Packable, ultralight daypacks are great for travelers looking to cut down on weight and save space, but in reality they’re not ideal for heavy loads. Most give little support, and the thin fabric means bulky items tend to poke your back.
A startup called Trexad has an alternative. In July, the company launched a Kickstarter campaign for the Air Pack, an ultralight Cordura daypack with an inflatable back panel and shoulder straps to offer structure and cushion without adding weight.
Naturally, I doubted a few inflatable panels would do much to make such a feathery design comfortable under heavy loads. But after two weeks using the Air Pack on my commute and short hikes, the simple design has won me over.
Weighing in at just 10 ounces, the Air Pack features a 33-liter main compartment, accessible via a roll top and buckle closure. Two side pockets and a front zippered pocket accented with a reflective strip provide space to store your phone, wallet, an extra shirt, and two large water bottles. When not in use, the pack stuffs down to the size of a mason jar (though Trexad claims the cinched-down pack is soup-can-size).
The ribbed back panel and shoulder straps, which inflate with a few breaths into a single valve, performed remarkably well when the bag was packed full, spreading weight evenly. Detachable waist straps lend extra support should you need it.
Over a few hours of use, the valve did leak a bit, and the Cordura material did not wick or promote airflow well, despite its ribbed design. Still, for something that takes up such minimal room in your carry-on and adds little weight, the Air Pack offers an impressive level of functionality and comfort.
Trexad exceeded its Kickstarter funding goal by over $100,000 and has now reached over 950 percent of its funding goal on Indiegogo. Packs will ship between December 2018 and January 2019 and will run for an estimated $139 once they go to retail early next year.