Gobi Gear Free Spirit 30L Daypack
I was sent a production prototype of the Gobi Gear Free Spirit daypack to review, leading up to its Kickstarter campaign. The Free Sprit pack is built off of Gobi Gear’s successful multi-compartment stuff sack, the SegSack. I’ve been using the SegSack Traveler for a few years, primarily for commuting and business trips. It’s a fantastic way to keep my clothing and other gear clean and organized.
The Free Spirit takes a traditional daypack concept and merges the inner compartment sleeves of the SegSack. There are two segmented compartments and a sleeve for a water bladder. The two segments can be closed up with a hook-and-loop patch, converting the pack to a single opening plus the hydration sleeve. There are two mesh pockets on the outside that can each hold a 1L Nalgene easily, and a stash pocket on the back. The floating lid has an inner and outer zipper pocket. The entire pack can stuff into the floating lid for storage.
The pack has padded, adjustable shoulder straps and a hip belt. The hip belt has a small pocket on one side that can hold keys or credit card-size items. The hip belt can be stuffed away into hidden slits behind the back padding. There are compression straps on each side of the pack to adjust the pack’s volume. The sternum strap is also adjustable and has an elastic for stress relief. A carry handle between the yoke makes grabbing and hanging the pack easy.
Overall Impressions and Updates
I took some time to review this pack over the last few weeks to really get a feel for it. The pack quickly replaced my Timbuku messenger pack as my daily commuter pack. I was able to easily fit a change of clothes plus my iPad and bike tools. The inner compartments are easily the best feature. In the past, I’ve used the SegSack inside my commuter bag and the Free Spirit now combines the two. This has made packing and gear organization faster and easier.
The shoulder straps are nice and wide and much more comfortable to wear than some day pack’s thinner straps. This pack was designed for longer term use with light pack weights.
The hip belt is more for stabilization than load balancing, but that’s expected in pack of this size. The other day pack I use a lot is the REI Flash 20L flash pack, but I find the Free Spirit pack more useful and versatile. The floating lid is really helpful to keep items I want for easy access. I REALLY like that the side pockets are large enough to hold regular-sized water bottles, and are deep enough that they won’t easily fall out. I found that I don’t often use the hip belt as the sternum strap does a great job at keeping the pack secure while I’m biking. The torso length isn’t very long, so I have to drop the pack’s shoulder straps a little lower for the hip belt to fit on my hips, otherwise it’s around my midsection.
On my commute, I often bring a 1 pint and 1 quart Mason jars that hold smoothies or breakfast and they fit just fine in the outer mesh pockets.
On the flip side, the pack doesn’t hold as much gear as a regular SegSack. When the two segmented compartments are deployed, they fully take up the room in the pack, leaving only a small space for a hydration pack or other thin items. For most of my commuting, this has been fine, but when I attempted to use the pack for an ultralight bike packing trip, I was disappointed that I couldn’t fit as much gear as I could when I reviewed the SegSack. The full 30L capacity is made up of all the pockets, not just the main compartment.
Recommendations and Review
While the pack has made my commuting easier and more streamlined, there are a few things on my wishlist:
- Add a WhistleLoc buckle on the sternum strap
- Add some elastic on the outer stash pocket to keep items more secure
- Add a draft collar on the main pocket so I can fully use the storage space inside
- I’d love if the pack were a little bigger so I could add one more segmented compartment
- Add a key clip in the floating lid
A whistle for the buckle would be a nice touch and a great safety addition. The current buckle functions just fine, so this might be lower on the priority list. Adding some elastic on the stash pocket seems like an oversight. The pocket is flabby and I hesitated to add anything in there for fear it could easily slip out. Adding a bit of ribbon elastic in the hem would dress that pocket up nicely. And finally, I think a 3.5-inch draft collar on the main opening would be a really nice addition because the pack doesn’t close up very well when I have it all packed up, and having a draft collar give me more confidence that everything was secure.
Even without my wish list, this is a great little pack, and the price makes it a great value. I’ll continue to use it and look forward to upgrades in the future!
|♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥||The pack has a simple yoke and shoulder straps, but they are wide and comfortable with minimal padding|
|♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥||Good craftsmanship; straight, even stitching; reinforced; quality materials. Few loose threads.|
|♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥||The collapsible inner pockets, side compression straps, floating lid, pack-able hip belt, and self-packing design make this a very modular pack|
|♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥||Color combinations are good, and I hope there will be other color options in the future.|
|♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥||One of the best prices for an open, gathered-end hammock for general recreational use, especially considering the suspension and straps are included, along with quality carabiners.|
- Manufacturer: Gobi Gear
- MSRP: $40
- REI 20L Flash Pack
- Other small daypacks
Disclosure of material connection: The author (Derek Hansen) was provided with a free sample from the manufacturer for testing and evaluation purposes. The comments in this post (written & spoken) are of my own opinion, which I formed after personally handling the gear.