Matador ReFraction Packable Duffle Review
The Matador ReFraction Packable Duffle is a lightweight, budget-friendly, and, most importantly, durable option for trips to the gym and across the globe.
- Materials are lightweight and durable
- No extra organization to get in your way
- Packs small enough to fit in your hand
- Can be difficult to pack
- Strap and handles lack padding or aeration
- Limited color options
7.9 oz (224 g)
21.5 in x 11 in x 8 in (54.6 x 27.9 x 20.3 cm)
(unpacked) | 7.5 in x 5 in x 2.75 in (packed)
Recycled Nylon, Polyurethane, PFC-free DWR Coating, YKK Zippers, Woojin Hardware
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Matador Travel Equipment is consistently some of the most innovative, budget-friendly, and unique gear we come across here at Pack Hacker—at least at the time of writing. From travel toothpaste containers to packable backpacks, gear from Matador always has features that keep us coming back for more. While the ReFraction Packable Duffle is a step in a new direction from a colorway standpoint, we’re excited to see what features from previous packs make it into this new offering and are curious about what else this thing has to offer. Let’s dive in!
Before we dive too far into this Duffle, let’s talk specifics. It comes in at 25 liters, an ideal size for a packable bag. It isn’t going to carry all your outdoor gear; however, it works well for dirty laundry while traveling or for a weekend trip during an extended stay.
The bag comes in at 7.9 ounces, or 225 grams, which is very lightweight, especially considering its capacity. When it’s packed away, it’ll fit inside a larger sling or any daypack without weighing it down. You never know when you might need a little duffle in your life!
Regarding materials, we’ve got 100D recycled nylon with a PU waterproof coating. The DWR finish doesn’t contain PFCs, a great shout from a sustainability perspective. Plus, some of the materials are bluesign® approved, which furthers Matador’s commitment to sustainability.
The zippers are from YKK; the main compartment utilizes a water-resistant track, and the secondary pockets have a fabric welt covering them to keep the elements away. They’re lightweight zippers, which we dig, but they can be hard to close when you’ve really packed this thing out. However, saving weight and space is the name of the game, so we understand the choice. And the important thing is, they never feel like they’ll break.
The plastic hardware on the strap is from Woojin. It’s easy to manipulate and holds the material well when you are in action, so there is nothing negative to report here.
We’ve got two handles on the top to carry the duffle by. They’re very minimalistic and lack padding or aeration. The top section has heat-shrink plastic on the exterior for added durability. After a few minutes with a full pack, they’ll dig into your hand slightly. However, similar to the zippers, this construction saves space and weight. For most uses, they’re comfortable enough for short journeys. How often will you need to carry your duffle by the handle for an extended period, anyways?
Before we move on, it’s worth noting that the exterior materials don’t have much structure. The duffle can’t stand up on its own—making it hard to pack at times or if you have limited arm mobility. However, these materials make it much easier to pack this thing down or roll it up, which we’ll get to soon.
In addition to the handles, there’s a strap on the top of the duffle. While it isn’t removable, this will be your primary mode of transportation.
It doesn’t have any padding or aeration, but you probably know why given how things have gone so far. To save space and weight! The strap is long enough to wear the duffle crossbody style and short enough to tighten up for smaller frames.
When fully packed, the strap can dig in slightly. However, for most trips, it’s comfortable enough.
When it’s time to pack the duffle, the strap is one of the hardest things to contain, so we’re happy it’s as tiny as it is. After you’ve done it a few times, packing it away becomes relatively easy.
Because of the thinness of the materials, you can feel whatever items you have packed on that side of the duffle on your side while you’re wearing it. Harder, bulkier items are less comfortable than softer, smoother items. If you pack smart, this isn’t an issue.
Inside The Duffle
There are two external pockets. They’re crafted from a stretchy mesh material, so you can stuff extra gear inside if you need morer space. The mesh slightly covers the zipper, offering extra water resistance. Neither pocket has any internal organization, but one is significantly larger than the other. The larger one is an excellent spot to stow a packable rain jacket or other items you might need on the fly. The smaller one is good for a wallet, snacks, or your phone and is the stuff sack for the duffle.
We haven’t figured out a surefire way to pack this thing away yet; however, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Not because the materials get worn in, but because you’re more used to it. As mentioned before, we recommend packing the handles and shoulder strap earlier in the process so that they aren’t poking out when we close the zipper. Once packed up, a tag on the exterior tells you what it is, which is helpful if you have multiple packable pieces of gear.
Moving into the main compartment, there isn’t much to talk about. There’s no organization here, and, for the size, we don’t mind that. If it were a 35+ liter duffle, it would be a bit unruly without some segmentation. However, at 25 liters, we’re happy campers.
Because there isn’t any organization, we recommend packing cubes and other pouches to keep your gear from getting lost. However, this isn’t always possible, especially if you’re using this while traveling. You might not have the same organizers you might have at your disposal at home. Thinking about all the gear you’re bringing before you leave for your trip is essential. Otherwise, you might end up with a highly unorganized Matador ReFraction Packable Duffle while wandering through Venice. You’ll be fine, but it would be easier if you brought them along for the ride.
Overall, we dig this duffle. It’s small enough to pack away inside any pack you bring on your trip, can be used as a make-shift gym bag at home or abroad, and has a budget-friendly price. If you are lost without built-in organization or prefer more substantial materials, it might not be the bag for you. However, a 35-liter pack that can fit into the palm of your hand is worth looking at!
- Materials are extraordinarily lightweight but feel durable enough to handle the bumps and knocks of travel
- Hardware feels sturdy and easy to use
- We’re curious to see how lightweight materials hold up when packing a duffle
- Materials are surprisingly durable for how lightweight they are
- Zipper choices are on point for the jobs they’re tasked with
- The strap isn’t terribly comfortable and can be difficult to pack away