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Pakt Travel Backpack Review

The Pakt Travel Backpack's interior layout keeps clothing and gear organized, though space could be maximized.

Our Verdict

7.2 /10
Good info

Form

77/100

Design

77/100

Value

63/100
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Pros

  • Removable hip belt doubles as a sling or waist pack
  • Plenty of organization inside and out
  • Easy-to-use double-buckled sternum strap

Cons

  • Shoulder straps’ edges dig in
  • Internal layout doesn’t maximize depth well
  • Imbalanced luggage pass-through
Recent Pack Hacker Video

Technical Details

80 %

Carry-on Compliance

View 116/145 Airlines

86 %

Like the Look

Polled on Instagram

  • Capacity

    30l

  • Weight (lb)

    4.5 lb (2 kg)

  • Dimensions

    21 in x 12.6 in x 6.7 in (53.3 x 32 x 17 cm)

  • Notable Materials

    Polyester, Polyethylene, Duraflex Hardware

  • Manufacturing Country

    Vietnam

  • Laptop Compartment Size

    15"

  • Warranty Information

    Pakt Policy

Full Review

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When we first looked at Pakt’s One Travel Bag, we noted its convenient clamshell design and easy-to-pack layout. This duffel bag is the result of a collaboration between Pakt, designer Malcolm Fontier, and “The Minimalists” Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, experts in minimalism. We bring these two points up because they’re familiar cues in the subject of this review: the Travel Backpack.

Pakt Travel Backpack Usage 2
Pakt Travel Backpack | This backpack has a few hidden tricks up its sleeve.

Like the One Travel Bag, this was also designed in a collaboration, but this time with Chase Reeves, who makes content on travel gear like us. It’s oozing with features like a hip belt that’s also a sling bag, a dedicated “TSA Pocket,” and a unique main compartment layout that’s reminiscent of their One Travel Bag. The layout is definitely not as cut and dry as a clamshell with a bucket-style interior space, so let’s dig in and see how it all works.

Materials & Aesthetic

First impressions rarely go away, though long-term observation can make lasting ones as well. Standing at 30 liters, the Travel Backpack isn’t exactly small by any means, and its all-black colorway only emphasizes its size. It has a rectangular profile with rounded edges and a proportionally slim depth that makes the backpack appear more suitcase-like. That’s really the theme we got from the Travel Backpack as testing went on—it has functionality in the design that doubles down on the Travel part of its name.

Pakt Travel Backpack Material
Pakt Travel Backpack | Recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate—a tongue twister for recycled fabric.

We’ll elaborate more on that later, but first, let’s talk about the material Pakt uses here. They’re not calling it nylon, although it certainly looks like it. It’s 900D rPET fabric with DWR coating, and it stands for Recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate (try saying that five times in a row), and it feels similar to nylon of a similar denier in terms of durability. The all-black colorway we have here hides it, but the fabric also has a heritage-like texture and appearance. It’s an aesthetic we can see Mr. Reeves liking, and it’s something we can get behind as well.

For those looking to break out of black, there’s also a Green colorway that’s more beige and olive in appearance, available at the time of writing. It certainly brings out more of the Travel Backpack’s heritage vibe, and the black reverse coil zippers give it just a touch of an urban accent. On either colorway, branding remains minimal on the outside, with the Pakt logo only appearing on a small patch on the back panel.

Pakt Travel Backpack Zippers and Clips
Pakt Travel Backpack | The zippers aren’t YKK, but the hardware is Duraflex.

That said, the overall styling isn’t minimal by any means, with plenty of Duraflex hardware like clips, buckles, and adjusters scattered around—not that we’re complaining about quality hardware, though.

External Components

Pakt Travel Backpack Fitnote
Left: Ahmad Mesto Kirdi, Height: 6’1″ (185 cm), Torso: 18” (46 cm) | Right: Lauren Maternowski, Height: 5’6” (168 cm), Torso: 16.5” (42 cm)

It’s not often that we find shoulder straps on backpacks that are lacking in terms of padding, breathability, or comfort in general. Thankfully, the Travel Backpack has a set of capable shoulder straps and an equally well-padded back panel. The straps have dense padding and width that distributes the weight across your shoulders. We’re also glad to see load lifters here—backpacks at 30 liters and above are where we’d consider having these a major convenience. We’re not a huge fan of the shiny aluminum look contrasting against the black fabric. We think it kind of cheapens the look, though that’s just our hot take, and you can argue that aluminum—or any metal for that matter—actually makes it more upscale.

Pakt Travel Backpack Strap Edges
Pakt Travel Backpack | The shape of the edges dig in, and we can feel it.

While there is more than sufficient padding and mesh, the shape underneath makes the gap and edges very noticeable. It’s something you feel the first time you wear it, and it can be a bit more noticeable while wearing shoulderless clothing.

What we really dig on the Travel Backpack is the clever sternum strap. It’s mounted on a shrouded rail where you can slide the strap along to where it’s most comfortable. Plus, it’s buckled on either side, which not only gives two options for securing the strap but also means it’s easy to remove entirely. Simple and effective—just the way we like it.

Pakt Travel Backpack Straps
Pakt Travel Backpack | The harness system comes with a double-buckled sternum strap and hip belt.

The harness system can also be stowed behind the back panel so that it doesn’t get in the way. The shoulder straps’ adjusters are secured via plastic anchors, which can be undone by sliding the anchor lengthwise through the buckle. Once that’s done, stuff the straps behind the back panel, and presto! You now have a flat back panel that you can slide around the luggage compartment without a pair of straps flapping around. Oh, and the top nylon loop can also be tucked behind the back panel. It’s a nice bonus for those who are peeved by random things brushing against the back of their neck.

Pakt Travel Backpack Dual Side Handles
Pakt Travel Backpack | Twin side handles make for a more balanced carry.

The Travel Backpack resembles a suitcase with its shoulder straps stowed out of the way, especially when carrying it by the handles. This twin handles on the left side are great to use because of how balanced they are to carry by hand. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the back panel’s luggage pass-through.

The luggage pass-through is relatively narrow, snugly fitting on our Travelpro’s trolley handle. But the more noticeable issue is how the pass-through is positioned more towards the top (or the left if you have the bag oriented with the handles at the top). This means the Travel Backpack sits imbalanced on rolling luggage, and while it’s not enough for it to fall over, it’s noticeable once you’re moving around.

Pakt Travel Backpack Luggage Passthrough
Pakt Travel Backpack | The luggage pass-through is biased more towards the top.

Along the bottom of the back panel is another pass-through, but this one’s for the removable hip belt with a hidden trick up its sleeve. Not only is it a hip belt, but it’s also a sling or a waist pack you can use separately. The straps compress via snap fasteners, so it fits through the pass-through when in hip belt mode. But once those fasteners are undone, it turns into a simple sling with a divider pocket inside—not the most comprehensive sling out there, but it’ll do. There are wings of fabric on each side where the straps thread through, and you can use them for a more wrap-around style in either waist pack or sling mode. They can also tuck away altogether, which is our preferred style in sling mode. Overall, a neat little trick and value-add that can save you the effort of packing a smaller bag for short strolls when you’re traveling.

Pakt Travel Backpack Fanny Pack Hip Strap
Pakt Travel Backpack | Deploy the sling and leave the backpack at the hotel.

Something we’re not huge fans of on the Travel Backpack are the compression/accessory straps. Now hold on; we’re not saying we’re down on compression straps, quite the opposite. It’s just that these particular compression straps attach via plastic toggles that, unfortunately, come off rather easily. The likelihood of them falling out decreases once they’re tightened down, but if they’re not, there’s a chance they’ll go AWOL—and there’s four of them, with two on each side.

Pakt Travel Backpack Water Bottle
Pakt Travel Backpack | The water bottle pocket gets the job done, but the compression straps are a bit insecure.

Lastly, on the right side opposite the side handles is the water bottle pocket. It’s gusseted so it can expand substantially and is able to fit even our large 32-ounce Hydro Flask. It’s also tall enough to fit a compact umbrella or tripod comfortably. The elastic isn’t the strongest we’ve seen, just enough to keep things from falling out randomly.

Inside The Pack

Pakt’s made some interesting design choices when it comes to the layout of the Travel Backpack, and you’ll soon see what we mean by that, starting with the front pockets. There are two quick grab pockets at the front: a lower and an upper one. The interesting thing about these two pockets is that they share a similar layout with subtle differences.

Pakt Travel Backpack Two Front Pockets
Pakt Travel Backpack | The front pockets have a similar layout.

The lower pocket has a pen silo and a liner pocket, coupled with a mesh pocket in front, plus a built-in key clip—this is the same story as with the upper pocket. The differences between the two are that the upper pocket opens in a horseshoe-style way, the key clips are located on different sides (left on the lower pocket, right on the upper), and they’re of different lengths (the upper pocket’s built-in key clip is shorter). Another thing to note is that both key clips use a rather simple hook that frequently lost hold of our keys, especially on the shorter key clip in the upper pocket.

This twin design is unusual, whereas other backpacks with two front pockets might have different layouts, sizes, or positions altogether. Functionally, these pockets work, and they have enough organization between them for traveling purposes. For example, you can have your house keys on the lower pocket’s key clip while you keep your Airbnb keys on the more accessible upper pocket’s key clip.

Pakt Travel Backpack Snack Pocket
Pakt Travel Backpack | This is a sizable dump pocket for your snacks.

There’s also a top pocket with a very big opening, fully zipping from side to side like a taco-shaped pocket. The interior lining for this top pocket feels crinkly, though it is very bright and nearly white. It’ll work as a quick dump pocket for items you’d want to throw in before going through airport security—perhaps a paperback novel you’re reading to pass the time, or a half-finished bag of snacks. For this purpose, Pakt also has a specialized pocket dedicated to it.

There’s a zipper pocket on the back panel on the lower portion, which you can use as a security pocket for important travel documents. Inside this pocket, there’s a pull-out mesh pocket which Pakt calls its “TSA Pocket.” This patent-pending pocket is designed to hold items in your own pocket so you don’t have to place them in a separate bin or container when going through airport security. The red stripe running across the pocket? It’s to remind you to grab your belongings and quickly reorganize before you rush to catch your flight.

Pakt Travel Backpack Hidden Pouch Close Up
Pakt Travel Backpack | It’s the “TSA Pocket”, for all the items in your pocket that need to be scanned.

The main compartment has an unusual layout compared to other travel backpacks. Whereas a more typical layout would be a clamshell opening with a bucket-style space and sprinkled with some pockets for organization, Pakt takes a more interesting approach.

It’s subdivided into two main sections: a rear compartment and the front compartment. The rear compartment is accessible via a horseshoe-style opening along the top of the backpack. This is typically where we’d find a tech compartment in travel backpacks. However, the rear compartment in Pakt’s Travel Backpack is half of the space meant for clothing. There’s not much depth for packing cubes here, and it’s more suitable for stacks of folded shirts or pants. On the back, there’s a zippered compartment for documents or longer travel papers you’d want least accessible. There are also small mesh pockets, one on either side, for small accessories you’d want relatively quickly accessible via this compartment.

Pakt Travel Backpack Top Opening
Pakt Travel Backpack | The opening isn’t that big, but it will do in a pinch.

The whole main compartment opens up clamshell-style via twin zippers, making the Travel Backpack open like a book. On the left side is the divider that separates the aforementioned rear compartment, and this divider is actually the 16-inch laptop compartment itself. Unzipping the zipper that attaches it to the frame of the bag frees it, and you’ll be able to flip this divider like a page. It’s like a laptop sleeve that’s been stitched to the bag itself, one that is softly padded and has a substantial false bottom measuring well over an inch.

You can stack more clothes on top of the laptop compartment. However, this layout of clothes-laptop compartment-clothes doesn’t feel very efficient to us. On the one hand, it puts the laptop in the most protected part of the bag. On the other hand, it also somewhat limits laptop accessibility and packing options due to how the depth is subdivided. Packing cubes may have difficulty getting in there if they’re packed too tightly, but you can get them in there if you pack them lean. Put in another way; the Travel Backpack has its own style of packing and organization.

Pakt Travel Backpack Main Compartment
Pakt Travel Backpack | Fit for a few stacks of folded clothes.

On the front side of the main compartment is a mesh divider covering a space suitable for smaller articles of clothing like underwear, gloves, handkerchiefs, socks, etc. There’s a wide and tall mesh pocket inside, plus a wide zippered pocket on top for small toiletries or tech accessories.

Pakt Travel Backpack Main Compartment Mesh Side
Pakt Travel Backpack | The interior layout is heavily compartmentalized for organization.

In terms of organization, the Pakt Travel Backpack has plenty of pockets and compartments for clothes, tech, and everyday carry items. It certainly has its unique features with a complimentary sling, a TSA Pocket, and a unique main compartment layout. Though that layout is a bit constrictive in terms of packing style, it’s ready to go for those who want a prepared layout.

Usage Timeline

Initial Usage

Condition: Excellent

  • Digging the organization options inside the pack
  • The removable hip belt that converts into a waist pack is a really neat idea
  • We like the overall style, especially the black-on-black colorway
  • The bag feels great in the hands and it’s a pleasure to use
2 Weeks of Use

Condition: Excellent

  • Shoulder straps can get uncomfortable
  • Load lifters add support
  • Compression straps fall off easily
mm
By Tom Wahlin
Created March 17, 2020 • Updated August 23, 2022
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