Buzz about The Minimal Backpack by Outlier and the fact that I like supporting local NYC business roped me into getting one on back order in early December after the first batch sold out like hot cakes. When I got back from Rome after the holidays, there it was waiting for me. I wasn’t sure about the all white, but given that the original by Hyperlite Mountain Gear is reflective grey/silver it was really the only option. I am not a big backpack fan and haven’t been since college, but having kids changes things dramatically.
Practicality and aesthetics are not always an easy combination to find. What I like about the Outlier pack is simplicity, quick access, durability and waterproofing. NYC gets its fair share of rain and snow. I am often pushing a stroller and an umbrella is just impractical when the rain hits you while wheeling your kids around. My laptop, notes, books and other tools of the trade must always come with me and without an umbrella few bags will keep out the elements completely especially in a downpour.
So far with several days of rain in NYC I have dropped all my work essentials in the Outlier and it is pretty much the only things that has kept dry while bringing kids to school and then running to meetings. It is not for everyone and for me it is not an everyday pack (hard to match with a suit, but I am not always in one so…), but I can see it fit in to a bike commute or college campus where it can take a beating (and of course the great outdoors which is how it was intended in its first incarnation). There are no pockets or zippers or slits for headphones or any such add-on it is simply a duffle style pack with a roll top closure. I do not mind so much since I uses folders and pen cases and other smaller bags to keep wires, accessories and what not in order – I do not have to look very long to find what I need which unless you are a woman used to rummage through a bottomless purse can certainly be a turn off for a bag. I will have to give it a bit more work in the urban jungle before I can attest to its toughness, but so far it shows all the hallmarks of a rugged bag. It reminds me so much of another Brooklyn creation – the Mighty Wallet. It must have something to do with the “fuggedaboutit toughness” that Brooklyn is always looking to exude.