Best 25L EDC Pack?

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A user came to me with a question—what’s the best EDC pack with around 25 liters of capacity? While he’s got no beef with GoRuck, he craves something with a bit more organization.

This one’s a no-brainer. The consensus in the wild world of everyday carry is that the AER City Pack Pro reigns supreme in this niche… and I can’t help but agree. It’s AER, after all, so it’s built like a brick shithouse, and everything they churn out is damned well designed. This pack hits all the marks:

  • The quick access pocket is a dream to get to and has plenty of room and the Pro version takes it up a notch with a second quick access pocket on the side for keys and whatnot.
  • Luggage pass-through… It’s astounding how many sub-25L packs overlook this crucial feature.
  • The laptop compartment is a fortress of its own, accessible without diving into the main compartment.
  • Straps? Fantastic. You could carry the weight of the world on these bad boys.

To me, it’s the only 25L pack worth considering in this segment, even with the $240 price tag.

But hold on, there is another contender—The Black Ember Citadel 25. This one will set you back $300, but it shares many of the same stellar features and has a sleek, killer look. Plus, Black Ember has earned a solid reputation as a place of solid fabrication. I don’t have any experience with this one, but I’ll try to get one in for review.

Anyway, you can dive into the details about the Black Ember here, and the AER here.

Anker A2343

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I usually steer clear of the consumerist bacchanalia that is Prime Day, but this year the gods of necessity demanded tribute. My quest led me to the holy grail of modern travel: a reliable charger. The Anker 100W GAN charger, a beast of efficiency in a deceptively small package, had long taunted me from the digital aisles. Its power-to-size ratio is the stuff of legend, but the price always loomed like a menacing cloud over my aspirations. Then Prime Day reared its head, offering a seductive 40% discount. The die was cast. I plunged in, credit card blazing.

Maybe it will tempt you as well… Details.


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I don’t know what the hell this thing is… Is it a tote? A bin? A backpack? A box? I guess it’s whatever the hell you want it to be depending on how you use it.

Essentially, the RUX 70L is a box made of TPU-coated nylon. This modern, slick material gives the box no structure at all, but it comes with spring steel snap bracelets that you place in each corner- allowing you to decide how much rigidity the box actually has. You can make it stiff enough to stack, or snap the bracelets and compress it like a soft box.

But that’s just the beginning. The top edges of the box are lined with a rail system inside and out. This rail system lets you customize the outside of the box with different carrying and compression strap configurations. Want a backpack? No sweat. Throw on the long straps horizontally and adjust them. Want a tote? Easy, just place the carrying straps on each end. Want to make it smaller? Just throw on the compression straps and synch em down.

This rail system also lets you securely add a top on the outside or fashion pouches and dividers on the inside. The possibilities and configurations are literally endless. It’s actually quite brilliant.

Of course, the elephant in the room is the price… This bin, backpack, box, tote thing will run you $300!

I’d scream foul, but the thing is… I think it’s absolutely worth it to the right person. It’s one of those products that reflects the passion of its designer. You can tell that whoever designed and made the thing gives a damn. The craftsmanship is wild, and as a result, using the RUX is a joy.

The RUX 70L is the most interesting mobile storage device I’ve ever tested. Sincerely.

Details here.

The Oyster Cooler

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About a year ago, an email landed in my inbox peddling a $750 cooler. This high-end marvel was touted as 300% more effective than any other cooler on the market. Pure marketing drivel, I thought, and promptly ignored it. But damn if the thing wasn’t a vision. It looked like something Apple would craft for a NASA mission—sleek aluminum, perfect curves, and a dash of red on an interchangeable strap. Form and function had never danced so beautifully.

But $750 for a cooler? No way in hell.

Then, a few months back, Oyster dropped the price to $395 and asked for a review. Who was I to refuse?

When the Oyster arrived, it was everything I’d hoped for. The packaging was a symphony of high-end Nordic minimalism, and the cooler itself was even more breathtaking in person than in its social media glamour shots. This wasn’t just a cooler; it was a masterpiece.

But did the damned thing actually work? To find out, I devised a haphazard real-world test. On one side, the trusty Yeti Hopper, and on the other, the Oyster. Each loaded with six cans and an equal amount of ice. The Yeti was packed to the brim, while the Oyster had room to spare. This gave the Yeti an edge in cooling density, but being a soft cooler, it had its own drawbacks.

This wasn’t a clinical trial, but a practical scenario. I set them up in my workshop, which held a steady 83 degrees throughout the test. Every few hours, I’d crack them open and check the temperature from the same can top. Here’s what I found:

The $250 Yeti impressed me… but the Oyster? Four solid days of ice retention? That’s one hell of a long weekend. Never did I imagine this cooler could perform so well.

And it’s not just about performance. The Oyster is built like a tank and smartly designed for practicality and durability. The lid opens from either side, it has soft rubber feet, the straps are comfortable and interchangeable, and every part is replaceable. Plus, its thin-wall aluminum construction makes it space-efficient. I managed to cram 36 cans of beer in there.

At $750, you’d have to be out of your mind to buy this cooler. But at $395? Now we’re talking. For the right person with the right needs, this cooler makes a lot of sense. Perfect for the overland adventurer, the hardcore hunter, the dedicated fisherman, and the sports enthusiast.

Rarely does a high-end “luxury” product hit my review table and make me think about value and “buy it for life” purchases. The Oyster Cooler is that rare exception. I don’t even need a cooler that often, but if I were in the market, I’d consider this one in a heartbeat. It’s that damn good.

If you are interested, you can blow your hard earned cash here.

Aqara U100

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I found myself in a wild-eyed frenzy, gripped by the unrelenting need to possess the sleek and seductive Distil Wally wallet. But the cruel reality hit like a whiskey-soaked sledgehammer: this damned piece of minimalist marvel had no place for keys. What in the name of Hunter S. Christ was I supposed to do about the keys? How the hell would I carry them?

Simple. I wouldn’t.

The answer was clear, shining like a neon sign in a midnight desert: no more keys. I ripped out the old locks on my lab and home, replacing them with the seductive promise of smart locks. I knew the Schlage Encode Plus reigned supreme in this high-tech kingdom, but I wasn’t about to sink five hundred bucks into this mad experiment.

So, with the conviction of a lunatic on a mission, I delved deeper and settled on the Aqara U100, the scrappy runner-up in the cutthroat world of smart locks. At $189, it was a steal compared to the Schlage, boasting all the bells and whistles, plus a nifty fingerprint reader for that instant access.

Two weeks in, and not a single failure to report. The HomeKit integration purrs like a well-fed tiger, and the auto-lock feature is a godsend. I’m happier than a gambler on a winning streak.

To hell with those keys. Who needs them, anyway?

Details here.

MetMo Pocket Driver & Multi Drive

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MetMo blasted an email my way, asking if I’d take a gander at their latest concoction. They’ve christened it the Multi Drive—a multi-tool masquerading as a marking tool. This cunning little gadget morphs into a knife, pencil, scribe, drill, file, and even a micro driver.

It’s strutting its stuff on Kickstarter, and you can throw your cash at it here.

But the plot thickens: MetMo didn’t send me a Multi Drive. Oh no, they sent me a Pocket Driver (see above for the eye candy). And let me tell you, I’m grateful they did. The Pocket Driver is less of a tool and more of a desktop diversion—a ratchet driver that moonlights as a fidget spinner. Precision-machined and aesthetically pleasing, but don’t mistake it for a workhorse. It’s just too damned pretty for that… and way too addictive to fiddle with.

Is it worth $130? Probably not to most… but it’s one hell of a gift for the right kind of lunatic and if you judge it by its craftsmanship alone, you can justify the price easily. Tool, fidget toy, art… take your pic I guess…

Dive into the details here.

Distil Union Offerings

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The wallet hunt continues – plunging me deeper into the depths of consumer madness. The past week, I’ve been tangoing with the wares of a South Carolina outfit named Distil Union. The ModWallet Kit grabbed my attention like a pit bull on a mailman. Two leather flaps, magnets embedded, and a slew of accessories to shove between them: money clip, multi-tool, card holders, and yes—key holders. On paper, it was the Holy Grail, a treasure trove of functionality… and I was itching to test this beast.

The build quality? Magnificent. As good as Bellroy, probably better. The leather is as smooth as Sinatra’s voice, the stitching as precise as a sniper’s aim, and the whole thing screams “no compromises.” Clean, simple, modern design. This wallet isn’t just a product; it’s a love letter to craftsmanship and wallet nerds.

But the real question: how does it perform in the wild? I sandwiched two key holders and a money clip between the magenetic leather flaps. This gave me enough room for my six cards, some cash, and the indispensable keys. The organization is top-notch with color-coded nylon straps making it easy to access my most commonly used cards and ample “attic” space for the cards I don’t use as much. Cash is a breeze to reach, and key storage is about as good as it gets for a wallet. Plus, the whole thing becomes magnetic, sticking to anything metal. Sounds gimmicky, but it’s surprisingly handy.

The damned thing is as close to perfection as I’ve come across, save for one glaring flaw… It’s too big for front pocket carry. Packed tight, it measures around 3 inches by 5 inches by 5/8 inches thick. A slim, elegant back pocket companion, but too bulky for front-end stashing. This epiphany sent me spiraling into a deep funk, mourning the lost potential of this otherwise stellar wallet.

Distil, of course, has a smaller offering for front pocket carry—the Wally Bifold. The Wally shares the ModWallet’s DNA but lacks the modularity. Same accessible card slots, same fantastic money clip, and the same bulletproof build quality. But no modularity means no key organization. This brought another wave of despair, but the usability of the Wally was too tempting to ignore. I had to test it despite my burning need for a wallet that included key storage of some kind.

To be honest, it’s the best user experience I’ve ever had with a wallet. By design, everything is so damn accessible and the innovative magnets keep it slim, compact, and secure. It’s a god damned marvel of wallet engineering.

Maybe it’s time to abandon keys altogether and embrace the future with smart keyless locks for my office and home? My mind is whirling with new possibilities…

You can learn more about Distil here. And no, they didn’t pay me shit.

Thread Wallets

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In the midst of a frenzied hunt for the elusive key-holding wallet, my journey led me to the doorstep of Thread – a brand that seems to have conjured its very own cult of recognition at breakneck speed. Intrigued, I delved into the realm of their offerings while on my quest.

Their flagship, the Elastic wallet, is a marvel of minimalist design. Two loops of tightly woven elastic, united by a split ring, promise to cradle your cards and cash in the slimmest embrace imaginable. They boast it can snugly house up to 8 cards plus cash, which is no small feat for such a diminutive contraption.

Yet, as I grapple with its practicality, two gripes emerge from the shadows of admiration. The elastic, taut as a bowstring, demands a deft touch as the number of cards swells beyond a meager few. And alas, the seams of my own specimen already whisper tales of wear after a mere week’s dalliance. A $16 dalliance, mind you – par for the course, perhaps, but disheartening nonetheless.

But fear not, for Thread offers salvation in the form of the Vertical Wallet. A kin to its elastic sibling, but fortified with leather, structure, and the holy shield of RFID protection. This, my friends, is where the true alchemy lies. Though not as svelte as its elastic cousin, it compensates with a judicious blend of utility and elegance. The keyring loop, a masterstroke of ergonomics, and the leather’s sturdy backbone render the cards within far more compliant to my demands.

Then, there’s the Bifold Wallet, a commendable contender in its own right. While it fails to meet my particular needs (no key solution), its $30 price tag earns it a nod of respect. And craftsmanship? Like the other offerings, you won’t go out of your way to criticize it, but you won’t write home about it either.

In summation, Thread emerges as a beacon of sagacity in the tumultuous sea of consumerism. Their wares, though not without their minor flaws, exude a certain pragmatic charm. A panoply of colors and patterns beckons, ensuring that one’s allegiance remains forever fleeting. For now, the Vertical Wallet reigns supreme in my pocket, but who knows what tomorrow may bring?