Gadling Gear Review: Brooklyn Outfitters Wolfjaw 16L Backpack

Brooklyn Outfitters' Wolfjaw backpackOver the years, major outdoor gear companies like North Face and Patagonia have built billion dollar businesses out of selling their various jackets, base layers, packs and other equipment. But these days some of the highest quality and most innovative gear comes from smaller, lesser known companies who mix a passion for adventure into their designs. Many of these boutique gear companies are the result of climbers, backpackers and paddlers creating the specific gear they need simply because they can’t find it anywhere else. Such is the case with a company called Brooklyn Outfitters, which makes a small, but very high quality, line of backpacks that were clearly designed by outdoor adventurers for outdoor adventurers.

As the name implies, Brooklyn Outfitters is located in New York City and in addition to creating their own line of gear they also regularly organize a series of short outdoor excursions and seminars. I haven’t been lucky enough to join them on one of those day trips just yet but I have had the good fortune of putting one of their packs through its paces. Over the past couple of months I’ve been testing the Wolfjaw 16L backpack and I can honestly say that I’m very impressed.

The Wolfjaw is a no-frills, minimalist pack that will appeal to day hikers, peak baggers and rock climbers alike. Its simple, yet unique, design hugs the body nicely, doesn’t restrict motion and stays in place while on the move, which is important for those that like to hike or climb light and fast.

Made from lightweight and durable fabrics this pack can take a beating without showing a hint of wear and tear. Better yet, those same fabrics are also waterproof and when combined with the unique buckled top enclosure – which resembles something you’d find on a dry-bag – you can be sure that the contents of the pack will stay nice and dry even under the wettest of conditions.Staying true to its minimalist roots, the Wolfjaw features just one main storage compartment and a second front organizational pocket. Both are large and can swallow up more gear than the 16-liter size would typically imply, but there were times where an extra pocket or two could have come in handy. Access to the main compartment can also be a bit frustrating at times as whatever piece of gear you need will invariably be on the bottom and difficult to find.

On multiple occasions in this article I’ve used the term “minimalist” to describe this pack but that doesn’t mean that Brooklyn Outfitters has skimped on the options in the Wolfjaw. For example, the bag includes a dedicated internal hydration sleeve that makes it easy to carry a couple of liters of water on your adventure. The designers have also incorporated an easily adjustable hip belt, multifunction compression straps and a foam pad that provides solid back support. Those looking to shed excess weight from their pack will be happy to know that both the compression straps and foam pad can be removed.

I used the Wolfjaw on a variety of trails, as well as while climbing, and found that it was comfortable and carried a full load of gear very well. The shoulder straps aren’t particularly thick, but still provided plenty of support, and the hip belt helped lock the bag into place, keeping it from moving unnecessarily. I appreciated the fact that this bag wasn’t constantly shifting about while hiking or climbing and didn’t limit motion in any way either.

Not everyone will appreciate the Wolfjaw’s minimalist approach and for those who need more storage or organizational options, I’d recommend looking elsewhere. But outdoor and adventure athletes in need of a well built, comfortable pack that was designed specifically for their needs will find a lot to like with this bag. With a price tag of just $99, the Wolfjaw also happens to be a fantastic bargain, particularly for a pack that is made in the U.S.A.

In addition to the Wolfjaw 16L, Brooklyn Outfitters makes a couple of other packs as well including a larger Wolfjaw 34L and the smaller Panther 14L. If those packs share the same high quality and attention to detail as the Wolfjaw I tested, the company has some real winners on their hands. This small company could be in for big things down the line.