Osprey Arcane Small Day Review
The petite Osprey Arcane Small Day packs a punch with organizational features, although it can be uncomfortable with prolonged use.
- Stretch mesh pocket on shoulder strap is great for small items like lip balm
- Concealed front pocket gives bag a sleek look
- Space for a laptop and a small tablet or e-reader
- Hard to find the right fit
- J-zip main pouch can be cumbersome
- No bottle pocket
1.18 lb (0.5 kg)
15.35 in x 10.63 in x 6.69 in (39 x 27 x 17 cm)
Recycled Polyester, DWR Coating, Duraflex Hardware, YKK Zippers
Laptop Compartment Size
We need a way to take the daily essentials on the road as we run from the train to the office to lunch, and the Osprey Arcane Small Day pack works well for that. Even though Merriam-Webster defines arcane as “known or knowable to only a few people,” we’re letting you in on the secret of this bag since we like its style.
It includes pockets and spaces to keep us organized throughout the day and padding to help soften the load, although it doesn’t always function how we prefer. Will it be a deal-breaker for you? Keep reading to find out.
Materials & Aesthetic
At just over 15.3 inches tall and 10.5 inches wide, the petite Osprey Arcane Small Day pack has a streamlined look we like—88% of our Instagram followers are digging this pack’s aesthetics. We were excited to test this bag because the design details Osprey uses with the Arcane—like a hidden zipper on the front pocket—give the bag a classic feel. We’re digging the Acorn Red colorway we’ve been testing, and at the time of this writing, it also comes in Stonewash Black, Stargazer Blue, and Milky Tea Tan—which looks exactly like our favorite beverage when splashing in some cream.
An off-white patch about 3-inches square features the Osprey name and logo in the center of the 10L bag, in line with the top of the hidden zippered access to the front pocket. It meshes well with the bag’s heritage style and clean lines.
There are a few other subtle pieces of branding scattered around the bag. The Osprey brand name is featured on the plastic fobs at the end of the zipper pull cords, there is a small cream-colored label on the right shoulder strap, and a tiny black Arcane label is attached just above the bottom of the shoulder strap on the left-hand side. Inside the bag, at the top of the back panel, there is a printed version of the Osprey logo. All of this combines to give the Arcane Small Day pack a look that complements nearly any style, whether we’re heading to the office or the pub.
No matter which colorway you choose, the 500D recycled polyester packcloth, which Osprey says is made with more than seven plastic bottles, is soft to the touch. It attracts dust and pet hair, though it is relatively easy to clean. It’s coated with PFC-free DWR (durable water repellent) to resist moisture. Along the back panel and the undersides of the shoulder straps, black NeoSpacer mesh provides breathability.
Osprey uses Duraflex hardware and YKK zippers throughout the bag, and there’s an aluminum G-clip on the right-side strap which allows you to secure the bag to a fixed object like a table or chair leg to prevent theft at the cafe. Unsurprisingly, the zippers and hardware work well, as we expect from those brands. The G-clip is a little finicky—it can be hard to unhook from the fabric loop where it attaches to the bag. While that slows us down, it should also stall a potential thief, so we’re looking at the silver lining in that situation. It’s a nice feature to have in a backpack.
Now, let’s look around the rest of the Arcane Small Day pack.
The Osprey Arcane Small Day pack excels when we sling it over a shoulder by one strap, whether running in and out of stores, heading into the library, or commuting to the office.
An elastic mesh pouch on the left strap is a great spot to keep lip balm, hand sanitizer, and a metro card close at hand. The straps are well padded, and the backpack is small enough that it doesn’t typically get so heavy we need to use both straps.
That’s good because we think wearing the Arcane Small Day as a typical backpack is, oddly enough, the least comfortable way to use it. The straps are connected at the top of the bag by a U-shaped piece of fabric. It doesn’t have the same thick padding as the straps, although what seems to be the problem is that it only allows the straps to separate by about 3.5 inches at the top. It seems like even people with smaller frames have a neck larger than 3.5-inches wide, though. Carrying it with a laptop and a few accessories inside causes the bag to pull on our shoulders at the base of our neck, leading to a sore neck and back with more extended use.
Other Osprey daypacks, like the Osprey Nova Women’s, avoid this problem with straps connected separately to the backpack, providing more play between the straps and the backpack. It’s a much larger daypack, but without that U-shaped fabric, the Arcane Small Day and the Nova have similarly-styled straps—mostly straight but curving near the bottom to suit the width of the bag with thick padding. We think separating the straps on the Arcane Small Day pack would solve this issue since it doesn’t serve double duty like on the Osprey Daylight Cinch—where the harness near the neck acts as a luggage pass-through and a grab handle—so it seems unnecessary. The Osprey Arcane Large Day pack is slightly more comfortable, too. It still has the U-shaped fabric, but it’s a quarter- to a half-inch wider, which seems to balance the load better.
There aren’t any additional harness features like sternum straps or hip belts on the Arcane Small Day pack. We don’t think those would help this situation, though.
The back panel is a sturdy piece of foam with ridges. It cushions the feeling of the items we’re carrying and is slightly curved to mold to the user’s back. However, when we’re using the bag with both shoulder straps, the bottom of the stiff foam curves into our lower back, rubbing at the waistband on smaller users. Users with longer torsos may not have this problem, so your mileage may vary. The foam panel also causes the bag to fall on its front, whether packed out or not, so be aware when setting it down.
A lightly-padded carry handle made of webbing is comfortable enough and works well for hanging the bag on a hook, too.
There aren’t any side pockets on the Arcane Small Day pack, nor any place to stash a water bottle. We missed that feature, and this feels like an oversight for a bag we carry throughout the day.
The Arcane has some great features inside, however. Let’s take a look.
Inside The Pack
On the front of the Arcane Small Day pack is a quick-access pocket with a 9-inch side zipper hidden by a fabric welt for a clean look. This pocket spans 14-inches high—almost as tall as the entire bag—so we can fit quite a bit inside. It’s lined with a soft fabric to prevent scratches to a phone, although that doesn’t matter much when we toss various things in here. We find it a convenient spot for a phone, wallet, and cash. We would stick keys in here, too, if there weren’t a dedicated spot in the bag’s main compartment—more on that later.
The remainder of the bag opens with a J-shaped zipper, extending nearly to the bottom on the left side and partway down the right side. Unzipping it all the way allows for complete access to the bag’s contents along with easy packing and unpacking—although we inevitably find ourselves unzipping the wrong side and having the zipper screech to a stop just 6 inches from the top. We hope that will become less of an issue the longer we use the Arcane, though it’s still happening two weeks after unboxing.
We can fit quite a bit inside the bag, starting with a 13-inch laptop, which slides into a lightly padded sleeve lined with soft fabric to prevent scratches. Abutting this sleeve is another spot to slide documents, a tablet, or a wireless keyboard. It fits a variety of gear, despite being only 9 inches wide compared with the 10.5-inch wide laptop sleeve.
The front of this sleeve contains a 9-inch wide by 6-inch deep zippered mesh pocket we’ve used to toss cords, chargers, and other small gear we don’t want to lose at the bottom of the bag. There’s also a pen slot and a 3-by-5-inch pocket where we stash our Apple Magic Mouse. These organizational features allow you to take your work on the road without leaving any accessories behind.
Adjacent to these pockets is where Osprey has placed the key clip on a 2.5-inch cord. We’ve noted this before: we don’t understand why Osprey insists on putting the bright red plastic key clip from its more outdoorsy bags on a stylish daypack otherwise loaded with high-quality materials. Aesthetics aside, it does what we need it to, although it might have been more accessible in the front pocket.
Using all of these features still leaves plenty of room for gear before the 10L capacity is fully packed. We can add books, notepads, and a sweatshirt to chase away the chill and still zip it closed without any problem.
That’s why, despite the minor drawbacks, we still enjoy using the Osprey Arcane Small Day pack daily. Its streamlined style and organizational elements make it a nice bag to carry to and from the office, as long as we don’t have too far to walk.
- Back padding is substantial
- Recycled polyester fabric is soft to touch
- Loving the clean lines
- Harness system uncomfortable with longer use
- Easy to clean
- Security clip a great feature in a day pack