STM begins their description of the Drifter Laptop Backpack saying, “The drifter is like your favorite pair of cargo pants; easy to wear, pockets in all the right places and comfortable to boot.” Now, I don’t wear a whole lot of cargo pants, but casual, comfortable and organized are all things I can agree with about the Drifter. And, as I bet many of you have your favorite pair of cargo pants double as everyday, on-the-trail clothing, the Drifter, too, makes an easy transition between commuter/travel pack and hiking daypack. The folks at STM say that they got their inspiration for the company after getting tired of wrapping their electronics in bubble-wrap and then tucking them inside hiking packs— their crossover between outdoor style and everyday utility stands out in this bag.

STM4

That being said, the Drifter does have some drawbacks on both sides of the lifestyle/outdoor equation. As a commuter pack, I really wanted side compression straps on the bag to condense excess space with smaller loads and to tighten larger loads close to my back. Without the straps, you have to be careful not to overfill the main compartment and outside pockets, or else the weight tends to pull away from your back. As a daypack, 18L felt a little small to me, and I would have liked a mesh back-panel to increase ventilation on hot and sticky days (back sweat, not a fan).

The Drifter doing work at the crag in Leavenworth, WA

The Drifter doing work at the crag in Leavenworth, WA

However, the Drifter has a lot of wins in both areas as well. For the commuter, there are a ton of pockets for organization— three on the outside, where I’ve been keeping my wallet and keys, a snack, and my cell phone (and they could fit a lot more). Then, on the inside of the bag there’s a laptop sleeve and a tablet sleeve that are both fleece-lined (I don’t have a tablet, but I found that this is also a perfect fit for a book). There’s a mesh, see-through pocket that flips down when you open the bag. I love that — it makes smaller items super easy to find and quicker to access. Then, there’s also one large and two small inside sleeves, which, when hiking, are perfect for your maps, multi-tool and a lighter.

The Drifter, functioning as my carry-on at SEATAC

The Drifter, functioning as my carry-on at SEATAC

When hiking, there are two major pluses with the Drifter: the outside material is extremely durable (after about a month of heavy use, both in the backcountry and in everyday travel, I haven’t seen a single abrasion or tear), and the Drifter comes with a built in rain cover. In Western Washington, hiking or otherwise, this is a huge win. There are also two gear loops on the outside of the pack that I use for my bike lock when commuting and climbing gear when I’m outside. The straps and back-panel are super comfortable, so you’d be set for long days on the trail.

STM1Bottom-line: I’ve used this bag everyday biking to work and almost every weekend as my small daypack— I’d definitely recommend it for anyone who’s looking for a versatile pack that provides two-for-one daypack and commuter bag utility.

Pros:

  • Built-in rain cover
  • Lots of pockets for organization
  • Two lined device sleeves
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable back and shoulder padding
  • Easy load, bucket top opening
  • Stylish
  • Durable outer material

Cons:

  • Limited main compartment space
  • No side compression straps
  • Limited back-panel ventilation

Tech Specs:

Main material(s): Cotton 320D/640D Water Resistant Poly
Lining: 200g Polyester with Brushed Nylex
Device space: 10.04 x 14.76 x 1.18 in / 25.5 x 37.5 x 3 cm
Outer dimensions: 18.50 x 12.20 x 7.48 in / 47 x 31 x 19 cm
Capacity: 1094.4 cu in / 18 L
Weight: 2.29 lbs / 1.04 kg

Price: $139.95

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