Able Carry Daybreaker 2 Review
The Able Carry Daybreaker 2 is a breeze to carry daily, but its lightness creates a soft structure that makes it feel too floppy in some areas.
- Lightweight design makes it easy to carry
- Main compartment unzips fully on one side for added accessibility
- Surprisingly large water bottle pocket holds a 32-ounce bottle
- Laptop pocket lacks additional padding
- Front flops over when opening main compartment
- Water bottle pocket’s elastic doesn’t hold slender bottles very firmly
1.4 lb (0.6 kg)
19.7 in x 10.2 in x 7.5 in (50 x 25.9 x 19.1 cm)
EVA Foam, Nylon, Ripstop, Hypalon®, YKK Zippers
Laptop Compartment Size
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Able Carry’s Daybreaker is a lightweight and simplified daypack, which we really like for that reason. Now, with the Daybreaker 2, Able Carry aims to improve on that core idea. They’ve widened the main compartment’s opening, added a few more pockets for organization, and given the back panel some proper padding. The cost? Just a few grams—no biggie, if you ask us.
Yes, this is still the lightweight Daybreaker we used to know and like. Yet, reworking the main compartment’s opening doesn’t quite meld well with how soft the bag’s structure is. Simply put, the wider opening emphasizes the packable daypack-like floppiness. That’s not to say the Daybreaker 2 is a downgrade from the original; it’s still an overall improvement in most regards.
Weighing in at 660 grams, or 1.4 lbs, the Daybreaker 2 feels very light in hand. How did they achieve this? The answer lies in the bag’s fabric: CORDURA® Ripstop Nylon, a lightweight fabric you’d typically see in packable bags. Instead of the uniform weave and thickness you see on ballistic nylon, ripstop nylon is thin, with a grid pattern acting as reinforcement. In theory, should a puncture happen in one of those grids, it won’t spread beyond that square because of the reinforcement, hence the “ripstop” in the name. You can also get the Daybreaker 2 in X-Pac X42, though that variant is slightly heavier at 718 grams (1.58 lbs).
You also get YKK AquaGuard-style zippers with Hypalon pulls to make them easier to grab. Overall, though, there’s very little going on visually with the Daybreaker 2. It’s a very low-key daypack, which helps it stay light. Granted, the Daybreaker 2 is technically heavier than the original, which weighs just 1.24 lbs, but it’s still a lightweight backpack with improvements piled on top of it. We’re getting ahead of ourselves, though, so let’s talk about a few more familiar sights.
There are three handles: one at the top and two at the sides. They are nothing fancy; just flat nylon handles to carry the bag over short distances. These are just adequately comfortable for a lightweight bag trying to save on weight as much as possible. However, we wish the side handles were centered instead of on the edge of the back panel, which causes the bag to tilt when we try to carry it briefcase-style.
At the bottom of the Daybreaker 2 are loops you can use with accessory straps to attach bulky gear. The Daybreaker 2 is a backpack you take outdoors, so this makes sense. Strap a yoga mat or running shoes under there, and you’re all set.
There are also three loops at the front: two at the sides near the top and one at the end of the main compartment’s zipper track. However, these are less for attachments and more to help with the zippers. It’s thoughtful attention to detail from Able Carry. Since the Daybreaker 2 structure is soft, pulling on the zippers can cause the fabric to buckle and prevent you from unzipping. Hanging onto one of the loops helps you straighten it out, counteracting that buckling.
Otherwise, you can also employ these loops for attaching accessories. For example, we use the one near the water bottle pocket to secure its bottle handle with a carabiner. It ensures the bottle inside the pocket doesn’t fall out and rolls ten rows down the cabin during takeoff (yes, that has happened, though thankfully not to us).
The water bottle pocket is surprisingly roomy and can hold a 32-ounce Hydro Flask. However, when we put a slimmer insulated travel water bottle in the 21- or 18-ounce range, it feels notably loose. The small elastic seems inadequate for the job, so we highly recommend securing your bottle’s handle with a carabiner like we described earlier.
The Daybreaker 2 retains the same A-frame harness system as the original. The continuous webbing strap starts at the bottom of the bag (forming the bottom loops), connects to the shoulder straps (acting as the adjusters), and overlays them to create the mounting system for the sternum strap—and it does sort of resemble an A. You also get a bunch of triangle-shaped bartack stitching all over the bag to drive home the “A” part.
That said, we’re more interested in the placement of the shoulder straps. If you look closely, you’ll notice that they’re mounted noticeably lower than the top edge of the bag, shifting a significant portion of its weight higher on your back, which should improve carrying comfort.
The shoulder straps are very light, but the padding is still relatively thick and spongy. Apart from the Daybreaker 2’s fabric, this is one of the more obvious signs that Able Carry really wanted to make this a lightweight backpack. After all, shoulder straps are one of the beefiest parts of any backpack, and we often see brands go overboard with padding.
The sternum strap uses a magnetic buckle. While we’d usually take issue with that, it works well enough that we don’t particularly mind. Nor do we have a problem with the loop-and-toggle mounting Able Carry uses here. The toggle is adequately wider than the loop, making it fairly secure once it’s properly inserted at the appropriate adjustment.
If we have any suggestions, Able Carry could’ve gone for a narrower sternum strap if they wanted to double down on weight savings. We’ve seen gear from brands like Matador and Bellroy use thinner sternum straps, which Able Carry could do with minimal impact on carrying comfort.
Before we forget, there are strap keepers alongside the shoulder straps’ adjusters. We dig that Able Carry decided to add these to the Daybreaker 2 despite their emphasis on keeping the bag lightweight. If you make us choose between strap keepers or saving a few grams, we’ll take the former any day.
Last but not least, the Daybreaker 2’s back panel has foam padding in two vertical sections that form a central air channel. This is a clear improvement over the original, which had no padding.
One side-effect of the Daybreaker 2’s soft structure is sagginess. Visually, you can see how it kind of droops down in some areas, though it maintains a cohesive shape overall. In terms of comfort, we like how the weight shifts upwards due to the shoulder straps’ lower mounting. It reminds us of a few hiking backpacks we’ve tried, and it’s an effective technique to mitigate sagginess.
The sternum strap is also notably effective in pulling forward a significant amount of weight. It’s not an absolute requirement for day-to-day use, and you can probably leave it at home to save a few ounces. However, if you are taking the Daybreaker 2 outdoors, we highly recommend using it.
Inside The Backpack
A small quick-stash pocket on the right side of the bag is covered by a water-resistant zipper. It’s not super roomy inside, though it’s relatively wide for lengthy items like a Max-sized iPhone or a passport. You could fit a pair of gloves or a buff inside, should you wish. However, the main compartment can squeeze into this pocket’s space when it’s fully packed out, so you’ll have to adjust accordingly.
There’s also a key leash hanging from the top with a rather beefy key clip. Again, this is yet another area where Able Carry could’ve doubled down to save weight with a cheaper and plasticky clip. Instead, they’ve gone for better-quality hardware, and we like it. On the other hand, we noticed a small bit of loose thread on the zipper track’s top end, which we don’t like for the Daybreaker 2’s longevity.
The main compartment’s opening is one of the biggest changes from the original. Instead of a horseshoe-esque top hatch, the zipper extends all the way down the right side. Remember us describing the earlier Daybreaker as a tall backpack with a deep interior? This new opening style makes a ton of that room much more accessible and easier to pack, compared with the more limited top hatch of the previous version.
There’s a zippered pouch built into the front side of the main compartment. It’s very roomy, thanks to its gusseted floor and stretchy fabric. While you can load it up with a lot of loose gear like a pack of gum, sunglasses, dongles, and cables, that makes it very heavy. That causes the front of the bag to flop down when it’s opened, and it doesn’t look great when that happens. It emphasizes the lightweight nature of the Daybreaker 2. It’s great for taking on outdoor activities like hiking or kayaking, but not so much when it’s sitting beside you in a coffee shop with its front drooping down.
The main compartment is still as roomy as the original. You’ll find most of the 25 liters of space available here to use as you see fit. We recommend using packing cubes and other kinds of organizers to keep gear separated and organized. As we’ve said, loading the main compartment is easy since you can unravel the front side almost completely.
On the left side is an internal water bottle pocket. We like having this option because it frees up the external water bottle pocket for an umbrella or a travel tripod, for example. Whether you’re willing to put a bottle of water in the same space as your sensitive laptop is a question only you can answer (we’re pretty confident in the insulated bottles we use, in case you’re wondering).
The laptop pocket at the back can fit up to a 16-inch MacBook Pro. However, you will have to use a separate padded laptop sleeve if you want any sort of protection for your device. Even Able Carry acknowledges the absence of built-in padding on its website and recommends using a separate sleeve. We used the Bellroy Laptop Caddy during testing, which fit surprisingly well, despite being very thick.
Above the laptop sleeve is a loop where you can hang a hydration bladder. There’s no dedicated pass-through for a drinking tube, though, so you’ll have to route it through the main compartment’s zippers.
Below that are two zippers, one hidden by an upward fabric welt. It opens another quick-grab pocket in addition to the zippered pouch on the front side. This one’s more secure under that welt. As such, it’s a good spot to stash a smart tracker like an Apple AirTag, plus a couple of your most valuable items like a passport, vaccination cards, and keys to your hotel room’s safe.
A zippered opening grants you access to the frame sheet. It’s a neat little feature we like on the original since it lets you replace the sheet with something stiffer or softer, depending on your preference. You can also remove it entirely if you want to shave even more weight off the Daybreaker 2. Just keep in mind that it will cost you in terms of both structure and comfort. That’s really a general theme here with the Daybreaker 2—there’s a delicate balance between its soft structure and its ease of carry.
- Foam frame sheet can come out if you want to make it more packable
- Simple, lightweight bag with minimal organization
- Dig that it unzips fully on one side, and not as much on the other
- Felt like a packable bag during testing, meaning, it flops around a lot, but the pro here is that the weight is low
- Left wanting more organization so instead relied on pouches
- Water bottle pocket is surprisingly spacious holding a larger 32 oz Hydro Flask