Earlier this year we teamed up with Boreas Gear to test their new line of Adventure Travel backpacks. We scouted a team of three outdoor enthusiasts who had big plans for their summers, and gave them new Boreas packs to use and abuse during their travels. They’re all back from the field now, and we’re excited to bring you the first installment of the 2013 TMS/Boreas Gear Pack Tester Team. Danielle Horton of Agoura Hills, California, took her Boreas Erawan 50 on a tour through the South Pacific. Here’s what she has to say about it:
The first thing I noticed about the Boreas Erawan 50 was its striking blue color with yellow accents. I knew I wouldn’t be losing this backpack in the heap of other luggage I’d be throwing it in. I immediately started packing it full of everything I would need for my five-week Australian and Fijian adventure. I needed to be able to fit everything to keep me warm and dry during the wet Australian winter, as well as beachwear for tropical Fiji.
Initially, I was a little skeptical that this pack would hold everything I needed, but the main compartment expanded beyond what I had imagined and everything fit like a dream! I love the way it zips open like a duffle bag, and the extra magnets on the top zipper make it even more secure. The main compartment also has a couple small bags attached to either side where I stored items I would need to find in a hurry. I appreciated that even though the bag had a basic main compartment, I could still maintain a certain level of organization using these side bags.
My favorite Erawan feature, however, is how easy it is to transform this duffle bag into a backpack. With just a few simple adjustments I could pull the straps out and clip them on, which made carrying the pack around incredibly easy. In fact, I loved the backpack so much I had the straps clipped in for most of my trip. When I did stash them behind the back panel for the multiple airplane trips I had to take, it was quick and easy, even with a full load. The carabiner clips made the straps easy to remove and adjust. I’ve had packs with hideaway shoulder straps before, but the plastic clips didn’t really inspire confidence. The Erawan’s carabiner clips, however, felt secure. I also liked that I could choose where to attach my straps, as the semi-hidden daisy chain has multiple clip-in options. The multitude of options allowed me to find the perfect spot to clip in my straps so that the pack fell just right on my back; it didn’t hang too low below my waist or loom over my head.
My only complaint about the strap systems was how the chest strap (sternum strap) fell on my body; it fell too low across my chest. The chest strap is adjustable to a degree, but no matter how I adjusted it or the shoulder straps I couldn’t get the chest strap to actually pull against my chest instead of crushing my breasts. I think the strap would work for men, and even some women, but being slightly bustier than most, this chest strap didn’t work for me. This doesn’t make the pack unbearable, though; I didn’t have any problems using the pack without the chest strap. Plus, the chest strap comes with a whistle. Although I was never alone or lost on my travels, I imagine this feature could come in handy in an emergency situation, or if you needed to call your dogs! Otherwise, the backpack straps themselves were more than comfortable, especially with the breathable padding that matches the color of the front panel.
Another favorite feature was the top waterproof compartments. The pack has two compartments that are completely waterproof: one larger compartment that can fit a towel, wet bathing suit and water shoes, and a smaller compartment that can fit personal items like your camera, wallet, keys and more. When I took my bag with me on day hikes to lakes and beaches, these compartments came in particularly handy. I was able to store my wet items in the top waterproof compartment and not worry about items in the large main compartment or my valuables in the small compartment getting wet. Plus, the small waterproof compartment was perfect when I wanted easy access to my money or my camera. In addition to all this waterproof greatness, I was also able to squeeze my hiking boots into the larger waterproof compartment when I wasn’t using it for my wet gear. This storage space allowed me to keep my clothes separated from my dirty hiking boots, and allowed some freedom to wear flip flops on occasion instead of traipsing around in my boots.
The reinforced bottom of the duffle kept me confident that I wouldn’t damage my bag by leaving it on the floor. On a trip where I was changing locations every few days, this bag saw a lot of travel time. It spent many hours being withstanding abuse from baggage handlers and taxi drivers, thrown on the floor outside or shoved violently into small spaces. Still, I never had to worry that it would get too beat-up while riding with so many other bags in the small bus compartments, on the train, or on boat rides. I’m not easy on my bags, and I was glad that this bag could withstand the abuse I subjected it to. Add the fact that it is convertible from duffle to backpack, and it makes travelling even easier. When I couldn’t stow it away in a compartment, I could carry it on my back, and even rest it comfortably on my lap.
Overall, I would recommend the Boreas Erawan 50 to my friends and any traveler. Even though the chest straps didn’t work for me, I still loved the simplicity of the bag and the ease with which I could carry it around. Heck, I like this bag so much I’ve even taken it out as my hiking daypack since I’ve been back on the mainland. Any traveler would be lucky to have this travel pack in their arsenal.
Thanks again to Danielle Horton for her detailed Boreas Erawan 50 review. Your partnership with Tahoe Mountain Sports is valuable and we appreciate your support!