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Let’s hear it for magnetic fasteners, please clasp

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February 15th, 2017

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Peak Design MagLatch
Thomas Ricker

As fellow technology nerds I'll bet that you and I share something in common: a fascination with magnets. As kids, magnets were straight-up magical. I could play with them for hours, testing their invisible interactions, their mysterious strength. Testing how they affect each other and some of the objects around them. It was this wonderment that led me to search for answers in the physical sciences, where I’d eventually find solutions to most of childhood's mysteries.

Magnets are nature's perfect technology.

Velcro, on the other hand, is shit.

Velcro is noisy, it attracts lint and other debris, and the strips can detach from the main fabric over time. It can also get you killed.

peak design maglatch
Magnetic MagLatch.
Peak Design

That's why I look for magnets in the bags I trust to haul my gear. I've yet to find a better implementation than the MagLatch used by Peak Design. It's designed for one-handed use by combining magnets with a mechanical clasp. And it’s silent — an important feature if you’ve ever arrived late for class or a big meeting. It's a super slick solution that blends strength with ease of use.

Magnetic metal pin clips.
Herschel

Peak's MagLatch is also a far superior solution to the magnetic pin closures used by Herschel. The straps come loose as soon as you overwhelm the strength of the magnet (which isn't much). Then again, if those cosmetic buckles were functional you'd never want to open and close most of their bags.

Magnetic clasps done properly are self-guiding and thus only require a single hand to operate. So get out of my face with those chunky plastic slide-in buckles you find on most backpacks. Instead, revel in the Fidlock fasteners in the video above. They combine the ease of magnets with the strength of mechanical clasps. And you can find them on products as diverse as water bottles for bikes, North Face sneakers, and IXS helmets.

Yup, they’re in bags, too, including some one-handers from Timbuk2.

So imagine my interest when Timbuk2 announced the Robin Pack; a bag with not one, but three magnetic clasps: an adjustable magnetic sternum strap, a front pocket with magnetic flap, and a top enclosure with dual magnetic attachments. And unlike the larger Clark and Bruce (get it superhero fans?) roll-top packs from Timbuk2, the 20L Robin's best feature is no velcro!

I'll be reviewing the Robin Pack in the days ahead, so stay tuned.

P.S. Respect to the mighty, mighty zipper. There is no other.