Mudroom Backpacks Quartable 18L reviewed by American Trail Running Association (ATRA) advisory board member and Wisconsin trail runner Susan Kendrick. Susan is the Director of Sponsorship for the American Birkebeiner® Ski Foundation and was featured in our View from the Pack series of articles. This product was provided at no charge by Mudroom Backpacks for this review.
From Tech to Trail Gear, Quartable is Your Portable Locker
For trail runners, packs of any kind can be your ultimate happy place as they draw you in with their promise of adventure. Fill them up with all your trail running gear and you are out the door! Enter the Quartable 18L, quite possibly the total lifestyle bag you’ve been waiting for.
This pack started out with the “urban adventurer and everyday commuter in mind.” What Mudroom may not have realized at the time it first came out; their purpose-driven, shoe-centric design also made Quartable the ideal backpack for trail runners. Here’s why.
For The Love of Footwear
Quartable stands out from other packs by making your shoes a priority. The pack has two cavernous side pockets, and each one holds up to a size 12 men’s shoe. I tried size 14, and they still fit, with room to spare. Plus, these compartments keep your footwear completely separate from all other gear, and the smooth interior makes them easy to wipe down if you stash shoes that are wet or muddy. Even your laptop rides along worry-free, separated and in its own padded sleeve compartment.
Some packs with side pockets bulge and create lumpy extensions on the pack. For these products, an elegant pack can become clunky and colossal. Who wants shoes poking out the sides and into your back? No thanks. Mudroom Quartable solves this issue. In fact, Mudroom has a patent protected unique shoe pocket design. (US PATENT #10,080,411)
The Quartable’s sleek exterior retains its trim profile even when the shoe pockets are packed because these pockets tuck flexibly into the interior of the bag. Each pocket is accessible from both the outside and the inside of the pack. Strangely enough, even when full, these pockets do not compromise other interior packing space. You can still fit in day-trip provisions and maybe even enough for an overnight.
Stand by Me, e.g. “No Sloppy Bag Sag”
After trying many packs over time, there’s one must-have feature that rises to the top of my list. In the name of self-service and sanity, I want my pack to stand up on its own.
Packs that collapse are hard to load and unload easily. It’s also difficult to see what’s in your pack when it creases and flops over just as you make the dive for an elusive pair of shorts or socks. Mudroom stands tall and has what it calls, “no sloppy bag sag.”
For me, front loading is a backpack feature that runs a close second to its ability to stand up unsupported. More common in luggage style packs, front loading a great feature to find in a compact backpack like this Quartable 18L. The pack can be laid flat and the one big top flap opened from top to bottom so you can see and organize all your gear at once. On the seat of your car, at a trailhead, or mid-run or hike, a quick zip reveals your gear so you can access anything quickly, without rummaging through the pack and creating chaos.
The Finer Details
Most love affairs with packs break down when it comes to the finer points of that relationship, like zippers, straps, buckles, bottle holders, and handles. You move fast so shouldn’t your zipper? Each zipper makes a smooth ride all around, inside and out. Straps? Less is more and Mudroom nails it with just two adjustable shoulder straps and one chest strap for a great fit.
The single buckle on the chest strap is an easy in and out, with a nicely spring-loaded feel upon release. The two water bottle sleeves feel more like quality neoprene rather than a cheap nylon mesh. Each sleeve neatly holds a full, 20-ounce bottle with no top-heaviness or chance of the bottle flying out when taking the pack on and off. Want to grab and go without the shoulder straps? Grab the separate handle at the top of the bag and you’re quickly on the move.
Room for Improvement?
I did run into one minor problem while testing this backpack. The wide 1.5” x 3.5” heavy-duty Velcro flap securing the laptop sleeve. I didn’t notice it until I went to take my favorite jacket out of the pack and found it stuck to this flap. You can eliminate this “overreach” by simply tucking the flap into the laptop sleeve. Another Velcro “mate” inside this sleeve would be helpful for keeping the flap stuck down and out of the way in until you need to use it. Your laptop is going to be secure without this flap unless the bag is going to get turned upside-down.
The Quartable fits comfortably and moves well, not only getting you to the trail with the gear your need, but also onto the trail for a run or a hike. Oddly, there is no bounce. This is partly due to the pack’s overall design and contoured, “teardrop” profile that seems to hug your body.
What I also noticed and then quickly decided I didn’t miss, is that there is no waist strap. This pack sits high enough on your back and carries weight closely and compactly enough that you don’t need one. And, let’s face it, a lot of times those waist straps create “clutter.” They need to be looped up or otherwise tucked out of the way. The Quartable lives happily on your back without need for one more strap to keep things in place. Its “vertical integrity,” great back padding, and a chest strap all combine to create a close-carry experience that is snug without being confining.
From tech to trail, the Mudroom Quartable carries your shoes, extra shoes, gear, food and water, and even extra supplies for a family member or two. If you love packs, this one will steal your heart.
Mudroom Quartable Technical Specifications
Footwear Pockets – Fits up to US sized-14 (EU sized-52) men’s shoes
External Dimensions – 18.5″ x 13.5″ x 6″ (47 x 34 x 15 cm)
Electronics sleeve – Fits up to 15.5″ (39.4 cm) laptop or tablet
Tablet sleeve – Fits up to 11″ x 9″ tablet (28.0 x 22.8 cm)
Hydration compartment – Fits 2L reservoir (remove laptop and insert reservoir)