We’ve kept the price the same but upgraded this legendary commuter pack with more carrying capacity and the latest in materials and technologies. A sum total of 33 liters carrying capacity hauls everything you need for a day of waging war on campus, street or trail, including an exclusive-access, padded laptop pocket that safely holds up to a 17-ich computer. The Manifest’s innovative Techlite straps are comprised of an insanely strong, lightweight compound molded around super-breathing mesh inserts, with a healthy helping of cushioning for comfort. Adding to the breathability is the ventilated Backdraft back panel, featuring directional foam conduits that direct hot air out and cooler air in. An expandable front shove-it pocket is a perfect spot to stash your bike helmet, while dual side water-bottle pockets hold-on-the-go hydration. The carry handle at center top doubles as a bike light loop. Reflective accents keep you visible in low light conditions. A bevy of organization pockets store all your small items securely.
- Main Fabric – 100% polyester Cordura
- Bottom Fabric – 100% polyester Tarmaq
- Omni-Shield advanced repellency
- Techlite shoulder straps
- Backdraft ventilated back panel
- Externally accessible, tricot-lined and bottom-padded laptop compartment
- Fits up to a 17 inch laptop
- Front mesh shove-it pocket easily fits a bicycle helmet
- Foam padded back for comfort and support
- Internal organizer and electronics pocket
- Removable hip belt
- Dual water bottle pockets
- Sternum strap with rescue whistle
- Reinforced haul loop
- Rugged Tarmaq bottom
- Tablet computer compatible
- Dimensions – 50.8 cm tall x 30.5 cm wide x 20.3 cm deep (20 in x 12 in x 8 in)
- Measured Weight – 1065 g (2 lb 5.5 oz)
- Retail – $90
I’ve mentioned before how Columbia is working hard to make more innovative and technical products. I was fortunate to have been sent a Manifest II Technical Daypack for testing this fall. The pack is made for commuting which is good because that is what I do.
I tested the Manifest II Technical Daypack as my everyday pack for work for the last 2 months or so. I have used the pack for bike commuting and traveling a couple times as well.
The Columbia Manifest II Technical Daypack seems to be well made. I have not had any issues related to the construction to date. It uses a mixture of tough 100% polyester Cordura for the majority of the pack and 100% polyester Tarmaq on the bottom. The Tarmaq material on the bottom is both durable and water resistant. Both fabrics have been treated with Columbia Omni-Shield. Omni-Shield is a water and stain barrier that resists light rain and stains, keeping the pack clean and protected.
The pack uses Columbia’s Techlite material with mesh inserts in the shoulder straps. Engineered originally to provide superior comfort and cushioning for outdoor footwear, Techlite is durable, impact absorbing, and an ideal material for consistent support and protection throughout a range of footwear uses. Now they are using it in backpacks too. Created with a closed-cell compound, it is naturally antimicrobial, easy to care for, and odor-resistant. What’s more, the manufacturing process used to create Techlite has dramatic environmental advantages over other cushioning technologies: the Techlite molding process reduces waste by 25–30%, keeping material out of the landfill. The mesh inserts allow heat to escape therefore keeping you cooler and hopefully preventing perspiration under the shoulder straps.
The back panel of the Manifest II uses Columbia’s Backdraft ventilation. This back panel has foam padding for comfort and support. The foam is created with directional channels to direct warm air up and out and allows cool air to enter from below; thus keeping your back cooler. There is also a channel of open space up the middle to increase airflow between the pack and the users back. At the waist there is a removable webbing waist belt that secures via Velcro. This can be used when needed and removed easily as well. The shoulder straps also have an adjustable sternum strap with a rescue whistle just in case. On the top of the pack is a haul loop that Columbia says can also be a flasher light strap, I don’t think that is ideal. There is a small reflective patch at the bottom of the pack that can be used to attach a light and I think this a better and more out of the way spot. The pack is made for commuting and has some reflective elements to help you be seen in low light conditions.
The Manifest II holds up to 33 Liters (2014 cubic inches) of gear. Right behind the back panel is the laptop compartment. It is lined with soft polyester so it will not scratch the computer. There is also some padding at the bottom to further protect the laptop. It can hold up to a 17 inch laptop according to Columbia; in my testing I just put my 14” in there with plenty of room. There is also a smaller sleeve pocket on the inside that is a good size for a netbook or tablet. The main pocket has two sleeves inside it as well. These sleeves are a bit larger and designed for organizing papers, magazines, and folders. While I liked having these sleeves, my papers in here got all torn up over time as the papers were taller than the sleeve and would get caught on items going in and out of the main compartment. Above the sleeves is a small zippered pocket. This pocket does not expand much so it is best for thinner items, I used it for my iPod and wallet.
On the top of the pack between the main pocket and organizer pocket there is a sunglasses pocket. This pocket is lined with the same soft polyester that the laptop compartment has. The sunglasses pocket hangs own into the main pocket area slightly but never caused me any issues with storing stuff. The organizer pocket is in the front of the pack and has a mesh organizer for pens, pencils, and other small items. There is also a key clip for making sure your keys are handy and not lost. This pocket is deep enough to also store items in the bottom of it but this was not ideal in my experience.
The outside of the Columbia Manifest II Daypack has two water bottle pockets. They are located on each side of the pack. The pockets are made of stretchy mesh that can fit bottle up to 1 liter. Right above these pockets are the compression straps for the main compartment which can get in the way when accessing the pocket. In the front of the pack is a zippered expandable sleeve. This can be used as a stash pocket or for a helmet pocket when needed. This sleeve was the best pocket on the pack in my testing. I used it less for my helmet and more for a stash pocket; it worked equally well at both.
The Columbia Manifest II Technical Daypack is a comfortable pack. The shoulder straps distribute weight and do not create any pressure points. Since most of the weight will be supported by the foam straps or the foam on the back panel which makes for a comfortable carrying experience. The hip belt is relatively basic and not a great option for taking too much weight off your shoulders. As a commuting or school pack you are likely to have some weight in it from time to time but I think the shoulder straps are comfortable enough to carry all the weight. I barely used the belt myself and removed it for most of my testing. The shoulder straps have only one adjustment at the bottom but they can also be adjusted slightly with the use of the sternum strap. The sternum strap can be loosened or tightened and has several inches of adjustability up and down along the straps. Even when using this pack on the bike I did not have any comfort related issues.
The Manifest Pack has been a solid pack. The shoulder straps are comfortable but it is tough to tell how well the mesh breathes. Since I have been testing the pack out in the fall, the temperatures have been on the cooler side . With more layers on it is tough to tell if the air is moving through or not. I like the concept though and by just blowing on the mesh I can tell air does move through it. The Backdraft back panel seems to do a descent job at keeping your back cool. The center channel I think can be a bit deeper as my back sometimes comes in contact with the fabric.
The storage was adequate as I outlined above. The compression straps work well at shrinking the volume of the pack when you need to. Especially when riding I do not like to have the stuff in the pack shifting around, so this is a nice feature. The only other thing I would mention is it would be nice if the main pockets opened up slightly more. It would make it a little easier to dig into the bottom of these pockets, especially the main one.
Overall the Manifest II Daypack performed slightly better than expected. Columbia has incorporated some newer technologies into the carry system on this pack and I think they are on the right track. The pack was comfortable to carry and seemed to keep my back slightly cooler than if it was flat against my back. The shoulder straps I think should work as well but I had trouble quantifying it in the cooler weather. The storage layout needs a little work but the zippered stretch sleeve on the outside was great. I think Columbia has got it right in that this is a good pack for school or commuting. It has the necessary features and while the storage layout was not ideal for me, it may work better for others so I would not let that deter you. It is just a preference thing. The Manifest II retails for $90 which is medium to high for packs in this range. You do get a bit more features I believe for you money. As always, your mileage may vary.
- Comfortable shoulder straps and back panel
- Keeps perspiration to a minimum with mesh straps and Backdraft back panel
- Computer compartment is large and has netbook/tablet sleeve
- Stash/helmet pocket works great
- Storage sleeves in main pocket a bit short
- Zip pocket in main pocket is small
- Wish main pocket opened wider