While innovation comes from around the world, it’s always great to see products made in the USA. The Belay Bag from Diamond Brand Gear, made in the Carolina Mountains and located in North Carolina, haven’t quite reinvented the backpack but it’s about as close as I’ve seen to a complete design rehaul.
The tops of the bag’s straps have metal clasps that were hard for me to wrap my mind around until I did a bit of research to figure out why they were there. The bad news is that they tend to dig into my shoulders, especially during warm days when I wear a tank top or a shirt with a wide neck. They have also gotten very hot, like a seatbelt can get hot in a car in the summer. The idea behind the design is pretty ingenious, though. This bag can be worn like a traditional backpack or as a shoulder bag. This makes it great for commuting and having the option to grab your gloves or something else you need from your bag without taking off your bag. You can also wear it like a book bag, or get a bit rad by utilizing the stabilizing straps.
Some additional nice features are two large pouches in the front of the bag, large enough to store a Nalgene style bottle or a bottle of wine, and of course, these pouches could also store standard water bottles. There’s a large laptop sleeve inside the backpack, as well as a small pouch up top to store pens, wallet, and other smaller stuff you don’t want to get lost at the bottom of a backpack.
Another nice feature is that the bag opens almost completely, like an alligator mouth. So there’s no need to get out the flashlight to see what *did* end up falling to the bottom of the bag.
Like with most bags, there are way more daisy chain loops than I can imagine what one might do with them. The ones on the straps make sense, as they are used for fitting when you change up how you wear the bag from backpack to shoulder bag. The ones on the front, could be used to clip your muddy shoes, I guess, or anything else you don’t want to put in your backpack. But with those large front pockets and ample internap space not muddied up by too many pockets (while still having some organizational finesse to the design) I’m almost at a loss as to what else one would need to carry that shouldn’t be put in the bag itself.
Originally published by Dirt Rag Magazine: https://dirtragmag.com/review-diamond-brand-gear-belay-bag/