Here's a cleanly designed multitasker with the right goods for road tripping, globe-trotting, or anything in between. Trundle this 2005 Gear of the Year fave up to the reception desk at the W Hotel without looking like you're fresh off the mountain, then zip off the bomber backpack to launch into the urban jungleor more challenging environs.
1. Don't sweat the baggage handlers. The Switchback protects your possessions like a fortress, with a tough skid plate, corner guards, and beefy ripstop-nylon construction. Because the design gurus deploy heavier fabric only at abrasion hot spots, the whole package stays relatively light: 11 pounds.
2. As far as wheelies go, this 4,300-cube hybrid hauler drives like a dream, thanks to an ergonomically curved locking handle that shifts your load onto the rollers. A side-haul grip and padded top handle offer good grab when the time comes to muscle the Switchback up into the TGV vestibule.
3. Forget futzing with extraneous organizational doodads in the main compartment. Zip open the top panel to reveal a spacious interior rigged with an adjustable mesh-buckle system that compresses and secures take-alongs, plus a zippered laundry pocket.
4. The detachable daypack ain't no afterthoughtat 1,500 cubic inches, it's plenty big for urban or rugged forays. (It easily garaged my laptop for morning caffeine recon missions.) Dual stow-away water-bottle holders inject trekking DNA, and the front zippered pocket sports sleeves for gizmos and paperwork.
5. In bipedal mode, the zip-out backpack suspension and 3-D lumbar material are downright plush, especially where it matters mostover your tailbone. Sculpted shoulder, sternum, and load-lifter straps are all fully adjustableand ready for any multi-day trek.