Introducing Round 3 of the 2013 TMS/Boreas Gear Pack Testing Team gear reviews:
Earlier this year we teamed up with Boreas Gear to test their new line of Adventure Travel backpacks. Dan Hutchinson of Eugene, Oregon, took his pack to South Africa to install solar panels, kayaking on the Salmon River, and all over Northern California. He just returned from the field with excellent feedback about his new Boreas Erawan 70.
The Boreas Erawan 70 proved to be the bag I was missing in my expansive selection of packs. Without knowing it, this was the pack I needed all along to fill the gap between a backpack and suitcase. The careful design and diversity of this pack will make it any adventure traveler’s go-to for long trips away from home.
TMS: How do you like the way the pack sits on your back?
Dan: The pack sits on your back comfortably when it’s fully loaded. I found with a partially loaded pack the back panel collapsed. When the large compartment was partially loaded and the top pocket was full the top would sag, making it someone awkward on your back. The adjustable shoulder straps and four cinch straps helped correct this minor annoyance.
Are there any changes you would make to the belt buckle?
The Erawan 70 doesn’t have a belt buckle. Although a belt buckle or hip belt might be nice in the rare situation you would be traveling long distances with the pack on your back, the stowable shoulder straps are sufficient for short commutes and in a pinch the hidden daisy chain could be used to secure a piece of webbing for a hip belt.
What activities do you feel this pack is best suited for?
With enough room for several weeks worth of clothes or gear, the Erawan 70 is best suited for traveling from transportation hubs to hotels/hostels. The well designed main pocket opens similar to a suitcase and makes viewing and selecting items easy, and the wet/dry pocket is ideal for dirty clothes as the main pocket empties.
Is there a similar pack you have been lusting after?
There is not a similar pack that I have been lusting over, but more a particular style of pack. I currently own a medium sized North Face Base Camp Duffel (72L), which at a glance would appear to be in the same class as the Erawan, but at a closer look this model stands alone. The Erawan pack is capable of filling a void in any adventure travelers’ needs for an all-around travel pack. Weighing 2lb 4oz the Erawan 70 is a whole pound and four ounces lighter than the Base Camp, with roughly the same amount of storage space, which is a nice quality during long hauls between terminals. The Boreas Erawan also features divided pockets in varying sizes which make organized packing easy, and with carefully placed stowable shoulder straps the main pocket is easy to access at all times. This can’t be said of North Face’s Base Camp Duffel, as you are always battling the shoulder straps when getting in and out of the bag.
What did you like most about the pack?
One of my favorite parts about the pack is its sleek streamlined body that makes it ideal for traveling in airports. The stowable shoulder straps pack away nicely when checking your bag and the cinch straps on the sides secure a partially full load. The Boreas Erawan would also make a great carry-on. The two interior pockets provide quick access to toiletries while the top and outermost pockets give easy access to essential items. The side handles make getting on and off planes between flights convenient and are designed to stay close to the pack so they won’t get snagged when removing the pack from the overhead compartment. Another nice touch are the subtle handles on either end of the pack, making a one-hand-grab easy without bending over when the pack is upright. And when it’s time to hustle to the next plane, bus, shuttle, train or travel hub, the hidden shoulder straps hook up in seconds and can be adjusted for several body types.
What did you like least about the pack?
My only complaint is the fact that the top pocket often takes two hands to open or close. The problem is not that the pocket fabric snags in the zipper but that the shape of the pocket and lack of rigid material surrounding the pocket make it difficult to function with one hand. This is hardly a deal-breaker considering all the other benefits of the Erawan.
Overall thoughts on the backpack?
This pack has been my go-to this summer while traveling to South Africa, the Salmon River, and all over northern California. I was able to pack two week’s worth of clothes in the Erawan and still have room to bring home souvenirs. There are no fancy bells and whistles on this pack, but through my travels I never felt that the pack was lacking any features. The pack’s lightweight, durable materials are sure to withstand the tests of time serving the avid traveler time and time again. I would absolutely recommend this pack to a friend
Thanks for the feedback, Dan Hutchinson! Enjoy your new gear :)
Adam Broderick manages the web content at Tahoe Mountain Sports. When he is not in the office, he tries his best to be in the field doing something awesome.