After 13 months of weekly use, the Matador FreeRain24 2.0 has proven to be a reliable waterproof daypack. It packs down incredibly small, is ultralight, and looks pretty damn good. For adventure travelers that need a packable daypack, the FreeRain24 is the best “value” choice.
Weight: 187 g
Main Material: 30D Cordura Nylon
Hardware: YKK & SBS
Dimensions: 49.5 x 27.9 x 24.1 cm
Dimensions (Packed): 12.7 x 7.6 cm
Manufacturing Country: China
Warranty: 1 Year
Length of Test: 13 months
Acquisition: Self Purchase
Climate(s): Tropical Savanna
The FreeRain24 is designed for:
It’s not designed for:
Main Materials: Over the past 13 months, the FreeRain24’s 30D Cordura ripstop nylon has proven to be tougher than expected. The material hasn’t torn nor shown any visible signs of abrasion, but is starting to look a little “tired” after repeated UV exposure – although overall functionality is not affected.
For waterproofness, the Cordura is siliconized and the interior seams are sealed. During use, the contents of our pack always remained dry… even throughout two seasons of heavy monsoon storms in Thailand and brief immersion while river crossing.
Hardware: the pack features a water repellent SBS zipper, which we hope will be upgraded to a more reliable YKK AquaGuard Zipper in future iterations. The zipper has a nylon pull tab with heat shrunk tubing attached, making it easy to operate in the wettest of conditions.
As for the pack’s side release buckles, they’re manufactured by good ol’ YKK.
Packability: with the included stuff sack, the FreeRain24 is able to compress down to the size of your palm. Combine that with a total weight of 187 g, and the FreeRain24 is able to virtually disappear in a larger rucksack for peak bagging or travel.
Unfortunately, the stuff sack has a rolltop design which makes it a bit tough to get the pack back inside. For ease-of-use, we would’ve preferred a drawstring closure with a wider opening or the ability to stuff the pack into its own pocket.
Shoulder Straps: the FreeRain24’s shoulder straps are constructed with a mesh material that’s both non-absorbent and quick-drying. The straps aren’t padded nor are they fully contoured, but still function okay relative to their intended limits.
As for the sternum strap, it’s adjustable to four different heights and secured via a ladder lock system (our favorite style). Our first gripe with the sternum strap is that it’s a bit difficult to adjust (height-wise) – thankfully, you’ll rarely have to adjust it and it’ll never come loose. Second, the placement of the sternum strap can be awkward as it rides mid- to low-chest, depending on your torso length and width.
Main Compartment: accessed by a Hypalon rolltop with buckles down the side, the main compartment is spartan – zero organization and no high-visibility liner. It’s just a black abyss that benefits from BYOP (bring your own pouches).
In practice, there’s no way the FreeRain24 is actually 24L. It packs more like a 18L pack at best… and we’re okay with that. In all honesty, if you need to pack a ton of gear into an ultralight packable daypack, you might be using the wrong tool for the job.
Quick-Access Pocket: on the face of the pack, there’s a zippered kangaroo pocket with a vertical opening. The pocket seems to be ~1.5L in capacity and easily holds a pair of sunglasses, a Buff, and a Topo Accessory Pouch (S), with some room to spare.
Just know that this pocket isn’t waterproof, it’s only water-resistant.
Water Bottle Pockets: on the sides of the pack, there are elasticized mesh water bottle pockets that’ll fit a wide-mouth 1L HydroFlask. However, wide 1L bottles can be a bit of pain to get in and out when the pack is full… but overall, it’s not that big of a deal.
Carry Comfort: in general, packable daypacks aren’t heralded for their comfort. They have a habit of barreling (if not packed out correctly) and do not have a harness / suspension system that’s able to efficiently distribute a load.
While the FreeRain24 was never uncomfortable with loads under 7 kg, we’d be lying if we said the pack was luxuriously comfortable. A more accurate statement would be: it was relatively comfortable depending on (1) the rigidity and shape of the contents inside, and (2) how carefully each item was packed together.
With a monastic approach to packing, the FreeRain24 was a joy to use on day hikes, around town, and even while riding motorbikes through the Thai jungle. The pack sits tight on your back, allowing for a decent carry experience.
The FreeRain24 has a sleek outdoorsy aesthetic that’ll keep you looking ‘so fresh and so clean clean’ on the trail, while still looking decent in town. We dig the look of this pack and have even gotten compliments on it when walking around the concrete jungle of Chiang Mai.
At the time of writing, the pack comes in two colorways: charcoal grey and coyote.
The competitive landscape for the FreeRain24 is pretty limited, as waterproof packable daypacks are a niche segment. The FreeRain24’s direct competition is the S2S Ultra-Sil Dry Day Pack, which is basically a barebones dry sack with no bells and whistles.
Long story short, if you want a waterproof and packable daypack that has useable day-to-day features, then the FreeRain24 reigns king (in terms of value). If you’re solely after performance for peak bagging, than the HMG Summit Pack is a better buy – it features better shoulder straps and a more robust build (however, its almost 3x the cost).
The primary competition (read: alternatives to consider) for the FreeRain24 are:
While the Matador FreeRain24 2.0 has some design choices that limit its use cases, the pros do outweigh the cons… especially when you consider the competition.
Extreme packability and ultralight weight will always come with tradeoffs unless you’re willing to a pay a hefty premium. And for the price plus overall features, the FreeRain24 is a solid option for travelers that need a waterproof packable daypack.
What We Liked
What Could Use Improvements
Build quality is good, but the internal sealed seams are “caked on” in certain areas – although waterproofness is still a-okay.
More than 1 year later and the pack is still bueno. As with any lightweight siliconized nylon, the fabric is starting to look a bit aged due to repeated UV exposure from the oppressive Thai sun.
Kuhl Renegade Shorts
Chacos Z/1 Classic Sandals (M)
Chacos Z/Cloud Sandals (W)
Buff Pack Trek Cap
Columbia Bora Bora II Booney