Pioneer Savant Pack Review

The Pioneer Savant Pack showcases the brand’s knack for premium-feeling, solid materials, though its shoulder straps aren’t very ergonomic or comfortable.

Our Verdict

7.1 /10
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  • The Mandarin 840 fabric feels really solid and looks very sleek
  • Spacious laptop compartment with thick padding underneath for protection
  • Plenty of organization between the main and front compartments


  • Shoulder straps are on the stiffer side and not very ergonomic
  • Top handle’s wrap doesn’t add significant comfort
  • Not filling the front compartment’s lower half leads to a saggy look

Technical Details

87 %

Carry-on Compliance

View 126/145 Airlines

78 %

Like the Look

Polled on Instagram

  • Capacity


  • Weight (lb)

    2.3 lb (1 kg)

  • Dimensions

    18 in x 11.5 in x 7.5 in (45.7 x 29.2 x 19.1 cm)

  • Notable Materials

    Nylon, EVA Foam, DWR Coating, YKK Zippers, Duraflex Hardware

  • Manufacturing Country


  • Laptop Compartment Size


  • Warranty Information


Full Review

The Pioneer Savant Pack is the brand’s foray into backpacks, and it’s got us interested. Why? We know Pioneer for wallets and pouches, with unique fabrics that arguably make them stand out. The fabrics look good, plus Pioneer is quick to point out practical qualities like being “world’s strongest fiber,” “oversized weave,” and “baby ballistic”—that last one is the actual name of one of their materials, by the way.

Pioneer Savant Pack Side
Pioneer Savant Pack | We’re digging the fabric already.

Indeed, the Savant Pack’s Mandarin 840 fabric is a highlight of the bag, with its distinctive thick and dense weave that feels premium to the touch. However, the bag has the telltale signs of the first attempt, namely the less-than-ideal ergonomics of the harness system and the front compartment’s layout. We don’t have the knowledge of bag engineers to nitpick design decisions, but we are travel experts who can tell you our experience with this bag—so let’s get into it!

External Components

So, what fabric is Pioneer touting in the Savant Pack? The sample we’re reviewing has Mandarin 840 fabric that from the outside has a heavy weave of ballistic nylon material. They say it’s a relatively dense weave with a very slick texture, and we find that pet hair simply slides off and doesn’t stick. No doubt it’s the DWR coating playing a major role there. It’s also worth noting that there’s a waterproof membrane underneath it all, ala X Pac minus the X pattern. Overall, we like how this fabric looks, how it carries the bag’s entire aesthetic, and its ruggedness.

Pioneer Savant Pack Brand
Pioneer Savant Pack | We like the styling, minus the zippers.

The Savant is mostly minimally styled, with nothing really sticking out and in your face. Branding is kept to a minimum with two logos on the outside, one on the bottom front and one on the back panel. If anything, we’re not vibing the relatively toothy YKK zippers. To be clear, they zip smoothly, and the metal pulls are a nice touch. However, the chunky zipper track kind of detracts from this bag’s otherwise sleek look courtesy of the fabric and black colorway.

One nice value-added feature of the Savant is a detachable luggage tag on its left side. It’s nothing fancy; it’s not a smart tracker with a proprietary tracking website and QR code. There’s a paper slip inside with a see-through cover, so whoever finds this bag knows how to contact you—and that’s it. You can also remove this luggage tag entirely and use the leftover metal loop for whatever accessory you prefer.

Pioneer Savant Pack Zipper
Pioneer Savant Pack | The chunky zippers feel out of place on this bag, but they do work.

Unfortunately, there’s no water bottle pocket below the luggage tag, though. We could’ve used the metal loop to anchor a 21-ounce Hydro Flask, a technique we use to avoid situations where our bottle would fall out and roll down the cabin aisle. Moreover, bags around the 20-liter range, such as the Savant, are ideal for daily carrying, so a convenient stash spot for a water bottle would’ve been great.

The top handle is the only other exterior feature, though we’re not quite sure about its design. It comes with a snap-fastened cover that’s ostensibly for comfort, but it’s not that much softer than the handle it wraps around. If anything, it only thickens the handle, making it easier to grip. All in all, we just wish Pioneer just made the wrap softer with padding.

Pioneer Savant Pack Tag
Pioneer Savant Pack | A simple, analog luggage tag.

The Savant Pack has a 20L capacity, so it makes sense that the harness system is pretty basic. It’s just two shoulder straps with thick padding, a formula we’ve seen work for other similarly-sized backpacks. However, the padding feels a bit stiff, and the straps’ shape isn’t very ergonomic. We’ll get into more detail in the next section, but they’re not totally uncomfortable.

Pioneer Savant Pack Handle
Pioneer Savant Pack | The handle’s wrap doesn’t have any appreciable padding.

The back panel has four sections of padding that are relatively thick. Like the shoulder straps, it is comfortable enough, but only to the point that they get the job done. Also featured here is a central luggage pass-through. It feels a bit too tight, but that’s better than being too loose, which makes the entire bag wiggle on your roller luggage.

Fit Notes

Pioneer Savant Pack Side By Side
Left: Eric Hergenreder, Height: 6’0″ (183 cm), Torso: 18.5” (47 cm) | Right: Kristyne Defever, Height: 5’5” (165 cm), Torso: 17” (43 cm)

There’s not much that stands out with how the Savant Pack carries. The shoulder straps do a decent job cushioning a not-fully-packed weight, but that’s about it. If you do fully pack this out, you’ll start to saturate the cushioning, making it tiresome to carry over time. Supporting straps like a sternum strap or hip belt could mitigate that, but it’s hard to say since they’re unavailable.

Pioneer Savant Pack Harness
Pioneer Savant Pack | The straps are a bit stiff, lacking the ergonomic feel we want.

The shape of the bag itself is okay. It’s not so long that it goes over the bottom edge of the torso for those with shorter frames (among the Pack Hacker crew, at least). We just wish the shoulder straps were softer. As it is, they don’t contour very well to the shape of a body, and it’s exacerbated once you pack more gear.

Inside The Backpack

At the very back of the Savant Pack is the laptop compartment. A 17-inch device fits in the open space, but there’s also a sleeve on the front side that can fit the 13-inch MacBook we’re using. Take note that the sleeve has a false bottom, which should mean better protection, whereas the main space only has padding underneath. That said, the padding is thick enough that we wouldn’t worry about damage in case we set the bag too hard on the floor.

Pioneer Savant Pack Pockets Laptop
Pioneer Savant Pack | You can just use the inner sleeve if you have a 13-inch laptop.

The front compartment opens in a horseshoe shape, and there’s a ton of room inside for you to pack. In fact, the compartment’s lower half is almost too expansive, and if you don’t make use of it, it makes the Savant Pack’s front look noticeably saggy. We recommend putting your toiletry bag or tech pouch here instead of the main compartment just to keep the aesthetic composed. It’s worth noting that other brands get around this issue by allocating that bottom space to the main compartment and just limiting the front compartment to a shallow floor.

On the backside are four liner pockets of nearly the same size. What to put here is up to your imagination, but it’ll mostly be everyday carry items like wireless earbuds, passport-sized notebooks, charging adapters, dongles, and small bits of toiletry supplies. There’s also an included key leash with a snap-fastened loop at the end. We actually like how simple and easy to use this is compared to a spring-loaded clip typically used on other key leashes.

Pioneer Savant Pack Front Comp
Pioneer Savant Pack | The front compartment goes deep.

The main compartment can technically open like a clamshell, and this would make packing easier if you’re putting bulky items inside. However, that’s really hard to do if you have the front compartment’s lower half already packed. In this case, the main compartment only partially opens in the horseshoe style of most daypacks. It’s not a huge deal, but it’s an interesting consequence of having a deep front compartment.

On the front side are two large zippered mesh pockets. We like how these are placed where you can easily access them. A lot of brands put the main compartment organization on the back side where they can get blocked by your bigger gear, so this is just a better approach. That said, there’s honestly enough organization in the front compartment that we don’t need to use the pockets here.

Pioneer Savant Pack Empty
Pioneer Savant Pack | The main compartment has its own set of pockets for organizing small gear.

The main compartment, unsurprisingly, is best used for storing most of your bulky gear. However, the bucket space is relatively shallow if you plan on stacking items back to front. Instead, we place packing cubes and pouches side by side to fill the entire space. It’s best to store anything too rounded or irregularly shaped in the front compartment’s lower half, where it can bulge out.

Pioneer Savant Pack Stuffed
Pioneer Savant Pack | The space is relatively shallow, but it’s not overall lacking.

There are also loops near the corners where you can attach accessory straps. Since the bucket space is shallow, you can use such straps to cinch down clothing and gear so they don’t fall over as soon as you open the bag while it’s standing up.

Usage Timeline

Initial Usage

Condition: Excellent

  • Great materials, which we’re not surprised to see from Pioneer considering their focus on materials with their other gear
  • Digging the sleek aesthetic
  • Shoulder straps seem pretty bare minimum
2 Weeks of Use

Condition: Excellent

  • Material is still in great shape and doesn’t attract pet hair or lint
  • It feels a little awkward to pack this thing in a way that prevents a lumpy look
  • Shoulder straps do the job but aren’t particularly ergonomic
By Lauren Maternowski
Created March 1, 2024 • Updated March 6, 2024
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