Arc’teryx has been doing it’s thing since ’89, and they’re no stranger to an outdoor enthusiast, from hikers to climbers. But the Blade 6 isn’t an outdoor pack; it’s an urban day-pack, and a particularly small one at that. However, small isn’t synonymous with features, and that’s where this pack really shines.
Arc’teryx says this pack uses a combination of N210p-HT and N630p-HT nylon for the inside and outside respectively, which you’ll also find on a number of other Arc’teryx packs. They’re simultaneously soft, light and durable, and I’m a fan so far. However, while it may be okay in a light drizzle, the one thing that the materials aren’t is weatherproof. Weatherproofing is always relatively high on my list for laptop carrying bags. And while it may add some weight, I wouldn’t mind seeing such features in a future version.
The outside of this pack is incredibly attractive in my opinion. It’s sleek while still offering all around protection for your electronics which many other bags fail to accomplish. Arc’teryx purposely streamlined every inch of this bag to keep it maneuverable in crowded urban areas like the subway or airports. And while nobody is buying this bag because it holds a lot, the design does get in the way of what you can put in it comfortably. The padded, curved front panel makes it somewhat difficult to carry anything that isn’t relatively flat. For example, it does a better job carrying my Rab Flashpoint when folded rather than when balled up into it’s carrying pouch.
One important thing to point out, is that the Blade opens from the side like a briefcase. I’m sure this puts some people off at first, but it really works well for this kind of pack. It generally allows easier access to the compartments inside, while letting you get at the contents by just swinging it over one shoulder while it’s on your back. And not only does it open like a briefcase, but you also have the option of carrying it like one – the Blade has two grab handles; one at the top like a typical pack, and one on the side for a quick grab-n-go.
The inside offers a surprising amount of organization – A padded laptop sleeve, a tablet sleeve, a zippered pocket with some organization inside for pens and the like, and an interesting stash pocket with a pass-through for charging cables. Arc’teryx says the padded sleeve holds up to a 13″ laptop, but I’d wager it would hold one slightly larger. Two photos above shows the Blade holding a 13″ laptop, charging cables for a laptop and phone, a Rab Flashpoint, a small boo-boo kit, and a few other small items like USB adapters and pens. There’s also a small key-pocket on the outside that I usually stash my sunglasses in. While it can’t hold much more, it certainly holds what’s in there very well. Typically, it’s all someone needs for a trip to the coffee shop.
Surprisingly, this little pack comes with a frame-sheet and molded foam back panel; something I would kill for on packs much larger that are often squishy and unsupported with much heavier loads. It might be overkill, but after walking around the swamp that is Washington DC for a few days with this pack, my back came to really appreciate it.
Another nice feature is the hidden stash pocket behind the back-panel, accessible only while the pack is off. While I don’t use it during my day to day, it’s great for travelers to stash their passport or travel documents. For those hoping it could be a decent spot for a CCW, it might be a little uncomfortable against your back due to how slim this pack is.
I’d been wanting to check out this pack for a long while, and I’m glad I finally did. It’s found it’s spot in the rotation as my go-to bag for quick jaunts to the cafe, business meetings, and general every day use. It’s not going to work for everyone, especially those that like to carry the kitchen sink, but for those looking for a minimalist setup, you can’t really ask for a much better pack. The Arc’teryx Blade 6 runs for $139.99 MSRP and it gets my stamp of approval.