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First Look: The Best Gym + Work Backpack? Dayfarer Backpack by Farer Design

The Dayfarer backpack is an everyday backpack designed by David Hundertmark, who resides in Cologne, Germany. It's currently funding on Kickstarter, and David kindly sent us a pre-production prototype to review.

The origin story is that David couldn't find a suitable backpack which precisely attuned to his needs and daily lifestyle, so he designed his own with the belief there would be others who shared similar requirements. I thought it was then only appropriate that I tested the Dayfarer for a week, within the parameters of my own lifestyle. Here's my review.

This article is part of our First Look series, where we take a look at products before they hit the market, and share our experiences with you. If you've got a new product launch, you can write to us here.


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Initial Impressions

The Dayfarer is billed as a gym & work backpack, that's stylish enough to carry to a business meeting or restaurant. Personally I like the minimalist bauhaus aesthetic, and my initial impressions was that the design of the backpack was clearly considered. The backpack felt very sturdy, and I had no worries about weight load. The straps and backing were very well-padded, so I immediately knew that the Dayfarer was going to be a comfortable carry.

However, I felt that the finishing seemed to be a bit on the raw side, but thought it could either be a case of it requiring some wearing in from the waterproofing treatment, or that it was the first production run (and in our experience factories tend to get better with each production). I do touch on this point again later in this review.

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Features

The bag is a hybrid of an expandable flap-top with a full frontal opening, and at full expansion has a volume of 18L. It weights 1088g (2.4lbs), which to me was rather light and sturdy given it's size.

The materials used on the Dayfarer were of high quality and I have been quite happy with them. The waterproof ballistic nylon and YKK stormguard zippers keep my essentials dry. The magnetic buckle is a joy to use and I really like that it provides security and quick access at the same time.

magnetic-buckleSlide to unlock, snaps back shut

Speaking about quick access, the side pockets of the Dayfarer are a great feature because they allow me to access my EDC items like my keys, wallet, earphones and phone without having to take off the backpack entirely - I simply swing it to the side.

The bottom of the backpack also has a shoe pocket which is useful for trips to the gym or an extra pair of hiking shoes for that weekend adventure, similar to some of the bags from Aer. When loaded, the shoe pocket does take up space in the main compartment, but I don't see how else that can be avoided. When the shoe compartment is not in use, there is a thoughtful velcro tab in the main compartment which nicely tucks the shoe pouch of the way. I personally appreciate being able to seperate my footwear and perhaps some dirty clothes from the rest of my gear or luggage, so this was a delightful feature for me.

velcro-shoe-pouch


Usage

In my week of use, I brought the Dayfarer to my daily work, business meetings, and a 2 night stayover.

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As I had expected, I found the carry to be very comfortable. Even when loaded with my everyday work items, the bag still felt very light. The sternum strap (add-on) also has a magnetic buckle which I really enjoyed using because I was able to buckle it single-handedly. I did not use the waist straps at all, and to be honest I'm not sure if an 18L backpack would need it, even if it was fully loaded. The waist strap buckle isn't magnetic, but it comes with a side pouch which may be useful for storing some cash when travelling.

The quick access side pockets are in concept great to use, but sometimes I found my hands being caught in the zipper openings, and wish it could be a little more spacious. I understand from David that he's looking at enlarging these pockets slightly, though keeping the minimal and flat aesthetic it mind. There is a key ring holder in one of the pockets - I wish this was detachable, and because it isn't I don't use it. I also don't use the zip pocket on the strap because it wears a little high towards my shoulders. However towards the end of the week I started storing coins in that pouch. I store my business cards and receipts in the hidden pocket that's flushed against my back, and if I were to travel I would certainly use it to store my passport.

quick-access-side-pockets

On the other side of the backpack (without the pockets) is a water bottle pouch and a handle for a briefcase style carry. Both handles are extremely well built and feel great to carry. I think the bag looks great and sharp in it's side profile, but it took some getting used to as I had to figure out whether to remove the bag on my left or right shoulder depending on what I wanted to do with it. One thing I didn't quite like was that the bag isn't able to stand on it's own facing up, and while it's able to rest on it's side, the side that faces down would be the side with the pockets. Having some pads may have been a nice touch though I can see how it may slightly alter the look of the bag. I also wish there was a way to tuck in the straps when carrying the bag on it's side profile so that the straps don't flap around so much.

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There isn't really a 'resting position' for the bag, and hence the shoe pocket may get a little scuffed over time, but I think that's natural and not too much of an issue as the construction of the bag is well built

What I really like about the backpack design is that it is both an expandable flap-top, but also has zips down it's side to provide a full frontal opening, where you can open up the front flap fully almost like a luggage. This allows you to easily access things you may have packed at the bottom of the backpack, and also lets you unpack your items quickly upon arrival at the destination. It's for this reason that I also find the Dayfarer an all-rounder everyday carry, because I can compress it's capacity by tightening the flap-top when I'm going to work, or I can expand it for a weekend trip. For my 2 day stayover, I was able to fit two t-shirts, a pair of jeans, a pair of shorts, my toiletries bag, a regular sized towel, an extra pair of sandals, as well as all of my work essentials that I already normally carry.

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I wouldn't overload it though, as the flap-top may not provide the best security for your items when the bag is fully-loaded. One way I got around this was to pack a towel on the very top, so that it held in the rest of the bag's contents.

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Interior wise, I wish there was one or two more expandable mesh side pockets without zippers. These would have been perfect for my chargers and my MX Master mouse. I also wish there were two pen slots, either on the interior, in the tech pouch, or even in the side pockets for quick access. I often found myself having to dig rather deep into the bag to retrieve my pens when I needed them most. However, I'd be careful to say that those would be all my requests, since one of the things I like about the bag is that it isn't overly compartmentalized.

While I was initially skeptical of the tech pouch due to it's extremely slim profile, I certainly warmed up to it and appreciated how it compacted my electronics, and it even held my bulky 3 pin plug chargers well. On my overnight stay, I ended up using the tech pouch on it's own, to hold my EDC items when running some quick errands.

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At the end of the week, the bag did start to wear better and did not look as rigid as when I first unboxed it. Overall I think it is a great first effort from Farer Design and I look forward to what else there is in store for the future. I'm pretty sure I will continue to use the Dayfarer beyond the week as I like it's size, look, and functionalities.


Summary

Pros:

  • Expandable flap-top plus clam-shell opening hybrid design
  • Convenient quick access side pockets
  • Magnetic buckles
  • Considered compartments, e.g. shoe pouch, seperate laptop compartment
  • Travel friendly

Cons:

  • Initially was quite rigid
  • Some features could have been improved, e.g. detachable key-holder, side carry, interior compartmentalization. I'm being quite demanding here, but I think it's fair since the premise of the backpack was that it should suit my lifestyle needs.

The Dayfarer is available for €109 (S$178 / US$135) on Kickstarter here. It ships in July 2018.

ps. Grouphunters get half priced shipping. Place the pledge via the above link, and you can message the creator to find out how

First Look: The Best Gym + Work Backpack? Dayfarer Backpack by Farer Design
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