When it comes to backpacks, there are a huge number of variables that set packs apart. While backpacks all serve the same fundamental purpose (to carry stuff in a functional manner), backpacking companies have gone about achieving this goal in very different ways. New backpacks frequently catch my eye, but none recently to the same extent as the Honey Badger Backpack by Slingfin. It's now on Garage Grown Gear!
General Impressions of the Honey Badger:
When I was first checking out the Honey Badger I was immediately drawn to the pack’s durable semi-rigid external skeleton. Its distinctive, and while it conjures up images of Ghost Busters, its wickedly cool. It weighs just over 2lbs, and while the pack itself isn’t waterproof, it comes with a 25L drybag (which is also the volume of the pack) that fits nicely inside when conditions are less than ideal. It comes with a laptop sleeve, and most importantly for bicyclists, it also functions as a pannier. Its primary use is as a commuter pack, but it certainly doubles as a pack from climbing or day hiking.
I very much enjoy the Honey Badger. While it became my go to pack as a result of testing for this review, it will continue to be my steady moving forward. Sure its unconventional, but it's also shockingly practical. No gimics here, just a good idea that's well executed.
- It’s versatile. Biking, climbing, or day hiking, the pack is exceptionally functional for day to day use. Since the outer shell is translucent, you can put a light (or your phone) in the pack and it lights up like a lightening bug (it's pretty sweet). Great for night time biking. The pack is also customizable. Want to attach bungees/loops/straps? The semi-rigid outer shell can be carefully cut or melted to make these modifications possible. I haven’t tried this personally, but am planning on it!
- Its exceptionally durable. The semi-rigid outer shell seems nearly impossible to destroy through normal use. Sure you could scratch it or put a hole in it, but any real damage to the shell would require some seriously malicious intent (aka a sharp knife and a dedicated jabber). Because of this durability I certainly felt comfortable chucking it around, placing it on any surface, and generally bringing it with me regardless of the conditions. Long story short, it's difficult to damage semi-rigid plastic, and I enjoy not feeling guilty about treating my pack poorly.
- The closing mechanism is great. Easy to open and close with one hand, the magnet makes the process remarkably easy. No roll tops or sinches, just one magnetic buckle to get the pack open. Want to close the pack? Carelessly (or carefully) drop the top and the magnet does the rest. I found it particularly simple to use in colder weather as the magnetic buckle can be easily operated with beefy gloves.
The shell itself isn’t waterproof. I’ve been spoiled by cuben fiber packs, and while the included dry bag is great, it’s slightly annoying to have to take out all your items and progress to place them into the dry bag when it starts raining. Unlike the simple attaching of a pack cover, transfering items into a dry bag can result in your stuff getting wet.
Things move around. The semi-rigid shell (and the open 25L interior) mean that things jostle and move relatively freely in the main compartment. The pack (with the exception of the laptop sleeve) has no fabric/compartments/compression, so when you move, the things inside move. This means that the pack is great when you are carrying a handful of different items, but it does mean some annoyance when transporting a handful of smaller items.
- It looks sweet, but this pack in not unassuming. I get comments on it everyday. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the Honey Badger is not something you can use and not expect to talk about. It looks unique, functions uniquely, and people are always very curious!