Well, it’s official; Phone case companies are taking over the world. Last year, we saw a new line of coolers and accessories from Otterbox. This week, LifeProof introduced a line of tech-centric daypacks. There are four packs in the line, ranging from the 18-liter Quito ($100) to the 32-liter Squamish XL ($180). I had the chance to check out the Squamish XL, the largest of the four packs, on a multiflight, multi–national park, four-day romp through Wyoming and Montana and was impressed by how many features LifeProof was able to squeeze into this slick daypack.
The Squamish XL has an ample main compartment with a dedicated hydration bladder sleeve, as well as a separate compartment on the bottom of the pack for dirty clothes or shoes. The whole thing is made from a tough, water-repellent (not waterproof) Cordura, but things get even better when you dig into the details. There are two weather-resistant tech pockets with waterproof zippers on the sides, as well as a weather-resistant slot for a 15-inch laptop and tablet behind the back panel, so all of your precious tech will be safe from anything short of submersion. Dual water bottle pockets on the sides of the pack make hydration simple. A full panel of organizational pockets is designed to fit phones, headphones, portable chargers, pens…if you still carry a Zune, I’m pretty sure there’s a dedicated sleeve for it in this pack somewhere. I’ve been using this pack for more than a week straight, and I’m still finding new features.
Thoughtful details take the Squamish XL to next-level useful. For instance, there are cord portals between the side tech pockets and the main compartment, so you can keep a battery pack in an internal pouch and charge your phone with the cords hidden. Also, two front tie-down straps are adjustable and completely removable, so you can carry a skateboard or bike helmet. There’s even an exterior mesh stash pocket for rain jackets. I used it to carry my hoagie and hummus snack pack on a recent flight. Lots of packs have these features, but few have all of them.
At 2.6 pounds, the Squamish XL is not an ultralight daypack, but it’s built for the daily grind, bridging the gap between tactical and techie, office and trail. All in all, this is a successful foray into packs by a company we never would have expected it from. Is it inexpensive? No. But like LifeProof’s cases, you get what you pay for. Maybe a little more.