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  1. #1
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    Question Packable EDC backpacks/messengers other than Daylight?

    Hello everyone! I'm looking for advice/recommendations.

    I travel one week per month for my job. I use a 45L travel backpack (Tortuga Setout) on these business trips, but use my Synapse 25 for shorter trips. The Setout is great, but after I've arrived at my destination, it's way too large for an EDC bag during the week. What I would like is a backpack or messenger that is slim and packable so that I can carry it inside my 45L backpack.

    I'm a big guy (6'1", 350 lbs) so I want something slim and packable, but yet doesn't make me look like Dora the Explorer with a tiny backpack. I also have a decent amount of tech gear that I need a packable EDC bag to carry:

    * 13" MacBook Pro
    * 12.9" iPad Pro with Smart Keyboard
    * Roost laptop stand
    * Magic Keyboard/Mouse
    * Dongles (right now I have these in a Peak Design Tech Pouch, but it's way too big for this purpose)
    * Noise-cancelling headphones
    * A5 traveler's notebook
    * fountain pens
    * packable rain jacket

    While I like backpacks, I think a messenger may fit my contradictory "slim/packable, but big" criteria a little better. I'm also concerned about the lack of padding on the Daylight. I really like the aesthetic of the new Luminary 15, but I don't think it would hold all of that stuff, and I'm not sure how packable it is. Right now, I'm thinking the Pilot might be a good option if it can hold my above gear and if it's packable. I kind of like the idea that if I use it as a personal item, it can fit vertically under the airplane seat so I can still extend my legs, and if I'm two-bagging it on the trips, backpack + messenger seems way easier to carry than backpack + backpack, like my last trip when I carried my Synapse 25 as my personal item/EDC bag.

    Maybe there's something else I'm not considering? In any event, I'd appreciate any feedback or suggestions. Thank you!

  2. #2
    Volunteer Moderator aedifica's Avatar
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    Hi @Amator, and welcome to the Forums! Your post was in moderation at first merely because it was your first post; after this your posts won't need moderator approval.

    How much room does your packable rain jacket take up, and what shape does it pack down to? That might be a limiting factor on what bags would work well for your load.

    The Pilot might work for you (depending on how the rain jacket packs down) but it doesn't compress very flat. You might want to take a look at @bouncing's post Could you fit a Pilot inside an Aeronaut 45? for some discussion of that idea. Your Tortuga Setout may have a different pocket arrangement that makes it easier to put a fully-packed Pilot in the backpack than it would be to put it in an Aeronaut; I'm not familiar with the Setout.

    How do you feel about using a Daylight Backpack and adding a Cache or another laptop sleeve to provide padding? I think the DLBP (Daylight Backpack, not to be confused with the DLBC or Daylight Briefcase) probably wouldn't give you the Dora the Explorer look you want to avoid. Smilie It's very packable, and though it doesn't stick out far I think it's tall enough and wide enough to look like the right size on you.

    The Luminary 15 isn't as packable as the DLBP. I'm still thinking about whether I think it would hold your items easily; its shape might mean it doesn't work as well for the purpose as a DLBP or a Pilot, or it might mean it would work better. Let us know about that rain jacket!
    Last edited by aedifica; 03-22-2019 at 09:59 AM.
    I have a bunch of great bags. Favorite color combos include Aubergine/Island, Navy/Solar, Forest/UV, Original Halcyon/Wasabi, Cloud/Viridian... and now also Seapine/UV!

    I've fulfilled my dream of palindromic-colored nested bags! Navy/Ultraviolet Pilot with Aubergine/Island Side Effect inside: blue purple purple blue. Forest/UV A45 with Aubergine/Wasabi Co-Pilot inside: green purple purple green.

  3. #3
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    If you don't like the lack of padding, note that the Pilot wouldn't provide any padding either. In fact, you're going to be hard pressed to find any bag that is both 'packable' and has built in padding. This is where the TB cache system is great. You have better control over the padding with a cache, and it's setup to work with multiple bags. I have a single cache for my work laptop that switches between my DLBC, my Pilot and my WF, as needed. And this will then allow your stuff to ride in any one of the 'packable' bags and will also being protected.
    Last edited by Kaadk; 03-22-2019 at 10:34 AM.

  4. #4
    Forum Member bouncing's Avatar
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    Author of other post here discussing the Pilot inside an Aeronaut 45. There are two problems with one-bag travel:

    • Shoes, man... Shoes. You can only bring like the pair on your feet and maybe some flip-flips or something.
    • You pretty much have to compromise on a day bag.


    My packing list for tech gear is not unlike yours: 14 inch laptop, Roost, keyboard, Bose QC35ii, etc. With my dongles pouch, EDC essentials, and a light hoodie, it about packs out the Pilot without being overpacked. It's comfortably packed. So the Pilot would work great, but ti's not highly packable and you'd probably want a laptop cache for it also. Like most TB systems, the Pilot has no built-in laptop sleeve. Now arguably, that works well if you're going marsupial-style because you can avoid carrying two padded laptop compartments.

    But I think it would dominate the space inside the Tortuga. You could, however, still pack out the Tortuga with the laptop and all your tech gear, then roll up the Pilot or carry it as a personal item nearly empty; that might be a good option.

    Another one you might not have considered is the Outbreaker Day Pack, but it doesn't look to be in-stock. You could also look at the Minaal Daily; it's a great bag and while it doesn't pack up, it does lay mostly flat. My only real complaints about the Minaal items is that the interior lining is gray/black, which makes everything hard to see, and the material is some kind of texturized fabric that scratches your clothing and picks up lint.

    You also might just go to REI and see what packable day packs they currently have in stock.
    Last edited by bouncing; 03-22-2019 at 10:53 AM.

  5. #5
    Forum Member bouncing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaadk View Post
    If you don't like the lack of padding, note that the Pilot wouldn't provide any padding either. In fact, you're going to be hard pressed to find any bag that is both 'packable' and has built in padding. This is where the TB cache system is great. You have better control over the padding with a cache, and it's setup to work with multiple bags. I have a single cache for my work laptop that switches between my DLBC, my Pilot and my WF, as needed. And this will then allow your stuff to ride in any one of the 'packable' bags and will also being protected.
    I'm someone who has somewhat mixed feelings about the cache system. The cache system works great because:

    1. You don't have to size your bag to your laptop; just your laptop to its sleeve.
    2. You can move a laptop around between bags without having duplicate padding in each bag. That saves a lot of space traveling.
    3. When you aren't using a laptop, again, there's no space being wasted by a padded sleeve.


    Having said that, there are two noticeable downsides:


    1. It's more work to get a laptop in and out. For example, I have a Thinkpad with a soft-touch plastic coating. If I pull on my laptop while it's in the cache, I'll just move it and the cache. That's not-so with a sown-in compartment, which is going to stay put and let me remove my laptop.
    2. You're not getting as much structure. When the laptop sleeve is part of the bag, the laptop itself creates structure. It also hugs your body and the weight distribution stays exactly even. With rails, a cache stays mostly in the same place, but it's not as structured as with a built-in compartment.


    Food for thought. I think the cache system is at its best when traveling.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by aedifica View Post
    Hi @Amator, and welcome to the Forums! Your post was in moderation at first merely because it was your first post; after this your posts won't need moderator approval.

    How much room does your packable rain jacket take up, and what shape does it pack down to? That might be a limiting factor on what bags would work well for your load.
    Thanks for the warm welcome! I want to say it packs down to a 6" x 8" rectangle, but I should probably measure it. Either way, it's probably not a dealbreaker, but I'd prefer to have room for it.

    The Pilot might work for you (depending on how the rain jacket packs down) but it doesn't compress very flat. You might want to take a look at @bouncing's post Could you fit a Pilot inside an Aeronaut 45? for some discussion of that idea. Your Tortuga Setout may have a different pocket arrangement that makes it easier to put a fully-packed Pilot in the backpack than it would be to put it in an Aeronaut; I'm not familiar with the Setout.
    Yep, the Setout uses a three-area system, not entirely unlike the Tri-Star. It has a front organization panel, a middle main luggage panel, and a laptop panel closest to the padded back. If I used a Pilot inside of the Tortuga, I imagine I might also flat pack empty since the Setout has pretty good tech organization. My goal is to not **have** to use the Pilot/etc as a personal item but to mainly have as an EDC bag when I arrive and if the flight forces me to check the Setout since it really doesn't fit under an airplane seat.

    How do you feel about using a Daylight Backpack and adding a Cache or another laptop sleeve to provide padding? I think the DLBP (Daylight Backpack, not to be confused with the DLBC or Daylight Briefcase) probably wouldn't give you the Dora the Explorer look you want to avoid. Smilie It's very packable, and though it doesn't stick out far I think it's tall enough and wide enough to look like the right size on you.
    I'm very fine with that idea as long as the DLBP wouldn't look tiny on my huge frame! That was the first option I looked at, but from the YT reviews I watched, I was concerned that *any* packable backpack would look small on me and I would probably be best to consider a messenger, but I'm happy to be proven wrong. I also have a bit of concern about the lack of padding on the DLBP's shoulder straps considering the weight of the items I want to EDC for several city blocks from my hotel to the office.

    The Luminary 15 isn't as packable as the DLBP. I'm still thinking about whether I think it would hold your items easily; its shape might mean it doesn't work as well for the purpose as a DLBP or a Pilot, or it might mean it would work better. Let us know about that rain jacket!
    When I get back home, I'll measure the jacket. Honestly, if moving to a travel umbrella would work better, I'm okay with that option as well.

  7. #7
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    Thanks, bouncing, this is very helpful advice overall!

    Shoes are a killer for light packing. I two-bagged my last trip (Tortuga plus Synapse 25) and it allowed me to bring a spare pair of shoes, but I'm thinking of buying a pair of packable Chuck Taylors or Lem's Boulder Boots for this purpose.

    I'm not super-enthused about either the Outbreaker or Minaal. I also looked at the YNOT Deploy, the L.L. Bean, and a few others as well.

    In considering your advice, I saw that the Eddie Bauer packable backpack (Wirecutter's #2 pick) is on a 50% clearance for $20, so I ordered it to give it a try. It's similar dimensions to the DLBP, so if the form factor works for me, I'll keep the Eddie as a stow-in-my-car-for-emergencies bag and order the DLBP. I figure this'll be an easy way to try out the world of packable non-padded daypacks, and if it doesn't work I'll just move to a two-bag solution.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaadk View Post
    If you don't like the lack of padding, note that the Pilot wouldn't provide any padding either. In fact, you're going to be hard pressed to find any bag that is both 'packable' and has built in padding. This is where the TB cache system is great. You have better control over the padding with a cache, and it's setup to work with multiple bags. I have a single cache for my work laptop that switches between my DLBC, my Pilot and my WF, as needed. And this will then allow your stuff to ride in any one of the 'packable' bags and will also being protected.

    I should have been precise, I was mostly worried about non-padded straps, not the back panel, but I get your overall point. Probably a cache system will be best overall anyway, since I already have a S25.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by bouncing View Post
    I'm someone who has somewhat mixed feelings about the cache system. The cache system works great because:

    Food for thought. I think the cache system is at its best when traveling.
    I'm not even sold on it when traveling. TSA always makes me take the laptop out of the cache and put it in a separate bin with my iPad and Kindle.

  10. #10
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    The need for a good daypack when traveling onebag is something I've grappled a lot with. On lightweight trips my onebag (an S19) becomes my day bag but on trips that are less mobile and needs a little more stuff really requires a daypack, as you describe, that is easy to pack yet firm enough to carry and use comfortably all day.

    The Daylight Backpack in ballistic is a actually pretty decent choice for this. The MacBook Pro 13 Escape, especially in a padded sleeve, would give the bag a comfortable shape to be carried and it fits a surprising amount of stuff. My SO has claimed it so I never get to use it now but it fits the older MacBook Pro 15" Retina very well. The really nice thing about this bag is despite being very simple it has a fair amount of organization which makes it easy to deal with small items, though I struggle to find a good place to carry a water bottle with it.

    Since the DLBP is no longer "mine" I now use the HyperLite Mountain Gear Metro Pack. It's a great bag, holds about 30 liters at its max, but comfortably carries 15-20 liters if you pack it neatly. The intriguing thing about this bag is the stiffness and waterproofness of the material plus the roll top makes it carry very comfortably despite being essentially a big floppy sack. Because of this, it is a great bag to carry all day long but less good if you need organizational features or to be in-and-out of the bag all day.

    I also found that if you are not carrying for too long but want fast ease of access, the Pop Tote really works well. There's enough organization for small stuff, the zippered top keeps your stuff secure, and the stiff opening makes it easy to get in and out of the bag. I like to fold a piece of clothing into the bottom for shape and padding use it when I'm walking around with the camera, as it provides a nice clean surface to change lenses but also quick, yet secure access to the camera and accessories. I think the Pop Tote is a great bag to work out of because of how nicely it stands up. It's great in big cities and touristy places as nobody will give the tote a second look as it's such a casual item but I think in smaller, more car-centric towns that a tote bag is still considered a bit effeminate.

    The Pilot is a great design for a tech-centric carry. The layout and pockets are great for laptop + accessories + various essentials. I have the Halcyon version which is much more "packable" than the heavy 1050D Ballistic Tom Bihn uses in this design. I used to use it a fair bit when my work issue machine was a 15" Retina, which fit just barely, and I often had to make vacation trips at least partial work-remote trips. My biggest qualm with the Halcyon Pilot is that I find it to become incredibly slouchy if you aren't carrying a computer, which the Ballistic version would alleviate. Also note that it is very briefcase-y, but the floppiness of Halcyon is almost at odds with the look. All of the compartments make it awesome for working from little cafe tables.

    I think if you are purely trying to solve your computer-carry woes then the Halcyon Pilot is a great bag, but personally with the frequency I carry a laptop I couldn't find a lot of use for it in my (now-revised) travel or EDC.

  11. #11
    Forum Member bouncing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amator View Post
    I'm not even sold on it when traveling. TSA always makes me take the laptop out of the cache and put it in a separate bin with my iPad and Kindle.
    LPT: Get Global Entry. It comes with PreCheck.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by carrot View Post
    I think if you are purely trying to solve your computer-carry woes then the Halcyon Pilot is a great bag, but personally with the frequency I carry a laptop I couldn't find a lot of use for it in my (now-revised) travel or EDC.
    Thank you for your thoughts. I like the idea of a Halcyon pilot as well. I'm going to test out the cheap packable daypack I just bought on my next trip in a couple of weeks. If it doesn't bug me, I'll go DLBP. If it does bug me, I'll probably go Halcyon Pilot, even though the Gray cordura Pilot is the most aesthetically-pleasing to me, but packability is more important.

    My work-issued laptop is a Macbook Escape and I usually have my 12.9" iPad Pro to use as a second display with the Duet app. I still have my 2015 15" rMBP, but I'm probably going to trade that back to Apple and get a Mac Mini or an iMac as a family computer.

  13. #13
    Forum Member bouncing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amator View Post
    In considering your advice, I saw that the Eddie Bauer packable backpack (Wirecutter's #2 pick) is on a 50% clearance for $20, so I ordered it to give it a try. It's similar dimensions to the DLBP, so if the form factor works for me, I'll keep the Eddie as a stow-in-my-car-for-emergencies bag and order the DLBP. I figure this'll be an easy way to try out the world of packable non-padded daypacks, and if it doesn't work I'll just move to a two-bag solution.
    Nice! I actually have that packable daypack. It's been to the beach a few many times and the zippers are going bad (even though they're YKK). Someone on this site told me recently to always unzip a bag before packing it because it's easier on the zippers, so that's advice I wish I'd had years ago. FYI.

    I do think it'll look a bit Dora The Explorer. It does on me, but not unacceptably so. IMO it works great for a day trip or tour group, though I really wish it had a sternum strap (maybe that's been added since). It works less great for tech gear since it's kind of small and has absolutely no rigidity. But, it would work and it would fit your laptop. You could definitely do worse. I won't dig it out and snap a photo since you already ordered it. Wink

    Whenever you reach a solution, let us know on the forums? This is a common problem for everyone and there's no easy solution.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by bouncing View Post
    LPT: Get Global Entry. It comes with PreCheck.
    It's on my to-do list, but having only recently "leveling-up" to a better job that requires me to travel, I'm splitting up all the gear purchases. I finished my onebag spirit quest after buying five bags, I've bought the stuff I need to work well from airports/cafes (Roost laptop stand, Fintie keyboard case, USB-C to lightning cable, Duet app, Peak Design Tech Pouch), bought a fancy fountain pen and several notebooks, and now I'm working on a packable EDC bag. Next up will be better ANC headphones, and then after that I'll buy a Global Entry. I've gotta budget out all the gear since we're a single-income family with three kids! Smilie

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by bouncing View Post
    Whenever you reach a solution, let us know on the forums? This is a common problem for everyone and there's no easy solution.
    Will do! I'll probably blog about it too.

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