You know how you can do one thing that catches someone else’s attention for the wrong reasons and that’s how they’ll identify you for all eternity? Like, if you spill something on your shirt at the office holiday party, you’re forever known at work as Meatball Shirt, or if you trip running to first base in your adult kickball league, everyone calls you Mr. Oopsie until you stop showing up for games. These are things that happened to other people; definitely not me.
On a work trip several years ago, I packed how I normally pack for four days, and that’s by throwing everything I might need into my giant suitcase and hoping I didn’t forget anything. Well, my publisher thought that was the funniest thing he’d ever seen, and he has never let me live it down, all because he’s the kind of guy who can fit everything he needs for four days into one carry-on bag. So, ever since that trip, I have been on a quest to find a weekender bag that can carry the things I need, while teaching me to live without the things I think I might need.
Finally, my quest is complete, as the Pakt One duffel bag truly lives up to its minimalist hype.
Why is Everyone Obsessed with Minimalism?
Because it’s hip and all the cool kids are doing it! I kid, but that’s not too far off from the truth, as no one wants to deal with luggage fees and long lines at the baggage claim anymore, not when a good, organized packing job that Marie Kondo would appreciate can get you from the airplane to the car with no obstacles.
The Pakt One, which was also featured in the Netflix documentary Minimalism, is simple from its appearance to function, and the simplicity comes with a dash of coolness. Three color schemes are available—black/black, grey/pewter and navy/bronze—but I’m a sucker for the all-black look, because it’s the kind of bag you’d expect to see a mob runner pulling from a trunk or a hitman holding closely on a train. Hey, I’m only glorifying the style, not those professions—I’m like Will Smith with his cigars.
But Does Simple Do the Job?
It’s funny—I praised my backpack because it’s loaded with pockets, so many that my only thought for how to use them was “I NEED MORE TABLETS!” The Pakt One is the opposite. Yes, it has pockets and compartments, but as soon as you open this baby up, you know where everything will or should go.
I love that this bag was designed with traveling busybodies in mind, especially since I’m the kind of guy who not only occasionally decides I don’t want my iPad and instead want a book for the flight, but I also forget which pockets those things are in, and so I’ll be hunched over in my seat trying to dig these things out without violating the sacred space between seats. There is no confusion here. The padded laptop pocket is accessible from the main zipper, making this as TSA-friendly as a bag gets, and it also makes keeping related travel accessories close by for a simple series of zips.
Would I Trust this Bag to Get Me Over a Mountain?
One of the biggest mistakes people make with luggage is trading durability for a combination of style and affordability. I’ve made that mistake too many times, buying backpacks and messenger bags and rollers that look cool but don’t survive the year between family vacations, during which they just sit in the closet or garage.
To give the Pakt One my basic trust test, I simply let my son use it to carry his toys around for a week, and despite a few GoGo pouch smudges I had to wipe off, I was very pleased with how little visible wear the bag shows from being thrown inside my car and then dropped six times on the way to the front door from the car. Believe me—you could offer to drop a boulder on my bag, and I’ll choose my son, the human tornado, every time.
Then, the only difficult part is convincing him to stop leaving toys in daddy’s bag so I stop finding kinetic sand when I’m unpacking for real sand.