The Athletic Convertible Gym Backpack is designed to function both as a day backpack and as a medium sized gym bag. Available for purchase directly from Elite Sports, it may lack some features that hikers have come to expect, but it is still durable, versatile, lightweight and reasonably priced.
Having taken it on several day hikes, I found myself missing the chest strap and belt straps often found on hiking-specific packs. However, for short to moderate day hikes that don’t require much gear, that’s not an essential feature and I imagine that as I get more used to not having it with this pack, I won’t notice the difference. Similarly, while some hikers might miss the open pockets that many day and frame packs have on the sides for water bottles, the zippered side pockets aren’t a bad alternative. Add to that a larger top pocket (which can easily store keys, wallets, compasses and more) than usual for this size pack and you have several handy options for storing your gear. I did find the zippers to get stuck a couple of times, but not severely (besides, what zipper doesn’t get stuck now and again?)
At first it wasn’t obvious to me how to convert the backpack into gym bag mode, but once I noticed the zipper at the bottom of the pack the rest was easy. The backpack actually is fairly comfortable in gym bag mode too and the bottom compartment adds another option for storing gear.
For more information about Elite Sports’s sister company Born Tough, click here.