The commute is a part of everyday life. Some may enjoy it more than others, depending on how they travel, but whatever your mode of transport bicycle, walking, train, plane, chances are you’re hauling around at least some or even all of the following; laptop, charger, smart phone, keys, wallet, lunch, snacks, water, a jacket, headphones, a book, maybe even a makeup bag and your post-work gym kit. If you’re carrying all this, you’ll want a decent pack to keep it all in. That pack needs to be comfortable to carry, waterproof to keep your electronics dry and safe, and be as organized as you are. Maybe more so. The guys at HURU, in the Ukraine, think their new “A” model backpack ticks all those boxes. We got it in for review to see how it suits cycle commuting and everyday life.
HURU literally has a place for everything
On unpacking the new backpack from HURU, I notice immediately that it is quite hefty. It is a 25 litre pack, expandable to 30 litres, so I wouldn’t expect it to be super lightweight but all the same, I weighed it in at 1,645g, empty. HURU have definitely gone after other qualities in designing the A Model Backpack, prioritising durability, weatherproofing and functionality over lightness.
As with previous HURU models, the A Model is composed of hardwearing and water-resistant Cordura 500d fabric. Opening and closing no fewer than 15 pockets are quality water repellent YKK zippers. The main compartment is accessed via HURU’s signature aluminium-brass buckle, my favourite feature of the A Model. It is ultra strong as you might imagine, and adjustable, though I think it could have been improved with the addition of a magnet, to aid one-handed closure.
The front of the backpack features three medium size pockets; one quick access pocket at the top for your smartphone and keys, etc., and two lower down, zippered across the full length which I found really useful for storing my laptop charging cable, external hard drive and other laptop paraphernalia.
Underneath the top quick access pocket is a small flat pocket accessible by two zips, one on either side, in which you might store a tablet. Yes, two access points might be useful if you need to grab something quick but I’m not sure i’d trust myself to remember to zipper both sides 100% of the time. Running down either side of the backpack are two almost full length pockets that could be used for storing shoes, or a large water bottle, or a large whiskey or wine bottle (please drink responsibly).
The back of the pack is where you’ll find the first secret pocket. Right between your shoulder blades you’ll notice a discreet zip running half the length of the bag, concealing a small flat pocket where you might like to keep important documents such as your passport or your credit cards. It is quite a clever spot to put a secret pocket as while it is fairly unnoticeable, it is also easily accessible once you know its there.
The 25 litre main compartment opens like a suitcase and has plenty of room for your lunch, a spare change of clothes, a book, a set of headphones, and probably a lot more. If you need a bit more space, it expands to 30 litres with an additional zipper-released 5 litres at the bottom. The expanded compartment sits at 45 degrees to the back of the main pack so it shouldn’t get in the way of your derriere.
The inside panel of the main compartment has three discrete flat zippered pockets for organising your life. Here you might keep your meeting notepads, sticky notes, USB sticks, pens, etc., all neatly compartmentalised.
For me, one of the most important features of a backpack is the straps. It is the straps that dictate how comfortably a heavy pack will sit on your shoulders and back. The HURU A Model straps are adjustable at the bottom with an easy to use metal clasp, and they are padded throughout so don’t feel as though they are cutting into your shoulders. As the bag is capable of carrying 30+ litres, it could easily become very heavy to carry around.
Thus, I personally think the straps could do with a little bit of reinforcement to cope with that stress at the point where they join the main body of the pack at the top. Also, as a cyclist, I missed the presence of a waist strap (available separately, just not included), which often helps to redistribute some weight away from your shoulders and onto your lower back, a more ergonomically sensible place to carry weight on the bike.
Another important part of a backpack is its structural integrity. There’s nothing more annoying than a backpack that doesn’t sit flush to your back, and crumples and bends when you are forced to carry heavy items at the top. HURU have thought this through and inserted a thin stiff plastic board into the lining of the pack to allow it maintain its structure no matter how you use it. The back is also padded for extra comfort, ensuring that your odd-shaped belongings don’t poke uncomfortably into your back.
Finally we get to the 15th and final pocket; the laptop compartment. This will fit up to a 15″ laptop, and has a useful padded separator so you can keep another smaller laptop or tablet in there, or important documents flat. The bottom of this compartment sits a little higher than the bottom of the pack so it shouldn’t get bashed when you accidentally drop the pack. The laptop pocket is also protected from 3rd party access with a double locking handle.
The Bottom Line: HURU A Model Backpack
I am in no doubt whatsoever that this is a quality well-made backpack built to last a very long time. I really like that the main compartment is extendable so you can make the pack 5 litres larger when you need to, or 5 litres smaller when you aren’t carrying so much. Another highlight for me is the secret pockets; I just sat and watched my partner analyse (almost) every inch of the bag, finding only 14 pockets – she missed the one on the inside of the front outer pocket.
For me, the lack of strap reinforcement at the shoulder region limits its use for cycle commuting. I’m pleased to find that HURU do offer an optional waist strap which is sold separately. I like to wrap the bag around my waist where possible to help take weight away from my shoulders so the addition of the waist support would definitely improve the “A” model as a cycle commuting pack.
HURU A Model Pricing & Availability
HURU are using a Kickstarter campaign to fund production of their A Model backpack backed by a lifetime warranty. In future the backpack will set you back $249 but right now you can be a super-early bird and pledge $179 to expect delivery in February 2020.