Burly fabric, street-smart looks, endless storage and practical design. This Australian-designed crossover pack could be a quiver of one. Except for that missing hip belt.
‘Built for the outdoors’, the Zorali Escapade Backpack has a lot of sex appeal (more than the brand’s Venture pants, if you ask me). It might just be the outdoor/commuter/travel pack of your dreams. It’s certainly billed as a crossover pack but let’s see if it’s really got what it takes.
I originally got this pack for my partner to review on her daily commute (which requires carting a the contents of a small office in her bag everyday thanks to COVID-19). However, for reasons noted below, the reviewing job eventually fell to me. I also used it for commuting and then day walks around the south coast.
Load-carrying – 5/10
OK. Let’s get the bad news out of the way first: the lack of load transfer capability. This pack has neither an internal frame nor a hip belt. To be fair, this is a failing among most commuter/adventurer crossover packs, whether you’re Patagonia or Crumpler. I guess a hip belt loses you street cred.
To some this might be a deal breaker, such as my partner who quickly gave this pack the proverbial cold shoulder for her daily commute: it put too much strain on her (already) sore shoulders when loaded up with laptop, keyboard, lunch, clothes and a water bottle. In normal times she’d have gym gear in there too.
While I found the pack and its padded straps perfectly comfortable for commuting and shorter walks (up to 4 hours) with light loads, there’s no way I’d take this fully laden on a long walk… But, onto the good news.
Functionality – 7/10
At 30L you won’t struggle for storage space, whether it’s your daily commute, a bush walk or even a sneaky weekend away. On the flip side, 30L is more than most need on a daily basis (20-22L is a pretty safe bet). The Catch-22: if you do want to fully load it up, then you might be wishing for a hip belt. However, the bag still carries well enough when only half full.
There are pockets and storage options aplenty, and the sizeable laptop sleeve is separate from the main, cinch-closure compartment. It has two expandable water bottle holders, which each fit a wide, 1L Nalgene bottle. There are even some loops on the bottom if you feel the need to strap on a sleeping bag or climbing rope. Due to the way it’s attached, the sternum strap can’t be adjusted much for height, which is a bit annoying.
The only missing thing: hip-belt pockets… ‘Nuff said.
I haven’t checked water resistance but I suspect it will keep your stuff dry during a light shower. However, the zippers aren’t waterproof and you’ll need a pack cover (not included) if heading into wild weather.
Retro is good, ‘mkay. If you like the look of this pack, you’ll like the look of this pack. It’s a handsome thing (available in three colours) and I tip my hat to the designers. My partner was quite taken by it but couldn’t forgive the lack of hip belt (she’s a lady of substance, clearly).
Durability – 9/10
1000D Nylon Cordura. That’s heavy-duty material. To put it into perspective, it’s 50% heavier than the fabric that Macpac uses for its overnight Torlesse pack. This thing is built to last and the workmanship seems top-notch. Thanks to the lack of frame, it weighs in at around 900g, which is very light for the volume.
Disclaimer: I was sent the Escapade Pack to review and got to keep it. The views are entirely my own.
Does a hip belt matter to you? Do I sound like a broken record? If you answered ‘No’ and ‘Yes’, then this pack is good value at $170: it’s stylish, has storage galore and is built to last. Zorali have impressed me so far with all their gear, which is brilliant for an independent, ethical Australian business. Sure, despite the marketing hype, it’s mainly an oversized urban pack. But there’s clearly a market for it: at the time of writing, the Escapade is sold out in most colours. Over to you, dear backpack buyer!