Inside Line Equipment's Apex Day Pack is a not-inexpensive backpack, but if you're prepared to shell out over a hundred quid to carry 11 litres of kit around, you're getting a bag that is handmade from top end materials, truly versatile, and should stand the test of time.
Bags, they're all the rage these days. Since us humans came along and started inventing 'stuff' and 'tat', we're constantly looking for the perfect receptacle to carry it around in. There are a lot of options out there, from the humble 5p carrier bag to the diamond-encrusted designer bumbag, but when it comes to lugging your stuff around on a bike it's important to get the correct blend of comfort and practicality. ILE's Apex Day Pack has elbowed its way to the front of the queue and wants to show exactly what it has to offer.
We're pretty familiar with the Inside Line Equipment range here at road.cc, having had the pleasure of reviewing its Default rucksack and more recently the Default Mini, both of which fared well under the glare of the road.cc reviewing spotlight. This time it's the turn of the Apex Day Pack, the smallest and lightest in ILE's range of rucksacks.
The Apex, like all other ILE bags, is handmade in the company's California base. It's designed as an all-rounder kind of bag; at 11 litres its capacity isn't huge but it's an ideal size for urban commuting or as a daypack for hiking, and even has the capacity to hold a hydration pack for a day of mountain biking.
In the main
One of the major plus points of the Apex is its simplicity. There's a single main compartment and... that's it. Inside it there's a zippered mesh inner pocket, handy for odds and ends, and a sleeve that either holds a 13-inch laptop or a hydration bladder, depending on what kind of day you're heading out for.
The main compartment can be accessed in two ways. First, there's the roll top opening, which is easily secured with a large Velcro strap, similar to other bags in the range; it's simple, lo-fi and almost damage proof.
The second way is through the zipper that runs down the length of the front of the rucksack. This lets you access the main compartment in a jiffy, and is particularly handy when you realise you need something from the bottom of the bag – which can be a real drawback in a conventional roll top bag.
There's also another 2in zip on the back just above the left shoulder, which is for feeding through a hose when you're combining the bag with a hydration pack. It also doubles up as a handy route for your earphones cable if you want to keep your device tucked up warm and dry inside the bag.
Padding & performance
The back of the bag features a padded panel to give you a decent bit of comfort, although given its size you're never going to be too overloaded.
The straps are breathable and lightly padded with mesh backing, with a useful loop on the left-hand strap that can be used for a light or a carabiner, and an adjustable sternum strap that can be totally removed if necessary.
The front of the bag is pretty minimal; apart from the full-length zip there's just a material loop at the base, great for attaching a light to, and a rubberised ILE badge.
The Apex on test is constructed from 1000D Cordura, an ideal material for commuting that's highly weather resistant and hard wearing. Combine this with the urethane coated YKK zips and you're left with a bag that's going to take a hell of a lot of weather before anything breaches its defences. I've tested it throughout the worst that storms Desmond, Gertrude and Henry have had to throw at us and not once has the Apex even raised an eyebrow in concern. It's a bag that offers real peace of mind when it comes to protecting your cargo. The Apex is also available in XPAC Sailcloth, a lightweight and weather-resistant fabric, and also in waxed canvas for a more traditionally styled bag.
Despite all the bag's good points, its 11-litre capacity means it'll only suit those commuting with light loads. If you like to carry a full change of clothes, shoes and your lunch then it's going to be a squeeze. The dimensions are roughly 9x4x18in so that gives you an idea of the amount of cargo you'll be able to fit in.
It is a true all-rounder, though: you can be using this bag for riding to work in one day and then shredding singletrack 24 hours later, and it looks perfectly at home in both environments.
One thing that ILE doesn't hold back on are options. Once you've decided on which of its bags you fancy it throws a whole host of choices at you, including colour options and materials. The website features no fewer than 16 different choices, from shocking pink to ninja black as well as highly visible reflective options (though not every retailer stocks all the options, so you might have to shop around if you have a particular one in mind).
At £124 for a rucksack of this size, there's no doubt it's at the top end of the price scale but you're getting something that's handmade, uses top end materials, is truly versatile and will stand the test of time. You can pay a lot less – the Alpkit Gourdon that we reviewed in July offers double the capacity for over £100 less. But you can also pay more: the Trakke Findo, which we tested in December, is another handmade rucksack with slightly less capacity that sells for £195. Suddenly the Apex's price tag doesn't look so daunting.
A great everyday rucksack that's truly versatile and stands up to everything that's thrown at it
road.cc test report
Make and model: Inside Line Equipment Apex Day Pack
Size tested: 11L, Black/Grey/Multicam Cordura
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
It's a simple lightweight rucksack designed for use in a number of environments, from commuting to mountain biking.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- Weather resistant, zippered, and roll-top compartment
- Pleated interior pocket with hook for hydration bladder/also fits 13" Macbook Pro
- Adjustable/removable sternum strap
- Durable 1000D Cordura /Waxed Canvas/XPAC Sailcloth
- Water-resistant urethane coated YKK zippers
- Breathable shoulder straps and padded back panel
- Dimensions 9"x4"x18" (11 litres)
- Handmade in California
A quite simple design executed well with top quality materials, and made to last.
Does the job well, provided you're carrying a reasonably small load.
The 1000D Cordura is tough and stands up really well to the elements. It's pretty much resistant to all manner of weather and dirt brushes off easily leaving the back looking sharp after a lot of use.
The padded back panel and breathable straps make for a comfortable bag to wear when in the saddle. The sternum strap is a really useful addition and keeps everything secure when you're gunning it on the bike.
Lightweight but sturdy.
It's an expensive bag but it's handmade and the high quality materials are going to make it a longterm investment. Another key point is its versatility, you're going to be able to use this bag for commuting, on the trails or off on a walking holiday, a real all-rounder.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It performed really well, looks good, is practical on the bike and comfortable to wear.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The large front zip, making it easier to dig things out of the bottom of the main compartment. Also, the build and materials give real peace of mind.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The 11 litre capacity felt a bit on the small side and it was occasionally a squeeze to fit everything in.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
The ILE Apex really is a very good rucksack; it's handmade from good materials, built to last, and has great versatility.
About the tester
I usually ride: KHS Flite 100 Singlespeed/Fixed, Genesis Equilibrium 20 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed
Oli has been a road.cc staffer since day one. He's the graphic design and photography force behind the site, and has got a keen eye for good quality, well designed cycling kit. You'll find him on his bike everyday whatever the weather, he's got a penchant for a steel frame and has had 'fit mudguards' on his To Do list for nearly 6 years now. Likes: cold toast, gin, rugby. Dislikes: fitting mudguards.