Boreas, a small outdoor gear company out of San Francisco, has launched into the Australian market with their uniquely designed packs and tents specifically aimed at adventure enthusiasts, urban dwellers and outdoor lovers. Boreas designers have collectively worked with some of the world’s most recognised outdoor brands including The North Face, Eddie Bauer and First Ascent, and their gear does have a funky good look about it.
Cyclists tend to be active people who often not only cycle, but like to get outdoors in other activities as well, so as a group they fall easily within Boreas’ target market. We’re taking a look at one of their most versatile packs; the Bootlegger.
This is a 28-litre pack with a lightweight suspension system they call Super-Tramp. The Super-Tramp is the part with the lightweight alloy frame and tensioned ‘trampoline’ netting to add comfort and reduce sweat —it’s the basis of the system to which a choice of packs is attached. The shoulder straps from the frame are well padded, as are the shoulder blade and hip pads, which fit snugly up against your back.
Your choice of the three separate packs can easily be attached to the Super-Tramp depending on your expedition needs. The top of the frame tucks into a long pocket across the top of the pack’s back panel, and two lugs fit firmly into the bottom corners to securely attach the pack to the Super-Tramp. Two small clips and straps make sure the two components won’t separate.
Pack options include the Torpedo hydration pack, a lightweight pack with dual hose ports and a zippered top pocket, big enough to carry a hydration bladder up to thee litres plus essentials for short day trips. Or you might go for the Hopper Daypack with its waterproof top pocket, two front stretch pockets, four compression straps and what they call ‘daisy chain’ straps for securing other accessories. This is the regular pack you’d use for commuting or hiking when you need to carry more. Its 28-litre capacity is large enough for winter commuting with a full set of clothes including boots, jeans, jacket or jumper.
There are not as many pockets inside the Hopper as you might expect; just one large laptop partition down the back wall and a small zippered mesh pocket at the top front, inside the pack. But given the waterproof pocket outside and other external storage features, it’s not a big problem. The pack looks tidy with none of the bewildering straps, clips and shock cord that you often find on a daypack.
The third option is the 30 litre ‘Scrimshaw’ waterproof and submersible dry bag, which will fit the entire Hopper daypack inside so your gear will stay dry no matter how inclement the weather. This is a great option if you ski, kayak or fish where your warm dry gear can easily be swamped with a single false move.
The Bootlegger has chest and waist straps to keep the pack in place while you ride and feels comfortable when loaded up with gear. I was pleased to note the pack rides low enough on your back that it doesn’t shunt you in the back of the head as you go.
Though Boreas doesn’t push it, one of the main reasons for a trampoline based backpack system is to hold the bulk of the pack away from your back to help reduce overheating while you’re working up a sweat. I was impressed at the level of venting I could feel while riding. I could easily feel cool air passing between the pack and the small of my back an area much the same size and shape as the Super-Tramp. So as a commuter pack for cyclists I think it works well.
Aesthetically the design is appealing, though the light blue fabric of this particular pack shows marks easily and does look a bit grubby after a while. Nevertheless on a functional level the versatility of the two different pack options and the complete waterproof and submersible cover is quite impressive. The Bootlegger is well designed and the quality of construction is obvious; zips, toggles, straps and clips all work well and the internal seams are taped for extra toughness. It’s a very worthy contender for those in the market for a quality commuter and day-tripper backpack.
RRP: $349, 1.78kg
Distributed by Zen Imports
Stockist: Mountain Equipment www.mountainequipment.com