For several years, I've been a big fan of the way Topo Designs' has leveraged materials such as Cordura to create heavy-duty, long-lasting bags, packs, and travel accessories. I even had the chance a few years ago to build a collab pack with the Topo team from wildly durable sailcloth. With the obvious benefits of these hard-wearing fabrics in mind, you do end up giving on packability and some overall weight from time to time. But I was both excited and curious when Topo Designs recently developed its own proprietary solution for this with an all-new material called TopoLite™, as well as a corresponding line of bags and packing solutions.
So, TopoLite™ is made from a unique blend of 100% recycled nylon, that's ultra-lightweight and extremely packable. I don't know how they do this, but to me it definitely feels tough and substantive as well. I recently returned from a week of road-tripping around France. From urban exploration in Paris, to chilly hiking in the Alps, this excursion required several different types of apparel and gear. Here are 3 quick tips on leveraging Topolite™ products to make a week-long journey more manageable.
Don't make lite of internal organization.
For years I advocated for the benefits of 'rolling' as the best way to get the most apparel into a bag or piece of luggage. Then I was introduced to Topo's classic 10L Pack Bag made from 400D recycled nylon pack cloth with heavy-duty YKK zippers and paracord pulls. These useful internal packing cubes provided me for the first time with a slew of benefits ranging from organization to extra protection. Now with TopoLite™, these same benefits can be achieved with a lighter, more flexible format. The 10L TopoLite™ Pack Bags can be squished, mushed, folded, and bent to fit into tight spots, all while adding only a minimal amount of extra weight to your overall load.
From this trip, I've learned to always bring two Pack Bags, that are different colors. At the beginning of your trip, they'll obviously both contain clean clothes. But soon after arriving at your destination, you can designate one color for dirty clothes and slowly begin filling that one at the end of each day. I also continued to bring one of the original, heavy-duty Pack Bags as well. These have more structure and offer a bit more protection, so I was comfortable packing things like optics and watches in them.
Don't be cross about cross-body carry.
The days of ironic fanny packing are long gone. You can now wear your Hip Pack with pride. Thanks to the full-functionality of mobile devices, laptops are no longer a travel necessity and a small, crossbody carry solution can do the trick. TopoLite™ has you covered in this department as well. I used the new TopoLite™ Hip Pack every day of my trip to hold my essentials close to my person, such as: my passport, sunglasses, gum, a notebook, and pen. It's a good looking solution that weighs next to nothing, so it really became second nature for me to have it tucked under my arm for safekeeping.
The TopoLite™ Hip Pack has a very useful lashing system allowing you to stow a rain layer on the outside of the pack. On day two in Paris, with clear skies in the forecast, I simply untied the cord and left it in my luggage to avoid snagging and any sticky fingers on the fairly packed metro. The great thing about this system is that it is in fact easily removable. Once I got back home it took about half a minute to tie right back on.
Packing an extra pack is now a cinch.
I've written on this topic before, stuffing an extra pack in your primary travel bag is a must. And now with the introduction of Topolite™, this is easier and lighter than ever before. Part of our trip would entail hiking in the French Alps, as well as taking a cable car to one of the highest peaks in France where temps were well below zero. The 16L TopoLiite™ Cinch Pack was the ideal solution. While flying it flattened down to about the size of a breakfast crepe. (In all honesty, I nearly forgot I even had it with me.) But when the time was right and we were prepping for our hike, I was thrilled to remember that I'd planned for that very moment.
The TopoLite™ Cinch Pack is just that… it's a cinch to whip out and fill with your needs for the day. The main compartment easily accommodates an extra insulation layer, a wind/water resistant shell, a camera bag, and snacks for the day. The two, deep side pockets swallow water bottles and monoculars whole. And there's a handy zipper pocket along the top flap, also perfect for those quick to grab essentials.
About the Author
Kyle Snarr is a marketer and creative consultant who has worked with digital platforms and publications such as Vox, The Verge, Eater, Flipboard, Gear Patrol, and currently, Worn & Wound. He's also the co-founder of the accessory brand Cantonment. Kyle lives just outside of NYC and spends his free time car-spotting, gear collecting, and camping with his wife and their four kids.