By Gabrielle Kassel

I’ve always been somewhat of a bag lady.  During college summers I lived in the outskirts of Portland and commuted downtown for a day of writing, working, and weight lifting. Which meant I needed work clothes, workout clothes, and coffee-shop clothes all jammed into a single bag that I’d be able to schlep with me through the streets of hipsters, cold-crew, and cyclists. Issue is, the pack would usually give out after six to eight weeks in from being overstuffed so consistently.

When I graduated and found myself on the opposite coast commuting from Brooklyn to New York City for work-a 45-60 minute haul door to door-, I tried to shed my tried-and-true backpack-ways and began sporting a leather tote bag that I had repurposed from the 80’s section of my mother’s closet.. 

But here’s the issue: when I leave in the morning I need to make sure I have everything I need for the day: my nimbus caprite, the circuit performance racer tank, lifters, sneakers, a change of regular clothes, a mini toiletry bag of makeup and shower essentials (plus some non-essentials like sweatproof mascara), a water bottle, some snacks (shoutout Trader Joes), my laptop, two planners/calendars, and a charger. And on days where I’ve planned ahead sufficiently: my lunch.

Bottom line: Between the gear needed for two-a-day CrossFit and yoga workouts, interviews with trainers, and coffee-shop hideaway work-sessions, I’m always carrying around way too much stuff.  Especially by Friday when all those extra pairs of underwear, uneaten power bars, and dirty socks have piled up in the bottom of the bag…

So one-month into tote-bagging I was fed up. The tote had wreaked havoc on my rugby-playing shoulders, didn’t distribute the weight at all and made my 20 lb bag feel like 40, and while I’m down for some mid-day farmers-carries, the one-handed carry got old real quick. Besides, whenever I needed both my lifters and my running sneakers for a WOD, the bag just wouldn’t close- a major issue for rush-hour subway commuting and the hustle and bustle of city-life.

So I returned to my old ways and invested in a backpack. My shoulders were much happier and my back was glad, but fast forward 12 months and I’d already gone through 4 backpacks. Wondering why? Think: mid-day strap-rips, bottom-of-the-bag-tears, or zippers popping off from being overfilled in the middle of the damn subway.  Hint: if you’ve ever had a pair of hot-yoga soaked leggings, a cluster of tampons, and some old socks come pouring out of your backpack in the middle of Grand Central Station, you’d be pretty over these satchel shenanigans, too.

After the 4rth backpack travesty of 2017, it was time to re-strategize. I needed to stop looking for a bag that would just  look cool as I danced and tripped by way around NYC. I needed a bag that was also sturdy enough to carry all of my sh*t for longer than a few months.

Enter: the icon 6-in-1n 40L backpack. A.k.a. the reason I’ve ditched my less sturdy backpacks and embraced the bag lady life. A.k.a. the most versatile bag on the face of the planet.

As the name suggest, the icon has 6 distinct conversions: backpack, extended backpack, small duffle, large duffle, removable daypack, and messenger bag. And for the last few months (and counting) the icon has protected my laptop in its padded laptop sleeve, kept my phone and screens scratch-free in it’s fleece lined media sleeve, hidden my watch and earrings in its velour lined valuable pockets, and kept my various debit carbs and ID’s organized in its front-zippered hideaway.

But my favorite feature of the icon 6-in-1 backpack is the expandable compartment, which adds 15 liters of space and is perfect for stashing damp and sweaty clothes after a workout, while also keeping the rest of my clothes stink-free. And when that compartment fills up, there’s also two duel insulated pockets that are also great for keeping sweaty-clothes separate from the not-yet-sweaty-clothes, or stinky shoes seperate my clean underwear… Not mention that as snow and rain have taken the city, the weather resistant fabric on the outside of the bag has keeping my gear and goods protected from the elements.

And if you’re wondering yes, it fits perfectly in the airplane overhead compartment, which I found out on my recent to trip to the West Coast. 

Now that I have a backpack that can keep up with my life, my next step is to cut back on the actual necessities (what can I say, I like to be prepared!) but that’s a quest for another day. 

About the Author

Gabrielle Kassel is a New York based health and fitness writer with a passion for weight-training, playing (and watching) rugby, running through the mud, and living mindfully. Her work has appeared on Women’s Health Online,, Barbend, Tough Mudder, Vitamin Shoppe, Healthline, and more. When she isn’t typing away in Brooklyn coffee shops, you can find her bench-pressing, reading self-help books, and posting about her love of HYLETE gear on her Instagram,