Have you been looking for a good travel bag? Do you like the structured organization of a suitcase? The convenience of a duffel bag? Are you tired of owning numerous backpacks and bags – each for a different purpose? Than the Pakt One can be the solution for you.
Like many, I acquired a variety of gym bags, messenger bags, backpacks, duffel bags and suitcases throughout the years. And of course I always had a ‘valid’ excuse for each one. When I went on a business trip, I used a professional looking suitcase. But this suitcase was either too formal for going on vacation or too big for short weekend trips. So it felt justified to buy a more casual duffel bag as well. I also had a cheap gym bag, which of course could hardly be used for anything else. And then I still needed a messenger bag or backpack for my daily commute, as well as a suitable bag for the gun range.
So I ended up owning many bags and wasted a lot of money in the process. Most of them collected dust in a corner as they were only rarely used.
After I adopted minimalism in my life, I noticed how much space these things were taking up in my closet. What a waste! So I donated them all and started looking for a suitable all-in-one alternative. I just needed one bag to use in a variety of situations:
- An Every Day Carry (EDC) commute bag for my laptop, chargers, lunch, water bottle, spare change of clothes…
- A quality gym bag.
- A gun range bag.
- A professional looking travel bag for business trips.
- A casual travel bag for vacations.
Enter the Pakt One
When watching the award-winning documentary Minimalism I noticed a very peculiar bag. It was the Getaway, a travel bag designed by environmentalist and entrepreneur Malcolm Fontier. Popular authors and bloggers Colin Wright and Joshua Fields Millburn – both featured in the documentary – were avid users of the Getaway. The bag got a lot of attention and many inquired where they could purchase it. Sadly, the Getaway was no longer available as production ended in 2012.
As a result of this renewed interest, Malcolm founded Pakt Bags and partnered with Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus of The Minimalists for this bag. This endeavor quickly led to a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. The company quickly acquired over 2400% of the requested funds and production could begin. The Pakt One bag is the result of this new venture, and is the direct successor of the Getaway.
So what is the Pakt One? Malcolm Fontier describes his product as follows:
The Pakt One is an innovative carry-on travel bag that combines the portability of a duffel with the organization and structure of a suitcase.— CEO Malcolm Fontier.
And that description is spot-on. After several weeks of dedicated use, I can safely say that this bag lives up to the hype and that it fits all my criteria. The Pakt One is the perfect merger of a suitcase and a duffel bag by combining the best aspects of both.
When opening the main zipper, the Pakt One folds open in half, allowing access to the two main compartments of the bag. One is closed off with a mesh divider (so you can easily see the contents) while the other is covered by the quilted laptop compartment. Zip each one open to access the storage area. Each of these compartments also contains two mesh pockets, allowing the storage of small, loose items. When fully closed, the interior of each side can also be accessed through the top-access zippers to easily retrieve some items while on the go.
Externally, the bag features two zippered pockets on the front – one including a key clip and card slots – while on the back there is a magazine sleeve that neatly closes with two magnets. The back also contains another side storage compartment with a very handy TSA pocket.
The Pakt One is available in 3 colors: a rugged black, a stylish grey with pewter hardware, and a beautiful navy blue with bronze interior compartments and brass metal fittings. All bags have the same dimensions:
The Pakt One also includes a small separate laundry bag, which can easily be folded up and stored in one of its internal mesh pockets. More accessories are reportedly in development.
One negative point is the lack of an exterior compartment to store your water bottle. According to the promotional video and photos, you are supposed to attach your bottle with a carabiner on one of the exterior attachment points – but that just doesn’t cut it for me as it is cumbersome and annoying. Now I have to store my water bottle within the Pakt One, which wastes some very precious internal cargo space.
The Pakt One is a stylish and good looking bag. It is however lacking in the construction quality department. Overall the build quality is decent, but there are still several issues that can be improved.
For starters, I bought the grey version – which is constructed of a coated polyester canvas. And although the quality of the canvas is okay, it is not the best either. If you use this bag extensively on a daily basis, you will definitely have visible scuff marks on the canvas after a couple of weeks. In other places, some of the stitching has also become loose.
Another downside for me are the zippers. They frequently snag or are not always as easy to open or close the inner compartments when packing/unpacking. I’m not sure if this is caused by the form factor of the bag, the questionable quality of the zippers themselves, or a combination of both. One of the outer zippers is also unraveling due to frequent use. I’m not happy with that at all.
Furthermore, the zipper of the Pakt One’s inner laptop compartment caused some minor scuff marks on my 2016 15″ MacBook Pro during travel. As the zipper does not contain a protective strip liner, it can make direct contact with the chassis of your computer. I recommend you use a sleeve for your computer, although some laptops will then just barely fit in the bag’s designated compartment.
True to his ethos, Malcolm only used durable and sustainable materials in the Pakt One. As he is also the founder and CEO of SeaHive, he takes the environment at heart. SeaHive aims to fight plastic pollution in our oceans through intelligent design and awareness. Quite a commendable initiative – one I can only support.
As a result, the Pakt One bag is delivered without any plastic packaging but in a stylish paper wrap instead.
Pros: Suitcase/duffel hybrid; extremely versatile; sustainable materials.
Cons: Could still improve in build quality; inferior zippers; lack of exterior water bottle pocket.
I am absolutely aware of the irony of recommending the purchase of yet another product as a self-proclaimed minimalist. But the Pakt One has already provided much added value to my life. And just like Joshua Fields-Millburn states: “minimalism is about only possessing those items that provide great value to your life. To intentionally own stuff. And to live more with less.”
This bag goes everywhere with me. And with some extra packing cubes, it is an incredibly versatile item to use. In just minutes, I transform the Pakt One into my daily commute bag, a gym kit, a gun range bag, or a travel bag for either a vacation or business trip.
It’s just a shame about its construction flaws. The overall build quality of the Pakt One is adequate enough, but for its price I expected better than loose stitches, snaggy and weak zippers, and easily scuffed canvas. I also regret that there isn’t a place to properly store your water bottle on the exterior of the Pakt One.
If you want this bag, you can order it through Pakt Bags for $275.00 (approximately 250.84€). Yes, that’s a bit pricey, but despite its problems, it is a nice bag to own. I love the concept and versatility of the Pakt One, but sadly it suffers from some issues that can be a dealbreaker.
Take care and until next time.
Update on 8 Jul 2020: After additional use of this bag in past months, I had to downgrade the score and change my opinion. One of the exterior zippers is now unraveling, and the metal buckle on the shoulder strap broke. I updated my review accordingly.