Pakt Travel Backpack Review

"Modern Classic"

After the success of their killer duffel bag, Pakt partnered with Chase Reeves to design a modern travel backpack for both pro travelers and weekend warriors alike.

Now they’ve updated that travel backpack. Here’s my take on this:


The maximum capacity carry-on travel backpack has become a critical piece of gear for many globetrotters. You’re not rolling your luggage over cobblestones or hauling it up stairs; you’re traveling hands free.

I like the silhouette of this bag. I love the exterior material —  by far my favorite recycled material to date — and I really love that there’s a small daybag nestled in an expandable pocket.

It opens like a suitcase, dividing the main compartment into two equal segments. It has a reliable water bottle pocket, two front external access pockets and the option for a water proof pouch with access from the top exterior of the bag.

Capacity & Segmentation

Capacity and comfort are obviously critical. Too big and you can’t carry it on, too small and you can’t bring enough stuff.

  • If you’re worried about those pesky flights around Europe and SE Asia I’d go with the 35L backpack because it’s less likely to get flagged as too big or too heavy.
  • I personally would travel with the 45L because it’s perfectly qualified on most of the flights I take and I’ll hope to get away with it on the peskier flights (I almost always do; another reason not to overpack your bags).

This backpack is about the same size as every other travel backpack out there but it’s one of the only ones who segment the main compartment into two sections. This is the “suitcase style” clamshell opening. (Another bag that does this is this one from Cotopaxi.)

Pakt have designed a bunch of packing cubes made out of sleek, lightweight materials to segment these compartments, but I’ve grown accustomed to using the two large segments as my packing cubes, storing my clothes and gear directly into the compartments.

  • I LOVE storing this thing split open and unzipped under the bed of the hotel or airbnb. It’s hidden away when I don’t need it. And I pull it out and have a simple kind of dresser on the floor. I know which items are in which side and I’ve got lots of visibility on my gear.
  • This suitcase style opening makes it easy to pack and unpack because there’s not much digging underneath or behind things; what you see is what you got.
  • I tend to bring tech gear besides my laptop and phone — a camera or two, batteries, microphones, headphones, etc. I like to put tech gear in the compartment that lays against my back for better protection. I recommend finding padded pouches for things like cameras and drones when using this bag because it protects your gear and your laptop (which is stored in sleeve between the two main compartment segments.

(BTW — traveling with the Fujifilm x100 series small fixed lens camera has changed my family’s life because it takes much better, more magical photos than our phones and it’s not big to lug around. Ask me anything and I may make a video about it.)

External Access & Pocketing

Before we get to comfort, let’s talk about external access pockets. With the new Pakt backpack we’ve got two pockets on the front.

  • The top pocket has admin organization for pens, keys, tablets, etc., as well as an hidden Airtag pocket for tracking your backpack and a mesh zippered pocket big enough to keep your passport secure. There’s about two inches of dimension in the bottom of this pocket, which means it fits my bluetooth headphones. But it’s slightly too short to zip up over my headphone case.
  • (BTW — I always travel with over ear headphones and it’s been bluetooth, noise cancelling for the last 7 years and it’s been these Focal Bathys for the past year or so. Shocker that the $800 headphone was my favorite. Timecode link below to that video.) TKK
  • The lower pocket on the front of the bag is just a flat spot about the size of a book or a collection of snacks or something. Can be hard to get into and out of when the bag is packed too full.

If that was all the external access on this bag I’d give you a little warning about the limited external access. But you have several more pocketing options at your disposal.

  • First of all, a gusseted, reliable water bottle pocket big enough for a large Nalgene with an elastic keeper strap to flip over your bottle top. My 32oz bottle of choice fits perfect. Link below.
  • Then you have external access into the tops of BOTH of your main compartment segments. So I could actually throw my headphones, camera, etc., into this area of the bag and get access to them without opening up the main compartment.
  • Finally, you have the ability to clip in their water proof pouch at the top of the front main compartment segment, which gives you another isolated pocket with external access, perfect for a larger miscellaneous tech and snacks pocket.
  • NOTE: the daisy chain for attaching the pouch is only available on the front segment. There is no daisy chain inside the back segment of the main compartment, I assume because that would interfere with accessing the laptop.
  • I’ll also include the interior laptop compartment as an externally accessible pocket because through the top back segment zipper you can get into the laptop compartment without opening the main compartment.
  • NOTE: keeping the laptop in the center of your bag has some interesting implications. One being that you can protect your laptop with clothing on both sides. Another being that if you have sharp tech gear in one compartment of the bag you’ll notice that the padding on this laptop sleeve can feel a little too light. That’s why I recommend packing any tech gear in padded pouches if possible.

I must also tell you briefly about their hidden TSA pocket at the bottom of the back panel. You flip this out quickly when you’re going through security Throw in anything in your pockets, run it through the scanner, and easily put it all in your pockets again on the other side of security. My thoughts here are that this is a surprisingly useful feature and the magnets that secure this padded flap aren’t strong enough for this burly material.

With all these potentials for pocketing and external access I can highly recommend this bag from personal experience living out of the bag for months at a time. And that’s not even counting the nested daybag yet.

Nested Daybag Functionality

I love the size and shape of this little daybag. It’s delightful. My 16″ laptop fits well with some room for a journal, some headphones, a charger, some tech items and snacks in the front compartments.

  • There’s a detachable water bottle compartment that isn’t big enough for my preferred bottle, but would easily fit most single use plastic bottles (if microplastics are your thing). Useful if you need it.
  • The straps can be set as a sling or as a backpack with a wide or a narrow configuration. I opt for narrow. I love these simple nylon webbing straps; they suit this minimal bag well.

You can travel holding the daybag in your hand, wrapping a strap or two over your shoulders from the front, or by placing it into the expandable pocket built into the travel bag.

  • The expandable pocket is large enough for a fully packed daybag to fit inside. However, you’ll need to leave the pocket as fully expanded when the daybag is filled up.
  • If the daybag is minimally packed and the travel bag isn’t over-packed, you should be able to compress the expandable pocket on the travel bag all the way.
  • The expandable pocket has an outer zipper (to expand the capacity of the pocket) and an inner zipper (to open the opening of the pocket). I’ve noticed the expansion zippers sometimes get caught on accessory loops.
  • If you don’t want to use the daybag, you could also use this expanded compartment to add some packing cubes.

There’s a chance you can fit the travel bag under the seat in front of you on an airplane when it is not expanded. However, with the expansion capacity filled up I don’t believe you’ll be able to get the backpack into the space in front of you.

The use of this daybag as your “everything I need on the airplane” bag, packed with laptop, headphones, reading material and journal, etc., pulled out of the bag as I get to my seat before placing the travel bag into the overhead compartment… {chef’s kiss}.


So, how does the bag do on COMFORT? I like the straps more than V1 of the bag. They are slightly thicker, have better articulation at the top joint and have a more rugged mesh on the interior.

  • Load lifters help pull the bag slightly up and forward on your back.
  • Gated hooks make the straps stowable behind the back panel.
  • The mesh itself can be a little harsh on bare skin if your shirt/top doesn’t cover your shoulders completely.
  • I found myself wishing there were little thumb loops on the ends of the shoulder adjustment straps.
  • The sternum strap works as expected and is helpful to secure the load of the pack since I predict you won’t be using the hip straps much (see below).

Speaking of the back panel, we no longer have a rigid frame around the outside of the bag, opting instead for a piece of plastic backing that, for some reason, doesn’t go around the entirety of the bag. This means it’s a bit more moofy, frumpy and lumpy potentially, depending on how you pack out your rear segment.

The softer back also means the stowable hip straps won’t be as functional as they could be.

  • The hip straps are simple 2″ nylon webbing, so they’re easy to stow and you probably will leave them this way unless you’re going on really long treks. Why? Because simple nylon isn’t that comfortable on the hips.
  • If hip straps are important to your style of carry I’d recommend finding some padded accessories to add to these hip straps.
  • The simple hip straps are helpful in a pinch, but the shoulder straps plus sternum strap will be sufficient for most travel.

There’s a potential for Pakt to make an updated version of the hip strap/day sling combo to give you another small bag built into the bag and possibly a more comfortable hip strap. The sling/hip strap combo on V1 of the bag was a pleasant surprise a few times in real world travels when you forget you actually do have a perfect sized sling bag built into your travel bag.


The external material is my favorite recycled material to date.

  • 500D rNylon, sourced from pre- and post-consumer waste.
  • It feels almost like a waxed canvas but drier. It also has as a PFC free DWR (durable water resistant) treatment.

The interior liner is also surprisingly delightful to the touch. Suuuuuper smooth, sleek and sexy. 70D recycled nylon.

The zippers are all YKK zippers and feature a thin paracord zip pull.

  • The two main compartment zippers are a larger #10 zipper and feature a simple plastic/metal attachment to the paracord.
  • The only zipper track I’ve had trouble with is on the expandable compartment where there are some accessory loops the zipper has gotten stuck on a few times.

More Details

  • Hidden accessory straps are available to pull out and attach to the sides of the bag for fastening a yoga mat, sweater, etc.
  • Pakt logo on the front panel of the bag and small P embroidered on the water bottle pocket.
  • Handles work as expected.
  • Quilted stitching on the laptop sleeve is similar to the quilted stitching on the back panel. Kind of an older, classy aesthetic.


  • It’s a great bag, worth the money, worthy of committing to for several years.
  • I love the nested daybag. The size, the shape, the pocketing… all delightful. The ability to stow this bag in the main travel bag may be a game changer for many travelers.
  • The suitcase style clamshell is helpful for most travelers to segment their gear. Some people prefer a single compartment, I’d recommend other options if that’s important to you.
  • Plenty of pocketing and ways to customize how you pack out this bag for external access.
  • Carry comfort is satisfactory in comparison to other bags on the market, but if hip straps are essential for you, I’d look for some pads to add to the simple nylon webbing straps.

Similar Highly Rated Products:

Aer Travel Pack 2.0

Aer Travel Pack 2.0

Organized. All black.

Peak Design Travel Bag

Peak Design Travel Bag

Intelligent Design.

Bellroy Venture Duffel 40L

Bellroy Venture Duffel 40L

Simple & Elegant

Peak Design 35L Travel Duffel

Peak Design 35L Travel Duffel

Simple, Techy Capacity

Pakt One Travel Bag

Pakt One Travel Bag

The Professional

Nomatic 40L Travel Bag

Nomatic 40L Travel Bag

Weatherproof. Organized.

Minaal Carry On Backpack

Minaal Carry On Backpack

Tight & Sleek

Pakt Anywhere 50L Duffel

Pakt Anywhere 50L Duffel

Massive Compartmentalization

Tortuga Setout Travel Backpackpack

Tortuga Setout Travel Backpackpack

Large. In charge.

GoRuck GR2 Backpack

GoRuck GR2 Backpack

Rugged. Forever.

Pakt Anywhere 25L Duffel

Pakt Anywhere 25L Duffel

Organized & Classy

DSPTCH Travel Pack

DSPTCH Travel Pack