It started with this “Action-Painting Backpack” from Eastpak—a handsome take on an otherwise standard backpack. But no sooner did it appear in our RSS reader than a more ambitious project popped up, the one pictured to the left. It’s a full suit tailored from an artist’s drop cloth. That means those paint splatters are entirely random, just whatever drops happened to fall on the floor. The artist in question is Hugh O’Rourke, a New York-based painter who happens to be friends with the right bloggers-turned-tailors.
The drop cloth also means the fabric is a good deal rougher than what you’re used to from your tailor, but we’re guessing it goes over pretty well at gallery openings.
Every time we wear camo, we feel like we’re getting away with something. That’s the thrill of it, but it’s also a good reason to limit it to the odd accessory.
Like, for instance, this backpack from Herschel Supply. It’s loud, sure, but that won’t be a problem anywhere you’re likely to wear a backpack. (We’re thinking road trips and collarless Sundays--but probably not anywhere with a maitre’d.)
Otherwise, it’s a slimmer, more classic version of something you might see from the streetwear crowd. And they always did know their way around a backpack.
When it comes to luggage, we’re usually partial to dignified, hand-stitched leather carryalls and handsome steamer trunks. But sometimes, when your jetsetting requires that you machete your way through rainforest floors, you need something that’s virtually indestructible.
Behold, the new Cora rucksack from Ignoble. It’s made of military grade, 400 denier nylon, so it requires little to no upkeep and can shake off the battery of luggage carousels, cross-desert motorbike trips and the like. And given its brute durability, it’s actually a pretty good looking bag. We embrace the boxy functionality—a kind of brute simplicity, packing every last square inch into your carry-on space.
Think of it as your go-to for this summer’s exploits in the Mongolian wilderness.
The duffel bag is pretty firmly entrenched as the “large and not too pretty” bag in most guy’s luggage pile, but we’d like to make a case for the camper’s backpack.
Like the military duffel, it’s strictly utilitarian—but it does a better job at it, since you’d almost always rather be carrying that weight on your shoulders. There’s also an encouraging crop of stripped-down packs arriving on the market, like this one from Herschel Supply, doing a rough approximation of what Jack Spade did for duffels.
And if, once spring rolls around, you decide to haul a two-person lunch and a bottle of red wine to your nearest scenic mountaintop, you’ll be well-prepared.
We can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of satisfaction when we’ve managed to visibly break in in a prized belonging. The telltale patina of marks and scratches is an accomplishment of sorts. It makes a statement—this thing has been with you for years, maybe even decades. It’s traveled with you and it’s somehow managed to look even better with time.
This Babylon Backpack from Wheelmen & Co. achieves the veteran status sans elbow grease, with the help of some unusually weathered waxed cotton. And despite their pre-loved appearance, the bags have some heavy structure, thanks to pivot hardware on the shoulder straps.
So don’t be squeamish about tossing them down a few staircases for the sake of some extra wear.
The backpack can be a tough item to pull off, but we’d offer the following suggestion: keep it as slim as possible. That means tight straps and yes, a little stretching when you put it on. It also means finding a pack that’s just large enough to hold what you need—and no larger.
This Yuketen Triangle Back Pack in the Inventory shop fits the bill quite nicely, with melton wool fabric and undyed leather straps to keep things appropriately rustic. The triangle shape means it won’t poke out above your shoulders and ruin your silhouette, and the no-frills exterior means you won’t have anyone mistaking you for a college kid. We still wouldn’t walk into any boardrooms with it, but for a weekend grocery run it’s hard to do better.
The good news is, it’s producing some pretty fantastic gear. This Albam Summit Pack was designed for carrying carabiners and ice axes, but it wouldn’t look too out of place carrying a stack of LPs through Brooklyn on the back of a fixed gear. And since it’s from the London-based Albam—who you might remember—the whole thing’s sewn together in England, where they’ll hopefully remember a thing or two about Alpinism.
Fjällräven made a splash in New York last week thanks to a brand new retail outpost—including a wall-mounted rainbow of waxed cotton mini-backpacks—but their best item may still be under the radar. The cropped city pack is fine, but if we had to pick one, we’d go for something a little chunkier…
This retro twenty-liter pack has enough strapped pockets to stand in for your weekender bag on any interstate voyages you may be taking this week, but unlike almost every other pack that fits the bill, it’s sharp enough to bring into first class. Pick one up at the store and they’ll throw some Greenland wax in with the bargain, in case it gets banged up enough to need rewaxing.
The backpack has gotten a bad rap over the years. (No, not that kind of rap.) Usually relegated to hikers and grade-schoolers, it may be due for a revival. After all, true style rises to the occasion, and you don’t want set off into the tropical wilderness with an Italian leather duffel. (For one thing, you’ll ruin the finish.) Not all travel is created equal, and a little utility is nothing to be ashamed of.
This pair is from our old friends at Penfield, who most recently were bringing us some much-needed flannel. Put the two together, and you’re pretty much set for that weekend excursion to Maine.