Backpacks are an essential means of everyday carry for everyone from grade school students to world record-setting athletes. While they remain one of the most comfortable and popular ways of carrying equipment, books, clothing, food and water around, they're not perfect. The Paxis backpack attempts to solve one downside, eliminating the need to take the pack off to access your most essential items.
On a hike with his wife, Paxis co-founder Paul Vierthaler realized something: he loved hiking, but he hated backpacks. More specifically, he hated having to constantly take his pack off to access things he needed on the trail. Vierthaler explained this to his wife, and she challenged him by suggesting that he had some good ideas but lacked follow-through.
So, with the driving winds of friendly marital one-upmanship filling his sails, Vierthaler got to work and tinkered together a solution in his garage. A few years of refinement later, a more accessible breed of backpack was ready. Vierthaler and his team called it the Paxis.
Similar in spirit to the Wolffepack, the Paxis backpack provides quick interior access without the need to remove a shoulder strap. Unlike that design, the Paxis pack doesn't give you immediate access to the entire backpack, but to a lower waistbelt pouch. The right shoulder-mounted quick-pull release pops the hinged aluminum arm free, allowing the pack to swing to the front, where the wearer can quickly find what they need.
The rotating backpack seems to be a fast-growing category. Vierthaler tells us that Paxis began selling its packs about half a year ago, not that long after the Wolffepack was successfully funded on Kickstarter. In January 2013, MindShift Gear closed a successful Kickstarter campaign on its own Rotation180 backpack system (seen below), a design that went on to win 2014 Red Dot and Outdoor Industry awards.
The Rotation180 is quite similar to the Paxis and aimed at photographers. On paper, we prefer the 180's rotating waist pack design over the Paxis because it doesn't involve the external arm, which looks like a heavy, clunky solution that might easily break or injure the wearer should he or she trip and fall while it's deployed. MindShift Gear's Rotation180 Panorama backpacks are also considerably lighter than Paxis backpacks; its 22-liter pack weighs in at 2.9 lb (1.3 kg) compared to 5.5 lb (2.5 kg) for the 22-liter Paxis.
Paxis offers the US$239 18-liter Mt. Pickett 18 and $249 22-liter Mt. Pickett 20 models. Each pack features NYLAR water-resistant ballistic fabric construction, waterproof zippers, a padded/vented back, a tablet pocket, and the swinging waist "shuttle pods" with built-in wallet and internal organization.