The Mountain Classic Cordura Pack is L.L.Bean’s first foray into the rugged, outdoorsy world of backpacks and has been a hit since its release two years ago. It comes in at an affordable price point with a few unique features that stand out from other bags.
Classics are classics for a reason: they excel at anything they do. So when you glance at the L.L.Bean Mountain Classic Cordura Pack, you can’t help but think you’ve seen something similar before. Perhaps in a large yellow school bus? Perhaps in a long, fluorescent corridor? So why not go on a field trip?
Yes, this bag conjures up a slew of memories. Though it may seem your ordinary textbook and binder transporter, it has a few features that make it much more than a middle schooler’s wildest desires. To find out how-to, let’s look at its structure and characteristics.
Aesthetics & Materials
The L.L.Bean Mountain Classic Cordura Pack is a walking dictionary definition of “backpack.” No, I’m serious. You’ll discover a lot of goods with a similar design if you Google image search “backpack.” That’s not to suggest we’d call this bag conventional; it’s simply that the style is likely to be one you’re already acquainted with.
Mountain Classic Cordura Pack by L.L.Bean | The outdoorsy elements of the logo appeal to us. However, we tend to be monochromatic, and the nature-inspired colors in this collection appeal to us. Unfortunately, there are just a few alternatives available in writing. Most are constructed with two complementing colors (like ours), but there’s also a solid black one if you want to keep things simple. The L.L.Bean patch on the front is hidden and contributes to the bag’s earthy character, and the shoulder strap has a secondary stripe of L.L.Bean branding.
You can carry it on the move since it’s constructed of 1000D CORDURA nylon, so you don’t have to worry about it becoming damaged. Though there are daypacks with even more robust materials (for example, the Aer Fit Pack 3 has a 1680D CORDURA Ballistic Nylon shell), this is a significant improvement over the thinner nylon you may think of when seeing a backpack with a similar design.
Mountain Classic Cordura Pack by L.L.Bean | This bag gives off even more outdoor sensations in the interior. In our opinion, YKK zippers are a terrific choice, and a large fabric welt (the excess fabric that extends out from a bag and covers a zipper) conceals the hardware for a cleaner appearance. We noticed that the material got in the way of zipping and unzipping the bag on occasion, but it wasn’t so bothersome that we would fault the bag. There’s also a little rubber wrapped securely around the bottom half of the zipper pulls to protect the cloth from fraying and maintain it neatly knotted.
A simple mountain range motif may be seen on the inner lining. We can’t speak for the lining in the other colors, but we’ve seen a few past models with nature-inspired motifs. Again, the earthy elements are being hammered home, bridging the gap between urban design and outdoor usefulness.
During our testing, we received many comments on its somewhat boxy, vintage appearance, so it’s fair to say that we’re not the only ones who notice the nostalgic feelings this pack emits.
Components from Outside
There’s not much more to say about this pack except that it’s worn like a backpack, with two shoulder straps and a top handle for quick grabs. Although the shoulder straps are mesh and well-padded, there is no equivalent padding on the back panel, enhancing comfort over extended usage days. Even when fully loaded, it’s still easy to wear since the shoulder straps keep the pack feeling light.
Two soft mesh water bottle pockets let you hydrate to your heart’s delight on each side. You can carry a friend’s water bottle for them or take two of your own. The top seam has enough elastic to offer rigidity, but the pockets are far from snug at the top, so bear in mind that if there’s any wiggle space, your bottle may fall out. They are, nevertheless, deep enough to accommodate even taller water bottles like the Avana Ashbury or the YETI Rambler.
One of the mesh pockets has what seems to be an oil stain on it, which is easily visible due to the light color of the material. While we can’t pinpoint the paint source, it’s worth mentioning that the mesh is relatively absorbent if you plan on carrying this pack about with you.
Mountain Classic Cordura Pack by L.L.Bean | What exactly is this stain? It is possible that we will never know. The loop on the front of the pack, far down at the base, is one of the most distinctive characteristics. We’re not sure what this is for, but based on our experience, we believe it’s for using a carabiner to connect gear. We didn’t use it very much since we thought it looked strange to have anything hanging from the bottom of the bag. It’s wonderful to have the choice, however, each shoulder strap has two bottom loops and one top loop that serve the same purpose.
The Inside of the Pack
Remember how we started the backpack’s outside is classic? The interior, on the other hand, is the same. With 22L of unrestricted space in the main compartment and little organization, you may pack your belongings anyway you choose. Are you going to the beach? Make sure your towel is positioned correctly on top. Are you commuting to work? Put your Food Bunker Silicone Containers right next to your Very Important Files and Folders and you won’t be short on space. Alternatively, if you want to stuff as much gear as possible into a backpack for easy access on a road trip, this bag has you covered there as well.
Mountain Classic Cordura Pack by L.L.Bean | Here, your technology is secure. The laptop compartment easily holds a 13″ MacBook, while a 15″ will be squeezed uncomfortably. It ultimately glides in, but it takes a little more work to get past the fabric welt that hides the zipper, and it almost completely fills the opening. Padding on the sleeve offers protection, but a suspended laptop compartment would have been great to guard against damage if the bag was dropped too hard.
All of the interior pockets are on the exterior of the laptop compartment, thus there are no additional alternatives for organizing. The biggest pocket contains a key leash with a plastic clip to hold your keys in one place, albeit the key leash is too short to use while your keys are still connected. It is, however, proportioned to fit in the pocket without rubbing against the bottom of obstructing anything else you would want to place in there.
Mountain Classic Cordura Pack by L.L.Bean | Make sure you have enough water on hand. A YKK zipped pocket on the front of the biggest pocket is a bit of a surprise. On the one hand, having a place to store little items that might easily fall out of open pockets if the bag tipped over was convenient. On the other hand, the pocket is rather narrow, and anything spherical or thick (chapstick, dental floss, etc.) sticks out into the bag, ruining the flat, tidy feel that the main compartment has to go for it. However, the two pen silos next to it might also detract from the atmosphere, so it’s a minor problem in terms of design.
The last internal pocket is made entirely of mesh and can hold an iPhone 12 Pro Max. You can put anything you want here, but there’s a small tab with a phone image to remind you whether it suits your phone. There’s a similar tab on the laptop compartment, so you’ll have a hard time forgetting where everything goes.
Mountain Classic Cordura Pack by L.L.Bean | Never forget who owns this bag. Oh, and don’t forget about one of our favorite touches! The inside tag with a spot to put your name, address, and phone number is connected to the seam in front of the zipped pocket and details all the backpack materials. This is a standard feature on school backpacks, but we had forgotten about it until we saw it here. We don’t always like being reminded of our age, but we’ll give this one a pass.
The remainder of the pack is up to you after filling every pocket with your EDC items. Choose some packing cubes to separate your stinking, worn clothing from the rest of your belongings, or throw everything in and hope for the best when it comes time to discover that small adapter cable at the bottom. However, if you want to keep your things near at hand to prevent losing them in your bag’s abyss, there’s one more pocket for that.
Mountain Classic Cordura Pack by L.L.Bean | This pocket is more extensive than it seems—and it appears to be rather large. The front zipped pocket is almost half the height of the whole bag and provides easy access to items such as your phone, keys, or wallet. Yes, specific internal compartments are meant expressly for these goods, but sometimes we don’t feel like unzipping the whole backpack to access a few items—so sue us (please don’t).
You may keep commonly used goods in this large pocket without choosing which necessities must be sacrificed to the main compartment. If you’re the kind that wants to write an idea down on paper the moment it comes to you, it can even accommodate a tiny notebook. We utilized this pocket the most of them and had no problems with storage.
Overall, the L.L.Bean Mountain Classic Cordura Pack improves on a classic in ways that we can appreciate. It satisfies the needs of grown-ups who need grown-up bags without losing their allure. Whether you’re looking for a new daypack for work or pleasure, this backpack is up to the task.
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