North St. Bags are designed, sold, and made in Portland, Oregon, and whether you need a bag for work or play, they’ve got you covered. I was recently sent one of their Davis backpacks to review, along with a few accessories.
North St. Bags has several backpacks in their collection (along with hip packs, tote bags, bike panniers, and more); the Davis daypack is one of the smaller types, good for everyday use. It comes in a number of different colors and prices start at $99; the camouflage version is made of an even tougher material and starts at $124. The bag exterior is made of Cordura nylon, with a waterproof sailcloth liner. The grey accent panel is also made of the sailcloth and wraps around the bottom of the bag, helping to protect your bag (and its contents) when you set it down.
It has a rolltop so you open it up like a sack, and then roll the top down and fasten it shut with an adjustable clip. There are only a few compartments: the main compartment is roomy (30-liter capacity), and then there’s a small zippered pocket on the front. The zipper is taped along the seam to help keep water out. There are also two open pouches on the side. My Kleen Kanteen 12-ounce water bottle fits snugly in the side pocket, but the 20-ounce seems a little more precarious. It also fits a U-lock for your bike. There’s a small strap near the base for your clip light if you’re cycling.
There’s a chest strap, which is needed for biking, and it can slide up or down the shoulder straps. It’s a good fit for me, but my wife says she wishes it could slide up a little further because it’s a little low on her breasts. The base of the backpack has nylon loops for an optional waist belt. The back has a carrying handle that makes it easy to reach into the bag to grab stuff. While carrying it by the handle, the rolltop can still fold over to keep out rain.
Since the main compartment is basically a large sack, you can get various accessories to keep things organized inside. I was provided with the Pittock travel pouches in three sizes and the Division laptop sleeve. The travel pouches are like the backpack itself—Cordura exterior, sailcloth interior, with a taped zipper. They’re waterproof and durable, though unpadded. The laptop sleeve is padded, and has two large strips of velcro on the back, allowing it to be attached to the inside of the backpack.
The interior of the bag was a little hard to photograph, but it has a few notable features. First, it’s light-colored, so that you’re not searching around in the dark for things. There are two rings of velcro that go all around the inside of the compartment at two heights. These work with various organizer accessories (like the laptop sleeve) so that you can customize what you want to carry, or even change things up when you want to.
The velcro is really strong—when the bag arrived and I wanted to pull the sleeve out to get photographs, one side would stick back on while I was separating the other side. So you can be pretty sure things will stay securely attached during use. The “hard” side of the velcro is on the sleeve and other accessories, and the “soft” side is inside the bag, so that you don’t scratch things up on the areas that don’t have accessories attached. The laptop sleeve also comes with two strips of “soft” velcro so that if you’re using the sleeve outside of the backpack, you can cover up the scratchy side and keep them from snagging on things.
My wife has worn the backpack on her bike commute and, other than the height of the chest strap, she’s very pleased with it. The materials are sturdy and the construction is solid. While we haven’t had any rain lately, I’m sure once winter hits we’ll be happy to have such a waterproof backpack.
North St. Bags gets all of its fabrics and most of its other materials in the U.S., mostly in the Pacific Northwest, and because they are constructed right here in Portland, they maintain control over the quality every step of the way. The bags are made to order, and have a lifetime guarantee.
Review samples provided by North St. Bags.