It has been a long time since our Gear & Gadgets folks agreed to review a backpack. It is not that there aren’t good, even great backpacks out there (there are), but after having looked at so many of them over the years we said we weren’t going to review another unless we found a really compelling reason to do so.
With Maroon Bell’s Weekender backpack, there were several.
The first reason is that, serendipitously, we were searching for a backpack which would be roomy enough to hold gear and a few days of clothes, yet not be so big that it couldn’t also be used as a day-pack.
The second reason is we loved the quality of the Maroon Bell gloves we looked at a while back. So when they said they had just designed a backpack called the “Weekender,” which sounded exactly like what we were looking for, we were intrigued. Our thought was if the Maroon Bell team had put that much care into a pair of gloves, what kind of effort had they put into the design of a backpack?
The third reason is that we really like their startup story.
The thing that everyone noticed immediately when they picked up the Weekender was the overall quality of the bag. This is not a flimsy piece of kit. It was clearly designed to be used, and had been built to “take it.”
The stitching throughout is heavy-duty. The pulls are made to be tugged, the handles grabbed, and the straps to hold-fast. They didn’t use plastic buckles on the shoulder straps, they used metal ones…when was the last time you saw that?
- Weight: 3.3 lbs; volume: 20L
- Material: 600D, PVC-coated, water-resistant polyester
- 2mm Cow Hide Crunch Leather bottom
- Brass YKK Zippers
- Nylon web strap with metal buckles
- You can stuff it with a vest and it acts as extra protection/padding for the gear (camera, binocs, etc) inside the pack.
- It makes a handy separator of clean/dirty clothing, food/clothing, or anything else you want in the same pack, but don’t want them to mix.
There are also two side pouches for things like a water bottle, a power bar, or anything else you may want accessible. Sewn into the top of each pouch is a magnetic closure so the items in the pouch don’t go AWOL 🙂
The bottom of the Weekender is protected by a 2mm thick layer of cow hide. This is both functional and attractive. We expect the bottom to wear with pride its share of scrapes, scratches, and stains, and be reminders of the adventures it was a part of and will continue to be for a long time to come.
The one thing we noticed about the Weekender was that it is not so soft that it will collapse into a heap even when not filled up. The pack definitely has enough structure to it to “sit up” even though it does not have an internal frame. This made it easy to put down/pickup/sling on one shoulder without flapping about and very comfortable when walking with it.
The reason for the structure is, of course, that the materials used in its construction are heavier-duty than many of the other day packs out there. More importantly, we noticed that its internal balance made it NOT feel like we had a large piece of luggage strapped on our back…always a positive.
On this particular outing, while the trails were not particularly rugged, we were hiking in all kinds of wet/mucky terrain. Not once did we have any issues with the pack shifting unexpectedly, or have trouble reaching for what we needed, or have to futz with a zipper or a strap adjustment in an awkward fashion…not bad for the FirstUse of an unfamiliar pack!
It was mid-April and both the chickadees and nuthatches were out in numbers getting things “ready” for Spring. Our birding friends, knowing birds as they do, brought along some dried worms to see if any could be convinced to pose for a few selfies.
For photographers who have tried to hand-feed birds AND get “the shot” at the same time, you know the backpack is the last thing you want distracting you by moving around 🙂
We are happy to report that the Weekender did its job without interfering with anything we were doing….it was there when we needed it and faded unobtrusively into the background when we didn’t, enabling us to focus on getting shots like this, this, and this.
We’ll be using the Weekender all through the Summer and Fall now that we can safely and freely travel (Thank You…COVID vaccine!!!).
Look for the InTheWild update sometime in the Winter 🙂
Links to items mentioned