ATLANTA • Take flight, convenience and savings. In a world of shrinking personal space, overstuffed overhead bins and exorbitant airline baggage fees, travellers are rediscovering the advantages of wearing their backpack.
That crowd is growing.
The latest Travel Goods Association market report, released last year, found that unit sales had surged 22 per cent as Americans bought a record-breaking 176.1 million backpacks.
But the modern backpack is a far cry from that rucksack you strapped on when you were a kid - the one with everything inelegantly wedged into a single compartment.
The most innovative wearable luggage allows technology, clothing and food to co-exist without making a mess.
At times, it stretches the very definition of "backpack".
They are being discovered by travellers such as Mr Robby Bearman, an operations manager in San Francisco. He was looking for something to use for short trips and daily commute and a backpack made the most sense.
His choice: the Everyday Backpack by Peak Design (US$259 or S$353), a Kickstarter-funded pack with lots of clever features.
The Everyday is filled with innovations, including its magnetic closing system, expandable external side pockets and a modern aesthetic that looks decidedly un-backpacky.
Mr Bearman likes the easy access to the main compartment from the top and sides, thanks to swivelling shoulder straps and dual weatherproof side zips.
"The main compartment can be reconfigured with velcro dividers, which is a handy feature, for example, to keep a banana from being squished," he said.
Some of the new backpacks are built around technology.
Take, for example, the Razer Tactical Backpack (US$119), which has ample room for Ms Jean Paldan's computer and enough space for a headset, a tablet computer, books, snacks and a change of clothes.
"It holds everything," said the Web designer from Oxford, England. "Plus, it is ridiculously comfortable to wear."
Another trendy backpack is the STM Banks (US$129), which has your back covered as it is tech-friendly and also looks fashionable.
Among its features: a quilted interior lining that protects your gadgets, side pockets with stretch mesh for water bottles and an ergonomic, curved fit to reduce shoulder strain.
The newest packs also cater to your power needs.
TYLT offers two backpacks that let you charge your devices while you are carrying them.
The Energi Pro Power Backpack (US$149) offers a full charge to your phone, tablet and laptop, thanks to a powerful battery in its front pouch.
And the Energi Backpack (US$99), billed as a "next-gen" briefcase, backpack and mobile charging station, can route the cables to any one of the five external pockets or two internal pockets.
For sheer coolness, it is hard to match Travelpro's Platinum Magna 2 Business Backpack (US$161).
It is sleek, black and constructed with the frequent flier in mind.
A "checkpoint friendly" carry-on, it is built to Transportation Security Administration specifications so that you can pass through security without removing your laptop.
It also comes with extra safety, including padded corduroy laptop and tablet sleeves as well as an RFID-blocking interior pocket to keep your identity and credit cards from prying eyes.
If you are thinking of taking your backpack on a business trip, this is the one for it.
There are other backpacks for the security-conscious.
Take Travelon's Anti-Theft Urban Backpack (US$130), which has a variety of features that will protect your personal property.
These include an interior locking compartment for your tablet, a locking front zip compartment with RFID-blocking card and passport slots, as well as slash-resistant body construction to protect you from slash-and-grab thieves.