Fresh backpacks for the stylish man (AW14)

It’s high summer and for those of you looking to keep your backpack game strong this Autumn, it’s time to climb a tree and get an overview of what might be available. Strong backpack game? Not something you come across that often in the world of fashion, but believe me, a crummy backpack will really kill off any effort you have otherwise put into your outfit. Your company provided you a perfectly fine black nylon pack to carry your laptop home in? Kill it, kill it with fire! Nothing says “I have no sense of style” like a black nylon backpack. Not even if it’s a name-brand or even expensive one.

Given that I have pretty strong feelings about the matter, you may be wondering what I deem acceptable to sling over your back? Well, I have had a look around and found a few I like the look of. A couple of them I’ve featured before, but they’re so nice I can’t help include them again. Other are either brand new this season, or I’m just late to the game. I’ve tried to vary the price level a bit, from acceptably priced to rather expensive. Links included to shops that carry them, though in many cases there are multiple sources for them.

Here goes!

Carhartt Kong

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Starting out at the more reasonably priced end of the scale we have this neat pack from Carhartt. Not overly large at 13 litres, but if you don’t require a really large backpack, this could be just the ticket. The wool blend gives it a nice look, but means it’s not one you’d want to take out in heavy rain. Internal pocket, double zip and good shoulder straps. Link.

Carhartt Tramp

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A step up from the Kong we have the Tramp, also from Carharrt. A more mountaineering style of pack, with a main compartment and two side pockets. In 100% polyester and with a sturdy flap it will be more tolerant of rain. Again it has solid and adjustable shoulder straps, and also solid straps holding the flaps closed. Looks more expensive than it is! Link.

 

Millican Matthew Daypack

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In a somewhat similar style to the Carharrt Tramp we have the Matthew daypack from British Home of Millican. I know, I’ve featured this one before, but it truly is a really nice backpack. 22 liters capacity and you can open it top only, or also open the front to really get into the contents. Millican are very much about the eco, so this is made from organic cotton, recycled polyester and vegetable tanned leather. 3 internal pockets and 2 external water bottle pockets, plus a foldaway rain cover! And wide, padded shoulder straps. This pack has a huge amount of utility built in! Available in 3 different colours. Link.

Sandqvist Roald

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Swedish Sandqvist have managed to quite quickly become a very popular brand. The mix of Scandinavian chic design and reasonable ratio of price and quality means you see quite a number of them in use. Thankfully they have a lot of different models, so it’s not like the Fjällräven Känken where every hipster in town is sporting the same backpack! This one is a 20 litre version made from heavy cotton canvas. Natural leather is used for trim, side pocket covers and straps. The two external pockets are a nice design feature and the main compartment has both flap and drawstring to keep it safely closed. The contrast between the untreated canvas and the natural leather should evolve into a very pleasing look. Link.

Master-Piece Surpass

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Going for a more compact variant again, we have the Master-Piece Surpass backpack from Japan. I’ve featured Master-Piece before, as they usually have some quite distinctive backpacks available each season. Known for top build quality and impeccable hipster-credibility, the Surpass is one of their more reasonably priced models. This one in rugged cordura nylon, with lots of cowhide leather details. The straps are also in cowhide, which is a nice touch. Once all that hide settles inn it will look really nice. The pack has a section for a laptop in the main compartment, along with a zipped pocket and a key clip. All metal pieces are in brass, which again should age nicely. All in all a nice backpack with quality features and cheap for a Master-Piece. Link.

Ally Capellino Kelvin

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Going for a more lean and stripped down design, and also moving into the waxed fabric scheme of things, we have the Kelvin from Ally Capellino. Waxed canvas and bridle leather, simple and rugged. Two external pockets with stud closing, one internal zipped pocket. Drawstring and flap closing on the main compartment. All with no fuss at all. All style and almost hidden features. Link.

Trakke Arkaig

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The next pack is something of a lucky find. I can’t recall where I first came across it, but I’ve been keeping an eye on Trakke since then, and my appreciation for their work has grown strong. Made in Glasgow from waxed cotton produced locally in Dundee. The design is not fussy or loud, yet features are rich and thoughtfully designed. 20 litres capacity gives it a daypack capacity. There is a laptop sleeve in the main cordura-lined compartment, as is an internal pocket. Side pockets, and a zipped lid pocket. The buckle and slide fastener is a really nice design, and all the hardware is stainless steel. Oh, and the shoulder straps look proper as well. Available in 4 great colours. I truly can’t decide whether I like the blue or the green best, both look so good. Not cheap, but possibly the last backpack you’ll buy. Link.

Please note, the Arkaig has now been reviewed in full as well!

Filson Rucksack

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Yes, I know. I’ve had this one on the list before. It’s a classic, hence it gets another go around. 22oz cotton twill, densely woven, treated with paraffin to beef up it’s water repellancy. Bridle leather straps and detaling, reinforced seams, plenty of pockets, great straps. Made in the USA. You can’t really fault it. Totally traditional. Link.

Waterfield Designs Staad laptop backpack

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From the utterly traditional to the very much more modern design, we arrive at the Staad. Innovative and unusual design, attractive and great use of materials. Available in either tan waxed cotton or black ballistic canvas, with three different colours of leather lid. The strictly designed exterior hides a very functional interior, with a number of pockets and compartments. Refined and rugged. Link.

 

Brooks Islington

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Brooks, maker of utterly desirable bicycle seats. And also of at least one incredible looking backpack. This is the improved version of the Islington, now even better than the first effort. More hardware, better flap closure, and still the superbly engineered multi-modal straps. Available in 2 colours of water resistant cotton fabric. Spacious, as in 23 to 33 litres capacity. Gorgeous backpack with only 2 flaws that come to mind: 1) It’s really a bit too large, and 2) for a company that appears to be as British as a chip butty, why on earth did this have to be made in Italy? Oh, and it’s the steep side of pricey as well. Which goes for the bike seats as well, sadly. Link.

Barbour Thornproof Tarras

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As a bit of an outsider to round off, I can’t help but think this waxed cotton bag from Barbour looks absolutely great. Could I cycle with a bag slung over my shoulder? Perhaps, though carrying a fullsize laptop would make it tricky. The outside is Barbours ubiquitous thorn-proof waxed cotton. This bag has the space though, with a large compartment, tartan lined for you, squire, and two front pockets. All strapped and buckled. The branding is also subtle, unlike some recent efforts from Barbour. I can’t help thinking this is a really nice bag. Link.

 

So, that’s what I came up with after a poke around. There will no doubt be other backpacks that would make the cut, so tell me, what is your favourite?

 

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18 Comments

  • WDG 29/07/2014 at 14:17

    Stylish girls love the Trakke and Brooks! Unusual color on the first one. It really made it stand out.

    Reply
  • Scratch 30/07/2014 at 14:12

    They had a few of those Barbour’s at the factory shop, although I’m unsurprised you didn’t notice them.
    The issue with the Barbour – nice though it is – is that it is still a functional shooting bag and as such, has zero padding for a laptop and the pockets are huge and very few, so everything rattles around inside.
    It would be ideal if you don’t mind filling the inside space next to your laptop with a freshly shot pheasant or rabbit or two. You know, in the country way.

    Reply
    • Well Dressed Dad 30/07/2014 at 14:17

      Valid points, indeed. It would be handy to not have to keep my freshly poached game in the poachers pocket of my jacket though. Or I could just pad it out with a nice woolly jumper.

      Reply
  • accordingtojulie 15/08/2014 at 12:04

    Have you checked out anything from Côte et Ciel? I have been really happy with my Moselle backpack.

    Reply
  • Charles Ravndal 18/08/2014 at 21:51

    This one looks nice and also waterproof: http://www.rains.dk/collections/bags-accessories/products/back-pack-black

    Reply
    • Well Dressed Dad 19/08/2014 at 07:01

      Not a bad design, but I’d like to see it colours other than black!

      Reply
  • Graeme Sutherland 18/10/2014 at 02:19

    My dream rucksack is the Böle Prince Rucksack. This is their smaller, cheaper model, and will set you back a mere £4200 / €5200.

    http://shop.boletannery.com/collections/frontpage/products/prince-rucksack

    There’s one in the luggage department at Harrods if you want to see how the 1% live. 🙂

    Reply
  • Me 09/12/2014 at 20:56

    Useful article. Thanks. I am also in the market for a waterproof backpack that’s a bit technical (because I do actually do some hiking) but that doesn’t make me look like I’m off to Everest base camp. Surprisingly hard to find.

    Not sure if you’ve seen these:?

    http://maddenequipment.com/product-category/daylite/

    http://topodesigns.com/collections/bags/products/klettersack-15l

    So nearly right (for me) but either too big (Madden) or not pockety enough (Topo). If you have any other suggestions along similar lines I’m all ears.

    Reply
    • Well Dressed Dad 10/12/2014 at 19:45

      Tricky one! You’re wanting something around 20 litres, but with lots of pockets. My personal choice for this is the Trakke Arkaig, which I find to be sufficiently technical for both my daily commute and day-long hikes in the woods. Did you see the review I did a while back?

      Reply
      • Me 11/12/2014 at 17:40

        Ooh. Looks nice…

        Thank you.

        Reply
  • Heidi 23/01/2015 at 19:43

    Thanks for including the Staad! It has been one of our most wildly popular bags. So glad to see it included in your round-up.

    Reply
  • Roland Mueller 20/03/2015 at 14:47

    For me there is just one real option – waterproof, fashionable, stylish and perfectly shaped: the Murphy from Stighlorgan, a smallish Irish designer label less known than it should be. A true find: http://www.stighlorgan.com/product/rolltop-shoulder-bag-murphy-black/

    regards and thx for your inspiring blog 🙂

    Reply
    • Well Dressed Dad 20/03/2015 at 15:22

      Good call indeed! I very much like the look of that, and the larger Reilly as well. And thank you for your kind feedback 🙂

      Reply
  • Ian Haydock 25/03/2015 at 14:34

    Bedouin Foundry in the UK make beautiful, superb quality bags (although a bit spendy), including the Delireis backpack: http://bedouinfoundry.com/styles/delireis/

    Thanks for all the informative and entertaining info, always an enjoyable read!

    Reply
    • Well Dressed Dad 25/03/2015 at 14:40

      Will have a look, thanks for the tip! And thank you for your kind feedback!

      Reply

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