• Gear Review: Topo Designs Rover Pack

    Written by Kelly Anne


    Topo Designs comes through with another practical, vintage rucksack with their Rover Pack. Similar in style to their popular Klettersack but in a more compact package, the Rover is a dependable and durable partner for both outdoor adventures and daily commutes.

    What we dig: The Rover Pack’s lightweight design and ample storage compartments make it a great go-to for day hikes, jaunts to the office and back, and other light-duty excursions. Think: Cycling, kayaking and more. It’s also sleek, comfortable and durable. For some, the boxy construction won’t be appealing, but for people who travel on the regular, its compactness is a bonus. What’s more, it comes in nine color combinations, so no matter your style, you’ll find a bag that suits you.

    What we’d change: The Rover’s side pockets are a touch small, making it difficult to contain a hefty water bottle.  The laptop compartment fits a small hydration bladder, but there’s not a dedicated tube pull-through. With a couple of minor tweaks and more attention to thirsty buyers, the bag could easily become better equipped for bigger trips.

    The bottom line: With stylish accents, durable construction and plenty of room to pack it full, the Rover works hard to keep you on the move.


    topo designs rover pack review

    Hitting Road With The Rover Pack

    In late June, when the monsoons hadn’t yet hit their peak but the temperatures in Phoenix inched closer and closer toward record-breaking, we loaded the family car and headed east. The White Mountains would be cooler, we told ourselves. The trees would give us the shade we needed.

    So, I loaded the Rover Pack minimally during the drive — with my laptop, a book, sunglasses, the regular ephemera of a short drive to a big change of scenery. The drawstring top made access simple during the four-hour trip, and I was in and out of the bag at least a half dozen times.

    What’s more, it’s small enough to keep you comfortable with plenty of foot room in the front seat, but it’s big enough to hold plenty of goodies to keep the kids in the backseat entertained. Its designers call the pack the “Goldilocks” of rucksacks. They’re not wrong.

    Topo designs rover pack rucksack review

    The next day, though, I put the pack to the test and loaded it full of supplies and strapped it to my kayak, moving lightweight towels, snacks, sunscreen and a notebook from one edge of Big Lake, the White Mountains’ biggest body of water, to another.

    Big gusts of wind created waves that lapped at the boat — and at the bag. But, thanks to its coated pack cloth material, the water slid right off. The Rover was completely dry. It’s a bonus if you’re a fan of water recreation.

    Back on shore, my rock hound daughter snuck a handful of small boulders into the pack, thinking it would be funny to watch me pick it up. It was. The bag didn’t seem to mind, though. The 1000D Cordura fabric base held strong.

    topo designs rover pack test

    By the end of the trip, the pack had seen plenty of action, but you wouldn’t know it. That same water-resistant material stayed so clean, it still looked brand new, even after sitting in the dirt, taking its maiden voyage on the boat and getting carried and kicked around by a couple of wild outdoors kids.

    It’s possible I was falling in love.

    For weeks after that, the Rover became my go-to-office-and-back bag, carrying the laptop again, as well as a slew of research materials, papers, pens and more. This is where its ample storage compartment — 990 cubic inches, to be exact — came in handy, as did the bag’s two external storage pockets.

    The heavy-duty zippers were jam-free and the other hardware (think: clips and straps) withstood plenty of opening, closing and rummaging around.

    topo designs rover pack

    Finally, though, I took the Rover back to where it began — Colorado. Topo Designs is based in Denver, and although we wouldn’t be hitting that part of the state, the pack traveled with me from Pagosa Springs to Creede to Uncompaghre Peak to Montrose, Telluride, Ridgway, Durango and home. In Colorado, it became trail tested.

    With minimal side pockets, the Rover can only handle small water bottles. That said, though, the compression straps on the side are a nice feature, and its dedicated laptop sleeve will accommodate a small hydration pack. It’s missing a hose pull-through, but access was easy, thanks to the well designed top flap.

    I took the Rover on a few short treks into the backcountry, including along portions of the Colorado Trail and down to waterfalls tucked deep within Engineer Pass. Although the mileage was relatively short, the climbs were significant.

    topo designs rover pack trail test

    The Rover pack shines when it comes to comfort, but light loads are the way to go to maintain it. I found that, with a bit more water and gear, the pack lost its flex and feel-good. There’s a happy medium in there somewhere, and with a little bit of work, you’ll find it.

    The straps are incredibly lightweight, and their mesh backs provide superior breathability. There’s not much worse than a backpack that tests your patience on a trail, but if you pack it right, the Rover won’t.


    topo designs rover pack backpack review

    The Consensus

    In short, it’s a solid bag — great for day trips, short hikes and light travel. And thanks to its lightweight, stylish design, chances are good you’ll want to put it into the rotation as an everyday bag, too.

    Buy the Rover Pack from Topo Designs


    Kelly Anne is a travel writer and editor whose stories have appeared in dozens of local and national publications. Her work, which focuses on experiential and environmental exploration is rooted in a love for nature, wildlife and conservation. An adjunct professor of journalism at Arizona State University, she is also the co-founder of The Land Remains (@the_land_remains). She lives in Phoenix with her partner, photographer Christian Otjen, her children and two adventure dogs.

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