Ah, Skyborne's staple, the signature of our collective design efforts: The newly re-invented Smart-Pack® PLUS+. So perfectly named, because that’s precisely what I think of this bag… Smart packing. Is this a 3-5 day travel backpack? A work/commuter daily backpack? Is it tailored for travelers only, for men? women? We've asked ourselves these questions in the midst of its design process, with many more variations, and the best answer that I can come up with is, well… “Yes”.
Firstly. It’s vintage, and classic, yet elegant and highly sophisticated. It’s Fur Elise in a bag; its success is in its simplicity.
Don’t be misled, though. Its gorgeous aesthetics are just a small part of its offering, and its well thought-out, and meticulously designed. This innovative backpack has several levels of tech and features not seen in other high end packs that might ‘seem’ more feature rich. Its ability to completed open up and pack like a carry-on, and have segmented "zones" which separates your tech, and travel gear, shoes, and more is very origami like. Th exterior is a ballistic iP67 waterproof nylon, which is refined in both looks and performance. There’s been more than a few times I’ve been caught out in a rare Yuma rain and I was happy to see happy little beads of water droplets hovering on the surface of the fabric, whilst my tech was high and dry. Not to mentioned being left with 0% battery, and being able to just plug into its side port, and keeping bring my phone back to life.
The designer alchemist's in the Skyborne laboratories took the same approach to this backpack as they did their wallets, which they’ve been nailing for years.
The multi-functional straps are fully adjustable with its AXIS pivoting fit and features a hidden zipper pocket for quick access to your ear buds, credit card, or Presto pass – which I think is a convenient, clever placement. It’s at the perfect spot when you’re need to store away your music or cards without needing to open up the entire bag, cruising through the city traffic and airport terminals.
Speaking of convenient, I appreciate how it’s detachable DOPP kitt (Travel sized washroom kit) is tastefully placed on the front of the bag. It’s precise, makes TSA checks a breeze, and hangable so when you get to your Air B & B, or final destination, you may hang it up in the washroom and unpack/re-pack in seconds. Furthermore, all backside tech compartment is secured with a combination lock, and also in a completely different area that the travel compartment for your clothing items, so it's very easy to grab what you need depending on the occasion.
I’ll admit, at first the shoulder endless functions seemed a bit intimidating at first. I was left hoping everything would worked as advertised, and that I was not being swooned by some beautiful advertising. And then I took it on my first trip, loaded it up with a heavy load of gear folded ever so neatly, including my laptop, a jacket, water bottle and much more. Properly weighted down, I slung it over both shoulders. I was impressed with the comfort immediately and was still impressed after wearing it across a full day. I even made use of its side USB charging port when my phone died at the airport. Additionally, stylistically, the minimal design would allow it to be worn over a suit.
The one thing that has changed the most when it comes to my taste in bags, is how I prefer the design of the organization. I like it straight forward. Organized. If I’m asking someone to please grab something out of my pack for me, I don’t want to map the whole thing out on a whiteboard just to demonstrate which of the 47 pockets it is in. Skyborne gets it. And nailed the compartment system.
Inside the tech compartment, there is a luxuriously padded, velvet lined protected laptop sleeve which fits My 15” Macbook Pro firmly without sliding around while I’m walking, which I really like. In front of that, a smaller padded sleeve for my notebook, and space for a large tablet and pens.
It’s vintage, and classic, yet elegant and highly sophisticated. It’s Fur Elise in a bag; its success is in its simplicity.
Ultimately, the designer alchemists in the Skyborne laboratories took the same approach to this backpack as they did their trigger wallets, which they’ve been nailing for years. Eliminating bulk, streamlining function, distilling products down to their pure functional essence, while still managing to include that high level luxury feel and quality, and useful ‘a-ha’ moments that make this beast of a travel pack an absolute pleasure to use. They have a way of taking abstract ideas, vintage stylistic aesthetics, and embedding modern tech into such refined forms. And that’s an incredibly difficult thing to do, not to mentioned how capital intensive it is. It’s far easier to create cheap, and sell cheap, but it’s not as easy to take time to offer something of value and essence to last a lifetime, elements be confident enough to leave it all on the table. Skyborne have found a perfect balance here, and it works.
My work/life balance is – as I imagine yours is too – multifaceted. I like the things I own to serve me and bring a sense of togetherness to my schedule. So, do I use this bag for daily work, for adventure travel, for city cycling, for the gym, or for something else? The answer is “yes”.
David Nield is a UK-based freelance technology journalist from News Atlas who has been writing about apps, gadgets and the Web for more than a decade, and every bit the bag geek.
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