ILE (Inside Line Equipment) makes a wide variety of bags in its San Francisco base, the standard Default being the company’s flagship model.
With its large 25-litre capacity and 12 x 6 x 20in (30 x 15 x 50cm) size, it’s more than big enough for a full change of clothes, towel, shoes and more. But this XPAC model steps things up a notch. The standard Default’s heavy cordura outer is replaced with a lighter, tougher XPAC sailcloth material, which is bonded to a fully waterproof vinyl liner, making it easier to see into the depth of the grey/silver interior.
The XPAC material is meshed with a diamond pattern that protects it from rips and tears. Throughout testing it has proved to be super tough and has stayed looking good. The main compartment is secured with a roll-top so the 25-litre capacity is erring on the side of caution; we think you’d easily get another 5-7 litres of storage. Ours weighed 1.45kg, shaving around 200-250g from the standard Default.
The bag construction oozes quality. The breathable padded back is simply shaped but offers a comfortable fit. The straps are broad, well-padded and shaped, and with an adjustable waistband and sternum strap it’s easy to balance and secure even the heftiest load. Adjustment is straightforward thanks to the addition of D-rings, and the bag has twin compression straps at both the top and bottom of the main compartment so you can further secure the load.
Both flanks have generous pockets, easily big enough for a bottle, and/or a mid-sized D-lock. The large sleeve pocket on the front is plenty big enough for a 15in MacBook and its protective slipcase. Further storage comes from a full-width waterproofed zip and flap-covered valuable pocket. Twin large cylinder-shaped pockets in front of the laptop pocket are deep and wide enough to carry a wine bottle in each – we know, we tried – and are also lined with twin slots for small items.
Overall, the XPAC offers all the benefits of a large courier-style backpack without the weighty downside. It is expensive, but it’s backed up with a lifetime warranty on materials and manufacture so the initial investment is high, but quality like this is built to last.