By my very unscientific estimate, there are roughly 32 million backpacks that every traveler can choose from. There are compact bags, massive duffels, professional rolltops, cross body slings, and lightweight gym bags that feature a special shoe compartment, so your stinky gym sneakers don’t funk up the rest of your gear. But the thing that makes choosing a backpack so tricky is that most of us want one that “does it all.”
That’s a tall order for any product, let alone one that, in the simplest terms, is a place where we put things. So many styles are designed with a certain type of person in mind, from casual travelers to gym rats, and it’s not absurd to suggest that most of us have several backpacks stuffed away in our closets so we can have a Tony Stark moment of choosing the right one for the job. For example, I have one each for the office, fitness, overnight, weekend, and whenever I take my GoPro and accessories with me.
That’s a lot of backpacks, yes, but it’s important to remember that overuse is the surest way to find yourself back on Google, searching for your next bag. Unless, of course, you pick a bag that was built to be the last bag you pick for decades. Able Carry set out to do that with the brand-new Max Backpack, but does it actually feel like it’s going to be with me well into the 2030s and beyond?
Short answer: Oh, absolutely.
How Do You Predict Durability?
When it comes to luggage, I want to be the Bon Jovi of testing bags—”I’ve seen a million backpacks, and I’ve rocked them all!” So far, I’m a few hundred thousand shy of my target, but if I decided to call it quits today, I won’t be disappointed that I stopped on the Able Carry Max Backpack. Through two trips it has proven to be as simple and effective as any casual traveler could want, but it’s the versatility that really makes this one special.
I could spend all day firing paintballs at this backpack or stuffing it with firecrackers or angry animals (just kidding, PETA), but the only way to truly test a bag is to take it on a trip and let the universe have at it. Cramped overhead bins or car trunks, people kicking it beneath the seat, food and beverage carts rolling over straps, being tossed in with the rest of the luggage because a family of six somehow has three carryon pieces each—these are the best ways to determine if this particular product and its impressive list of materials (XPAC shell, a 1000D Cordura Nylon base, 420D ripstop lining, YKK Racquet Coil, Bartack Stitching, and DWR coating) is ready for the wear and tear that comes with flying or long-distance driving.
The Able Carry Max Backpack has been with me in the air and on the ground, carrying my gear on recent trips to Cancun and Reynolds Lake Oconee, and it also served as my golf bag on the latter trip. Through rain and plenty of sun, the fabric still looks as good as it did when I removed the plastic bag. Does that mean it’s going to be that sharp 10 years from now? Of course not, but considering it came home from two jam-packed flights and a road trip during which it was the bottom slice in a trunk sandwich, it’s off to an amazing start.
What We Love the Most
Durability is key, but style always goes a long way, especially in terms of versatility. I’ve tested TSA-friendly backpacks that were designed for traveling professionals, and they look and feel like I have a cubicle on my back. I can’t take that to the beach. I’ve tested sophisticated and, dare I say, fancy bags that can go from the airplane to a board room, but I wouldn’t put a box of golf balls or hiking sneakers anywhere near it. And I have also tested a gym bag that was made with materials so tough that I let my five-year-old son play with it for a day just to prove it could handle anything. But I’d never take that one on a work trip.
The Able Carry Max Backpack is a unicorn; the rare style that can bounce from location to location and never look out of place. It has an easily accessible compartment for a laptop or tablet up to 17-inches, as well as more pockets than a solo traveler can fill. The straps, buckles, and snaps also feel like you could take a hammer to them and they’d barely suffer a scratch.
All the while, no matter what you’re carrying, your shoulders and back won’t suffer, as the closed-cell foam shoulder support and ventilated pads are a traveler’s best friend. That’s especially great for when you spend the entire day away from the resort, since you’ll need your arm strength to lift a glass and toast another successful trip.