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Testing the Cotopaxi Cusco 26L Backpack

A Backpack That Does Good (And Performs Well, Too)

Cotopaxi’s Cusco 26L pack is a sturdy lifestyle daypack that lends itself to durable longevity, but still offers relevant technical features often overlooked in “lifestyle” packs.

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What to see, read and hear

This Week in Culture: August 1, 2014

This Week in Culture: The latest trailer for Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, why Arnold Palmer was the king of the polo shirt, the future of ready-to-drink iced coffee and more.

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Embrace your baggage

10 Best Daypacks for Every Adventure

While the lifetime warrantee on your North Face pack from grammar school is meant to be honored, there’s something to be said for retiring before things unravel. Today’s daypacks will haul your climbing gear or your laptop over mountains and through airports. These are our favorites.

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Professional grade

Tested: F-Stop Camera Backpacks

F-Stop is a relative newcomer to the camera bag scene, and its St. Louis headquarters is incongruous with its focus on packs for mountain sports photography. But don’t let that fool you. Their packs show a design maturity that could only stem from experience and a smart use of user feedback. We tested both the light-and-fast Kenti ($249) and the sturdier, larger Satori EXP ($379) in conditions as varied as multi-day hikes in New Zealand and peak bagging in New Hampshire.

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Gear for the jungle and the reef

Kit: Underwater and Underground in Belize

Packing for a tropical getaway usually only involves deciding what color swim trunks to pack. But when your plans include jungle hiking, cave exploration and scuba diving, things get a little more complicated. The key is versatility — you need gear that works underground or underwater just as well as it does topside. For our week in Belize we made sure everything we took did more than just one thing well. This saved space in our luggage and let us be nimble yet well prepared. Here’s a sampling of what we took.

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What's old is new

Tested: Topo Designs x Howler Brothers Klettersack

Retro gear is retro for a reason: modern outdoor gear design performs better than its forebears in almost all respects. But we still have a soft spot for the leather, wool, canvas alpine designs of the 1950s and ‘60s — you know, before things got all sleek and neon. After seeing two Gear Patrol favorite brands, Topo Designs and Howler Brothers, collaborate to design a classic climbing pack, the Klettersack ($189), we decided to go all Reinhold Messner and take it to the mountains to see how a retro style pack works in the environment that inspired it.

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Pack it in

The 10 Best Backpacks for Every Adventure

From easy day hikes to multi-day treks, a good pack on your back can make carrying a load a joy (relatively speaking), especially if you draw the short straw and have to carry the extra beer on a five day expedition through Zion National Park. The perfect pack is a simple one: it carries everything you need and nothing you don’t. In practice, this is much harder than it seems and involves careful planning and design. Beware of the old trap. If you have the space, you’ll try to fill it with something. Whether you’re throwing gear together for a short hike to your favorite fly fishing spot or taking a month-long stroll down the Continental Divide, less is more. With that in mind, we’ve picked the best backpacks to put a few miles on this season. Features like load distributing-straps, rainflys and easy access to hydration all made the cut. Heavy materials, unneeded space, and dead weight? Not so much.

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Big bucket bag

Marmot Urban Hauler

Backpacks are ubiquitous, and sometimes too many pockets just means… too many pockets. In the case of the Marmot Urban Hauler ($50), less is more. Based on a centuries-old Japanese fishing bag, the Urban Hauler is as simple as a pack can get, short of a brown grocery bag and duct tape. Made of UpCycled…

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School bag, adult look

Everlane Backpack

Remember your first day of school? Wet-your-pants excitement in elementary, doldrums in middle and utter jadedness in high school — but always accompanied by that trustworthy backpack. Those tattered Eastpaks and monogrammed LL Beans may not have exactly exuded street style, but there’s still time to make up for it with Everlane’s latest consideration, an…

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More Military

GoRuck Multicam

We’ve already waxed eloquently about our love of Goruck’s bags — but the company’s newly released Multicam’ color option for their entire line makes us wonder if we bought in too early. Hop over to their site and soak in the (re)militarized goodness for yourself. The chocolate lab isn’t included. Buy Now: $225+

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Dry bag for a wet world

Dakine Cyclone

Whether you’re bike commuting in Seattle, doing a surf photo shoot in Maui or boarding a dive boat in Fiji, you’re going to need to keep your gear dry. The trick is to find a waterproof bag that holds all your stuff but doesn’t feel like a potato sack on your back. The Dakine Cyclone…

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Form-ulated Function

Ignoble Lorna Case Backpack

In the ongoing struggle to carry gear without looking like an overstuffed Sherpa, all-around black-bag purveyor Ignoble has tossed in a solution in the form of the Ignoble Lorna Case Backpack ($300). At 25 liters, made from black ballistic nylon, and sporting padded shoulder straps, obligatory sternum strap, and airmesh back, the Lorna functions as…

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Your SLR Sherpa

ONA Camps Bay Camera and Laptop Backpack

Finding interesting ways to carry around our camera gear never gets old. ONA’s useful camera bag inserts are a great item for casual photographers looking for the best way to stash a camera in their luggage. The brand’s new Camps Bay ($430) backpack, however, is a full-service camera and laptop carrier geared toward the pros….

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Year of the Ruck

Kit: One Year with the GORUCK GR1

We’ve written about GORUCK and their tactically inspired gear a number of times. Made in the USA, bomb proof, with a life time guarantee, they’re the kind of company we love to support. Enough said. But one of the best things about a GORUCK product is how they’re set up for you to make your…

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Relax, I'm a professional

Nargear Backcountry Ski Civilian Backpacks

It’s a pretty safe bet that a backpack designed to haul 45 pounds of gear into debris-spewing, quadruple-digit infernos can also handle muling a shovel, miscellaneous clothes and tools up a sleepy peak. That’s the way Nargear figures, anyway. The company has been manufacturing burly backpacks for parachuting firefighters for more than a decade and…

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A match made for messengers

Incase Range Collection

Incase continues their love affair with cyclists with the release of their new collection, Range. Created with two-wheeled travelers in mind, the Range series figures that if it can stand up to the beating of a bike messenger whipping through New York’s Lower East Side, it can probably do just fine lugging your books or…

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A shovel that could save your life

K2 Rescue Shovel Plus

Your average snow shovel works great for cleaning out the driveway or dispatching amateur crooks pestering a prepubsecent Macaulay Culkin. K2’s Rescue Shovel Plus ($60) is the snow shovel of the future. Thanks to a unique modular design, the handle can be affixed to the blade to transform the Plus into a hoe for faster…

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Jack of all grades

Marquette Backcountry Ski

Admittedly, it’s been a pretty wimpy winter everywhere from Colorado to the Alps, causing renewed grumblings about global warming from skiers, both Alpine and Nordic. Getting out on the boards anywhere but in the high country has required either the nimbleness to dodge the bald patches of dirt and grass or a pair of rock…

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Snow Might

Atlas Aspect Snowshoe

With enough bite to make a Yeti white with jealousy, Atlas Snowshoe has outdone themselves with the Aspect ($269). Built around an all-new traction system called ReactiV-Trac, the Aspect’ offers up tons of grip thanks to an angry saw-toothed perimeter. Something you’ll want when the powder gets especially naughty. A platform of offset webbing creates…

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An accessory for your accessories

JanSport Pleasanton Pack

One of the drawbacks to being a modern, on-the-go guy is carrying around all that gear and gadgets. Streamlining your accessories into one portable pack is the JanSport Pleasanton ($250), a waxed cotton twill and leather bag with dedicated compartments for all your stuff. Stow your laptop in the 15-inch quick-access sleeve and your iPad…

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Pack ten

HEX Fleet Sonic Backpack

At CES, we eyeballed an expansion on the HEX bag we wrote about a few months ago. They have introduced a neat new line of carry gear for the urban man with a subtle nautical touch. We love the streamlined but stylish look of the HEX Fleet Sonic Backpack ($100). With its dressy but understated…

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Pack It In

Goruck Brick Bag

Gear Patrol favorite Goruck has launched their first accessory offering in the form of the Brick Bag. In spite of its misnomer of a name (re: it’s not actually intended for bricks), the Brick Bag is an excellent addition to the Goruck line. Built from the same 1000D Cordura, ballistic nylon, mil-spec webbing and hardware…

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Style Pick: Rivendell for H R Mariposa Summit Pack

Larry Horton’s fine day and a half design from 1977 embodies uncluttered simplicity and streamlined functionality. Dragon Fire orange with navy base 11oz Cordura cotton. Capacity: 2040 cu.in. Weight: 1lb 7.2oz. 9 leather and nylon tie-on points and dual ice axe loops, #10 YKK coil zipper, 1” waist belt with side release buckle and 2″…

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Conquer More

MTN Approach Backcountry Snowboard System

Pure. Uncut. Powder. We’re not discussing Whitney Houston’s daydreams here people. We’re talking about the stuff that transforms passionate snowboarders into giddy Catholic school girls. Sure, if you can commandeer a chopper on a whim, accessing the stuff in the prime backcountry of your choice is an easy affair. For those of more humble means,…

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Home-Grown Quality

TOPO Designs Klettersack

One would expect intelligent design and exceptional function from a group of unsatisfied American outdoorsmen who previously scattered across the world to purchase premium alfresco gear. The only logical action was to take matters in their own hands and create an American bag company suitable for even the most austere mountain man, or, perhaps, even…

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Bring Your Gear, Ditch the Bulk

Naneu Sahara 217F Camera Bag

The Naneu Pro Sahara 217F ($114) is an ideal carry-on solution for camera enthusiasts frequently on the go. Made from water-resistant Kodra, the bag is designed to be both compact and ergonomic while still including space for critical camera gear as well as a 17″ laptop. Don’t go thinking that it’s just like every other…

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Q Would be Proud

Timbuk2 Q Laptop Backpack

Sometimes less is more, and backpack design is no exception. Try finding one for your laptop that holds plenty of gear while not looking like part of an intergalactic space suit with enough straps and pockets to confuse Stephen Hawking. Introducing the new Timbuk2 Q Laptop Backpack ($100). It’s a bit more budget-conscious than the…

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A Heritage Bag From a Modern Day

Archival Clothing Rucksack

Reading Gear Patrol and seeing all the bags we feature, you might think we live by the motto “the measure of a man is how many bags he owns.” Well, here’s some more proof to that theory – our newest luggage obsession, the Archival Clothing Rucksack ($240). Archival Clothing started out as a place to…

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A Pack With An Identity Crisis

Outdoor Research DryComp Ridge Sack

Outdoor Research calls the DryComp Ridge Sack a perfect pack for peak bagging and summit pushes. Well, living in Minnesota, there aren’t a lot of peaks to be bagged but we have a few thousand lakes and countless rivers, so I’m re-positioning this waterproof bag as the perfect paddling pack.

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Old Ruck Come Anew

Altadena 802 Daypack

The Altadena 802 Rucksack ($275) is a new backpack that looks old, and that’s a good thing because it looks damn good doing it. It’s a top loading tube shaped ruck, with a zip open pocket on the top flap. It also accepts additional pockets that strap onto the side (shown above) providing you enough…