty sure in the not too distant future I’ll have a Nathan’s Vest and an Ultimate Direction Fastpack 20 in addition to the REI Flash 22 I ordered. I settled on the REI Flash 22 mainly because of price. It’s cheap. Not necessarily cheaply made, but it’s certainly an affordable bag. I ordered it from REI as a year end closeout and got it for about $38.00. Much cheaper than anything Ultimate Direction is offering.

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I waffled back and forth between the REI Flash 18 and the Flash 22 for a little while – the 18 was even cheaper than the 22, but I’d had it (and secretly I hoped (still hope?) that I’d find it again) and decided I wanted a little more room in the pack department. The 18 is (I believe) so named because its capacity is ~18 liters, and the 22 is ~22 liters, so it’s a little larger. Also I was hoping for something that’d do double duty as stuffable, but full-featured daypack for travel. I wanted something that I could put a bladder in and go for a run, but that I could roll up and stuff in a larger bag to travel with – kind of a destination backpack that wouldn’t take up as much room or weigh as much as the 1000 Denier Cordura Topo Deisgns Pack that I usually take with me.

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I originally ordered the gray Flash 22, but only because the black was out of stock. I’ve got a thing for black bags. Most of my bags are black and I wanted one that matched. No luck though, as the closeouts were only available in gray. I ordered the gray one and a couple days later I noticed the black one was back on the sale list so I ordered it as well. My original thought was that I’d just return the gray one and keep the black one. I was quite surprised a week later when the black one was going back – not the gray one.

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The gray one is so much easier to look inside. One can open the top of the bag and actually see the contents. The black one is dark enough to qualify as a black hole. Anything you have in the bag will never escape the event horizon of it’s mouth – not due to gravity but simply because you won’t ever be able to find anything in the dark. After looking inside both bags (a feature that I tried to show in the above video) I opted to keep the gray one.

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It’s a good bag. It’s lightweight, it’s easy to use, and it fits well. It doesn’t bounce too much when running, but it’s not as secure as an ultrarunning style race vest would be. I’ve run with my Camelbak bladder about half full and while I find the sloshing noise annoying, it’s secure enough. The main compartment holds a jacket and some camera gear – enough to keep me reasonably happy. It’s a decent lightweight daypack at an affordable price. I tend to prefer stuff that costs five times as much, comes with some pseudo-ethos and is made in the USA, but this is essentially just what I was looking for, and it was cheap.

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Thanks for reading, stay safe out there.

Topo Designs Mountain Briefcase Review

Topo Designs Mountain Briefcase Review

I’ve had the Topo Designs Mountain Briefcase for a little over a year now, and it’s been my primary computer bag during that time. I was hesitant at first to get a bag that was this… loud? The duck camo really isn’t my style, but it’s grown on me and at least it’s unique; I’ve never seen anyone with the same bag. Check out my video review here, or scroll down for more photos.

The bag itself, like most other Topo Designs bags is made of 1000 denier Cordura fabric and the zippers are YKK. The bag, of course, is made in the U.S.A.

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I’ve had good luck with Topo Designs bags, and have bought several over the years. If you ever read my Topo Designs daypack review, you’ll remember I had an issue with one of the early models and they replaced it immediately. It’s nice to buy from a company that’s relatively local and dependable. I saw this bag at the Topo Designs store in Denver and later decided I couldn’t live without it, so I ordered it.

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I’ve used this as a computer bag and it’s about the right size for my 14″ laptop. There’s enough room to pack all my computer gear and maybe one or two extras – like a journal and a point and shoot camera. I’ve also taken everything out and used it as a primary camera bag with a couple Domke inserts, but ultimately found it ill-suited for that duty. I found minor issue with the Topo Designs Mini Mountain Bag review I did because I couldn’t fit a large manila envelope in it – or a magazine, or anything larger like that. With this bag that dilemma is solved. One bonus, I found it fits quite well under and airline seat and leaves enough room (mostly) for my feet as well. I like to use the little Topo Designs Accessory bags to organize some of the smaller cords, cables and card readers associated with my computer.

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When it’s full it’s a little heavy, but not uncomfortable. The strap, even with no padding, seems to do its job and the bag is rarely a burden.

I don’t have any real complaints… it’s tough to get it stand up straight when it’s full. It’s not wide enough to balance on its own, but I’m not sure I’d want it any wider. I suppose if you live where it rains a lot maybe the zippers could leak a little because they’re not covered by a flap. This is a genuine complaint I have about the early daypack, and one they’ve addressed in the latest model. It makes more sense to me to have a storm flap over the zippers on a daypack though where you might actually be out in the rain for some time. Seems like a computer bag won’t see as much rough use as a daypack. On the flip side, on the passenger seat in my truck it’s easy zip open and grab something out of it. There’s no water bottle holders on the sides – one of the features I really like on the Field Bag, but if you used the shoulder straps to carry it like a daypack then any side pockets would be worthless (sideways) anyway.

All in all it’s a bag that looks cool, provides a modest amount of protection for my computer, carries well, and is made in the U.S.A.

Thanks for looking.

Topo Designs Field Bag Review and Video

Topo Designs Field Bag Review

A few months ago, with the intention of downsizing a bit and perhaps carrying a little less, I bought the Topo Designs Field Bag. It’s a great little bag, and I’ve essentially replaced the Topo Designs Mini Mountain Bag I was using before. I generally like the Topo Designs bags – they’re well designed and they’re made in the USA. I’ve even have the Topo Daypack, and use it often.

Here’s the video review:

As shoulder bags go, the Field Bag is on the smaller end of what I can get away with- I usually pack bags until they’re full and then stop. I wish I could take only what I’m certain I’ll need, but usually I just pack until the bag is full and I can’t fit any more gadgets in there.

Topo Designs Field Bag Review

The Topo Field Bag is about 12x7x6 and holds a DSLR on one side if you want it to – as long as your lens isn’t too large. If you had a medium length L-Series lens and a flash and some memory cards and notebook, you’d just about fill the bag to the brim. I generally carry my Ricoh GR, a Canon S100, a GoPro, a few notebooks and some pens, and my phone and tablet. It fits just about right.

With that much stuff the bag isn’t too heavy to carry around for a while and the stuff isn’t too crowded. If you’re into packing heavy, the Field Bag is probably a little too small.

The hook and loop closure on the front seems secure enough and I’ve never had a problem with it opening inadvertently. The hook and loop on the front is a little loud – so this may not be the best bag if you’ve got anything secret planned. They’ll hear you coming the minute you try to get anything out.

It has some minimal messenger bag style straps that attach to the body side of the bag and hold the bag securely to your waist. Thankfully they also come off quickly and painlessly. The shoulder strap is great. It’s got just enough padding to be comfortable and the pad slides easily on the strap, making swinging the bag around front to get into it pretty easy. The water bottle pouches on the sides are welcome after having the Mini Mountain bag with no good way to carry a water bottle.

Topo Designs Field Bag Review

You can fit a DSLR in the bag (even with a large lens provided you remove the center divider) but you may not fit much else. While Topo Designs kind of markets the bag as a potential fishing bag, I usually just use it as a half camera bag, half every day carry bag. I like that on roadtrips it sits easily on the front seat of my truck and I can get into it if I need to.

Topo Designs Field Bag Review

Topo X Howler did a version of this bag as well, offered in a slightly different colorway.

Topo Designs Field Bag Review

If, like me, you’ve got to have what amounts to a man’s purse, you could do far worse than the Topo Designs Field Bag.

Pros:

  • Small
  • Bomber
  • Padded
  • Good shoulder strap
  • Holds a water bottle

Cons:

  • Small
  • Loud to open
  • Might not hold large cameras
  • Water bottles eat up interior room

Who it’s for: Someone committed to carrying less, but not ready to ditch the cameras quite yet. Oh, and fishermen. Maybe.

If you’re interested in Topo Designs Bags, check out my reviews on the Mini Mountain Bag and the Topo Designs Daypack. I’ve also just added a review and video of the Topo Designs Mountain Briefcase as well.

Classic Camera Tote Bag

Classic Camera Tote Bag

Strayfoto Classic Camera Tote Bag