Way back last summer I ruminated on the need for a decent backpack that doesn’t flop all over the place. And perhaps one that is comfortable to boot. This need comes not just from days paddling and having to reach into my cockpit for gear, but also when I’ve been mountain biking, skiing and hiking. And I called attention to the Symbiot Sportback, which I thought seemed to fulfill this need fairly well.
Well, the other day I got my hands on one of these gems and during the stretch of unseasonably warm days we had here recently, got a chance to try it out. My answer: very nice, with reservations. The pack is very well-designed and about the most comfortable pack I’ve ever worn. Instead of hanging over your shoulders, this pack has straps that wrap around your torso and then clip in front. The back is padded with the kind of meshy, well-architected padding you find on top end hiking packs. There are little pockets and storage areas around the pack, with a small pair of them upfront for a cell phone, GPS, flashlight or ipod (albeit probably a mini), and several larger, compartmental pockets in back, two of which zip and appear to be nicely water resistant. The pack is particularly suitable for paddling.
My main complaint is there is not THAT much room in these pockets and so carrying anything like a laptop computer or, say, the L-M volume of Encyclopedia Britannica is probably out of the question. But there is ample space for food, a notebook, GPS receiver and some other gear. In all honestly, there was plenty of room for my day paddle around the river, and I plan to bring along the Sportback when I head to Norway this summer.
So if you’re in the market for something different in the backpack arena, I highly recommend you check this out.