Crossover Day Pack Reviews: One faculty member’s mission to streamline the backpack selection process

Photo by Lauren Canna/The Choate News

In addition to his work at Choate, science teacher Mr. Deron Chang is passionate about reviewing crossover bags.Crossover Day Pack Reviews

Think about walking to class with a weight on your back and your hands full. Though backpacks are often an unquestioned presence on campus, the type of bag you use can majorly impact your day-to-day life at Choate, making for a highly convenient (or highly scattered!) storage experience. For over three years, one Choate teacher has sought to optimize the backpack experience.Through a blog and YouTube channel called Crossover Day Pack Reviews, biology teacher Mr. Deron Chang evaluates backpacks on their practicality and performance, allowing readers to make informed decisions on their backpack purchases.

In a 2014 blog post, Mr. Chang defined a crossover day pack as “a single bag that does most of what I want it to do, well.” He continued, “Most fundamentally, [a crossover day pack] must be able to do well on the way to the office and do well on a weekend hike in the ‘wilderness.’”

For Mr. Chang, the ideal backpack must meet six different criteria: The bag must have a waist belt, which can stabilize the backpack’s weight during activities such as walking from one meeting to the next and going on a hike; it should have a padded laptop section, which protects technology against impact if the backpack is dropped; it should cost around $130 to ensure that it possesses the first two features yet isn’t excessively expensive; it should have a divided organizer pocket so that materials can be compartmentalized and protected; it should possess a frame-sheet or internal structure that makes the bag simpler to pack; and its capacity should be around 28 liters for ideal storage space.

Mr. Chang evaluates backpacks on how well they meet these standards. Crossover Day Pack’s videos visually outline the various features of a bag — including organizer panels, smaller pockets and pouches, shoulder straps, back padding, laptop compartment, handles, water bottle and organizer pockets. Mr. Chang even packs each backpack to show how much the bag can hold and wears the bag so that he can discuss its comfort.

The blog, available at daypackfinder.blogspot.com, formed as an extension of the YouTube channel and features written reviews as well as links to Mr. Chang’s YouTube videos. Mr. Chang’s blog and YouTube channel are successful; his website recently hit 180,000 views, and his YouTube channel has almost 900 followers with over 320,000 total views. He regularly gets feedback from his followers, who ask him to review certain backpacks. Furthermore, backpack company ECBC has even put his review video on its main website as an advertisement, and some companies regularly send him a few bags for the review.

Mr. Chang began reviewing backpacks three years ago, when he decided to switch from shoulder bags to backpacks because he started to have back problems. He looked for specific backpacks that he could use during the weekends when he was hiking or biking and during weekdays when he was at work: as Mr. Chang put it, “Ones that would look fine in a t-shirt and a formal attire.” Then he came across crossover day packs.

To find the right bag for him, Mr. Chang ordered a few backpacks and compared them to one another. Immediately, his scientist mindset kicked in. “I made a data sheet for each bag, which was judged based on a specific set of criteria I created so that I could be as objective as possible,” said Mr. Chang. “As I was generating these data, I thought it would be a great idea to share them with other people who are interested in finding backpacks. I thought of my own frustration when I could not find any reviews while researching the right backpack for me. That’s how I started my YouTube channel, which reviews specific backpacks, and consequently, my blog, which compares different bags.” So far, his favorite bag is the bag that he uses primarily, which is the ECBC Lance Daypack.

Mr. Chang hopes to continue reviewing backpacks with his blog and the accompanying YouTube channel. He said, “I can’t find time to work on the reviews now because of work, so I would have to wait until the summer to continue reviewing bags. I enjoy making these review videos and posts, and I don’t think the blog and the YouTube channel will close.” For anybody thinking of getting a new backpack, Mr. Chang’s reviews are a great place to start.

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