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Daylight Backpack: Ballistic or Halcyon?

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    Daylight Backpack: Ballistic or Halcyon?

    Since well before I even discovered TB, I've been looking for a good "packable daypack" - something I could put in my main bag, then take out and use for carrying my daily stuff while out and about at my destination. My main problem with the majority of bags on the market made for this use is that they take "packable" to mean "has no structure at all and can be wadded up into a ball the size of a soda can," so that when unfolded, they look like a wispy garbage bag on your back. Hard "no" to that.

    The Daylight Backpack is one of a rare few that hews far closer to what I want, and now that they've replaced the webbing straps with the contour straps, the one non-starter issue I had with the bag has been resolved. However, I'm still undecided on material choice. The DLBP seems to be one of those packs that everyone on these forums has at least one of, so I was hoping to hear some thoughts on your material preferences for it.

    My use case will mainly be as a travel daypack, packed flat either in the main compartment or in the laptop compartment (since I wouldn't be taking a laptop for leisure travel). The main things I'd likely be carrying are two layers (rain shell and light fleece), a water bottle, a couple snacks, a hat or beanie, power bank, and possibly a guidebook and proper camera depending on location. My travel backpack may be weighty packed full, but this one will spend longer stretches of time on my back, so comfort is a priority.

    Ballistic: At present, I lean slightly toward the ballistic fabric, mainly because this particular backpack has no innate structure of its own. The stiffness of the ballistic nylon would lend it a bit of structure that would help it look less like a formless sack on my back or be really slouchy if all I've got in there are a rain shell, a water bottle, and maybe a camera. The hesitation here is: will the ballistic make it eat up significantly more room when flat-packed? The TB website description seems to imply that halcyon is for people using it as a packable daypack, while the ballistic is "for those who intend to use it daily."

    Halcyon: This fabric would be the champ for being able to flat-pack really thin, allowing plenty of space for anything else to be packed on top of it, or even used as a makeshift packing cube itself. It has less structure than ballistic, but still leagues more structure than all of those "packable daypacks" that crumple down into a tiny ball. The durability doesn't concern me; the main hesitation is potential "slouchiness" of the fabric. Especially if I happened not to be carrying layers in the shingled pockets, if I had anything weighty in here (camera, water bottle, etc), I worry it would resist my attempt to wear it higher up, and I don't really want to have it riding halfway down my back.

    I don't have any trips planned where I'd need this pack until next year, so I'm in no rush, but with the clock slowly ticking down for 400d halcyon, it would be good to figure out if that's what I want while it's still available to get. Or they could make DLBPs in navy parapack and surprise me. What it really boils down to seems to be a question of, "do I want to give more weight to packability, or structure?"

    Anyway, that's what I'm thinking right now. Which sort of DLBP do you have? How has it been for travel? Have you mainly used it for urban carry? How has it been on day hikes of a couple miles? You don't have to "sell" me on one fabric or the other; just hearing about your own use will probably help me confirm which way I want to go.

    #2
    Good question! I have a DLBP in Halcyon. I use it very rarely, but it has been great for the scenario you describe. If I had to buy it over again I'd be tempted to go for the ballistic, because I like the look of that better -- definitely less 'slouchy'. But another factor is that the ballistic does develop minor scuffs through normal usage, whereas the Halcyon seems more resistant to scuffing. This is an issue that affects appearance, but not durability. OTOH, if there's a Halcyon exterior that you happen to really like, and it may not be available in the future, that's a third consideration.
    Sorry I can't be more definitive!

    One note: when I carried the Halcyon DLBP, if I entered a museum where backpacks were not allowed, it was easy to roll it and tuck it under my arm, or even roll it up and place it inside of a PCSB or something similar to make it unrecognizable as a backpack. That was with the even thinner style of straps they used to have, but it should work either way.
    Last edited by bchaplin; 08-23-2022, 09:13 AM.
    ----
    All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.
    Edmund Burke

    Comment


      #3
      I like the way ballistic looks on these. The pack looks more in it's element as an outdoors/school pack IMO. The only reason I would go halc is purely for packability/flattening/utility at a travel destination. If I were using It as a glorified packing cube that I sometimes pull out as a daypack, I'd consider halc.

      Comment


        #4
        I have one in ballistic (with the original thin straps) that I use every day, and I like the slight structure that the material gives it. I don't think I'd like it as well in halcyon.

        When I pack it empty in a bag that's big enough to take it flat without folding, I perceive it as having effectively zero bulk. I know it's not REALLY zero, but I never feel I'd have to remove anything to make room for it. While If I had to fold it, it would suddenly have bulk.

        And when it has stuff in it, it has bulk. I realize that's obvious--I guess I mean that the DLBP with stuff in it, put in a suitcase, seems like more bulk than packing the flat empty DLBP on the bottom of the suitcase, then packing its stuff on top of it. I assume this is similar to the "if I had to fold it" thing--the ballistic doesn't go around curves without a space cost. While, say, packing the same stuff in a Chico bag doesn't seem to increase the bulk in the same way. All this really means is that if I'm carrying a seat bag (snacks, face mask, hand sanitizer, paperback, blah) inside a larger bag, that seat bag isn't going to be the DLBP.

        Comment


          #5
          I own a DLBP in Deep Blue 525/Coyote 210 and am glad I do - since the bag is made to be packable/foldable/compressible, it doesn’t have any built in structure to keep it rigid and self-supporting.

          A Freudian Slip is your best bet to keep the bag standing up (or a laptop, or notebook) because even if you load up those “shingle” pockets sewn into the back panel inside the main compartment, all they’ll do at best is provide a little cushion against your back.

          Ballistic also handles wear and scuffs much better than Halcyon does.

          For me, it’s much less frustrating to have the little bit of additional rigidity the Ballistic provides over the Halcyon - and it looks a little more professional, too (the black, blue or green grid pattern looks great but the lack of rigidity makes it a little more “crumpled” looking).
          I own a LOT of Tom Bihn bags, but here are the ones I use most often:
          Everyday Carry: CP or SK
          Overnight Travel: SN22 and SZTSB
          Car Travel: Medium YD and MT
          Plane Travel: CP and WF


          Comment


            #6
            A bit late to reply, but thank you everyone who's weighed in so far. The impression I'm getting is definitely that ballistic is the way to go to get a DLBP that fills the role I'm looking for.

            Originally posted by Poultry View Post
            When I pack it empty in a bag that's big enough to take it flat without folding, I perceive it as having effectively zero bulk. I know it's not REALLY zero, but I never feel I'd have to remove anything to make room for it. While If I had to fold it, it would suddenly have bulk.

            And when it has stuff in it, it has bulk. I realize that's obvious--I guess I mean that the DLBP with stuff in it, put in a suitcase, seems like more bulk than packing the flat empty DLBP on the bottom of the suitcase, then packing its stuff on top of it. I assume this is similar to the "if I had to fold it" thing--the ballistic doesn't go around curves without a space cost. While, say, packing the same stuff in a Chico bag doesn't seem to increase the bulk in the same way. All this really means is that if I'm carrying a seat bag (snacks, face mask, hand sanitizer, paperback, blah) inside a larger bag, that seat bag isn't going to be the DLBP.
            This is the exact kind of impressions I was hoping for - use cases of "in practice, it feels like this" that one couldn't really get simply from reading dimensions and looking at pictures. I don't think I'll actually use a DLBP as a packing cube (I have...actual packing cubes for that), so if the ballistic DLBP flat-packs just on top of all my other stuff without an issue, that's exactly what I want.

            The one area I'm getting mixed impressions is scuff-resistance. bchaplin has said halcyon will be more scuff-resistant, while Chicagoan maintains that ballistic is the way to go to be wear- and scuff-free. From what I have gleaned reading the forums, ballistic is more durable and more abrasion-resistant as a fabric, but TB's 525d ballistic specifically has, in the past, had issues with it marking up even without heavy use. I've never heard anyone mention 400d halcyon marking up in similar fashion, outside of hard use over the course of many years. In practical terms, this mainly affects where I'd store the DLBP. If I was worried about the surface being abraded, I'd just pack it in the main compartment...but if I wasn't worrying about that, its dimensions would actually allow me to stuff it in the laptop compartment of a travel bag, which would be otherwise occupied only by a folder with printed-out documents. It seems a good way to make use of the space, though I'd probably take the sternum strap off in transit so the hard plastic doesn't rub anywhere on the interior.

            I'm still kind of hemming and hawing over the color, of all things. The existing fabrics represent most of the colors I would buy a pack in (grey, green, blue, brown, black), but I'm trying to imagine myself on my last international trip and which colors would've fit the best in a European setting. The benefit of the DLBP here is that it has a clean, unfussy look that will never shout "cash moneyyyy!" to anyone. If black is what I end up going with, I'll probably go with the black halcyon, but mainly because the black halcyon DLBP "in-use" photos on the product page are doing some heavy lifting for the visual appeal of the material with their soft, depth-of-field artistry. Never let it be said that effective photography isn't a powerful sales tool!
            Last edited by ittoujuu; 09-15-2022, 04:19 PM.

            Comment


              #7
              Durability is something I think of in terms of both the exterior AND interior of the bag.

              People love Halcyon because it’s lightweight, with less structure and more pliability than Ballistic. Great qualities if you’re trying to find a bag to fold and pack flat inside another bag!

              And while it’s great to have a bag that naturally wants to fold and bend, it does take its toll on the internal urethane coating (what’s applied to the back side of the fabric to make it water-resistant) and Halcyon bags, without fail, always seem to be the first to show internal wear (the coating begins to crack and peel, generally near seams and where the bag natural crumples or is folded most often).

              I’ve yet to get the coating to come off of one of my Ballistic bags, but I have had the coating wear off on the very first Tom Bihn bag I owned: a Black Halcyon Side Kick. I later sold it so I could buy a Ballistic one, which I still have, and still retains its coating.

              YMMV, but I owned my first SK for less than a year before there were issues with the coating. To be fair, I carried and used the bag every day, but if you’re buying a bag for life (and not annually) you probably want something that’s going to last a long time.

              I only buy Ballistic full size bags now, but I still buy accessories made from Halcyon.
              Last edited by Chicagoan; 09-15-2022, 04:32 PM.
              I own a LOT of Tom Bihn bags, but here are the ones I use most often:
              Everyday Carry: CP or SK
              Overnight Travel: SN22 and SZTSB
              Car Travel: Medium YD and MT
              Plane Travel: CP and WF


              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Chicagoan View Post
                People love Halcyon because it’s lightweight, with less structure and more pliability than Ballistic. Great qualities if you’re trying to find a bag to fold and pack flat inside another bag!

                And while it’s great to have a bag that naturally wants to fold and bend, it does take its toll on the internal urethane coating (what’s applied to the back side of the fabric to make it water-resistant) and Halcyon bags, without fail, always seem to be the first to show internal wear (the coating begins to crack and peel, generally near seams and where the bag natural crumples or is folded most often).
                Good point! I had a Daylight Backpack in Halcyon for quite a long time, but only used it occasionally, so I never had the issue of the urethane coating peeling off. I've heard of this happening with others, so I have no doubt it would have become a problem with more use. For me, the foldability is a key feature! Even if it decreases the lifespan of the bag.

                By the way, I just sold my DLBP to someone who really wanted the Black Halcyon with the old-style straps, and purchased a new one. I can't directly compare them, but I was surprised to see that the overall shape seems to be just a tiny bit more vertical in the new version. Is this the case or am I just imagining it? I also noticed that the front pocket has two o-rings where I remember the first iteration having only one. Are there any other changes I missed? Thanks!
                ----
                All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.
                Edmund Burke

                Comment


                  #9
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                  I put my old & new side-by-side and they seem the same. The old looks a little more rumpled, but when I put them front-to-front, the corners all match. They both have the same number of o-rings, in the same locations.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Thanks, Wanderlust77! Without comparing the two in person, it was hard to tell.
                    ----
                    All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.
                    Edmund Burke

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