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First, they wanted a bag that could carry as much as possible, while still being a carry on.
Second, they wanted to feel comfortable even after a long day of travel. Ergonomics are key.
Third, they wanted the right amount of organization. One big compartment with zero pockets wasn’t enough. Without pockets, your stuff ends up a disorganized mess.
On the opposite end of the spectrum were bags with too many pockets. Those bags force their system on you. With too much organization, you need a cheat sheet to remember what's packed where. No one wants to play hide and seek with their backpack.
With the Outbreaker, we aimed to provide plenty of organization while giving you the flexibility to pack how you want.
Let’s walk through the Outbreaker’s pockets and features with a few ideas for what to pack where.
The main compartment (above, right) is wide open for you to pack your clothes and shoes however you like. The front panel of the bag opens like a suitcase giving you the full depth of the Outbreaker to pack your clothes.
On the sides of the main compartment, you have 2 (on the 35L) or 4 (on the 45L pictured above) side pockets for smaller items like socks, t-shirts, bras, or underwear. If you aren’t flying, you can even pack toiletries there. These soft-sided pockets can be flattened if you aren’t using them so that they don’t waste any space.
Opposite the main compartment, on the back of the front panel (above, left), are two large, zippered mesh pockets. These pockets are good for anything that you want to separate like small items or dirty clothes.
Unzip the Outbreaker’s lie-flat electronics compartment for easy access to your gadgets and chargers.
The back panel (above, right) folds down and holds your laptop (a slim 17" laptop, like a Macbook, fits inside) and tablet (up to 9.7”) in padded, fleece-lined sleeves. A velcro tab secures both gadgets so they can't slide out.
Opposite the laptop sleeve (above, left) are three mesh pockets for chargers, adapters, batteries, power strips, and external hard drives. Anything that you use with your computer or tablet goes here.
The organizer panels holds all of the small stuff that you need when you’re in transit.
The front pocket’s organizer panel (above) holds your passport, keys, pens, and cards. The stretch woven pocket can hold your phone or sunglasses.
Behind the organizer is a fleece-lined sleeve for your ereader. Above the sleeve is a zippered pocket shown above holding a notebook. Opposite the organizer panel (folded down in the picture above) is a zippered mesh pocket.
The Outbreaker's exterior is made from ultra durable waterproof sailcloth that won't rip or tear. For even more weather resistance, it's outfitted with coated YKK zippers that repel rain.
The top half of the face of the Outbreaker has a simple pocket that works well for paper documents. Notice the horizontal zipper just above the logo in the above picture.
Below that pocket is a low-profile pocket with a partially hidden zipper.
Finally, you will find two stretch woven side pockets for a water bottle or an umbrella. If you don’t use the side pockets, they lie flat against your bag so that they don't take up any space inside or outside of your pack.
Hiking bags are designed for a lightweight, comfortable carry. Travel backpacks should be, too, because you don’t have to spend all day hiking with an 80L bag to feel the weight of your backpack.
Even at 45L, a travel backpack can feel heavy with all of your clothes, shoes, and electronics inside. Imagine carrying that load a mile through a city trying to find your hotel.
You deserve to travel comfortably. Unfortunately, most travel backpacks have thin shoulders straps and nothing else to help lighten your load. That’s not good enough.
With the Outbreaker Backpack, we built the first-ever hiking-style suspension system into a travel backpack.
A comfortable suspension system starts with the right straps and hip belt. Most travel backpacks don’t even bother with a hip belt. Without a hip belt, you have to carry your entire load on your shoulders. No wonder your shoulders and neck hurt after a day of travel. Don’t worry, there’s a better way.
Most travel backpacks either have no hip belt or a thin one made of webbing without any padding. Neither is good enough.
You need a weight-bearing hip belt to take the load off of your shoulders. A proper hip belt will transfer your bag’s weight from your shoulders to your hips. Then you can use your stronger leg muscles, not your weaker shoulder muscles, to do the work.
When fitted correctly, you will feel the weight move from your shoulders to your hips. It’s like magic. A good hip belt will move 80% of your bag’s weight to your hips.
The Outbreaker’s hip belt has two side pockets for tickets, boarding passes, or your passport. They’re handy for anything that you need quick access to while traveling. I like to move everything from my pants pockets to the hip belt pockets when I go through airport security. These zippered pockets provide more security than the bowls that the TSA uses.
If you’re traveling light and don’t need or want it, the hip belt is completely removable.
The Outbreaker’s shoulder straps, hip belt, and back padding are thicker than you’ll find on almost any travel backpack. They’re much closer to what you would find on a large hiking pack.
The top of the padding and underside of the straps is made of soft-to-the-touch, sweat-wicking Ariaprene foam. Most backpacks use a cheaper option called air mesh which scratches your skin and doesn’t breathe as well as Ariaprene does.
Shorter people benefit the most from a comfortable suspension system.
In previous backpacks that we’ve designed, the fixed hip belt and shoulder straps prevented the bags from fitting as many travelers as we had hoped. We were letting down the people who needed a comfortable bag the most.
The Outbreaker Backpack has a height-adjustable suspension system, another first for travel backpacks.
Move the Outbreaker’s shoulder straps up or down for the perfect fit, regardless of your height.
After adjusting the Outbreaker’s shoulder straps to your torso length, loosen or tighten the rest of the straps for the best fit.
Use the shoulder straps, hip belt, chest straps, and load lifters to get a snug fit with the weight on your hips, not your shoulders.
The load lifters are also commonly found on hiking bags but omitted or misused on travel backpacks. Use these straps, which run along the top of your shoulder straps, to keep your bag as close to your body as possible for ideal weight distribution.
The right backpack will take the discomfort out of traveling. Just because you’re traveling, not hiking, doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve to be comfortable.
First, make sure to wipe off your backpack any time you spill something on it or otherwise dirty it. A few seconds of effort right when it gets dirty will prevent more work later.
If you need to fully wash your Outbreaker Backpack, handwash it. Don't put it in the washing machine.
Hand washing your backpack will allow you to target problem areas with a little extra elbow grease and prevent a washing machine from damaging the zippers or tearing the straps.
First, fill a large sink or bathtub with cool to lukewarm water. By not using hot water, you’ll avoid burning yourself or damaging your pack.
Add a gentle detergent or natural soap like Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap (what we use on our own Outbreakers) to the water. If you use detergent, make sure it’s free of dyes, fragrances, and chemicals which could damage your bag or irritate your skin.
Once your bag is dry, treat the zippers to keep them running smoothly. A non-greasy, non-staining silicone spray will help lubricate the zippers and keep them from rusting. The helpful users at Ask Metafilter recommend using paraffin wax, powdered graphite, or even a crayon to keep zippers running smoothly.
Wiping down your bag after a trip is always a good idea, but you shouldn’t do a full wash too often. Once or twice per year is plenty. Excessive washing can damage the bag and wear away its day-to-day water resistance.
Learn more about how the Outbreaker can take the hassle out of your travels.