We reached ‘Peak Backpack’ a while back, so it’s really hard to find something that doesn’t just blur into the crowd. The expensive fashion ones, that you can’t fit anything into, or are more form over function, quickly become an irritant and are discarded on the bedroom floor.
The technical ones, on the other hand, make it look like you’re about to climb Kilimanjaro and don’t really blend into the urban environment. You want something stylish, technical and flexible in how much it can handle.
I’ve been recently introduced to Chrome Industries. Founded in Boulder, Colorado - I’m already sold on the name! - over 20 years ago by a couple of skaters and bike messengers, Chrome Industries started when they took an old Juki sewing machine, a few yards of ballistic nylon, added military grade truck tarpaulin and salvaged seatbelt buckles when they couldn’t find anything in the market that met their expectations.
This 'Urban Ex Gas Can 22L Backpack', in lightweight nylon, features reflective details, a removable laptop sleeve fitting a 15” MacBook Pro and velcro fastening inside and is fully waterproof with stylish taped zips. When empty, it folds flat, but, when full, it transforms into an attractive and very rigid looking rectangular tube.
This feels like the type of backpack that can be anything you want it to be. From meetings around town to a rainy trek in the country, it'll do its job without breaking a sweat. It's the type of backpack you’ll enjoy using and reach for first.
Left & Below - Chrome Industries - Urban Ex Gas Can 22L Backpack - £149.99 from Zalando.co.uk
This bag is the bomb. Actually, Troubadour should call this the ‘Bomb’, as it hasn't got a name.
British accessories brand, Troubadour, produce some great luggage and accessories and has, over the last few years, been growing their range and developing and enhancing their products.
I’ve been watching their progress and they know exactly what their stylish customers want: capacity, functionality, quality and understated branding.
If this was a ‘designer’ bag it would easily have a 1 in front of the number. It’s a giant holdall slash rucksack that could easily hold a week's holiday or trip. Stitch-free straps are injected with technical rubber for comfort and an external side pocket, top flap and internal mesh side pockets complete the design. The fabric body is strengthened by the crossing over leather straps while keeping the weight down.
You’ll look like a chic Action Man and carrying it will be the most stylish workout you’ve ever had. Now, squat!
Left & Below - Troubadour - Fabric + Leather Duffle - £895
If you’re bored of Prada you could do very well to look at new brand UTC00. Founded by four worldwide creatives, UTC00 is a truly global accessories brand with an aesthetic that spans continents. Named after Coordinated Universal Time, abbreviated as UTC, a slightly more scientific version of Greenwich Mean Time, UTC00 is Greenwich and they use these different times, plus or minus, to regulate all meeting up and developing the brand.
From Milan, Seoul and London, they know their travel and have developed luxury accessories to suit. The colours are bold yet masculine and the quality details are streamlined for practicality. The majority of the materials, trims, hardware, and other components are custom developed and produced for UTC00. It brings to mind early Prada and the famous nylon rucksack and with prices of around £120 for a bum bag and £210 for a rucksack, it is premium but without the designer mark-up.