L.L. Bean Stowaway Day Pack
Disclosure: L.L. Bean donated this item for review purposes, but this review presents an honest representation of my experience using this gear.
This summer, as I began to tackle the forty-six 4,000 ft. peaks in the Adirondacks, I sported a day pack that I’d bought back in college. Sure, it was over ten years old and heavy, but it still worked. I’m a big proponent of the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But here’s the truth about that old pack: it was bulky, the insides were peeling, my back was a sweaty mess, and the left strap needed constant readjusting.
On our very first hike together this season, my Dad wore the L.L. Bean Stowaway Day Pack. It looked tiny, light, and somehow packed away gobs of gear, snacks, and three liters of water. I quickly realized I was ready for an upgrade of my own and acquired the Day Pack as soon as possible.
Circumstance of the Review
For the duration of the summer, I put my Stowaway Day Pack through the ringer. Rain. Wind. Sweat. Day hikes. Backpacking. It was thrown from slab to slab. I dragged this sucker over plenty of rock during my most embarrassing butt sliding maneuvers. I even managed to jerry-rig poles in the side pockets for hands-free scrambling. This bag went through it all, and lived to tell the tale.
Capacity: 22 Liters
Packed Size: 8″ x 7″ (It packs down into its own internal stow pocket!)
Weight: 14 oz.
Superlight and extra-tough ripstop nylon fabric.
Padded foam shoulder straps and back panel for increased comfort.
Back panel with wicking Air Mesh for all day comfort.
Lots of pockets for organizing gear featuring an easily accessible front “shove it” pocket.
The specs and construction speak for themselves, but let me underscore how much I loved this little pack. It is comparable in size and weight to similar day packs on the market (such as the Marmot Kompressor Pack or Mountain Hardwear’s Lightweight Backpack), but less expensive, which is always a plus in my book.
My hikes this summer consisted primarily of day hikes from the car or backpacking five to ten miles into an area and setting up a base camp to day hike out of for 2-3 days at a time. Yes, using the brain of my backpack was always an option, but it wasn’t one that leant itself to carrying the amount of snacks, water, and gear that allowed me to feel safe and comfortable hiking long distances. Enter the Stowaway Day Pack. When packing it into my base camps, I tucked it into itself (or contorted it into any shape I needed) and tossed it into my backpack with the rest of my gear. At a mere 14 oz., it weighed less than my NeoLite Air Mattress and took up just as little space.
This pack didn’t have bells and whistles, nor did it need any. It had just enough pockets to allow for easy organization, including the front “shove it” pocket which was perfect for keeping my map accessible or piling soggy clothes into so the rest of my gear stayed dry and stink-free. The foam padding of the shoulder straps looked and felt alarmingly thin upon initial inspection, but still managed to provide plenty of comfort, even when hiking in a tank top.
Was it waterproof? No. Nor did it claim to be. But water certainly rolled off for awhile, and anything worth keeping dry was, as always, sealed into a ziploc bag anyway.
My one gripe with this pack was that I had trouble storing my trekking poles anywhere with ease. Ultimately, I collapsed my poles and shoved them down into one of the side water bottle pockets and cinched them to the pack using the compression strap from the adjustable front pocket. This worked, but it wasn’t ideal. My dream? L.L. Bean throws some bungee cords on the front of the pack that could be used to lash poles in for hands-free movement.
My Stowaway Day Pack pack held up like a champ no matter what I dragged it on, over, or through. Nearly three straight months and hundreds of miles later, my pack didn’t have so much as a pin prick through its surface. My Dad, however, managed to puncture his pack in several places over the course of the summer. It was nothing that couldn’t be doctored with duct tape in the moment, and L.L. Bean’s incredible customer service held up their end of the 100% Satisfaction Guarantee, replacing his pack at the end of the season despite the natural wear and tear he’d put it through on the trail. Incredible.
For its weight, comfort, size, and durability, this bag was already a winner in my book. With the addition of an incredible price tag, it was a no brainer. Talk about bang for your buck.
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