March 2019 update: I’ve just purchased the 15L (got a 15″ laptop and the 10L featured here doesn’t fit it). I’ll be posting a followup in the coming months based on a new trip to share on my experience.
Eureka! The perfect backpack exists, for me at least. Ok, I’ll try not to get too hyperbolic.
Choosing Goruck as a brand
I’ve researched a lot of ways to carry my stuff (junk?) from point A to point B. As a result I settled on wanting a somewhat small backpack as the sweet spot. That doesn’t mean a bag with wheels is out of the question (I love my Travelpro that I found on Craigslist). But it does mean I need a good bag to throw on my back when I go on a trip.
Picking the right size
Thanks to Ben from Brooks Review I was convinced Goruck was a solid choice. A backpack should be sturdy, have a small profile, and be visually understated. I ordered the GR1 and the Echo. The GR1 is a great midsize backpack that can carry a laptop and several days worth (easily) of clothes for a trip.
The Echo is like the GR1, but it’s short and squatty, like someone took the bottom and chopped it off. Since I’m 6’ 2” tall I decide the Echo would look too small on my back and returned it. I used the GR1 for a trip to Amsterdam and found it a nearly perfect fit for bringing a decent amount of stuff: clothes for 4-5 days, my DSLR camera, an iPad Pro and my MacBook Pro (along with other odds and ends). It’s just small enough that I can shove it under an airplane seat if absolutely necessary. However, in situations where I can pack lighter (Summer time), it’s too big for my needs.
Trying another size
So I decided to try the Goruck Bullet 10L. I tested it on a cross country trip for 4 days. I found that it fit my MacBook Pro (13 inch), iPad Pro, clothes for the trip, and a few accessories. The trip wasn’t quite perfect. I ended up tossing my clothes into a collapsible tote bag on the second day to make it easier to split up things during meetings. However, it was small and light, fit well under the airplane seat, and didn’t look silly on my back. It’s really perfect for specific situations.
GR1 is perfect for trips where I have to make compromises and bring more than I want. The Bullet is perfect for times when I can simplify on clothing and not bring a ton of electronics.
What I actually packed
(Minus what I wore to take the picture)
- 1 MacBook Pro (13 inch)
- 1 iPad Pro (12.9 inch)
- Cords and accessories for all three
- Small battery charger for the iOs devices (didn’t end up needing it)
- 1 pair of pants
- 1 pair of shoes
- 5 shirts
- 1 pair of shoes
- Running shorts
- Cubes for sorting clothes
- 5 pair of underwear
- 3 pair of socks
- A few small food related items
- Glasses case
- Small quart ziplock with toiletries
Downsizing from here?
For my next trip I want to reduce the number of shirts I bring (Wool & Prince, 2 pair total), and find a pair of shoes that fit well for running and business casual. I’m also interested in only bringing my iPad (or getting a smaller iPad) or laptop, not both. I almost brought my Patagonia down jacket (it collapses into a small pouch), but decided Florida should be warm enough without it. I also left my water bottle at home.