Gravel Pouch (3-1-1 TSA Compliant Bag) Review
The Gravel Pouch (3-1-1 TSA Compliant Bag) is a less wasteful alternative to disposable bags, thanks to its beefed-up construction and materials.
- Frosted finish is sleek and hides spills well
- Can be hung using the silicone strap
- More durable than a resealable plastic bag
- Doesn’t stand well on its own
- Hangs at an angle, so gear inside gets jumbled
- No organization; it’s simply a pouch
1.8 oz (51 g)
6.5 in x 9.75 in x .75 in (16.5 x 24.8 x 1.9 cm)
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The easiest and universally accepted way to fulfill the TSA’s 3-1-1 liquids rule is to simply use a quart-sized resealable plastic bag (that’s a Ziploc bag for those more familiar with the brand name). However, there comes the point in every traveler’s life where the need for a more robust solution must be considered. Enter: Gravel’s Pouch (3-1-1 TSA Compliant Bag)—we’re off to a good start with the self-explanatory name.
In a nutshell, Gravel’s Pouch is a beefed-up version of the resealable plastic bag everyone knows and loves. Gone are the flimsy slider and thin plastic. In their place are a weather-resistant zipper and frosted plastic. Okay, the construction is still plastic, but the thickness is increased to make it behave more like a toiletry Pouch and less like a sandwich bag.
So, is this the logical next step to a resealable bag? Is it a worthy replacement? Let’s find out.
Before we get into the nitty gritty details of Gravel’s Pouch, a quick refresher on the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule is in order. The rule says that each liquid must be in a 3.4-ounce (100 ml) container and all of them must be inside a single (1) quart-sized plastic bag. Finally, each passenger is allowed only one (1) plastic bag. Got that? Fantastic!
The most obvious difference between Gravel’s Pouch and your typical resealable plastic bag is in the material itself. Gravel uses a thicker type with a frosted finish, making the entire Pouch translucent. We were initially slightly concerned about this since the TSA specifically states that the bag must be clear. In practice, though, they didn’t bat an eye at this looser interpretation of the rule. We’ve since taken the Pouch on a couple flights without any trouble.
We’re going to give Gravel bonus points for giving their Pouch some personality as well. The top section gets a translucent black accent and a small logo on the bottom left corner. As minimal and trivial as those may sound, we do appreciate the effort in aesthetics.
The more implicit characteristic of the plastic is its thickness, or rather its rigidity. Gravel’s Pouch feels robust and has more structure than a resealable bag. It’s also much more durable, being able to withstand several trips with barely a scratch or crease to show for it. In comparison, a resealable bag is more susceptible to punctures. We’ve had trips where they would survive up to ten uses, and trips where they’d break as soon as we hit the beach—truly a mixed-bag experience.
Another part of the Pouch that gets beefing up is the zipper. The zipper isn’t branded, so you shouldn’t expect YKK-levels of reliability here. Still, it’s head and shoulders above the flimsy slider Ziploc uses on their bags. It even gets a zipper pull that’s long and easy to grab.
The only downside to this zipper is that it’s not air-tight. Even though there’s an AquaGuard-style zipper track that provides weather resistance, liquids can still seep in or out of the Pouch. That said, it’s worth noting that when one of the lotions we were carrying leaked, it didn’t seep through the zipper. Still, you really don’t want to take the risk, so make sure to seal bottles and tubes properly whenever you’re putting your toiletries back inside.
Last among the, admittedly, few exterior features of Gravel’s Pouch is the silicone handle. If this handle looks familiar to you, then you may have seen it on Gravel’s Explorer MINI Toiletry Bag. It’s knotted onto a loop at the side of the Pouch. Meanwhile, the rest of the handle has a set of holes where you can insert the toggle so you can adjust the size—kind of like a belt.
The handle is similarly durable compared to the rest of the Pouch. After all, it’s made of stretchy silicone, so that makes it very resilient against wear and tear. Apart from being a handle, though, it’s also primarily used as a means to hang the Pouch. That’s made easy since you can wrap the handle and adjust its size according to the fixture you want to hang it on, like a towel rack or a door knob.
Inside The Pouch
Once you open the Pouch’s main compartment, or rather its only compartment, you’re greeted with…nothing. Okay, you probably already knew that going into this review, but it’s worth taking note of anyway. Again, this isn’t a toiletry bag replacement since it lacks any interior organization. In fact, Gravel designed the Pouch to be put inside their toiletry bag, specifically the Explorer MAX and Explorer PLUS, which can fit three and one Pouch, respectively.
So, what can you fit inside Gravel’s Pouch? Well, since it follows TSA’s requirements, the capacity’s no different than a quart-sized resealable bag. We can fit about five travel-sized 3.4-ounce bottles inside side-by-side—maybe six, depending on the size and shape of the individual containers.
The Pouch also doesn’t stand well on its own. As we start taking bottles out, the Pouch gets less and less stable, making it more likely to tip over. This is because the base is tapered and doesn’t have gussets that expand into a flat floor. The more we use the Pouch, the more we learn how to make it stand up. However, the easiest course of action is simply to prop it up against something else.
The good news is that you can still hang the Pouch using the handle. However, this also comes with its own caveat. Since the handle is placed towards one side, the Pouch hangs at a steep angle that causes all of the bottles inside to sink down. Worst case scenario, bottles may fall out if it’s fully packed. That said, consider that the Gravel Pouch’s handle is a feature most, if not all, resealable bags don’t have. So even though it has its flaws, it’s still a capability that’s nice to have.
All in all, while the Pouch doesn’t shine against full-fledged toiletry bags, it’s leaps and bounds ahead of its more disposable competitors. While we wouldn’t use the Pouch as an alternative for sandwich-storing purposes, it makes a ton of sense for the frequent flyer who’s also looking for a less wasteful solution.
- Sleek take on a 3-1-1 bag
- Interested to see how well it hangs
- Like the flexible, soft materials
- Edges are a bit floppy, which makes it lean a bit when it’s on the counter
- Digging the fog glass look—gives it a sleek vibe and it’s harder to see spills
- Hangs at an angle, which makes gear fall out of place (though not out entirely)
- Material is super easy to clean up after a spill
- No issues with liquids leaking out, either, though the zipper isn’t technically liquid-tight, so there may be leaks if the pouch is squeezed