I’m at the point in my life’s journey where I’m not interested in the mundane or even the ordinary. That extends to my taste in gear. So when I stumbled upon the Arktype Dashpack, it immediately drew my interest because of what it’s not. No offense to my friends over at Carryology but if you visit their site, you’ll find a nice collection of smallish very sleek, very stylish, very photogenic packs made in heavier materials like leather, tarp, or waxed canvas that are pitched as being “modern” and “urban”. If you’re lucky, the designer might have thrown in a couple of zippered pockets as an afterthought. These packs aren’t particularly functional, but damn son – you’ll look good carrying them.
What makes the Arktype Dashpack different is that the designer(s) clearly thought about what is truly needed for everyday carry and built-in features that are actually useful in a compact, durable, lightweight, and yes – stylish design.
The outside of the pack is made from Ballistic nylon, which is one of my favorite pack materials. It’s abrasion and stain resistant. It also doesn’t attract pet hair or lint like Cordura does. My sample pack came in a striking charcoal grey color. Overall, this is a very nice looking piece of gear.
The Dashpack’s dimensions are 18.5” H x 11” W x 4.5” D. At 6’4, 19″ is normally the cutoff for my torso length so this pack is a touch shorter than I need. But, I was able to make it work by extending the shoulder straps a bit. The pack is 15L in volume. I’ve carried the GoRuck Bullet 15L for a couple of years now and this pack is slightly taller and wider but not as deep. Still, it’s a nice size if you favor smaller, more compact packs for daily use.
One thing the Bullet 15L doesn’t have is water bottle pockets and the Arktype Dashpack has two of them.
They won’t take a full-sized Nalgene bottle but they did stretch enough to fit my 20 oz/591 ml Hydroflask. I like that the pocket is made from the same material as the rest of the pack and not mesh. The bag’s compression straps also do a good job of securing anything tall stored in the pockets so they won’t fall out.
The front panel has a full length compartment that is protected by a water-resistant #8 YKK Aquaguard zipper. Inside is an admin area with two elastic loops than can hold a knife, multitool, or flashlight and three smaller pen-sized loops. If you’re carry electronics, they can also be used for charge cords. There’s also a D-Ring for caribiner, keys, etc.
I greatly prefer elastic over fixed sewn pockets but rarely find them in packs for reasons passing understanding. I would have preferred another larger loop so I could store the complete EDC Trinity (knife, flashlight, AND multitool) but otherwise kudos to Arktype for incorporating some organization and housing it in a vertical compartment that can be accessed by slipping the pack off one shoulder and rotating it to the front of the body.
The half-zip main compartment features an elastic pocket that can secure a file folder or magazine and enough extra capacity to carry my Arc’teryx Atom SL jacket.
The main also features a zippered mesh pocket for loose items.
The Dashpack also has a padded backpanel compartment protected by another #8 YKK Aquaguard zipper that Arktype says can house up to a 13″ laptop and a mesh zippered pocket that can hold a 10″ tablet, wall charger, etc. I was actually able to squeeze my 15″ HP laptop in there but it was a tight fit. Arktype recommends using the raised sleeve in the main for that but it’s padded only on one side. The backpanel pocket is padded front and back so I used it instead.
The shoulder straps are made from seatbelt webbing and Duraflex Sliplok buckles to keep things tidy without loose dangling straps. The shoulder and back panels are padded with Evazote high-density closed-cell EV50 foam.
My only complaint with the pack so far is the strap pads are too short. The picture below is from the Arktype website and illustrates it pretty well.
With most of the packs I own, the strap pads extend to just below the armpit. The Dashpack’s pads fall about two inches above that and therefore too much of the seatbelt webbing ends up against the body. I definitely felt the straps if I was carrying a moderately heavy loadout and wearing just a t-shirt under the pack. The wide seatbelt material helps make them more comfortable than they otherwise would be, but I still knew they were there unless I was wearing layers. If you have a smaller torso than myself or whoever was modeling the pack on the website then your mileage may vary.
I’m still field testing the Arktype Dashpack but as you can tell, my first impressions are positive. The issue with the straps mar a near perfect small pack EDC design, but I didn’t find it to be a show stopper. Given its size, I ended up carrying it over one shoulder 75% of the time and when utilizing both straps, I didn’t experience any discomfort unless I loaded the pack up with a heavier loadout (say greater than 15 lbs). The rest of the pack is so well done, I’d say everyone should at least give it go to see if it will be a problem. For some, it won’t be.
The Arktype Dashpack retails for $189 and is sold via Arktype’s website here. The pack is made in the U.S.A. with materials sourced from the states of CA, CO, GA, NJ, OR, PA, and WA. It’s also available in black.