Need a new brief case? - Hackpack Review

The Wheelie case
Hackpack V1.0

Bobby Bizz
Tortuga Set Out Divide
Things to Pack
Packed Up and Ready To Go
Slings - carrying light

Hackpack V1.0

I am planning a trip to India to attend the wedding of my friend's daughter. I would then take the opportunity to spend another 4 weeks travelling.

I had planned a similar trip in 2008 when my friend's daughter got married in Union City, California. We carried two aluminium brief cases and a 25" canvas suit case. We spent the whole Easter holiday break there; about 4 weeks. I took two video cameras, large SLR with lenses, two compact 35mm cameras, a Sony Vaio 11.5" laptop and a media player with hard drive for my friend.

Today my daughter's Hackpack arrived. As she is in the middle of exams I thought I would try to see how I could pack the new bag and what will not work. The Hackpack is primarily a brief case that turns into a shoulder bag or backpack. Most convertible backpacks remain looking like a rucksack even with the straps tucked away.

This is not a fair test of the Hackpack. 1) it is a daily carry to college or the office 2) it is a weekender travel pack for my daughter 3) For 4 to 6 weeks in Asia a back pack of 50 litres is expected, not the 15 litres of the extended Hackpack 4) choose not to bring along the world and everything in it.

I have three clothes mesh cubes. I can save some space not carrying those. Some other obviously items to reduce - not a video camera, digital 4/3rd, 35mm compact and the Tessina. I didn't take a tripod to California but borrowed one - 1.3kg for the MeFoto RoadTrip Air tripod. I have a Slik one that is less compact, less stable but only 600g.

On the trip out to California I worn comfortable clothes and packed a suit. There is no room for a suit in these bags so I would wear the suit. That also means I will wear the belt.

The laptop (Sony Vaio Tap11) will not fit. The clothes pack out the available space. The Dell Venue 8 Pro will have to do.

An amazing amount fitted into the Hackpack; 5.6kg. But there is no room for the laptop, tripod, drinking bottle and sweatshirt (for the cold winter evenings in Pune in December). Most importantly the towel, soaps, shaver and sandals are left. The photographic equipment fits into a small camera bag.

I have a tote folding pocket bag which just ate all the extras including the camera bag.  I could have used the tie pull bag the Hackpack came in. That, by the way would make a great laundry bag.

But not the bottle. The tote is about 10.5 litres in volume. Another 5.3kg.

Not my preferred means of packing. A 30-35 litre backpack or larger convertible brief case / backpack would be easier. And, of course, choose to take less hardware and accessories.

The Hackbag still has space - not a lot. The 5.6kg pushed into it is too much for the backpack straps to be comfortable. If I was going to carry a laptop and a few text books I would have to improve the padding of the straps and fit a sternum strap and a padded waist strap. My daughter's laptop is only 1043g. Add a power supply, leads, a few documents, a university course file and some books and the weight easily surpasses the 5.6kg in my very quick test.

The laptop space in the Hackpack is well padded and generous, but not so that you can fit something else inside it if you have a 12" screen. The laptop in its own sleeve bag fits and then some cables and power supply can be pushed in alongside. The mesh divider on the other side has no divider and so cables and power supplies have too much freedom to move around. I used the laptop compartment for an eight inch tablet and an Android phone.  If used this way the items have to be packed into something to stop them all moving to one end.

There are no built in fixtures for pens, wallet, passport, calculator, mobile phone etc. There was no room to add more items in this compartment, perhaps a pad of note paper, so the zip opening one three sides isn't a lot of use. The other side does not open all the way, yet it has the space when expanded to take a large volume that would benefit from a suit case style opening.

A compact camera can easily fit but any camera with a changeable lens system is the wrong shape to find space, even the tiny Sony Nex 5/Nex 7.

This is not a negative point. All the built in dividers, spaces for so many pens, cables, little pockets don't work for everybody. It is better to get your own organizers, e.g. a Cocoon Grid-It Organizer, Neatnix Readytech Organizer, Tom Bin Freudian Slip, packing cubes and pouches.

I was surprised that the zipper leaves a gap when the double zipper latches are together. The very old wheelie suit case (see below) uses a half width catch that joins with the other zipper and can be locked together for security. The Hackpack zippers latches can be locked together but they do not join together flat. 



The Hackpack is heavy at 1115 grams for 11 litres. Other brief case backbacks are 700-800g for 12-12.5 litre capacity. The outside dimensions of the Hackpack are 406.5x300x124 mm (+/- 2mm). When expanded this extends to a width of 165mm. The zipper used for compression is already 20mm across and that creates space under it. The expansion material is 50mm (2") wide but only 30mm is gained.  The volume is increased by 3.4litres. The larger internal compartment goes from 380x295x60mm (6.73 litres) to 380x295x90mm (10.1litres).

The Wheelie case

I have a "carry on" case that has wheels. This itself is too heavy, at 4.4kg, and whilst okay at the airport and when driven place to place is not a good choice when hiking and using public transport. With measurements of 190 x 320 x 520 mm the 31.6 litres gives an idea of what might be needed. With the feet. wheels and handle at 60cm it is big for today's carry on luggage of under 228x280x544 mm (9x15x21.5") . Fully loaded it is 14.9kg. No room for the water bottle and the Sony Nex 7 is in the camera bag. The suit is packed. The laptop as well but the camcorder has been left out. It could still fit in the camera bag.

The laptop and 8" tablet fit in the inside flap. There is even room in the main compartment for another shirt and other items of clothing.

Last updated 30th April 2018