From the moment I first laid eyes on The Standard by Dandee Packs, I was in love. The long, lean, flat black body embedded with a subtle diamond inlay was in perfect contrast to the black and white ‘Gridstop’ accents on the side pockets and front straps. It was so incredibly handsome I wanted to wear it right away. So I did.
For the first week of gear testing, my partner and I wrestled over who got to be seen wearing the bag out in public. It went everywhere we went. We used it to run our everyday errands from grocery store reloads and gym sessions to beach hangs and library trips. I could hear the faint sounds of our old forgotten backpacks sniffling in the closet.
While I had no doubt of its potential as a daypack, I wondered if it could hold its own once fully loaded with my hoards of backcountry gear. To my pleasant surprise, I was able to fit our entire two-person sleep system, including an Enlightened Equipment Accomplice quilt, a double-wide sleeping pad, a two-person tent, small first aid kit and the entire JetBoil cooking system and accessories into the wide open main compartment.
After all of that, I still had room for a pair of pants, socks, swimwear, my trusty Matador towel, a beloved fireside flannel and a rain layer. I didn’t even top out the bag, since the brilliant roll top system — with its secure double-snap closure, small side-release clip and cinching G hook finale — allows a girl like me to just keep adding things in. Which I did, in the form of delicious, backcountry snacks!
In the tall, robust side pockets (with their hold-it-all-in elasticized top) I slid my water bottle on one side, and the water filtration system and QiWhiz trowel on the other (with room to spare). I put my big bottle of bear spray in the easy-to-reach stretchy shoulder pocket on the front strap and a few essentials, like my wallet, phone and keys, in the other.
The giant lycra pouch that extends the length of the main body was still open — game for any additional layers and last minute almost-forgets (like my headlamp) — as was the stretch pocket at the base of the bag. This seems like the perfect place to stash a wet rain layer or my backcountry garbage collection.
For a 35L (27L internal) ultra minimalist pack, I felt like I had everything I needed in a bag as light in weight as it is sleek in aesthetic.
The entire time I’ve been testing this pack, its waterproof fabric has yet to see a drop of rain. While the water I accidentally spilled on it ran off like a waterproof duck’s back, I’d still be sure to use a bag liner since the internal seams are bound, not seam taped or sealed.
When I finally donned the fully loaded bag, I was very impressed by how comfortable the wide, well-padded J shaped straps were, and how well they dispersed the weight. For a woman like me, with wider shoulders and a bigger chest, the straps curved perfectly to my physique and the adjustable (and removable) sternum strap fit just right. (Bonus points for a sternum strap with a whistle that actually works!)
I’m a fan of using the adjustable waist straps to keep the load close to my body when the bag is full; though I will say that the waist straps don’t add much in the way of padded comfort on a lady’s hips. I also love how easy it is to remove the waist straps for simple day trips, using the straightforward clip-to-webbing system.
I personally wouldn’t need to pay the nominal extra fee for the sit pad/shock cord system, as I find the bag sits comfortably across my back without padding (and I store my sleeping pad inside the bag). But the added ability to side-cinch the bag is great for securing loose loads, and I even found myself looping my towel through the shock cord to hang dry in the sun.
Upon closer inspection, the stitching quality and overall craftsmanship of this bag are top notch and one-man Dan has definitely left no detail overlooked. He was quick to answer any and all questions I had about the bag, and a quick glance at the customer reviews on his site will tell you the same tale of outstanding customer service. I love that you can customize the main body and accent fabrics and dial in the details as you see fit. Just as advertised, simple yet refined.
At the end of the day, I feel like the Standard Pack from Dan at Dandee Packs is a fantastic backcountry bag for a great price from a cottage brand that deserves every penny it gets! If you're in the market for an ultra lightweight, simple, straightforward and super handsome bag that can handle all of your gear and a good time, get yourself a Standard Pack!
Weight: 16oz - 19” torso
Volume: 35L (27L Internal + 8L Pockets)
Dimensions: 5.5” x 10.5” x 32”
Price: $189 USD / $242 CAD
Ali Becker is a freelance adventure writer and narrative storyteller who shares compelling conversations about personal transformations, overcoming limitations, wellness education and adventurous situations. You can follow her rambling adventures on social at @thisisalibecker or at her blog thisisalibecker.com.