This is the page for the Design Lab Paragon: it has the Design Lab edition label and a clean front. Looking for the Guide's Edition Paragon?
The Paragon is an updated version of a pack design I made myself back in the 70’s. Named the Simplex (one main compartment, like the Paragon) or Duplex (two main compartments - like the Brain Bag but smaller) these basic packs are likely the ones etched into our consciousness when we think of the word “daypack”. Classic rectilinear shape with radius corners; diagonal zippered front pocket (more on that below); flapped zippers; and, well, not a whole lot else going on, which is what some folks love about this design.
Above: one of the actual Duplex backpacks made by Tom in the 1970's.
I can’t help but make some updates to even my own classic designs — after all, I originally made the Simplex and Duplex over 45 years ago. Here’s what I updated for the design of the Paragon:
Diagonal Zipper Pocket >> Horizontal Zipper Pocket
Yes, I know, the diagonal zippered pocket is part of the classic look and many of my packs from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s featured that. Let's face the facts: it's 2021 and we're carrying various electronic devices. I found that sliding my tablet into the diagonal zippered opening didn’t really work. It’s just easier to get all kinds of stuff in and out of a horizontal zipper front pocket — and, after all, isn’t that what a pocket is for?
Padded Back Panel
Padded back panels were not the norm back then, but we’ve all come to expect them now – partly because we now tend to carry laptops or tablets. Which of course leads to.....
If you’d like some padding for your tablet or you carry a laptop, you can stow one or the other in the minimalist built-in laptop compartment of the Paragon. It’s a straight-forward pouch of the same foam laminate that we use to make our Caches, and is accessed inside the main compartment. Fits the 16" MacBook Pro and Dell XPS 17" and, of course, any devices smaller than those two. (And to be able to fit those bigger laptops, I did have to make the Paragon more square and less oval than the original Simplex and Duplex packs.) Now don’t get all mad if you don’t carry a laptop: that compartment also provides additional padding for your back.
Edgeless Shoulder Straps
Conformity is overrated — except, perhaps, when it comes to shoulder straps. The edgelessness of this strap allows it to more softly conform to your shoulder; we find that this increases comfort. Yet the straps aren’t too soft: the 1/2” thick EVAZOTE® OEKO-TEX® certified foam means the strap is robust enough to carry a heavy load.
We decided to release the Paragon with the Design Lab edition label because it’s an experiment of sorts: it’s the first of several upcoming reissues from the TOM BIHN design vault.
And that’s not all: the Paragon has one interior zippered pocket and includes a simple (and removable) sternum strap and waist belt.
I unearthed this pack design around the beginning of the pandemic — we had talked about debuting a new design that would be something fun we could share with all of you sooner rather than later. (That sooner months and months later turned into this later: we became surprisingly busy at the factory sewing masks and ended up not having the time to debut the Paragon.)
I wanted it to be something that’d be pretty easy to cut and sew — in early 2020, things were changing quickly, and one of our crazy brainstormed ideas was that Darcy would learn to cut fabric, Nik would sew bags at the factory, and I would sew bags at home in my garage workshop. We’re nowhere near as skilled as the production crew, so, yeah: simple would be better. Bonus points if it wouldn’t take me all that long to design. Pulling a design from the archives — one I’d patterned, cut, and sewed when I was something like 14 — made sense. (There’s a couple of other simple designs from the 70’s/80’s/90’s that we’ll be reissuing this year: stay tuned…) Of course, we’ve abandoned this quixotic idea of the three of us pretending to be a factory, but out of that pipe dream we did get the Paragon. :)
Folks who love our Daylight Backpack but wanted some laptop protection, a padded back, and replete-with-comfort shoulder straps will appreciate this pack. Folks who like the organization of a pack like the Synik or the mega-capacity of a pack like the Brain Bag may want to stick with those. Those who like simplicity, classic design — they’ll find much to appreciate here (precisely because there’s less.) Those who want to see innovation — well, this is a pack about where we came from, not where we’re headed. People who want to complain will complain. And people who want some drama… well…
The Paragon in Halcyon — it’s perfectly imperfect (just like you. Aw.) Because it’s impossible to line up the grid of the Halcyon, it’s well, not lined up. The effect may be visually jarring to those of us who like things to be perfect — it also creates some optical illusions . . . . that one end of the flap above the horizontal zippered pocket might appear to be shorter than the other, for example. On the bright side, it means each bag is ever-so-slightly unique in a way that’s more obvious than the usual imperceptible slight variances created by the fact that humans cut and sew these bags. How all of this lands for you is up to you — we just want you to know about this when it comes time to choose the right fabric for you.