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Review: Outdoor Research Rangefinder Backpack

In my search for a perfect every day carry (EDC) pack, I have personally looked at and tested quite a few offerings from a variety of manufacturers. While I have yet to find the exact pack I am looking for, I’d like to tell you about my newest carry bag – the Outdoor Research Rangefinder Backpack.

For starters, my personal needs for an EDC pack may be slightly different from yours. Keep that in mind as a reference point as you read this. I personally need to carry a few “go to” items for survival along with a few “go to” items for work. There are three main criteria I look for when selecting a bag. First and foremost, as a writer and publisher, I can’t survive without my laptop. My number one concern for any bag is good, solid storage for it. Secondly, I need to protect all of my electronics from the elements. My third requirement is I want a bag that is low profile and will not draw a second glance. Think grey man.

Outdoor Research Rangefinder Backpack top pocketThe Outdoor Research Rangefinder Backpack is essentially a technical dry bag covered in a faux leather / suede material. The heather grey color and minimal outside adornments don’t scream “tactical” or laptop bag either. It’s urban friendly design with backcountry functionality built-in. The lid, shown above, sports an ample storage pocket protected with a waterproof zipper.

Outdoor Research Rangefinder Backpack inside top pocketThe storage pocket has an internal zippered pocket inside for organizing your gear. This works well for carrying small items or things you’d want easy access to without having to open up the entire pack.

Outdoor Research Rangefinder Backpack roll topUnhook the two front straps and fold back the top panel to reveal a traditional dry bag roll top closure. Inside the main compartment of the bag, there is simple padded laptop sleeve and a single elastic topped pocket. The keyword here is simple.

Outdoor Research Rangefinder Backpack inside pocketThere are no extra pockets, no molle panels, and no hook and loop. I prefer my packs to have fewer pockets as I utilize the grip-it panels from Cocoon Innovations to organize my gear and create modular load outs by function.

Outdoor Research Rangefinder Backpack front strapThe main compression straps, which are used to secure the top panel, are held to the body of the backpack via slotted reinforced keepers. There are also additional slots on the sides of the pack to lash and secure other gear if needed. However, one quick thing to note is that the additional slots don’t appear to be reinforced so you might want to proceed at your own risk. The backpack does have a strong, functional and comfortable set up on the shoulder straps. There is also a supportive, padded back panel and a small waist belt to round out the contact points for the wearer.

The Rangefinder’s welded seams and sealed zippers give me plenty of assurance that there is a water tight seal for my valuables inside. I don’t know that I’d submerge the backpack in water, but I’d have no concerns crossing town on foot in the middle of a rainstorm or getting it exposed to the elements. What I really like about the pack is that it’s unassuming in appearance. It makes no pretense to be something it’s not. The pack is lightweight at just over 32 oz empty and holds a good volume at 24 liters. While my first impressions are positive, I’m going to put this pack through its paces over the next few weeks. Let’s see how it holds up to the abuses of the outdoors and the urban jungle.

The Outdoor Research Rangefinder Backpack has an MSRP of $149.00 USD, but can usually be found for a little less through their numerous online and brick and mortar retailers. For more information about the Rangefinder, check out the Outdoor Research website.

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