Matador Freefly16 Review: One Month Check-In

Matador Freefly16

Brand: Matador

Model: Freefly16 Packable Backpack

Specs: 

  • Waterproof 30D Cordura ripstop
  • 16-Liter capacity
  • Silicone outer coating, PU inner coating for weatherproofing
  • Water-resistant taped zippers
  • Sealed seams
  • Adjustable contoured air mesh shoulder straps
  • Large main compartment, small front compartment
  • External water bottle pockets
  • 17" x 11" x 8"
  • 4.8 oz

My girlfriend and I have been in Florida for June and July. We work from home and spend as much time as we can far away from others exploring natural spaces. We both have our old backpacks with plenty of life left in them, but the Matador Freefly16 caught my attention as a lightweight pack for our little excursions into the heat and humidity of a Florida summer. 

Matador Freefly16 Pouch

Matador is a high performance travel equipment brand out of Boulder, Colorado. They use quality fabrics, fittings, and coatings with an eye for minimalism. Much of what they make folds up into tiny storage bags so that you can travel with everything you need without bulk and weight. The Freefly16 is no exception, arriving in its diminutive 4.75" x 2.75" roll-top storage bag, and it is amazing they can fit so much backpack into such a tiny pouch. 

I imagined it would be perfect for our hikes, and it has been. We use the main compartment for twin 36 oz Yeti Ramblers and the external water bottle pockets for nuts, berries, crackers, jerky. What makes it so wearable are its incredible air mesh straps that are sufficiently structured that they never roll or fold up and pinch, so you feel like you're not carrying a pack, only its contents. Also, no sweat lines under the straps. In Florida. In August.

Matador Freefly16 Air Mesh StrapsNot only do we use it for hikes, it has also replaced the canvas tote we'd been using to bring food and drinks to the beach. We never leave the house without it.

The one criticism I have for the Freefly16 is that its air mesh shoulder panels are long enough that sizing could be an issue for people shorter than 5'5". I'm about 6' tall, and I was concerned it would be too small for me. I was wrong. My girlfriend is about 5'4", and even with the shoulder straps tightened, the weight of the pack sits on her lower back, which is one thing walking from the car to beach, but isn't sustainable on a hike.

Matador Freefly16 Fittings

In summary, I would recommend the Freefly16 to anyone who enjoys the outdoors. It's the perfect size for travel, but I bet it would prove more comfortable and lightweight than a standard daypack on shorter hikes and hot days. And at $55, it's a great value proposition. 

 Shop Matador here.