Good Urban Pack, Alternative to Messenger Bag
I generally prefer bike messenger style day bags for everyday carry, but my newfound desire to carry an iPad, or netbook, or even 15.6" laptop from time to time has led me back to the more mundane daypack (because they still seem to do laptop slots better), and the Patagonia Yerba is the one I have settled on for everyday use. Note: if you go to a gym, the Atacama, slightly larger and with both a main and auxiliary compartment, has its auxiliary compartment set up as a wet/dry slot which is very useful for stowing wet gym gear (the non-absorbent lining in the wet slot won't absorb odor-retaining sweat). The Atacama is also more suitable for use as a carry-on flight bag since it holds more. This smaller Yerba pack, on the other hand, is much handier around town for me and makes me look more like a local and less like an out-of-towner. I own both, using the Atacama mainly as a flight bag and this Yerba as my town bag - but since both have laptop slots and both can handle a device as small as an iPad and as large as a 15.6" Windows laptop, I can also switch them around in either situation depending on how much (or how little) I want to carry. This Yerba has the following features I like: + No extra belts or straps to get in the way - no sternum strap, waist belt, or side cinch belts. Those are all useful in other settings, but for urban use I don't want the extra belts snagging or otherwise getting in the way. Good example of minimalist but highly functional design. (In comparison, the Atacama comes with the extra straps.) + Fleece-lined top zippered slot is handy for my "smart" phone. I don't have to open the main compartment to fish around for it (there is a slot in the main compartment too, if you want to stow it actually inside). The top zippered slot is also a handy location for a pair of reading glasses or sunglasses - but not all at the same time of course. + Patagonia is finally getting the "office/school" interior organizing panel right. In the main (and only) compartment, the panel closest to your back has the laptop slot. The panel on the opposite side has the organizer pockets. On the Yerba, the organizer panels consist of a slightly elevated (off the floor of the pack) full-width drop slot which is Velcro tabbed to close at the top. This is a handy place for stuff too wide for the smaller pockets which occupy the top third of this panel. The top third slots consist of a cellphone pouch (with flat slot behind in), a mesh pouch, 2 pen slots, and a drop slot about twice the width of the cellphone pouch. I organize my pack with the most frequently accessed small items in this panel. I also have other small items, like emergency chargers, that I like to carry, but I stow these in small stuff-pouches (I like the ultralight silnylon pouches that are easy to find these days). Please note that Patagonia positioned the "organizing slots" so even the lowest one - the full-width drop slot - are well-above the daypack's floor. This helps minimize the "fat bottom" effect you get when all your stuff migrates towards the bottom. Conversely if you have something fat to stow at the bottom of the pack, the panel slots stay out of the way. (The laptop slot is also raised.) + The laptop slot is rated for a 15" laptop (which is usually "code" for a Macbook 15" since Windows laptops are generally 15.6") but will actually take a full 15.6" Windows laptop. With some side room to space, but no top "wiggle room." + The laptop slot is superbly designed as the "hanging" variety. Since most laptop damage occurs from simply setting your daypack down just a little too roughly, turning the laptop slot into a "suspended" slot where your laptop never touches the bottom of the pack is simply great engineering. It also keeps the most valuable storage space in the pack, the bottom, as open as possible. Note: some early editions of hanging slots in Paty bags left the bottom corners of the slot unpadded or even "open" (cut-away). That made them unsuitable for undersized netbooks and certainly for iPads. The Yerba slot is padded all the way across the bottom to the corners and all the way up the sides from the corners. So putting an iPad in there won't be a problem when it shifts around, even if you don't have the iPad in a separate carrying case. + The front panel of the laptop slot contains some insulation/padding.
- The insulation/padding is probably more effective as insulation than as padding. I would prefer the dense, thin foam used as a back panel in the Patagonia Lightweight Pack in this location to the thicker, but highly compressible (and hence ineffective against pokes) material used in the front panel of the laptop slot.
+There are no such issues with the rear or side panels of the laptop slot. The side panels have thick, dense foam, the rear panel is the actual back of the pack which has pretty thick, high density foam.
+ There is a top retention strap for the laptop slot. I can't tell if this adds anything practical to the design, since it doesn't prevent the laptop from sliding to the unpadded top of the pack if the pack should become inverted and land on the top (slide off a counter maybe?). If you have a mission critical laptop, consider placing it in a secondary case before stowing (which you may wish to do to hide it's value through an airport security checkpoint anyway). I have yet to drop a daypack upside down so I don't worry about this potential risk too much. + The front, non-secured (doesn't Velcro or buckle closed) "shove it in here" panel slot on the Yerba is surprisingly well-designed, i.e. "useful." Most slots like these are either too floppy or are so tight they don't have any real usable depth, without robbing from the pack interior. The Yerba's shove-it slot has some real usable thickness of its own, without robbing from the pack's main compartment. It is made of central portion consisting of a double layer of regular pack material with some compressible padding in between the two layers to give it a nice "body," and with surround panels of stretchable and breathable thin fabric which is both porous and breathable. The panel is "cut" a little like a trapezoid (roof is the pack fabric, sides are the stretch fabric) so the shove-it pocket has actual depth, plus the stretch fabric gives for extra depth when stuffed full. The stretch fabric both lets trapped water drain out, and lets your running socks, shorts, and tee dry out if shoved in here after a run. +- The dual water bottle pockets on the sides are a mixed blessing. They are just deep enough to tempt you to put a water bottle in, but still too shallow to feel really secure about a water bottle you absolutely, positively, don't want to lose. My plastic film one pint water bottle seems secure enough in there, and isn't a big financial loss if it slides out some day. I use the other slot to hold a small fabric coin pouch with parking meter money. Either pouch is bid enough to hold a thin, lightweight windbreaker like Patagonia's own Houdini. Here are the principle negatives I note: - The top grab handle is about a 1/2 to 1/3 inch strap, which is narrower than I like for comfort - don't count on grab handle carrying this one. Worse yet, it is wrapped in plastic at the gripping area which means it cuts into my hand even more. Worse yet, it feels like the tubular plastic wrap-around will eventually split at the ends and uglify the pack. A plain strap, wider and slightly thicker, would have been greatly appreciated instead. - The zipper on the main compartment seems thinner and lighter than I'd like to see. I trust Paty's engineering and warranty returns control department, but honestly I'd like to see a slightly fatter zipper on the main compartment (it is the same "weight" as the one on the much more lightly stressed eyeglass zip slot on the top of the pack). Also the zipper tabs, and pulls, on the main compartment zipper seem undersized. -+ Patagonia has foregone sewn on brand labels for larger, silk-screened branding. The branding (patagonia) on the shove it slot may be large enough to turn-some buyers off; personally I like it, it you are going to carry a premium product like Patagonia it is nice to be recognized (sometimes) for it. Certainly I feel better in a nice hotel lobby with this pack than, say, with my kids' mass-merchandised, low-end pack. Towards the more "+" end of this comment, the pack name on the side panel in discreetly sized type helps me remember which darned pack this is. Please note that both printed areas are almost invisible unless you look for them (but I have the black edition and other colors may vary) - they are NOT "boldly contrasting". SO WHAT IS MY VERY TOP LIKE? The simple fact that the bag isn't as deep as some bags with the same volume. The bag is tall and wide enough that it can give you 22L without having to be too thick. This means I can navigate airplane and book store aisles without constantly whacking people when I turn around. A small detail, but appreciated every day. _______ An afterthought: The stretch fabric on the Yerba, used on the water bottle pockets and on the shove-it slot, is opaque, unlike the mesh fabric used on the wet and dry slot on the Atacama. So the Yerba provides potentially more privacy. On the other hand the Atacama is still better for wet items, the non-porous material in its wet/dry slot won't absorb odors, while the porous material in the shove-it slot of the Yerba could potentially absorb odors (not a problem with rain gear, a possible problem with gym gear).
Yup, Great Big-Little Backpack
I've been using the Yerba Pack as my everyday "purse" since the day I got it a moth ago - so I guess that says a lot right there. My days consist of multiple work sites, requiring me to carry my macbook air + techno gear, one or two meals, water, and an extra layer plus my wallet and other minutiae. It seems like there's always room to put one more thing. For example, if I need to pick up a few things at the grocery store, they usually fit along with all my other stuff. It's been years since I've worn a backpack as my every day bag - I had been using messenger bags instead - and the backpack is SO much better. It doesn't slip around or move when I bend down, not to mention it's ergonomically kinder to my bod. The little top pocket is perfect for stuff that'd go in your regular pocket - change, cough drops, toothpicks - whatev. I wish it had a lanyard for keys - not sure why this model doesn't have one. I also love that the laptop sleeve doubles as a hydration pack. Many more great features including comfortable padded countered straps, convenient small item storage, easy to get things in and out, two water bottle holders and very durable all around. This is now my go to pack for work and weekends.
Great Small Backpack
I've been happily using this backpack for a long time. It's a perfect small backpack. It's big enough to fit more things that you'd put in your purse but small enough to not be a bulky backpack. I use it for work, mountain biking, day hikes, and as a travel carry on. It fits my 15" mac, but it's not as comfortable to wear because it just barely fits. All the pockets, etc are handy. The outside open pocket is stretchy which makes it easy to slide a hardcover book, stuff a jacket, or a full nalgene. I wish it had a chest strap for times that the bag is fuller/heavier (traveling, hiking), but this can easily be fixed. I took a chest strap off a different Patagonia bag and I'm sure you could get one at an outdoor gear shop. Lastly, it holds up really well. I've put this thing through the ringer! It's had coffee dumped in it, been dragged through the jungle, been covered in salt and sand, and spends a lot of time in frigid temps. Get one!
Excellent Day Bag
I was a little hesitant about this bag since it does not have a sternum strap, a feature I've really liked about my previous bag(s). However, the design and shape of the Yerba seems to mean that I don't need one. I've been using my for a couple of months now, and so far I haven't missed the sternum strap.
Well placed pockets and organizer sections, a lap top sleeve that doesn't get in the way when it is not in use, comfortable straps ... a great day bag.
My one gripe is that the water bottle pockets could be a tad deeper ... I have had my larger bottle eject on me, though never while the bag was on my back.
Not the bag I would take on a serious hiking trip, but it has been perfect for day-to-day urban use, going to school and travelling.
LOVE MY YERBA!!!
I just received my Yerba in the mail yesterday and I love it! I'm traveling to Asia for 2 months and I was looking for the perfect daypack and the Yerba is definitely it! I have a very small frame and everything I found was too big and hung below my waist even after tightening the straps. The Yerba is perfect for my small frame and the interior pockets are great as well! I wanted a backpack that didn't have too many pockets where I would have to worry about getting pick-pocketed. Theres one main compartment with ideal inner compartments. Overall I'm extremely happy with my purchase!!! This is the perfect backpack to use as an everyday pack when traveling.
Great minimalist pack
This is the smallest daypack I've ever used; I love it. Using a compression sack and a micro-sleeping bag I've easily fit three changes of clothes, a towel, hygiene kit, three or four books, a compass, binoculars, a notebook, a water bottle and my Macbook Pro inside and still had room to spare. For the minimalist traveler, it can't be beat. It's durable too. My Yerba withstood three weeks of intense outdoor use on an extended trip into the BWCA. The padding on the shoulders is the best I've ever felt. The stitching has held wonderfully too. It might be too small for those who carry everything. But for a moderate load it works like a champ.
I ordered the yerba pack because I just got a new laptop and I wanted something I could carry it in that would be comfortable commuting to and from work on my bike. This pack is perfect! I love the size, not to big; just enough room for lunch, my laptop, and a few what-have-you's. The pack is also very comfortable and well padded. The only thing that threw me off was I thought I ordered it in a pink color but when I got it it was red. The website made the red look like pink. No worries though the color is no matter as the product is great! Thanks again Patagonia!
Great Working Pack
This is the perfect pack for the every-day working person. The big easy-access pocket up front is definitely the best feature and is great for holding a planner, or whatever you might need to grab quickly. Organizers in the pack are just big enough to organize essentials without compromising the larger area and the laptop sleeve is crucial for those who tote their computer around. It keeps the computer off the bottom of the pack, so even harsh drops or tumbles are OK for this bag. Other pockets and holders are sturdy and large for the normal water bottles and sunglasses too.
Great Backpack for Elementary & Beyond
I purchased the Yerba Pack 22L in a different color for my son last year and have been so pleased with it that I ordered one for my daughter, who starts kindergarten this fall. The outside pocket is great for holding jackets. An inner compartment snaps closed, holds the extra change of clothes that young students are required to carry and keeps them separate from their other school supplies. Finally, it's durable and looks great. My son's is good for another school year and beyond.
A Versatile, Wonderful Pack
This is the most perfect backpack I have ever owned. The size is not too big, but it can hold and support a lot if it needs to. All black design is professional and practical for commuting to work with my laptop (and ipad), and durable enough for time on the hiking trails. I also love, love, love the easy access big pocket! I would not trade this pack for any other. My only problem is bragging about it to friends and family.