I have carried the Vagabond Trail more than 1500 miles over last year for EDC, done in a day outdoor activities, and onebag travel which included walking 500 miles of the Camino Santiago Frances route from SJPP. I found the Vagabond provided nearly perfect functionality for me.
I also own the Packable variant. My variants of the Vagabond are discontinued. The urban oriented Jet variant of Vagabond is still sold. The Jet is slightly heavier than the Trail model, with a padded laptop slot and is all black, looking more appropriate for an urban environment. The Jet is out of stock on the GG site (should be back in October 2023). In the mean time there might be stores that still have some in stock if you look around.
Description and Design
The Vagabond pack is top loading using a zipper to close the main compartment. The pack holds 23l with dimensions of 46x27x15cm (18/10.75/5.75inches). The Vagabond is a bit thinner than many daypack which keeps the load closer to the back with a corresponding loss of volume. Except when grocery shopping I think this is the right trade off. I feel agile wearing the pack. I have never had a problem fitting pack under the seat in front of me on a plane except when a support beam bisected the space of the isle seat on an AirBus 350-900 used by French Bee. Not sure if it could be an issue on other AB350s. When it’s slightly under-filled the Vagabond can compress into every airline “personal item sizer” I have encountered.
The pack has loops which enable attaching waist strap. I found the Gossamer Gear Fast Belt provided good stability but wasn’t particularly helpful transferring load. The foam waist strap from Tom Bihn was able to transfer enough weight I could carry 13lb all day without pain.
The pack has a flat bottom, and can stand upright on its own. This makes it very convenient to access when you place it on the ground while minimizing how dirty it will get.
The pack has 5 mesh pockets: on the front of the pack, traditional side pockets, and on the shoulder straps. The pockets are made of a mesh material which is adequate but not optimal durability. I have torn the mesh on the front pocket (it was repairable). The front pocket is large, ideal for larger items such as a jacket, towel, or a small laptop that I stash for quick removal at security checkpoints. The side pockets are pretty standard, with room for 2 16oz water bottles or one larger bottle. I found items were retrievable while wearing the pack. I love the shoulder pockets and use them constantly. I shift items I want quick access to from my pants pockets to the shoulder pockets. Typically my left shoulder holds a small pouch/wallet and a blistex stick. The right pocket hold a pair of AirPods and an iPhone 12 mini. This makes them easily accessible, and when I set the pack down they aren’t in the dirt unlike pockets on hip belts.
The pack has two solid pockets… one near the top of pack’s front and a second in exactly the same location on the inside of the pack. I use the outside pocket for small items I don’t need to access constantly and the inside pocket for items I can’t afford to lose such as my passport. Being on the inside of the pack makes it a bit more resistant to pick pockets and any item that might fall out of the pocket would end up inside the pack rather than on the ground. If the pockets are completely filled they might make it a bit difficult to insert and remove large items from the bottom of the pack, though this hasn’t been a problem for me.
I liked the idea of the tote handle but didn’t use them much. They are too short to hang the Vagabond over my shoulder. When holding the pack by the one or both handles it was nearly impossible to unzip the top. On the other hand, the side compression straps worked pretty well. I could access the main compartment without stop walking or putting the bag down. I would release one shoulder strap and swing the pack in front of me to grab one of the retention straps on the side of the pack that the zipper was. This provide enough tension that I could then unzip the pack with my other hand, retrieve whatever I needed. I would switch hands to close the the zipper.
Sometimes it is difficult to access items at the bottom of a top loading pack. I didn’t find that this issue with the Vagabond. As mentioned earlier, the Vagabond is a bit thinner than many packs, so items tend to fill space front to back. I load my larger / less frequently needed items near the bottom of the pack vertically next to each other. The combination of a stuff sack and varied materials made it easy for me to identify items by feel to pull them out. These items provide a shelf for the rest of what I pack which get layered on top. The only issue I had was my laptop can sometimes get caught on the top zipper.
I have read several people complain that the top collects things which can then end up in the bag when you unzip the top. I didn’t experience this.
Performance – Carry Comfort
I have some shoulder issues which limits how much weight I can carry on my shoulders without pain. I found the wide and padded shoulder straps on the Vagabond Trail allows me to carry more weight on my shoulders than just about any pack I have tried. I was able to get up to around 12lbs for a few hours, and to 8lb for all day use without any pain. I also carried 13lb when I using a Tom Bihn waist strap without pain. The Vagabond was as comfortable as every shoulder only pack I have used up to 15lb which includes packs with harness style straps.
Something that surprised me was that it was more “comfortable” for me than a brand new GoRuck GR1 when carrying 50lbs of iron plates. I should note that goruck lovers say you need to break in the shoulder straps before they are really comfortable. To keep the plates from shifting I had to fill the space using a rolled foam pad.
Materials and Finish
The pack is made from 70d Robic… light but durable enough for on trail or around town use.
Today I favor Robic over waterproof fabrics because it’s reasonably durable and doesn’t seem to degrade over time like PU coated material or composite / laminated fabrics. One place I would use a heavier duty / waterproof fabric would be pack’s bottom. I think a heavier Robic like fabric impregnated with PC or silicon would be good. The laminated Ultra fabric looks promising… we will see if it passes the test of time.
Finish is very good, excellent when considering the price.
- slight angle side pockets to make access easier
- The top zipper and the zipper for the front pocket unzip in same directions.
- Maybe a U shaped zipper on the top would provide better access for larger items.
- It would be nice if the top zipper could be locked closed. Either loops on the zippers or a way to secure the zippers to one side of the pack.
- I never needed it, but a couple of lash points on the bottom of the pack would be nice to attach a sleep pad.
- Pole loop on the front
- The separator between the laptop / hydration sleeve and the main compartment is thin fabric. It worked well enough, but a bit more stiffness would have made placing and removing the laptop easier when the pack is full. I believe is has been addressed in the Jet variant.