Trakke Handa Crossbody Review
The Trakke Handa Crossbody’s heritage styling comes with subtle design choices that ensure compartment accessibility doesn’t directly suffer.
- Very spacious with good independent volume
- Style doesn’t get in the way of functionality
- Feels really solid and holds it shape well
- Strap’s thickness makes it hard to feed through the hardware
- Keyring needs a clip if you want a quick way to detach keys
- Main compartment’s liner pockets are obscured by roof
11.6 oz (328.9 g)
6.69 in x 7.87 in x 2.76 in (17 x 20 x 7 cm)
Canvas, Nylon, YKK Zippers
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Heritage-style bags have a unique aesthetic appeal that a lot of users find very tempting. Waxed canvas and beige colors offer what some bags lack: personality. As paradoxical as it sounds, mimicking the style of a bygone era can be a welcome breath of fresh air in a world dominated by ballistic nylon and all-black colorways.
If there’s a brand we can count on to make that heritage formula work, it’s got to be Trakke. You could even say they have a good Trakke record of it badum-tss. Puns aside, their Handa Crossbody is a sling (or, well, crossbody) that does a good job of exemplifying this. More than its heritage styling, though, are the thoughtful considerations that Trakke put in to make sure it’s not all style and no substance. Hint: it’s all in the details, and that’s what we’re here to look at.
As we’ve already mentioned, the Handa is made out of waxed canvas. This type of fabric is a favorite among brands who want to do a heritage-style bag, and we agree. A waxed texture can be offputting to some when it’s fresh since it can leave residue on your hands. The good news is that it’s not the case for the Handa due to the dry finish. The canvas also feels thick, making the Handa a very structured sling that holds its shape very well.
However, in case you’re not a fan of waxed canvas, residue or no residue, though, Trakke’s got you covered. They also offer the Handa in a nylon blend model. It’s only available in one colorway at the time of this review, though: Sage Green. Still, we think waxed canvas is the way to go if you want something that’s eye-catching.
The zippers on the Handa are from YKK, which is reassuring considering their good reputation for reliable zippers. Unfortunately, we do still have memories of Trakke’s ring pulls breaking off on the Vorlich, so we’re keeping an eye on the Handa’s ring pulls, too. To be fair, they haven’t broken off, and it seems like our experience with the Vorlich is the exception, not the rule.
The Handa doesn’t really have many, if any, external features, but that’s okay. It’s already a relatively large sling, and too many frills can upset either its looks or weight (or both). The one feature left to talk about is the handle, and we dig Trakke’s implementation of it on the Handa.
The handle is made out of cotton webbing that runs across the top portion of the Handa, offset towards the back, and sits flush against the sling. It’s soft and easy to hold onto compared to thinner handles we’ve seen on other pouches and slings that can feel like they slice into your fingers. Take note that there’s no padding involved, so it makes the soft cotton webbing all the more important choice for material here.
The fact that it’s offset towards the rear of the Handa is also noteworthy. It makes hanging it off even a shallow hook possible and relatively trouble-free. We don’t know about you, but restroom stall hooks are more often than not so small that we have trouble hooking bags onto them. Talk about being made by the lowest bidder, right?
Now, let’s talk about the harness system. The Handa’s strap flows cleanly from its handle, almost like the two are part of a single piece of cotton webbing. They’re not, though, because the strap is attached to the sides of the handle via D-rings. This is more or less an aesthetic choice but not one that affects performance.
Granted, the strap itself lacks any padding, like a movable shoulder pad, but the soft cotton webbing material gets the job done. Adjustment is made via a single metal adjuster. Unfortunately, for all its softness, the cotton webbing’s thickness makes it hard to feed through the adjuster, especially once you’re wearing the Handa, and weight’s putting tension on the strap.
All of that said, the Handa is relatively comfortable to carry. The cotton webbing strap is able to distribute the weight evenly on the shoulder. The only caveat you have to worry about is getting the adjustment right before you wear the sling. Thankfully, adjustment is a set-it-and-forget ritual for most slings unless you’re the type to change from thin summer clothes to thick winter jackets frequently.
You can either wear the Handa crossbody style or onto one side. We prefer the former as it makes swinging the sling to the front or back easy. In this way, the Handa behaves almost like a mini messenger bag because of its horizontal and rectangular shape. That’s not a bad thing, by the way, since it still sits very flush against the user without being overbearing.
There is something else that’s worth noting about the Handa when you’re walking around with it: jingliness. The zippers’ metal pulls have a slight tendency to jingle when they’re shaken, like when you’re running and rushing around. To be clear, it’s not like you’ll turn into a walking chime, but if jingliness is a pet peeve of yours, you may want to steer clear.
Inside The Sling
Probably the second most eye-catching design element of the Handa (second to the waxed canvas) is its curved front zipper. This is the front pocket, and you’d think this curved opening would make accessibility trickier than it would’ve been if it were a simple straight zipper.
The good news is that Trakke made the necessary adjustments to prevent that. The liner pockets inside are also curved so that the edges aren’t obstructed for the sake of styling. This is a design approach we can really get behind; aesthetics and functionality can go hand in hand—they’re not necessarily mutually exclusive.
But back to the front pocket itself. Inside, there’s a lot of space to work with, thanks to a subtle gusseted design which you can see from the front. This means gear packs out instead of bulging in towards the adjacent main compartment. This also makes access to the two aforementioned liner pockets easy since the gear in front of them are less likely to get in the way.
Above the liner pockets is a built-in metal keyring. This is one beefy keyring, so much so that getting accessories onto it is too hard for us. If you want to hang something you’ll want to take on and off frequently, we recommend using a carabiner to attach it instead.
Next up is the slip pocket at the back. This is a simple open pocket that sits right up against the user, so a zipper isn’t super necessary for security. It’s a nice place to quickly stash something flat like a slim wallet or a smartphone. Just be mindful that it’s a pocket that can directly impact comfort if you put anything too bulky inside.
The main compartment’s opening features a subtle design choice that we really like. If you look at the Handa as a whole, it’s a rectangular sling. Rectangles have corners, and corners usually mean a tough time getting zippers around them, especially for the AquaGuard-style zippers the Handa uses.
The nice thing about the Handa’s design, though, is while the sling itself is rectangular, the main compartment’s zipper follows a more curved shape. You can see the zipper curve around the edges ever so slightly, and this makes zipping and unzipping a hassle-free experience. This is also encouraging in terms of alleviating stress from the zippers and should help prevent the woes we experienced with the Vorlich.
Inside the main compartment, you get more of the Handa’s spaciousness. Trakke did a good job translating its size toward actual usable space. So much so that we actually have trouble filling in all the available three liters of space. Items like a thick wallet, smartphone, power bank, and snacks fit effortlessly into the cavernous interior. The yellowy-orange liner is a nice bonus for interior visibility as well.
In terms of organization, the main compartment comes equipped with a zippered pocket at the front and two liner pockets at the back. The former is good for keeping small accessories that would otherwise free-float and get lost in the Handa’s large spaces. The zipper on this pocket also uses the same ring pulls and AquaGuard-style track as the zippers on the outside. Both seem overkill, but you can at least hang additional accessories on the ring pull if you really need to.
As for the liner pockets, their rear positioning can make access to them rather tricky since the Handa’s relatively large roof obscures them. This means you have to reach in and feel your gear out. That said, this is more of a nitpick, given that it’s still a sling that’s easy to bring close to you if you need to get gear out.
The Handa is a good example of style and substance not really clashing with each other. Trakke made a conscious effort to meet their aesthetic requirements to keep their brand identity intact while minimizing the burden on the user, whether it’s in terms of spaciousness, accessibility, or comfort, and we really dig that. It’s heritage styling that doesn’t inherit old-school flaws.
- Really digging its sleek look
- Interested to see bulky gear impacts shape
- Materials are solid
- Material still in great shape
- Really digging the comfortable fit—it’s nice to carry even when loaded with gear
- Hard to adjust on the fly, but it stays in place once you find your fit