Boundary Supply Arris Pack Review
The Boundary Supply Arris Pack is crafted from quality materials and isn’t overly organized, but can feel naked without the additions that are available.
- Adjustable back panel and shoulder straps
- Large interior sleeve fits most laptops
- Included dry bag separates dirty gear
- FIDLOCK clasp on sternum strap can feel bulky
- Main compartment zipper gets stuck
- Space feels wasted without add-ons
4.27 lb (1.9 kg)
22 in x 13 in x 9 in (55.9 x 33 x 22.9 cm)
YKK Zippers, Fidlock Hardware, Woojin Hardware, Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU), Nylon, DWR Coating
Laptop Compartment Size
Arris is a name of Greek origin that roughly translates to “Best.” We’ve come to know Boundary Supply as a company that spends a lot of time in development before releasing a product, so you have to think if they’re naming a pack “Best,” they must think pretty highly of it. This pack was built to do it all, but is your money best spent elsewhere? Let’s find out!
Materials & Aesthetic
First things first, let’s start with the exterior. The pack material is 400D nylon with an exterior DWR coating and an interior thermoplastic polyurethane lining. All of that is just a fancy way to say that the fabric in tandem with the added coating and lining is highly water-resistant, especially in most weather situations.
The material does have a little bit of a crunch when it brushes up against things, though it’s not as noticeable in use as when the pack is fairly empty or when we actively rub our hands along the material.
At the time of writing, the Arris Pack comes in three colorways. Our model is a burnt orange color, which matches our version of the Rift Pack, a separate hip pack that attaches to the top of the Arris. There are also black and green options, which offer a little variety. All three colorways look very natural and earthy, which is excellent for hitting the trail and provides a nice alternative to the industrial ambiance of a cityscape. The logo is subtly placed in the top right corner of the pack in the same color profile as the nylon, just a bit darker. It’s a nice contrast and feels minimalistic, even though this pack is far from it, design-wise.
The main compartment zipper is a beefy YKK #10 AquaGuard, which can be slow to open due to its size and the extra protective seal. The two heads can be locked together using a small travel lock, but one isn’t included. While opening the pack from top to bottom, we have repeated issues with the zipper catching on a little tab on the inside. It’s located just before the zipper makes its second 90-degree turn to finish opening or closing and can take a few seconds of manipulation to get past it.
The top compartment zipper is a YKK #8 AquaGuard and is the quickest and easiest to open of the exterior zippers. There isn’t a direct tab to grab onto to give you leverage as you unzip, but there are enough external components to offer assistance if you need it.
The front compartment zipper is a YKK #8 AquaGuard, which is covered by a fabric welt that hides the fact that there’s even a pocket there in the first place. This weatherizes the compartment even more, which is a great shout if you want to stow tech here.
The side access zipper is a YKK #8 AquaGuard with a small loop of nylon on one end of the track, which you can shove the zipper pull underneath to deter theft. However, once you thread it through, it can be pretty hard to get it back out. This is a great way to slow down strangers from getting inside your pack, but if you wanted to use this as a quick-access zip to get inside the pack, it’ll slow you down too.
All of the external zipper pulls are a soft vinyl-like material that looks like leather from a distance. It has a little texture to it, but it can get slick and hard to hold onto in the rain. Each pull has a hard plastic circle with the Boundary Supply logo on it, which adds grip when opening and closing zippers in inclement weather.
All of the buckles on the pack are Woojin and are made from hard plastic. The clips come together easily and feel sturdy when clasped. The hip-belt buckle is large, which adds confidence for carrying heavy loads while hiking or for long days in the city before heading to your hotel or Airbnb.
The sternum strap is a FIDLOCK magnetic fastener. It’s sturdy and easy to clip, but it can be difficult to open, especially with one hand. If you don’t keep the strap taut, you sometimes need to grab onto the other side while you pull the clip up to get the magnets to release.
The lash straps that come with the Arris Pack have unbranded metal clips on the end that feel like aluminum. They seem durable and move easily when not clipped but can be a little finicky to attach from the pack’s 360-lash hooks. More about that later, though! On to our favorite part of this pack.
The back panel is separated into two sections: a lower section that integrates with the hip belt and an upper section that can slide up and down. You can move the upper section depending on your height and size, which also adjusts the shoulder straps. This is a team favorite here at Pack Hacker, as we’re all different shapes and sizes, yet the pack is comfortable for everyone to wear.
This upper section slides on a track and attaches using a hook and loop fastener that is easy to adjust as needed but stays put when you want it to. The back panel is highly padded and features aeration that’s easily visible. Even when the pack’s heavy, it remains cool and comfortable.
The back panel also has a piece of rigid plastic behind it that acts as the back wall of the pack. This helps distribute weight evenly on your back, prevents the gear inside from poking through, and lets the pack lie flat nicely. It reminds us of the top to a storage container—you know, the ones in your basement filled with things you care about enough not to see them damaged, but not enough to be in the part of your house other people see.
Moving onto the shoulder straps, we see the same padding and aeration as the back panel, although the material is different and the air holes aren’t as large. There isn’t anything rigid inside the foam, so fans of stiffer shoulder straps might be let down. Overall, they’re very comfortable and have curvature that enables a secure carry, especially when paired with the movable back panel.
The sternum strap uses a pretty large FIDLOCK magnetic clasp. It isn’t uncomfortable per say, but you can feel how big it is when you have a full pack. When you aren’t using it, the clasp has a locking position on the shoulder strap, which is nice to keep it out of the way. It can be tricky to grab while wearing the pack, as there’s a magnet that fastens the holster to the shoulder strap. Once you’re used to using it, you can maneuver things much quicker.
The sternum strap is removable, but we couldn’t get it off. After over 20 minutes of trying, we gave up. It’s a T design that should be fairly easy to remove, but we couldn’t crack it. Once you remove it, there are a few different loops, so you can place the strap at higher or lower levels depending on your personal preference. If we were able to move the sternum strap, we may not have been able to feel the FIDLOCK as much as we did while wearing the pack.
When not in use, these loops double as attachment points, which is a plus if you like to carabiner things like the Fisher Backpacker Space Pen or the Yakoda Utility Pouch onto your front for quick access.
The lower portion of the back panel doesn’t move, but it does have a hook and loop fastener to attach and detach the hip belt. Even after detaching the fastener, the belt has to slide left or right because there’s a piece of elastic that stops it from sliding upwards.
We also see the same aeration on the belt as we do the shoulder straps but without the same padding. There is a thin piece of rigid plastic inside the fabric, which takes a toll on breathability. We notice that the shoulder straps stay aerated while strapped into the pack, but the hip belt can leave us a little sweaty. This isn’t a huge deal, as we don’t always wear the belt, but nobody likes starting off a trip through the airport with perspiration.
Moving up to the top handle, we find a cylindrical piece of soft plastic wrapped in nylon. The material is easy to grab onto and has a nice texture, but the handle can feel a little uncomfortable after a while. It’s easy to get a good grip, which is great for when you’re on the go and need to get somewhere quickly, but not so great for extended use on public transport.
There are also two side handles that appear to use the same materials, but instead of cylindrical, they’re rectangular. Oddly enough, these feel a little more comfortable than the top handle. There is a little more room for your hand to fit through, which could enable some additional comfort.
The two side handles can also be used as a luggage pass-through. This leaves your pack sideways on top of your luggage, which could allow the interior to become disorganized. When your pack is stuffed and heavy, the relief of rolling the weight instead of carrying it is worth the extra preparation.
The Arris Pack has just one water bottle pocket, and it integrates nicely into the exterior of the pack when not in use. We can fit a wide range of bottle sizes here, but taller bottles tend to fall out, especially when full. The lash strap above the pocket can secure super tall bottles, but even this isn’t foolproof as it can still slide out when the last strap is looped through.
We can also fit a travel tripod in the water bottle pocket, with the lash strap securing the top. The lash strap extends from a small loop near the back panel, across the side of the pack, to one of the 360-lash hooks on the front of the pack. There’s another strap on the other side of the pack that runs overtop of the main compartment zipper. In addition to securing items, the straps can act as compression straps when the pack isn’t stuffed to tighten up the look.
There are four 360-lash hooks on the front of the pack that are made from hard plastic and feel durable but can be challenging to attach clips to. They’re handy for the modularity of the Arris Pack as a whole, which we will cover after we dive into the pack’s interior.
Inside The Pack
All of the interior zippers are YKK #5 with brown nylon zipper pulls and heat shrink plastic on the tips. They’re easy to open, and the pulls are quick to find because they contrast nicely with the grey interior.
The top compartment is pretty huge for a quick access pocket. We can fit a tech pouch or packing cube inside, and the mesh zippered pocket gives us a place for items we don’t want to get lost in the chaos. For a long flight, this is a good place for toiletries so you can freshen up as soon as you land without having to dig through your pack.
The front compartment is best for flat gear because the pocket doesn’t have a lot of height. It shares space with the main compartment, so there is less room to share when you have a full pack. This can make getting items in and out a bit harder, which is why we prefer to store flat items here. A small tablet, e-reader, or book fit naturally with a little extra room for a snack or two.
The main compartment has many unique features that make it a great travel companion. The pack has a clamshell opening, so you can access both sides of the interior completely.
On the left side of the pack is the laptop sleeve. A 15-inch Macbook Pro fits with room to spare, and will fit up to a 17-inch laptop. The top of the sleeve has a little hook to ensure the laptop can’t come out of the pocket, which is great in theory, but smaller laptops slide up and rub on it a bit. This hasn’t caused any damage, but it isn’t ideal. On the other side of the sleeve is the rigid plastic back paneling we mentioned earlier, protecting the laptop from exterior harm. There’s a thick piece of foam on the inside to protect it from interior pokes and compression.
Opposite the laptop sleeve is a mesh organizer with two zippered mesh pockets. The mesh is stretchy yet still feels durable. You can’t put too much stuff inside, though, because there isn’t much room between the pocket and the laptop sleeve when the pack closes. You can fit socks, underwear, and tech items you don’t need quick access to here, and it keeps the pack segmented, which we like for staying organized.
Underneath the zippered mesh organizer is the bulk of the main compartment. Two zippers run around the pack’s interior and meet in the center at a small tongue made of vinyl-like fabric. If you grab that tongue and pull upwards, the compartment opens easily. You can also unzip one zipper to access one side or the other of the pack exclusively.
This area is a perfect fit for packing cubes, larger items like a tech pouch or toiletry bag for an extended trip, and even comes with an included dry/wet bag that attaches for safe transit. We’re able to fit a men’s size 12 pair of shoes in the bag with room to spare, all the while stowing a large packing cube and two medium-sized packing cubes in the space around it. There’s enough room to make the space what you want it to be, whether your gear is perfectly organized or tossed in after a long weekend.
Another important aspect of this area is the seam tape covering every nook and cranny that water could get inside the pack. This is another layer of protection from the elements and a way to keep your gear dry. No matter what weather you get caught in, you know the materials and craftsmanship from Boundary Supply will do their best to keep you dry. This rang true while cycle-commuting to and from work in Detroit’s rain and snow, as the Arris kept our gear bone dry.
The main storage compartment can be slow to get to, even once you’re used to the quirks of this pack. A side zipper makes accessing items a little quicker, but it can be hard to use. The zipper can only open so far, making seeing inside a little tricky. If you know exactly where an item is, then you’re all set, but if not, you’re just reaching into the abyss, hoping to grab onto what you’re looking for.
Overall, the Arris Pack makes the most of the 35L capacity it boasts. There are a few areas that we feel waste space, most of which are related to the modularity of the pack when combined with other Boundary Supply products. It works wonderfully if you have all the other products within the ecosystem, but if you don’t, you might be left wondering what to do in the areas where they’re supposed to be.
On top of the laptop sleeve are two rigid plastic connectors and an elastic strap sits at the bottom. This is where the Fieldspace Laptop Sleeve attaches. It can be used as an on-the-go laptop/document sleeve for attending meetings or heading to the coffee shop. If you don’t have the sleeve, that space doesn’t really have a use. It does enable you to stuff the elastic zippered pockets on the other half of the pack a little more fully, but that’s about it.
We mentioned the four 360-lash hooks earlier when talking about the side lash straps. They’re hard plastic and look like a lowercase t, with attachment areas on four sides. The main use for these four hooks is to attach the Stasis Sling, a 9-liter cross-body bag meant for on-the-go adventures. It connects to the lash hooks on the front of the Arris Pack, adding more storage. Without the Stasis in place, the front of the Arris is pretty plain. We like the look but are left wondering if there isn’t a better use for this large space.
We mentioned the Rift Pack at the beginning of this review, and it’s the only of the three modular additions to the Arris that we have on hand while testing the Arris Pack. The Rift Pack is a hip-pack that can be attached to the top of the Arris using the two attached Woojin buckles and two lash straps that come with the Rift Pack. We think this is a good addition, as it adds a little more room for quick-access gear but doesn’t take away as much valuable space. We like using the Rift Pack as a mini pack for mini adventures away from the Arris, like heading through the airport to get snacks or a quick trip away from the hotel. The Stasis is meant to operate similarly, but the Rift doesn’t take up nearly as much space.
Overall, we feel that the Arris is a worthy travel bag with a few quirks. Boundary Supply’s extreme attention to detail is appreciated. Still, small things like the main compartment zipper getting caught and the wasted space when not using the add-ons leave us a little disappointed. Even without buying into the entire ecosystem, the Arris is a substantial pack made from durable materials. Plus, if you’re able, the add-ons make a good bag even better.
- Magnetic buckles look and feel beefy
- Back panel is rigid, but equally supportive and comfortable
- Compatible with the brand’s other magnetically attached gear like the Port Kitt
- DWR coating keeps water out
- Material is easy to keep clean
- Zippers can be slow to open