There are excellent multi-compartment backpacks for serious photographers, compact bags for urban explorers, and capacious carryalls for the weekend-in-the-country crowd. But rare is the backpack that can play all three roles with more or less equal aplomb. The new Citadel pack from Black Ember may be just such a bag, thanks to a clever system of add-on packlets—called Mods—that affix to hardpoints on the shell.
Although we’ll withhold a final word on durability until we get our hands on a production example this summer, the Citadel bag felt fairly indestructible in our brief time with it. It’s made of a waterproof, three-layer, 900-denier polyester fabric coated on both sides with polyurethane. The pieces are laser cut for precision and heat bonded (not stitched) for strength, with stout YKK Aqua Guard zippers on a quick-access top slot and a three-side clamshell opening. Handles are made of a military-developed aramid material called Hypalon, which also serves as a stiff foundation for the Mod attachments.
Black Ember’s Citadel system is available for preorder now, with shipping set to commence later this month. The base modular pack runs $255 (or $225 for a minimalist version without external attachment points). Mods are available in packages with the backpack, or à la carte, priced from $45 to $70.
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