Gossamer Gear Vagabond Jet review

Gossamer Gear Vagabond Jet Review – Fall 2023 Edition

A sleek, lightweight urban commuter with our favorite hiking pack features

October 13, 2023 – Choose the Gossamer Gear Vagabond Jet for a sleek, sustainable, urban travel daypack with a feature set inspired by their ultralight hiking designs. Picky backpackers who are routinely disappointed by non-technical travel gear will feel right at home in the Vagabond Jet, thanks to its voluminous exterior storage suite. It’s a perfect pack to use for commuting to the office, as a carry-on while flying, as your all-purpose daily driver, and of course it’s great for hiking too. Shop now.

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  • Weight: 24.7 oz
  • Price: $124
  • Materials: Recycled 210D Robic Nylon
  • Back Panel: 1/2″ foam back panel with ridged surface
  • Volume: 23L
  • Pros: Phenomenal looking. Large exterior mesh pocket. Top carry handles. Sustainable. Padded laptop/tablet holster. 2 zippered pockets. Shoulder strap pockets. Comfy.
  • Cons: Rain collects in top area. Plastic sternum strap hardware pokes during on/off. Shoulder straps are uncomfortable when pack is empty/unweighted.

Compare this to more great options in our guide to ultralight daypacks for hiking.

Gossamer Gear Vagabond Jet backpack

Overview, Construction, Features

We don’t usually review travel gear, but when a core ultralight brand offers something this sweet, we pretty much have to test it out. Enter the Gossamer Gear Vagabond Jet, an all-purpose travel daypack with a unique feature set inspired by their technical hiking backpacks. Built with 210 recycled Robic nylon, and a comfortably foam padded back panel and shoulder straps, this one is designed for urban, rather than backcountry environments.

Size wise, this is your typical daypack, with 23L of storage including the exterior mesh pockets. It has a heavily padded sleeve for laptops up to 16″, with additional smaller/thinner sleeve sized for a tablet. Closing out the interior sub-storage compartments is a zippered mesh pocket affixed to the exterior of the tablet sleeve, good for items like a pen, writing pad, snacks, or other knickknacks.

But unlike most travel packs, and more like most hiking packs, the exterior is decked out in mesh storage. Most importantly, the front mesh pocket, which is made of durable lightly stretch mesh, and large enough to hold your rain jacket or other handy items. It has two side mesh pockets which easily fit bottles as wide as a Nalgene, or anything narrower. It also has mesh pockets on the front shoulder straps. They’re too small for a phone, but great for snack-sized items. An exterior, waterproof-zippered pocket completes the external storage suite.

The top handle straps are an unusual-but-extremely useful feature. Having access to them makes you realize that carrying, as opposed to wearing, a backpack comes up more often than you’d think. And this makes it super easy, akin to carrying a suitcase.

Vagabond Jet has very wide shoulder straps, which do a great job of dispersing pressure when it’s fully loaded up with a laptop, a tablet, a water bottle, a coffee thermos, a puffy jacket, a rain jacket, a lunch, and your knickknacks. It comes with a sternum strap, with a waist strap sold separately.

top down view of vagabond

What Could Be Better?

Our biggest knock on the Gossamer Gear Vagabond Jet would be how the top of the pack is constructed to allow for a sturdy connection point to the top handles (which by themselves we love). However, this creates a sunken area, forming something of a gutter than has potential to catch and collect rain, ultimately funneling directly into the pack. While the fabric and zippers themselves are nicely water resistant, they can only hold on so long if a puddle were to form on the top. As such, we don’t recommend this pack for daily use in rainy ecosystems. This might be less important to the designers in Austin, but here in Seattle, it’s a different story.

We also note the way in which the nearly 3″ wide, heavily padded foam shoulder straps hold structure and rub against the lower sides of the neck when the pack is not fully weighted. That is, when carrying it around empty, the shoulder straps tend to float up and sit awkwardly. This issue is a total non-factor when the pack is loaded normally, as the weight of a laptop plus a full water bottle is easily enough pull the straps down so they take on the most comfortable possible shape. Perhaps this will also resolve over time as the foam breaks in and softens slightly. But at least while it’s new, the pack is a bit uncomfortable to wear while empty.

Lastly, the sternum strap. And specifically the plastic piece affixed directly to the slider bar. Unlike the adjustable half that is connected to a nylon grosgrain strap, this lone plastic piece is stiff and frequently pokes or gets caught when putting the pack on. Removing it would be reasonable (though we haven’t tried), but in a perfect world, it would have also been connected to a nylon strap so that it has slackness instead of stiffness, and wouldn’t poke.

All that said, we reiterate that this is a sweet pack, and those are all relatively small downsides that don’t change our big picture view.

looking into pack's laptop sleeve

Gossamer Gear Vagabond Jet Review Verdict

Vagabond Jet is an elegant, sustainable design with uniquely great features. It blends the best of both worlds between urban travel packs and day hiking packs, primarily thanks to its exceptional external storage suite. It’s as comfy and effective at hauling technology as it is good looking, and has immediately become our go-to for commuting around town for errands or work. Impress your coworkers and travel partners when you pick up the Gossamer Gear Vagabond Jet!

Gossamer Gear Vagabond Jet top carry handles