As a bag maker myself, choosing a bag for myself from the seemingly endless variety out there in 2016, including looking back over previous years seasons, is an arduous task to say the least. It basically means research and meta research.
The Arc’Teryx Arro 22 bag is not perfect for my needs, but it does fulfill a few of the criteria I required such as a stiff back panel and robust design with robust materials that are tried true and tested.
My need for this pack are as a 2nd version every day pack for essentials, then for work and then for groceries.
I am a documentary filmmaker & I carry a basic two camera interview setup at all times:
I carry two mirrorless cameras with lenses, a Sony PCM-D50 audio recorder and two fistfuls of accessories to make that all go, that lot fits into a Domke F-5Xb which nestles in the bottom of the pack and under that I have cut a 1 inch thick piece of high impact foam to compliment the foam already in the pack’s base -take this into consideration as I talk about what else I put in this bag. Additionally I have an 11″ MacBook Air in an STM sleeve case, two external drives a thimbleful of accessories power and cables. Sometimes Ill even take non folding Sennheiser HD25 headphones.
I also carry a Sirui tabletop tripod and occasionally a full-sized micro tripod (Sirui T025X). All of this fits into my Cilogear 20L Worksack (which truthfully, is probably more like a 16-17L).
With all that in there, I would say the Arro is about 50-60% full. If I need to get groceries on the way home, I can grab the trifecta of veggies, a pound of flesh a small tub of yogurt, butter and a handful of treats from the bulk section, & that will all fit into the main compartment. The “bubble” as I like to call it, is an added bonus on this pack. I believe that 22L is the main compartment size, and the bubble is probably another 6-10L (my dimensional reasoning escapes me here). At the bottom it holds a fist size ziploc with daily essentials. After that a 1L Platypus ‘bag’ of water, lightweight jacket & cap.
What I wasn’t expecting with the Arro 22 is how high the pack rides when on a bike. Even full, it sits higher then I would expect given the strap engineering and location on the back panel. I suspect it’s because it is a narrow long pack. The bottom ridge, I tend to nestle on the top of my jeans belt. This isn’t a major problem for 10 mile round trip rides in Seattle but if I were going on a camping bike trip, I might have to look at other bags I have.
Like I said, it’s a long narrow pack, which makes it good in busy urban environments, and for getting through crowds. The bottom of the bag is wider, so it does hold more than you would think it should.
I’ve already been in a prolonged heavy rainstorm and it kept its contents dry.
The straps are thick, which is not the current thinking on packs today, however, they are very comfortable with load or not. The strap adjusters help to keep the straps present when not in use, so picking up the bag via the top handle and swinging it over your head to put on your back is the easiest I’ve experienced on any pack including my own *flawless* pack designs.. The bag just belongs on your back.
The high density back panel is very sturdy and very comfortable. There is a small hardly discernible curve on the lumbar which makes the pack extremely comfortable (I have scoliosis & it’s still extremely comfortable). There is a removable PVC panel which I have tried with and without, the added weight is a non issue but the benefits of having added rigidity is priceless. The additional hip-panels also contribute to this comfort.
I will say, that in hot weather, you will sweat heavily into the back panel, and I could foresee this as being a problem in hot weather, and the material will soak up sweat like a sponge. I may modify my pack by adding two 2″ disks of foam at the lumbar area to a stand-off position.
As far as Hydration Packs go, well that is kinda weird on this bag. There is a long narrow elastic mesh pocket in the inside of the back panel, but there is no hook to hang it from, so you have to rely on the hydration pack’s own integrity to stay put. I was already using a Hydrapak 2L, which, incidentally is similar to what Arc’Teryx show on their website; a pack with a bridge lock top closure that simply rests on the top of the mesh pocket ~we will see how well that elastic top stands up to use after a year of wrestling..
The side pockets are ‘meh’ really not enough for a water bottle, but fine for whatever you can fit into them. Some is elastic & and loop for a carabiner, and the other has superman grade velcro which holds tight whatever you put into it (we will see how well that is in a year of heavy (ab)use.
I’m surprised I actually had so much to say about this bag, but so far and envisioning 5 years from now, I suspect I will still love this bag. Arc’Teryx are the Apple of backpacks, with astounding functional design backed up by gorgeous aesthetics.
I purchased mine at Berg’s who had the lowest price available at the time and really lovely customer service.