Arc’teryx Velaro 24
$175, 24L/1,465 c.i., 1 lb. 10 oz.
One size each in men’s and women’s models
I tend to be hard on gear, but especially daypacks, and rain or snow has never struck me as a reason to abort hiking plans. I also like daypacks that are lightweight without compromising on comfort or a basic degree of organization. Given those standards, I was intrigued by the Velaro 24’s nearly watertight and seemingly bulletproof design, and took it out on hikes from a rainy eight-miler with my family in Canada’s Yoho National Park to a 12-hour, roughly 14-mile and 5,000-foot, mostly off-trail dayhike and scramble in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, to see how it would measure up.
In the Sawtooths, this pack shrugged off the abuse of getting scraped and tossed against sharp rocks and me landing on it when I occasionally fell backwards while descending loose scree, and nothing got damp inside when I hiked through two thunderstorms in Yoho. Credit some highly unique construction. Lamination techniques, a waterproof zipper on the main compartment, and 400-denier nylon ripstop fabric developed by Arc’teryx, polyurethane-coated inside and outside, allow almost seamless construction—the few seams are sealed to be watertight—and make it very nearly waterproof.
The 24-liter/1,465-cubic-inch Velaro has plenty of capacity for a dayhike of any length, including carrying extra food or clothing for family or a partner. The main compartment’s clamshell zipper opens deep down the sides, providing quick and complete access to the white interior, which makes seeing what’s inside much easier.
The very lightly padded mesh shoulder straps and hipbelt (no pockets) make the harness cooler, but also mean you don’t want to overload it; I found it comfortable with 12 to 15 pounds inside, thanks to the flexible polyurethane framesheet. It hugged my back closely, making it feel stable while scrambling steep, off-trail terrain, but also making my back a bit sweatier than a daypack with more air flow. The feature set is minimalist in a good way: one zippered front pocket big enough for snacks and a jacket; a small, internal pocket; four external lashing points, two with removable bungee cords, for attaching trekking poles, ice tools, and other items; and an internal bladder sleeve (bladder not included) and hose ports on each side.
If you want one, all-purpose daypack for virtually anything—from dayhikes of any distance, in any terrain, to bike commuting in any weather—the Velaro 24 is a solid pick that will tolerate a lot of abuse. The Velaro 35 is $199, 2 lbs. 3 oz.
BUY IT NOW: You can support my work on this blog (and find the best price) by clicking this link to purchase this at backcountry.com.
See also my stories “Buying Gear? Read This First,” “The Simple Equation of Ultralight Backpacking: Less Weight = More Fun,” “5 Tips For Spending Less on Hiking and Backpacking Gear,” and “Ask Me: How Do We Begin Lightening Up Our Backpacking Gear?”
NOTE: I’ve been testing gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See all of my reviews by clicking on the Gear Reviews category at left or in the main menu.
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