Côte&Ciel has been one of the brands I’ve been keeping a close eye on. Their unique, modern aesthetic caught my attention and I’ve been admiring their rapid expansion and collaborations with awesome brands like MYKITA, Comme des Garçons and Attachment. They’re a company that’s forward thinking, something I admire greatly.
The Nile Rucksack has been sent by Côte&Ciel.
Modeling thanks to
A. Kim & T. Sasahara
Earlier this year, Côte&Ciel reached out to me after reading my Isar Rucksack review. They teased a successor to me, touting its progressive, futuristic design. The Isar is the best backpack I’ve ever owned so I knew this had to be interesting.
A few months later, the Nile Rucksack arrived on my doorstep. It’s truly unique like they had promised. It’s appropriately unconventional.
The Nile Rucksack and comes in three colorways. I asked for the Obsidian black model which runs for $325. I don’t really like the rustic CMF of the other two models and think their products really shine when paired with modern materials. All things considered, this is probably their most progressive, avant-garde design to date.
I’ve had the backpack for quite some time now and took it with me on vacation to New York. I’ve also been bringing it to work everyday so it’s given me a ton of time to see how it really performs in the wild.
Like most of the company’s products, the Nile Rucksack is all about allowing a material to express its true form. A cynic would say that it looks like a trash bag, but is there anything wrong with that? The backpack’s form is constructed by its contents, instead of forcing the contents into a conformed cavity. It’s honest form creation.
The backpack has a truly controversial appearance. I always receive compliments when I wear my Isar Rucksack but with the Nile, it leans more towards curiosity. I agree that the Isar is the pretty one out of the family I can’t help but appreciate Côte&Ciel’s creativity in playing with the interaction of fabrics. The Nile has a sinister, monstrous appearance that’s largely constructed from a slick coated polyester. It's water resistant and has a smooth texture that seems to be pretty durable.
My industry connections tell me that Côte&Ciel uses the same manufacturer as Apple does for their new iPhone and iPad cases. It’s no wonder their level of craftsmanship that is so high.
Attention to detail is Côte&Ciel’s speciality and details like the zipper pulls and branding tag really show their obsession. These touches are tasteful and never excessive, something that’s hard to come by.
Like the Isar Rucksack, the Nile Rucksack’s has two storage compartments. The main compartment is accessible via a top zipper and is just big enough for a quick weekend trip.
Stuffed. Its pouch-like design makes it great for irregular items and cramming in clothes. I see these backpacks as utilitarian, urban tools and this kind of functional approach totally makes it.
Though similarly sized, I’ve found the Nile to be easier to live with than the Isar. The top loading opening provides effortless access and makes it possible to carry oversized items like tripods or poster tubes.
Padding is pretty thin on the Nile but still offers enough comfort for everyday use. The grab handle is attached to the shoulder straps, a signature Côte&Ciel design. By the way, the designers have fixed the slipping straps that were problematic on the previous model.
The top of the backpack is held in place using two oversized buckles. They’re covered in calf leather, showing more craftsmanship prowess. The buckles are a bit too flamboyant in my opinion but are fitting with the ominous appearance of the backpack.
The padded laptop compartment is big enough for a 15” MacBook Pro and has enough room for a couple of thin books. You’ll also find a couple of useful pouches and pockets for various accessories like cables. The interior of the backpack is completely finished in a beautiful grey to contrast with the monotone black exterior.
I absolutely love the oversized label located inside this compartment. Any excuse to bridge the gap between graphic and industrial design is a plus in my books.
The unique shape and versatility aren’t the only tricks the Nile has up its sleeve though; it has a concealed rain hood. You didn’t think that bulge was purely aesthetic did you?
The hood is made from a ultra-light woven nylon called ripstop. It’s used in military applications and is used to make things like parachutes and air balloons. It’s completely water and air-proof, perfect for a Seattle resident like myself.
Because it’s made from such a thin material, the hood has a bit of a translucency. It may come off a bit silly but you’ve got to admit, it’s got an interesting futuristic look about it.
Although I love the utility of the Nile, I still prefer my Isar Rucksack. This is largely due to aesthetics. I’m simply more 2001: A Space Odyssey or Oblivion than Batman. Like I’ve said, these backpacks are urban, utilitarian tools and this time, Côte&Ciel took a darker interpretation of this proposition. The Nile does seem like a more cohesive package than the Isar; there are functional improvements and it’s architecturally superior. The new layout, pouches and hood weren’t enough to win me over though, I still end up picking up my older backpack in the morning.
I’m still immensely impressed with what Côte&Ciel is doing though. In a world where everyone is choosing to look backwards and producing retro products, this small group of French creatives are trying to define the aesthetic of the future. I’ve had a hard time trying to find a backpack that I really liked before discovering these guys. Everything seems to cater to nostalgic consumers or be made in a disposable fashion. The Nile Rucksack points where we should be headed. Reasonably priced, well crafted, progressively styled and extremely functional. It’s about time that we’ve let go of the past. Côte&Ciel, please don’t stop what you’re doing.