Tucked away down a small road near the River Clyde in Glasgow lies Trakke. Trakke is the brainchild of Alec Farmer, a Glasgow School of Art graduate who was bored of the mundane carriables available on the market and decided to do something about it. While still at uni, he began creating bags by scavenging scraps of material from skips in the city and turning them into unusual bags to sell to his friends.
Soon he was selling his bags at Glasgow’s Barras Market, where he began to gain a dedicated following.
“From that I decided to take things more seriously and turn my bag-making hobby into a proper business,” Ale
Trakke make a selection of backpacks, messenger bags, courier bags, duffle bags and totes, as well as a number of accessories to accompany the luggage.
The Assynt 17
Inspired by vintage mountaineering equipment, the modular Assynt Backpack range is built for adventure everywhere.
The 17 is the mid-size pack from the Assynt range. We’ve chosen to review this sized pack due to type of activity we will be doing. There is also the slightly smaller 12 pack for your day-to-day needs or the larger 28 which makes a great go-to pack for bigger expeditions.
At first site the bag is packaged really nicely. The simple, rugged brown paper packaging has a large printed slogan in the brand typography. It is a nice touch that instantly tells you that this product has been thought through and is well produced.
When you pull the bag out you can instantly feel the waxed cotton against your hands. The pack feels really sturdy and built with care to last a lifetime.
Apart from being a storage solution within its main compartments you can also attach external storage or accessories thanks to the sturdy straps. Loops in the straps allow for you to add external storage such as the Laggan pouch. You can also add other items such as an axe, or a sleeping bag using the same strap loops.
Here is where the bag excels. The 17 may be the mid-size bag in the collection but it sure allows you to pack a lot in. The pack has multiple pockets and carry areas so you can easily organise your things. A built in padded laptop sleeve means you can carry your favourite tech with ease and comfort, while multiple zip pockets (one on the inside and one on the outside) means you can happily carry small items knowing they aren’t going to fall out.
The main storage section is surprisingly big. You can fit everything you should need for a short days hike in there. Spare light rain jacket, jumper, drink, camera and spare lens, snacks and more. All this and the pack stayed comfortable on my back.
One thing to note however, the pack doesn’t have any breathing room between your back and the waxed cotton. While cotton is a breathable material, the wax makes it much less breathable (but water resistant) and with no room your back can become pretty sweaty pretty quickly.
The bag has been built with a good fit in mind. The main traps are comfortable and sit over the shoulders nicely. The optional sternum and waist belt would add a next level of fit if you were planning on going on a hike with the bag. Both the sternum and waist belt are optional extras and do not come as standard with the pack.
One thing I would say about the sternum strap is that it is quite confusing to attach. As it doesn’t come as standard it is not built directly into the bag, which means you have to attach it yourself. It isn’t the clearest of things to attach, and after a few slightly confusing attempts I actually decided to not bother with the strap and left it at home.
The waist belt is much easier to attach, as there is a dedicated holder built into the lower back on the bag. Just slip the waist belt through the holder and attach around your front. Easy!
The Assynt 17 is a great pack. I have tested it through a number of different situations to come up with a decent idea of how it performs for me. While it performs great anywhere as far as a good storage solution, I found that while on the trail out exploring that it wasn’t as comfortable as other more dedicated day packs (like Osprey for example). The material is very hard wearing, and does start to look even better with age, but the fact that it sets close to your body with no air flow does mean that it can get very warm on your back. The straps can also get a little uncomfortable if wearing for extended periods of time (I tested this on a 4 hour round hike).
Where I feel the pack works really well is for small adventures or for the day to day commute. It would make a great bag for work, on the cycle commute all year round thanks to the waxed water resistant cotton. You can pack a lot of gear into the bag and it’s comfortable and performs well for that purpose. Testing extensively in both situations I believe this is the best fit for this pack.