DAKINE: The Best Backpack I’ve Ever Had?

It’s time to say goodbye to my best buddy and best companion who traveled with me to many countries and over thousands and thousands of miles. And… it’s a little emotional. No, don’t worry, nobody died. I’m talking about my backpack. After 7 years of everyday use (literally everyday; the backpack had only one day off during those 7 years – when I was sick on Christmas), it has worn down so much that the time to retire came.

Why did I choose/like this backpack?

I don’t recall exactly, since it has been so long since I got this backpack. I would also love to give you the name of this product, but it has gone down into the depths of my memory that there is no way I could ever recover it – and neither the receipt nor the warranty papers are longer in existence.

Space.

That was a big deal, that backpack seemed like it could fit an elephant inside it – and a llama on top of that, even though it was just your regular-size day-pack. And it fully honored its promises – I was even able to go on a solo overnight backpacking trip with this baby, carrying tent and all that jazz. Packing for a winter weekend in Philadelphia? No problem, the backpack got me covered.

Pockets/organization

The overall organization of the backpack was almost perfect. The only thing I missed was another large pocket/compartment. But when I got used to having almost everything in the one large main pocket, it was no longer a problem – and it actually helped me to tame the organizational freak inside me a little.

The two mesh side pockets could hold anything from keys to a large nalgene bottle and I never lost anything. Let me rephrase that; losing things was never the backpack’s doing, it was always just me forgetting to put them back into the backpack.

The laptop compartment was awesome not only for laptops but also for holding my school papers that would otherwise just get thrown free into the mess of the main pocket. It also worked miracles for all the legal documentation that comes with traveling and/or living abroad.

The smaller front pocket had two small padded compartments for a phone and things similar, plus three tiny pen/pencil pockets. It was good for the small stuff that you don’t need often – I usually kept my phone in another pocket that was more accessible to me. That pocked had only one flaw – it was very annoying to try to get stuff out of there once you strapped a jacket onto the backpack. Which leads me to another great feature of this backpack.

The straps. The backpack has two straps on the outside to hold anything from jackets and hats to first-aid kits or water bottles. I even had my underwear strapped there to let it dry as I hiked. Those straps added what seemed to be almost endless amount of space and there probably wasn’t one single hike when I wouldn’t use them in one way or another.

Talking about straps, the backpack also had a chest strap, which was a very welcome feature on days when I had so much stuff for school that the backpack weighed more than me, or during hikes. Besides using the chest strap for its intended purposes, it was also awesome for hanging a whistle or a bandana there – or anything light enough that you take off while hiking, like a hat when you come to a shaded grove of trees from the direct sun and want to let your head breathe a little.

How much use did it stand?

As I said, this backpack survived 7 years of everyday use (and, sometimes, abuse). I carried my textbooks in it for the entirety of high school, and when Friday came, I switched the textbooks for everything and anything I needed to hike, ride horses, or visit grandma’s during weekends.

The backpack was thrown, dragged, dropped, kicked, drenched, burnt, hated and loved, and it stayed with me whether I was sweaty and stinky or fresh and clean, crying and cursing or having the time of my life, questioning myself and everything I’ve ever done or trusting my decisions and direction.

The material endured more than I thought I would ever endure myself and held up better than very well. The backpack doesn’t have any holes and it kept its water-resistant qualities for probably the first five years before the lining on the inside started to wear off.

The zipper is the reason I’m buying a new backpack. Although it held up very well; the problem with it appeared only after – I repeat – seven years of everyday use. I’ve unzipped and zipped the main pocket what seems like a million times.

Was it worth its price?

Absolutely.

It was worth every penny – or every Crown since it was bought back in the Czech Republic and, obviously, we don’t use dollars there.

Now, I need to tell you – I usually get things that are last season etc. so that I can get them for better price because, let’s be honest, unless I work overtime five times a week, I can’t afford a new Dakine backpack. But considered how long it lasted – and how much use it withstood – it would be well worth even full price. I have never had any other backpack that would last this long.

Would I buy a Dakine again?

Yes, yes, yes! Actually, I did already.

My new backpack is a 25L Dakine Mission – and after two months, I can say that I’m already really happy with it. We’ll see how it holds up in the future but so far, I’m really enjoying every bit of it – the organization of the backpack is different from my previous Dakine and so far, I’m quite happy with it. The only thing that I miss are the mesh side pockets – Dakine Mission has zipper pockets on its sides and they’re not ideal for water bottles. On the other hand, it has not only a chest strap but also a hip belt – and that is a game changer out in the hills!

Here is me in Yosemite taking a nap on the backpack. I realized that I don’t have any pictures of the backpack itself; if I get some, I’ll upload them later.

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