The search for the perfect bag is a thing with me. It’s a quixotic thing…like Don Quiote chasing after those windmills, I am always chasing after the better bag- the better bag for everyday carrying, for gear, for travel, and especially for travel with gear. And while I hope this quest never really ends, because it’s, well, fun, I think I have found a darn near perfect contender when it comes to that latter category.
Enter the Boreas Gear Erawan.
This 50 liter travel pack is just the right size.
It meets carry-on standards, yet you can really pack this thing full and still be able to carry it comfortably. When air travel is involved, more often than not I’m checking my inflatable sup and or a full size paddle, which doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room for other things. Like, oh, you know, clothes. But the Erawan gets the job done. (Note: Joel Yang of the Village of Stoke says he can compress his 70 litre version of this bag down to carry on size, though I haven’t tried that!)
Lots of things are impressive about this bag, like the attention to detail and its ergonomics. The handles are placed exactly where you need them to be.
The backpack straps can tuck away into an easily accessible back pouch that can serve triple duty as a quick stash pocket, or a hydration bladder sleeve. Genius!! Multitasking features that are really functional!!! Yet at the same time, this feature-rich pack has some minimalist qualities that almost could put it into the ultralight pack category, without sacrificing functionality or durability.
Many times, so called ultralight packs can appear or feel flimsy in construction.
Not so with this bag, or really anything Boreas makes. This bag is built.
One of the things that attracted me to this bag when I saw it at the Outdoor Retailer trade show was its use of a combination of materials.
It has a coated bottom, which means that it’s going to stand up to the wet environments I find myself in. Mind you, it is not a dry bag, nor is it meant to be, but it is going be water resistant to a point. Lead Designer Todd Wilkinson told me that many surfers and paddlers who’ve discovered this bag actually use it as a changing mat because that bottom is so durable. Yet, since this material is just strategically used, it does not add an inordinate amount of weight to the pack.
Another appealing feature for paddlers is the large wet/dry pocket. This ample space is perfect for wet clothes or even just your dirty clothes. In fact, during my recent trip to the Gorge Paddle Challenge, I had to check out of my hotel room before the race, then hoof it back to Portland soon after competing in order to fly home. That pocket was perfect for cramming my wet board shorts, paddle top, and other soaked gear without getting the rest of my stuff soaked.
Boreas Gear, as a company, is impressive in and of itself.
As a small, independent gear producer based in San Francisco, it draws inspiration from the vibe you’ll find only in that city’s Mission District, which is chock a block full of creative energy. Talking with Wilkinson and owner/founder Tae Kim it becomes quickly evident that they combine that energy with a passion for both design and the outdoors in all their products.
So, while not being marketed as a paddler specific bag, the Erawan has many features that any waterman or woman will find useful and appealing, all in a nice, streamlined package that can go in the overhead compartment with you.
(Full Disclosure: Boreas provided me with an Erawan bag to test and review. And I am really glad they did!)