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The first thing you do when you order a new pair of shoes online: try them on and walk around for a little while to test comfort and fit. Since no two pairs of shoes feel or fit the same, despite being the same size, it's important to test if they'll work for you.
The same concept applies to travel backpacks. Before traveling with a new bag, make sure to do a test run.
Step One: Pack the Bag
It's impossible to tell if your new travel backpack will be comfortable if you test it when it's empty. In order to do a meaningful test fit, pack clothing in the main compartment and your laptop in the computer sleeve before putting on the bag. You don't have to pack exactly what you would on a trip, but make sure to pack approximately the same amount of stuff so the weight is as close to a real-world situation as possible.
Step Two: Put it On
Put the shoulder straps on first, then clip the hip belt around your torso.
Step Three: Adjust
Adjust the height of the shoulder straps but pulling on the webbing at the base of the foam sections.
Move the sternum strap up or down so that it's just below your collarbone, then tighten until the bag is taught against your body. Pull the load lifter straps to move the bag's weight closer to you. Tighten the hip belt until it's snug, but not suffocating. The base of the hip belt should rest right on top of your hip bones. If it's too high or too low, it won't successfully transfer weight from your shoulders.
Step Four: Walk Around
In order to tell if your bag will be comfortable enough for a long walk through a city to your Airbnb (or a sprint through an airport terminal), walk around for a little while. Pay attention to whether or not the hip belt is transferring weight from your shoulders, and see if anything is gaping or tugging.
Now that you've tested for fit and comfort, take a tour of every pocket, compartment, and feature so you can make the most of your new backpack. Let's start with an overview video on the Women's Setout Backpack to acquaint you with what goes where.
Now, onto the pockets.
On the front of the Women's Setout Backpack, you'll find a small zippered pocket. It's the perfect size for a postcard, small headphones, important papers, or other small items you might need to access quickly.
The water bottle pocket is on one side of the Women's Setout Backpack. It's elastic on top to keep your water bottle or umbrella in place and lies flat when not in use.
You'll also find two compression straps on both sides of the Women's Setout Backpack. Use these to condense the size of your backpack when not fully packed. Compression straps help with ergonomics, because a compressed load feels lighter than one that's jostling around all loosey-goosey.
Pull forward on the load lifter straps at the top of the bag so that the weight isn't pulling away from your body.
On the other side, you'll see a padded grab handle, two more compression straps, and two D-rings.
The handle is great for pulling your backpack out of an overhead compartment. It also serves as an alternate carrying method if you choose to stow your straps (we'll get to that).
Speaking of alternate carry methods, use the two D-rings to attach a crossbody strap (not included) if you want to carry the Setout like a duffle. The D-rings are also useful for tying a dirty pair of sneakers to the outside of your bag, clipping on a luggage tag, or attaching anything else you might want to keep at hand.
On top, you'll see a second padded handle for pulling your bag out from an overhead compartment. There's also a thinner loop at the back of the bag. Use that for hanging your Setout on a hook.
The Women's Setout Backpack's shoulder straps are made from two layers of foam: open-cell foam for cushiness and closed-cell foam for durability.
Adjust the chest strap up and down to fit your body, then tighten it to feel taut for the most comfortable carry. Chest straps help keep your backpack close to your body so the load doesn't shift as much. Similar to compression straps, a secure and nonmoving load feels lighter on your back. If you prefer not to use the chest strap, it's removable.
One of the most-requested features from our customers was the ability to stow shoulder straps when not in use. To stow your straps, unclip the Duraflex buckles and tuck the straps into the velcro compartment on the back panel. When you're ready to reattach the straps, hook the buckles to the webbing loops at the base of the bag (not the plastic D-rings).
Hideaway straps are especially useful if you need to gate check your bag on a small regional jet. Whenever your bag leaves your hands, it's nice to stow away pieces that might get caught on something and cause damage.
Unlike flimsy hip straps on other travel backpacks, the Setout’s padded hip belt transfers up to 80% of the bag’s weight to your hips. That means your stronger leg muscles carry the bulk of the weight, saving your shoulders from a painful afternoon.
The hip belt also has two pockets that can hold a phone, boarding pass, and keys. You don’t have to take off your backpack to reach for something important.
If you don’t like to use a hip belt, it’s removable. We recommend stashing the hip belt in the Setout Backpack's front pocket if you need to stow them while in transit.
The zippers to the main compartment, front organization compartment, and electronics compartment are all equipped with lockable YKK zippers. Slide a TSA-friendly lock through the loops at the base of the zipper to secure your stuff.
Setout's outer fabric, a 900D polyester made from recycled plastic bottles, is treated with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish for weather resistance. It's not fully waterproof, but it will protect your stuff while you find a place to wait out a rainstorm.
In the front pocket, you'll find a panel with lots of places to store small incidentals. There is a pocket for your sunglasses, a sleeve for your ereader or a notebook, and a zippered compartment for anything else you might need to store. Slide pens into the pen holders, clip your keys to the key clip, and store cards and a passport in the smaller slots.
The front pocket is also a great place to store things you might need to access quickly like a jacket, your liquids bag, chargers, and in-flight essentials.
The Setout's main compartment is roomy so that you can bring everything you need without checking a bag.
Use the two mesh pockets to pack small things (like socks, underwear) that otherwise get lost in the bottom of a bag. They're also useful for stashing toiletry bags, accessories, or an extra pair of shoes.
Setout's electronics compartment sits flush against your back for security and ergonomics. Your computer is often the most valuable - and heaviest - item you carry, so it's placed in the spot least prone to damage. Plus, your bag would feel heavier if the laptop was further away from your center of gravity.
Pack a 17" laptop (a slim 17" computer, like a Macbook, will fit) and 9.7" tablet in the two electronics sleeves and secure them with the velcro strap.
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 Setout Backpack, hand wash 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. Soak you Setout Backpack and spot treat as needed.
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.
Read more here about how we designed the Women's Setout Backpack to be the ideal carry on for city travelers.