Briggs and Riley: Excursion Backpack Review



Briggs and Riley Excursion Backpack: Functional and Classy

By Rick Shandley

Briggs and Riley Excursion Backpack is a daypack you can use for business and pleasure. Excursion is part of the new BRX collection, a series of active travel luggage Briggs and Riley has every reason to be excited about. We ran with the Excursion Backpack for several months, generally on a daily basis. There were the grind commutes into LA to participate in the rat race. And there were out of town trips where there’s always a chance to explore and get some exercise on nearby trails or state parks.

Typically, the Excursion was loaded with files, laptop computer, and the usual knickknacks that support a human during the dog days of a work week. There were those bemusing days of multiple stops…in traffic…where the mind wonders if moving to Montana is really an option or just a pipe dream.  And there was lots of city hiking from the public parking lots, covering a few blocks, then ducking into a once magnificent office tower and up the elevators to work on some project. On a daily pace, the Excursion worked great as a mobile office.

Inside the U-shaped laptop sleeve, a 15-inch HP Pavilion laptop computer was adequately cushioned and separated from the Day Runner, manila files, and notepads. Specifications on this daypack (Product # BP118 in the BRX collection) indicate the laptop sleeve will fit up to a 16-inch laptop.

What’s impressive is this Briggs and Riley Excursion Backpack looks like the high-end piece of luggage it is. Whether you are checking

Excursion carries down jacket, hydration bladder, and everything you need for a day.
Excursion carries down jacket, hydration bladder, and everything you need for a day.

in to a luxury hotel or walking onto an aircraft with your business-class upgrade paid for with air miles you so wish you didn’t need, the Excursion fits in well. The Excursion has an overall profile that allows it to easily slide into the overhead storage bin of an aircraft, under the jaundiced gaze of the flight attendant, with no style points being deducted.

Oh, but it is when you have to travel and stay away from home for awhile that was nice about this Excursion. For the times you’re strapped to a hotel for a week or more, any fresh air you get will have to be carved out of whatever time you have and place you find yourself. The Briggs and Riley Excursion Backpack is versatile enough to go from assigned only to protecting your laptop and files, to an day pack that permits you to get out of the hotel room and hike that trail you found online.

This scenario happened a few times. Get to the hotel room, unload the laptop and set up the nice desk with all your business related things, and fill the backpack with water, snacks, a wind parka and head back out to the rental car to end the day with a long walk. Most big American cities like Seattle, Portland, Anchorage, even New York and LA have hiking and outdoor recreation right outside the tragic clusters of conflict known as downtown anywhere. If you enjoy getting outside, as opposed to dutifully relegating yourself to the hotel fitness room, having some kind of backpack is mandatory. This one just does it with panache.

Deep U-shaped Excursion lid offers good access to gear.
Deep U-shaped Excursion lid offers good access to gear.

Excursion offers a deep U-shaped front loading pocket and an overall capacity of 18x12x9 inches of storage. With the business collateral poured out, the laptop pocket held a two-liter Camelbak Omega Hydrotanium water reservoir with no problems. Problems no, but this pack would be even more versatile if it also had retainer straps for a water reservoir. And it would be nice to have an opening on either side of the top of the pack to run the water flow tube and mouthpiece through to the exterior, so you can use it without unzipping a corner of the top flap. That’s how the Excursion was used on trips: The Camelbak Pure Flow tube ran out through a slightly unzipped corner of the pack.

A deep storage pocket inside the main compartment and forward of the laptop sleeve offered enough room for a Cloudveil Inversion down jacket compressed into its little stuff-sack, and all the gear one might need for a couple evening hours of hiking. The mesh water bottle holder on the right side works when that’s all the water you need.  On the opposite side from the mesh water bottle holder is an inverted-U shaped pocket that can be used for holding your sunglasses or reading glasses…or another bottle of water. A zipped pocket on the outside of the main flap of the Excursion works well for storing small items like your keys and quick access support items.

At the front of the pack, just behind the large exterior pocket is a slide-out identification holder, just in case the airlines have to

Excursion is rugged enough for most any situation you'll need a dual-purpose pack. On Monday, it goes back to mobile-office duty.
Excursion is rugged enough for most any situation you’ll need a dual-purpose pack. On Monday, it goes back to mobile-office duty.

FedEx your pack back to you. The large zipped pocket on the front of the Excursion holds several separate compartments for sorting business cards, storing the cell phone, a wallet, and any of the smaller items you might need. Inside the outer fabric of this large front pocket is another zipped pocket for your traveler checks, passport, or your secret stash of jelly beans. Forward, and at the absolute outside of this main exterior front pocket is a non-zippered pouch that seems to collect all the access badges on lanyards, trip receipts, and loose change just as you walk up to the airport X-ray machines.

Two daisy chained clip points are arranged on either upper shoulder of the pack. Three clip-point positions are available on each side. Like larger packs, these clip-points come in handy. We use them to clip on lens-cleaning cloth and an expedition watch with a carabiner clip. It’s a nice touch, and these clip-points are an asset when you need them.

We found the padded back-panel and the shoulder straps to be comfortable and the shoulder straps are easily adjusted with standard heavy-gauge fasteners. The Excursion does not come with a hip belt, nor is one necessarily needed. However, a chest strap spans between the shoulder straps and does a good job of keeping the pack on your back and close to your chest.

Briggs & Riley logo on leather tab atop front pocket.
Briggs & Riley logo on leather tab atop front pocket.

And at the very top of the Excursion is a nicely padded handle with the Briggs and Riley logo embossed into the leather. Another Briggs and Riley brand logo in sharp relief is located on the top of the primary front pocket. Just beneath the top handle is yet another zipped pocket that contains an anchored clip-strap to work with other roll-on Briggs and Riley luggage. Yep, you can secure the Excursion to the top of the roll-on handle as you waltz away from baggage claim, past the limo drivers morosely holding large paper signs with names other than your own on them, as you make your way to the rental car.

The Briggs and Riley Excursion Backpack is part of several new styles of roll-on luggage and accessories. At MSRP, your investment would be about $120.00. Sure, you are paying for the name, but it’s a name associated with quality, and there is nothing we can take away from that. We found, from the day it arrived, that this pack is versatile and it immediately became an everyday item in our world. It does look like it is high-end, and for folks who must be seen only with the best stuff other folks would recognize, this backpack is the real thing. But in everyday use, the Excursion is just as rugged and useful as any daypack could aspire to be for its function and classy style.

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