Topo Designs 3-Day Briefcase

Disclaimer: I received a Topo Designs 3-Day Briefcase to review from Altitude Sports. Opinions are my own.

All photos in this review are by Ronnie Jones.

I’ve never been a “briefcase” person (but really, who is anymore?). Aside from it not jiving with my personality, I commute over an hour to my downtown office by transit so it’s simply not practical. I’ve used large purses and various backpacks over the years to carry combinations of lunch, jacket, running clothes, laptop, notebook, binders, water bottle, and travel mug.

This week I returned to my job after a year of maternity leave. I was excited to start off fresh with a brand new Topo Designs 3-Day Briefcase, a very modern and practical take on a briefcase. However, it is more accurate to call it a multi-carry travel bag as it has leather carry handles, a removable messenger-style shoulder strap, and storable backpack straps.

The bag

I hadn’t heard of the brand Topo Designs before this bag came into my life. Based on my impressions of this product and pursuing their other products, their description of themselves seems on point.

“At Topo Designs, we’re rooted in mountain culture and outdoor living, but love exploring cities and world travel. We look to proven classics for inspiration, yet take advantage of innovative technologies to ensure a timeless look with modern functionality. We are uncomplicated and utilitarian, but with a sense of design and style through simplicity. Our goal is to not have to choose a single path—we want to live on both sides of the fence, where life is always greener.”

They began in Colorado, as it seems a lot of outdoor companies do, making bags but have branched out to other gear as well including apparel, sandals, and hats.

Now back to the bag itself. The Topo Designs 3-Day Briefcase I received to review from Altitude Sports is unfortunately sold out on their website. However, they sell a similar product also by Topo Designs called the Commuter Briefcase; the main difference being the size. The 3-Day is quite a bit larger capacity (22 L) than the Commuter (13 L) and has two main compartments rather than just one.


  • Material: 1000D CORDURA® fabric outer
  • Internal sleeve fits most 15” laptops
  • Stowable backpack straps
  • Detachable padded shoulder strap for messenger style carrying
  • All natural leather handles
  • Heavy duty plastic hardware and durable YKK zippers

My thoughts


The design of the 3-Day Briefcase is simple, modern, and practical. I love the green colour of this bag combined with the yellow lining and red zipper pulls. It may seem a bit odd that the bag is sideways if worn as a backpack but I don’t mind – you just have to make sure all your zippers are closed and preferably at the top so nothing falls out.


The bag has two large main compartments, one of which includes a padded laptop sleeve, two medium size pockets, and another smaller zippered pocket. The other main compartment has two pockets, each about the size of a large Nalgene water bottle, as well as quite a bit of extra space. I could probably fit an entire running outfit including shoes in here.

There is also a fairly large zippered pouch on the front which is great for easy-to-access items like wallet, keys, and/or a good book. The back side has the pouch for stowing backpack straps as well as a pass-through sleeve for roller luggage.

Handles & Straps

Lately I’m more of a backpack person so I was super happy to be able to carry the 3-Day Briefcase this way. I’ve also used it with the shoulder strap and it’s comfortable as well. The carry handles are great for moving it short distances but, as it’s actually quite a large bag, not super practical for strolling down the street.

Switching between the shoulder strap and the backpack straps is easy enough to do although it does take a few minutes. The backpack straps aren’t fully removable but they conveniently stash in a pouch. There is a waist strap for backpack mode however I never felt it necessary to use it.


You can tell just by looking at the design and materials that the 3-Day Briefcase is a quality bag. The exterior is made of 1000D CORDURA®, which meant nothing to me until I googled it. Here is what Wikipedia had to say.

“Cordura is a collection of fabric technologies used in a wide array of products including luggage, backpacks, trousers, military wear and performance apparel. Cordura fabrics are known for their durability and resistance to abrasions, tears and scuffs.”

Everyone can appreciate a good zipper and these zippers are made by the YKK Group, the world’s largest zipper manufacturer (also according to Wikipedia). I’ve only been using this bag for a few weeks but the zippers seem like they’ll last forever.


The capacity of this bag is 22 L so it’s less of a typical briefcase size and more like the perfect carry-on luggage. I’ve had a couple laptop backpacks over the years and I always found that I couldn’t quite fit everything into them. This one holds more than enough! I had a laptop, my lunch, five books, a water bottle, and a toque while taking photos and there was still room to spare.


My husband is going to try to steal the Topo Designs 3-Day Briefcase from me, but I won’t let him. It’ll be my go-to bag for commuting to work when I need to take in more than just my wallet and lunch. It’s quite large but I actually like the extra capacity for day-to-day running around. I anticipate it lasting forever and passing it down to my child as a family heirloom. Ok well, maybe not quite, but I do think it’ll last me a very, very long time!

Check out the other Topo Designs models to find out which one is right for you!

Helly Hansen Lifaloft Insulator Jacket

Disclaimer: I received a Helly Hansen Lifaloft Insulator Jacket to review from Altitude Sports. Opinions are my own.

Early this year, Altitude Sports sent me a brand new Helly Hansen Lifaloft Insulator Jacket (note that mine is the hoodless version, although I’d definitely recommend getting one with a hood) to test out during the end of winter and spring. It was so new that it wouldn’t even be for sale until this fall, which is why I’m posting my review now. Aside from making me feel super badass, this meant that I was able to wear it for quite a long time.

The jacket

The Helly Hansen Lifaloft Insulator is a super lightweight and packable “puffy” jacket. The one I received has a shiny black, water-resistant/windproof exterior.

Lifaloft is Helly Hansen’s newest insulation which combines their LIFA® technology with Primaloft® insulation. According to their website, Lifaloft is 20% lighter than standard insulation due to lighter fibres and increased air pockets.

Before we get into the details, I’m a huge fan of puffy jackets. They are the BEST and if you EVER go outside, you should definitely have one. I bring at least one with me everywhere (except in the hottest of summer months). If I’m not wearing it or packing it, it’s waiting in my car for my return. It’s a piece of heaven after a long, cold, soaking wet, typical Vancouver trail run.

My experience

I wore this jacket everywhere. From the ocean to the mountains and around the city. On rainy runs around the park, on snowy hikes with elevation gain, and on walks to the store with a 17 lb baby strapped to my front and a pack of groceries on by back. Looking back, I probably should have washed it more often, oops!


One of the main reasons I wore this jacket everywhere is that it packs up nicely. It’s so easy to stash in a hiking pack or larger running pack (or even a diaper bag). My only suggestion for Helly Hansen is to add a little pocket for packing the jacket into itself.


Often with technical gear, the lighter you go the less durable it is. But that doesn’t seem to be the case with the Lifaloft Insulator jacket. I was a little concerned I’d tear it before getting good photos for my review but it has proven to be quite durable. I wore this with both a baby in a carrier and a backpack and there are no signs of wear from the straps.

Water resistance

While it’s definitely not a rain jacket, I found the water resistance was adequate for a short time out in light rain.


I have a hard time quantifying the warmth of a jacket. But in the interest of trying, I’d say it’s a good level of warmth for walking and hiking in cool to cold weather or running in quite cold weather or light snow. For me, it’s not warm enough on its own for standing still outside in the freezing cold, but then again I’ve been known to layer puffy jackets (you can never have too many). It’s also perfect for layering under a waterproof shell.

Fit & fashion

I’m 5’7 and 150 lbs and the medium fits me perfectly. It has a flattering tailored fit with elastic wrists and an adjustable drawstring at the bottom to help keep the heat in. It fits long, which is a must for me, and has a curved hem in the back providing some bum coverage.


There is lots of storage with two decently-sized, zippered pockets on the outside and as well as two non-zippered pockets on the inside.


After a heatwave and oodles of wildfires across our province and the associated smokiness, I’m super ready for the fall and excited by the prospect of cooler temperatures. I’ll be breaking this jacket out again soon to go on some cool, wet, and muddy Vancouver area adventures. And rewarding myself with a pumpkin spice latte after, of course!

Live More Now: Climbing Mountains

Disclaimer: I received three Buff products to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

This post is part 3 of 3 in my Live More Now series. Read my previous posts on Goals & Motivation and The Gear

To recap, Buff sent me three products to help me go adventuring. My definition of adventuring since having a baby in October is simply leaving the house and getting outside. I missed the mountains and was ready to get motivated and moving more.

Family Walks

Walking has been a key activity for me in the past 8 months. It’s low impact, helps get the blood flowing, and aids in recovery. The fresh air and sunshine does wonders for both mine, my baby’s, and my dog’s moods and wellbeing. Plus it’s super easy and accessible. Well … in theory, anyway.

Getting out the door is more challenging with a diaper bag, stroller, poop bags, leash, water bottle, and clothing for every weather possibility. The walks themselves are much more cumbersome when you have a dog and a baby to mange too. My dog isn’t the best on a leash (oops) and we basically take up the whole sidewalk or path with our caravan.

Hadley loves our walks and proudly wears her Buff Dog Reflective Neckwear.

Race Volunteering

I love to volunteer for races but haven’t been able to as much the past year or so. But I decided it was time to get back at its I volunteered at a booth at the 5 Peaks Golden Ears Race in May with my little one.

It was a crisp, misty morning by the lake and I was glad to have thrown the Buff Adalwolf Hat in my car despite a warm forecast. I used it to keep my babe’s head warm until the sun came out later on.

My favourite part of these events is that I get to chat with so many running friends and their families. I also get to cheer them on and see them crush their goals!

Grouse Grind with Baby

I got really into the Grouse Grind the summer of 2016. It is a very popular and challenging trail for tourists and locals with 850 metres of elevation gain over about 3 km. I didn’t do it while pregnant in 2017 so I was itching to get back to it this summer … but this time carrying a baby.

When the trail finally opened for the summer, I got my annual locals pass which entitles you to unlimited download rides on the gondola (otherwise $15 per trip down). The trail is one-way (up) only, although there are alternatives if you want to hike down too.

Hiking down is more challenging on the technical terrain and I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that with a baby strapped to me. Plus I don’t think my knees would like carrying the extra weight down such a steep grade.

I’m very familiar with the trail but I was nervous to find out how my body would feel doing it now while carrying an extra 17 lbs of baby. The Grouse Grind has an infamous history of search and rescue calls for people who can’t make it or have heart attacks. The main reason is that it is super accessible and people underestimate it or come unprepared. So I went with friends in case I needed help. The last thing I want to do is get me and my babe stuck halfway up a mountain.

Well I’m relieved to say we made it to the top! And it wasn’t so bad! It took us 2 hours which is almost twice as long as it took me pre-pregnancy, sans baby.

I sweated like crazy all over myself and my little one but luckily I brought a change of clothes for her. It was cooler at the top so we bundled up with our Buff Lightweight Merino Wool Hat and Adalwolf Hat.

Since then we’ve done it another two times. My fastest time this season is 1:38:14, as compared to my 2016 best was 45:24. But I never would have thought to do it with an extra 17 lbs!

I can’t tell you what a relief it is to be spending more time in the forest and starting to feel strong again. Thank you Buff for encouraging to set goals and Live More Now!