Check out our review of the Large Knack Expandable Knack Pack. We’re always searching for the following travel bag that will make our travels more pleasant. 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 excellent for savvy minimalist travelers or and anyone in the market for a new bag. With stylish design features and many 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 pack’s exterior has a professional look to it that, and it looks very sharp in person. I was initially impressed by the bag’s looks 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.
Several innovative design features stand out in the Knack Pack. In particular, I appreciate the large laptop sleeve that holds my 15″ Macbook Pro with ease yet separates it from the rest of the pack’s 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 can 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 them as an everyday carry bag.
The medium comes in four colors, while the large has two color choices, Stealth Black and Saville Gray. I went with the Saville Gray, but I 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 bag’s exterior construction, we shouldn’t be surprised at how well the backpack has held up to heavy travel. The Knack Pack shows minor wear, and I have yet to find any snags, abrasions, or blemishes on the bag’s exterior.
With any backpack designed for travel, I like to stress the importance of support. It refers to the shoulder straps, sternum straps, back panel, and hip belt. It’s nice to see that the Knack Pack uses all of these vital elements for a back that feels solid on back when fully packed.
It’s not as robust as a hiking pack, but this also saves it from looking too much like an outdoors pack. I used the pack 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 an excellent signal for the longevity of the Knack Pack.
The back panel is effective as padding and offers ventilation. It saved me a sore back, and I did not sweat in typical weather environments. There is hardly any backpack that will prevent sweating in hot/humid climates 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, a wallet, two jackets, a 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.
It was easy to keep things organized in the main compartment with two zippered compartments and a soft-lined sleeve that would work well to protect a tablet. The minor 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 backpack area feels very similar to a clamshell suitcase with a large roomy side opposite a large zippered compartment. The zippered compartment is vented and is excellent to store underwear, socks, belt, or ties. What stands out is how unobtrusive the compartment is when not expanded. It zips up nicely and leaves a minimal footprint.
On the top is a small pocket that is perfect for small items that require quick access. It was the ideal spot to stash your phone and sunglasses, and with the soft-lined sleeve, it did a great job 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 capable of holding my large 18oz Hydroflask water bottle. We always encourage everyone to travel with a water bottle to fight dehydration and reduce 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 enjoyed the top pocket as it felt just the right size. The soft-lined interior is excellent for protecting valuable items like a phone, sunglasses, glasses, or a small camera like a Sony RX 100 or GoPro.
A lined interior 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 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 could stash away the straps, which is excellent!
In light rain showers or getting caught briefly in a thunderstorm, the bag effectively protects 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 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 utilize all of the space available in the front effectively.
It’s far from a deal-breaker for 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. It 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 bag’s only to hold is via the top handle, which feels a bit long and awkward. It would be an outstanding feature if a side handle were added to the bag or perhaps even a shoulder strap. 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 several 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 look at, it delivers high quality with excellent 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 excellent 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.
Plan For Your Trip
- Protect Your Trip: We don’t travel without travel insurance, nor should you. You never know what can happen while traveling, so it’s best to be prepared. HeyMondo provides excellent short-term and long-term travel insurance plans.
- Find Cheap Flights: Sign up for Going (formerly Scotts Cheap Flights) to get notified when prices get ultra low.
- Book a Rental Car: We use Discover Car to book all our rental cars! You can also read our top tips for renting a car abroad here.
- Travel Adapter: Make sure you find a good adapter to keep your personal electronics charged. Otherwise, you may be paying for a cheap one once you land. Purchase one here.
- Travel Backpack: We like the Nomatic Travel Backpack for our travels. Check the price here.
- Our Favorite Travel Shoes: Our answer to this question is always ALLBIRDS! Check them out on their site!
- Get a Travel Credit Card: We travel worldwide for free because we have leveraged our spending into points. See why you should get a travel credit card and how you can do the same with our favorite travel credit cards.