L.L.Bean Stowaway Day Pack Review
The L.L.Bean Stowaway Day Pack is lightweight and compressible with storage for small items. We just wish the compression straps didn’t block the main zipper.
- Stretchy water bottle pocket can fit phone and other items
- Lightweight material doesn’t feel heavy when full
- Mesh back panel is breathable and comfortable
- Compressions straps block main zipper
- Front pocket leaves items open to rain or pickpocketing
- No strap keepers on shoulder straps
14 oz (396.9 gm)
bluesign-approved recycled polyester ripstop shell
19 in x 10 in x 7 in (48.3 x 25.4 x 17.8 cm)
8 in x 7 in when compressed
Ripstop Polyester, Recycled Polyester, YKK Zippers, Duraflex Hardware
As it goes with packable daypacks, the L.L.Bean Stowaway Day Pack is fully packable and lightweight. Take it on your next hike or pack it into your travel backpack to use as a daily driver once you arrive at your destination.
It’s got several pockets across the front to help keep small items organized, while the main compartment offers a ton of open space for your daily essentials and beyond. It does have a few minor nitpicks, however, so let’s get into every little detail starting with the materials.
Materials & Aesthetic
The L.L.Bean Stowaway Day Pack uses a lot of recycled materials, making it a great option for the environmentally-friendly traveler. The main fabric is a bluesign approved 70D recycled polyester ripstop. A thin denier of ripstop is pretty commonly used in packable daypacks. It keeps the pack lightweight and packable while still being durable in case of any rips, scuffs, or tears along your journey.
Bluesign certified products meet sustainability standards that include using eco-friendly textiles without certain chemicals or dyes. In other words, if a product is bluesign certified, you can be sure that it is actually sustainable and not just something the brand’s marketing department slapped on without anything to back it up. If you didn’t know, now you know! In this case, the polyester is actually made from recycled water and soda bottles. Neat!
The pack also uses YKK reverse coil zippers, which help to keep moisture out. If you’re familiar with Pack Hacker reviews, you’ll know we’re somewhat fanatics for YKK zippers. Having a zipper break on your trip can be a total mood ruiner, so it’s important to buy gear with quality materials. YKK zippers are straight up some of the best out there, so it’s one less thing you have to worry about. The main compartment uses a YKK #8 zipper, which is pretty standard, while the front pockets use a smaller #5. Paired with the paracord zipper pulls, you’ve got a winning combo—one that’s easy to open without being too jingly or sticky. This bag also uses ITW/Nexus buckles on the sternum strap and hip belt, while the shoulder straps feature Duraflex hardware. These are all quality materials, so we aren’t too worried about durability.
At the time of this review, the L.L.Bean Stowaway Day Pack is available in six colors—Black, Bright Navy, Burgundy, Deep Loden (green), Ocean Teal, and Warm Gold. We opted for black because that’s how we typically roll. Also because black fits in better and can make you look less like a tourist or like you wandered off a hiking trail. The general aesthetic of the bag feels very much like a packable hiking backpack rather than a daypack, and some of the brighter colors lend to that even further.
Okay, let’s move on to the external components starting with the harness system and back panel. Both have a thin layer of wicking Air Mesh for breathability that we found to be comfortable. We didn’t have any issues with dreaded swamp back from sweating while wearing or biking with the pack, which is welcome (especially if you’re traveling in a hot climate). They also have a thin amount of foam padding for extra comfort. While it certainly does the job and the shoulder straps were fairly comfortable, just note when we say thin, we mean thin. Don’t expect any pillow-soft cushioning.
The sternum strap is anchored onto the shoulder straps in a way that makes it non-removable. This isn’t a huge deal, but they can sometimes flap around a bit when not in use. We like how they slide up and down the strap, making them easy to adjust and tailor to your height. At the bottom of the shoulder straps is a hip belt made of a strip of nylon that’s about the same thickness as the sternum strap. That means it isn’t really cushioned and isn’t super comfortable. It also isn’t removable, but you barely feel it up against your back when you’re not using it, so that didn’t bother us much.
Interestingly enough, the hip belt is the only place on the bag that you’ll find strap keepers. Obviously, they help keep the excess length in check when adjusting the hip belt, but why not include them on the shoulder strap too? We digress. At the top is a standard nylon handle that makes it easy to pick up off the floor of the train car, coffee shop, or backseat.
With that out of the way, let’s flip this baby back over to the front. There are some pretty exciting features going on here, including a front “shove it” pocket. This pocket is smack dab front and center and doesn’t have a zipper, so you can literally shove whatever you want inside. It’s fairly spacious and is big enough to fit a small jacket. This is a convenient space for quick-grab items like your keys or phone since you can just reach in and grab ‘em when needed. This can be a bad thing, however, if you get caught in the rain and your items get wet. It also leaves your items wide open for pickpocketing so be mindful of what you put in here. You probably don’t want to walk around with your wallet inside, just in case.
This shove it pocket is also connected to compression straps which you can use to cinch the bag down for a smaller profile. While compression is always welcome, we have a slight bone to pick with these straps. They block the main compartment zipper. You can sort of work around them if your bag is barely packed or unbuckle them to get them out of the way and open the bag. Neither of those options is ideal, though, and it just ends up being a bit of a hassle.
On the front of the shove pocket is another, smaller pocket with a zipper. It opens horizontally, so it’s good for getting items out of the bag when you’ve got it off one shoulder. It’s also fairly spacious and may be a better place to put your wallet or phone since they’ll actually be protected in here. Directly in front of that are three small loops of webbing that you can attach a pouch with a carabiner or a bike light.
On the sides, there are two wide and stretchy water bottle pockets. You can cinch them down via the drawstring to keep your items in tight or open them way up to accommodate something bigger. They also make good stash pockets for quick-grab items if you aren’t a fan of the shove pocket. They are easier to reach than the front vertical pocket while you’re still wearing the bag, too, so you don’t have to take it off at all to grab your phone out.
Finally, near the top of the bag is one last external pocket. This one is much smaller than the others and features a short key leash. For us, it was a bit too short and inconvenient to use without taking the bag off completely. We ended up attaching an additional key leash to the existing one to make it longer. This way we could open the door with the bag swung around to the front. Otherwise, this top pocket has space for cash, a travel wallet, and small items like chapstick.
Inside The Pack
Like most packable daypacks, the L.L.Bean Stowaway Day Pack doesn’t have too much going on inside. In order to be packable, it’s basically just an open main compartment for you to be able to stuff as much in as possible. It opens up slightly bigger than a typical horseshoe zipper and is panel loading, opening up sort of like a suitcase. This gives you more space to work with getting your items inside, especially if you have the compression straps opened up a bit.
The opening can go a little too far since the bag doesn’t have any structure and the top flap will flop open. In that case, you can just unzip it halfway if you need to grab something quickly that’s near the top of the bag. Lacking structure also means you’ll have to be mindful of how you pack the bag. Whatever you put at the back is going to be right up against you, so you’ll probably want to put shorter, chunky items like pouches up front. Something like a packable jacket or laptop with a sleeve would probably feel the most smooth. The bag will also take the shape of whatever you put inside, and using the compression straps can cause it to look slightly misshapen. Your mileage may vary on whether this actually bothers you or not.
There’s a white name tag sewn into one side where you can write your phone number and address in case the bag gets lost. We hope that never happens to you, but if it ever does, hopefully a kind soul will contact you at the phone number you’ve written inside. The rest of the interior is a light grey for contrast, which makes for great visibility inside of a black bag.
There is one pocket inside the main compartment. It’s a little zippered flap that comes down from the back that’s good for tech accessories if you don’t use a tech kit. However, it’s real purpose is for you to pack the bag into for easy storage when not in use. That’s right, the bag packs all the way up into this pocket. The two-way zipper makes this using this “pocket” seamless whether you’re storing items inside or packing up the entire bag.
Overall, we found the L.L.Bean Stowaway Day Pack to be a convenient, comfortable, and durable packable daypack. Other than a few minor cons and the compression straps blocking the zipper, it’s a solid option for your next adventure.
- Back panel’s all meshed out for added comfort
- A compression strap at each side helps keep the body tied down and more structured
- Water bottle pockets, lots of mesh padding, and a sternum strap; pretty well-kitted out considering that it’s compressible
- Ripstop material is thin and packable while still being durable
- The compression straps block the zipper, which can make it a hassle to access the main compartment
- The bag lacks structure, so it can sag in a weird way on your back if it isn’t full
- Can take a bit of effort to pack up