I always seem to be on the hunt for bags. Bags and coats are my thing…not just schmancy purses (which aren’t really my thing), but anything from hiking backpacks to totes…yes, please.
So, when I spotted this Patagonia Arbor (26L) pack on sale a few months ago, I was intrigued. I have a lovely Deuter pack which is great for serious hiking (reviewed here), but on this trip we were also spending time in Temecula for a wedding, so I was looking for a pack that would work on pretty easy day hikes and as a casual bag. It was also to be my carry-on for the plane. The Arbor fit the bill.
The Arbor pack is deceptively large, while not being bulky or overwhelming. One of the things I like the most about it is the fact you can carry a lot, or a little, and it is equally comfortable/easy to carry. You know those bags that have to be completely full or they slide around or off your shoulders? Not this one. It carries a ton of stuff if you pack it to the brim.
The Arbor is not big on pockets, but we didn’t find this to be a problem. There is a nice, padded sleeve that I slid my Surface into. And two pockets on the rest of the pack–one that opens without opening the rest of the back in the front, and a second hidden pocket under the flap that is great for keys, wallets, etc. I particularly like this hidden pocket for use in the city/where you don’t want someone preening through your stuff without you noticing.
I did sometimes wish that the Arbor had an external water bottle carrier, but if you have a bottle with a carabiner, it will hang nicely from the many loops on the back of the pack. These loops are also super if you need to tie up a pair of shoes or stick a sweaty shirt through them for the hike down.
Now the Arbor is NOT a serious hiking pack. While you could rig up a bladder in there if you wanted to carry water, it does not have a chest strap and only has a very tiny waist belt. It’s shoulder straps are comfortable, but not particularly ergonomic. It doesn’t have a rain cover–one of the features I love most about my Deuter. It is a bit rain-resistant, but I wouldn’t test it out in a downpour. Lastly, if I had done one thing differently in the design, it would have been to reinforce the bottom of the pack.
The Arbor looks like it belongs wherever you are–it is not at all out of place in the city (in fact, I see people carrying them to work frequently in DC), because it is not all rigged out as a “technical” pack. And it’s pretty! I love my black pattern with green accents. Patagonia didn’t sacrifice pretty colors for material, though: it’s heavy duty ripstop nylon that will withstand a lot of wear and tear. The Arbor fits the bill as a useful day pack for a trip to a National Park, a hike through rock creek park, or even biking to a picnic with friends. It really is that multifunctional.
(Side note: If you frequently ask your husband to carry stuff for you, this pack is great as it is not at all “frilly”, and in neutral colors that won’t make my husband cringe. He also agreed it was comfortable to carry and a great size for day hiking or trudging through the airport).
Patagonia still has these packs in stock in super pretty new colors (here), and you can also find past season colors on sale on sites like Backcountry (here) and Moosejaw (here). (And, disclosure, #notsponsored).