This is a review of the Large Knack Expandable Knack Pack. We’re always in search of the next travel bag that will make our travels more pleasant and enjoyable. Recently we came across one of the best travel backpacks that we have had the pleasure of traveling with, the Knack Pack.
The Knack Bag is an everyday travel backpack designed to go from everyday use to travel. It’s great for savvy minimalist travelers or and anyone in the market for a new bag. With stylish design features and a lot of practical elements, it all adds up to a well-designed backpack for one bag travelers or everyday carry use.
Knack Bag Product Specs
- Weight: 3 lbs. 4 oz.
- Exterior Fabric: Nylon 1200D
- Interior Fabric: Nylon 150D
- Capacities: 31L, 37L
- Expanded Dimensions: 21.5″ x 14″ x 9.5″
- Padded Laptop Pocket: Yes, 15″ Compatible
- Water Resistant: Yes
- Carry On Compliant: Yes, overhead and under the seat
The exterior of the pack has a professional look to it that, and it looks very sharp in person. I was initially impressed by the looks of the bag online and was pleasantly surprised when we first received the pack – it lived up to its product images. The Expandable Knack Pack comes in two sizes medium and large, with a small Knack Pack to be released later this year.
There are a number of smart design features that stand out in the Knack Pack. In particular, I really appreciate the large laptop sleeve that holds my 15″ Macbook Pro with ease yet separates it from the rest of the packs interior. The next pocket over is a hidden water bottle holder.
The Knack Pack has various compartments and pockets:
- Top pocket: This pocket is designed for sunglasses or other items you need to access easily
- Front triangle pocket: This is a great place to put pens, snacks or a book
- Bottom Pocket: This pocket is designed to hold your laptop charger – no more trying to untangle it in the airport!
- Main compartment: This is where you can keep the bulk of your items, like a camera, over the ear headphones, books, etc
- Expandable Luggage Compartment: This section of the Knack Pack is great for digital nomads and travelers. You can expand it to carry clothing (the large fits 3-4 outfits).
Overall the size of the backpacks feels just about perfect. On a trip, I’m able to utilize packing cubes to compress luggage and arrive at a destination. Once at said destinations, it’s great to slip the packing cubes up zip up the expandable section and use as an everyday carry bag.
The medium comes in four colors whilst the large has two color choices, Stealth Black and Saville Gray. I went with the Saville Gray, but have to admit the Slate Black looks very sharp.
We receive a lot of travel backpack samples and the Knack Bag has design quality that many backpack start-ups lack. It has a professional look to it and the slim design gives a professional appearance. I’d even go so far as to say the bag would be appropriate on a business trip.
Three Months of Use
After three months of use, we can make a safe assessment of the exterior of the bag. Further down we share where we took the Knack Pack, and how it held up to international travel.
With 1200 D nylon fabric used in the bags exterior construction, we shouldn’t be surprised at how well the backpack has held up to heavy travel. The Knack Pack shows little wear and I have yet to find any snags, abrasions, or blemishes on the exterior of the bag.
With any backpack designed for travel, I like to stress the importance of the support. This references the shoulder straps, sternum strap, back panel, and hip belt. It’s nice to see that the Knack Pack uses all of these key elements for a back that feels solid on the back when fully packed.
It’s not as robust as something similar to a hiking pack, but this also saves it from looking too much like an outdoors pack. I used the pack all day several days as a day pack while exploring various cities and it felt comfortable throughout the day. Even after all the wear with weight, the shoulder straps have no signs of wear which is a great signal for the longevity of the Knack Pack.
The back panel is effective as padding and offers ventilation. This saved me a sore back and I did not sweat in normal weather environments. That being said there is hardly any backpack that will prevent sweating in hot/humid environments like Hong Kong, Singapore, or New York in the summer.
A great feature should you need to stash the bag away or perhaps check the backpack for a flight is the stowaway straps. All of the straps detach and can be stored away inside the bag. It’s easy to do and only takes a minute or two to stash away everything in a straightforward way.
The main compartment of the expandable backpack does a great job at protecting your items and offers several pockets to organize. We had enough room to store lip balm, wallet, two jackets, small tripod, a mirrorless camera, lotion, GoPro, and a power bank with ease — more or less everything we need to explore a new city when we travel.
In the main compartment, it was easy to keep things organized as well with two zippered compartments and a soft lined sleeve that would work well to protect a tablet. The small key leash is super helpful and a great way to save you from digging for keys and it protects other items from scratches.
Moving onto more elements of the interior is the smooth nylon lined interior. It’s stain-resistant and sports a brightly colored fabric that aids in finding items in the bag.
The second compartment expands and is best suited for your luggage as it is roomy and features a strap to secure luggage. This area of the backpack feels very similar to a clamshell suitcase with a large roomy side and the opposite a large zippered compartment. The zippered compartment is vented and is great to store underwear, socks, belt, or ties. What really stands out is the how unobtrusive the compartment is when not expanded it zips up well and leaves a minimal footprint.
On the top is a small pocket that was perfect for small items that require quick access. It was the perfect spot to stash your phone and sunglasses and with the soft-lined sleeve, it did a great job at protecting your screen or glasses.
Knack Bag Features I Love
Water Bottle Pocket
It has some surprising features for its size such as a zippable secret compartment and a water bottle holder that is capable of holding my large 18oz Hydroflask water bottle. We always encourage everyone to travel with a water bottle, as it fights dehydration and reduces plastic waste. Too often a pocket to hold a water bottle is left out in travel bags, or it’s on the outside and makes it easy for a water bottle to get lost!.
Small Top Pocket
I really enjoy the top pocket as it felt just the right size and the soft lined interior is great for protecting valuable items like a phone, sunglasses, glasses, or a small camera like a Sony RX 100 or GoPro.
This is a feature found in a lot of luggage, but it’s taken a while to make its way into backpacks. I love having a sleek liner that is bright in color as it saves a lot of digging.
I really enjoyed the support system in Knack Pack and felt it does a great job at supporting a medium amount of weight. Should I need to check the back I was able to stash away the straps which is great!
In light rain showers or getting caught briefly in a thunderstorm, the bag is very effective at protection against rain. They have implemented a reverse coil zipper from YYK that’s good at keeping the elements out and when combined with super robust 1200D nylon the bag really holds up well in the elements.
Knack Bag Features I Don’t Love
While I love the look of the front pocket, personal preference, it’s not the most practical. When opened items tend to slip out as it folds down, and it doesn’t totally utilize all of the space available in the front effectively.
It’s far from a deal-breaker from me, but I’d love to see a top open pocket in future versions of the backpack. In use, I was still able to slip in my noise-canceling over-ear headphones, pens, notepad, and a reusable straw (check out our eco-friendly travel products). So, it’s still a practical compartment, just could be a little better.
No Side Handle
The stowaway support straps are great and make the bag very streamlined. However, once they are stored away the only to hold the bag is via the top handle which feels a bit long and awkward. If a side handle was added to the bag or perhaps even a should strap it would be a tremendous feature. Hopefully, in a future backpack version!
We took the Knack Bag on our last trip to Asia in which we visited the cities of Hong Kong, Osaka, Singapore, Kyoto, and even did some island hopping in the Philippines.
As far as design the Knack Expandable Backpack is one of my favorites in the travel world. It’s a new backpack and company, that launched in 2019 and from a number of executives who worked for the luggage company Tumi. The exterior and design of the pack are overwhelmingly positive. Compared to any of the other travel-specific bags we’ve had the chance to take a look at it delivers high quality with nice features.
It’s not well suited for those on long trips a month or more, but if you’re making a quick city escape for a long weekend or week trip to a city like London or Paris, this pack would be a tremendous decision.
Living a #OneBagLife
Having separate bags for travel and every day can be a pain, and they take up a lot of storage space. The Knack Pack is great for someone who loves to travel for long weekends or week-long trips as both business professional and tourist, who also needs an everyday carry laptop bag for work.
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