Inside Line Equipment and The Radavist go way, way back. John helped Eric from ILE design the brand’s first camera pack back in 2011, which has gone through many iterations since. He’s also put the Photo Mini Bag through the wringer, which remains one of his favorite pieces of US-made gear. ILE makes solid bags for on and off-the-bike outings, all sewn in the Bay Area.
Today we’re sharing something a little different. Earlier this year, ILE announced the Travel Pack. It’s a bag designed to be the perfect size for a weekend+ trip, to fit in an overhead bin on an airplane or train, and has a lot of smart features. John recently took it overseas and has some thoughts to share, so read on for his full review.
Travel Pack Overview
Inside Line Equipment has this neat bag called the Race Day bag (21L), intended to be used as a bag for your race kit and shoes. One detail that makes the Race Day pack so unique is the zipper closure, which runs the length of the bag; this gives it the ability to “clamshell” completely open.
Eric applied this clamshell zipper closure to the larger (40L) Travel Pack. This rectangular bag is a rather large backpack with carry-on size dimensions and is intended to fit everything you need for a weekend to week-long trip. It has a plethora of pockets, multiple cinch-down spots to ensure a tight-n-tidy packing job, and some hidden compartments.
Before we jump in further, let’s look at a quick product video.
… and some Specs:
- Retail: $380
- 8 colors available
- Weight 4lbs 4oz empty with waist belt
- Durable and lightweight XPAC Sailcloth
- AustriAlpin 50mm COBRA buckle closure
- Main compartment is accessible through the zippered sides as well as the top
- Expandable front pocket with mil-spec mesh side gussets
- Zippered side pockets sit flush but expand to securely fit a water bottle
- Top access pocket with key tether
- Padded internal laptop sleeve fits up to 16″ MacBook; positioning allows for convenient access from top without opening entire bag
- Interior pleated drawstring sleeve for dirty laundry or shoes
- Interior mesh zip pockets for organization
- Interior full-length side zip pockets for additional storage
- Water-resistant urethane-coated YKK zippers with custom CNC 6061 Aluminum pull-toggles
- Ergonomic shoulder straps with sternum strap
- Removable waist strap
- Carry-on size (for most airlines)
- Dimensions: 12″ (30.5 cm) x 8″ (20.3 cm) x 21″ (53.3 cm) – (40L)
- Handmade in California
Now, I hate packing, particularly for bike trips. You have to pack your bike in a box, pack all your cycling clothing, camera equipment, day clothes, etc. I’m usually a speedy packer—throwing everything I need into a duffel or the bike box—but despite all the trips I’ve taken, I end up forgetting some crucial piece of equipment at home.
However, packing for a holiday is another ballgame. No bike. No big cameras. No nonsense. Just soothing, easy vacation vibes. In this case, Cari and I finally took our honeymoon in the South of France. For this trip, I packed my rangefinder camera, three lenses, my laptop, some books, my Aeropress (and two bags of beans), and two days’ worth of clothing in case my checked bag got lost.
Our plan for the trip was to hop from town to town along the Mediterranean by bus and train, and the Travel Pack was the perfect ally.
Being able to access the entire interior of the bag, thanks to the clamshell opening, and carefully compartmentalize small items in all the pockets made packing easier, and the second or third inspection before departure a cinch. Passport. Check. Laptop. Check. Camera bag, check! Everything you see here is what I used on a mini-trip during our holiday, just enough for three days’ worth of tourist activities.
The capacity of the Travel Pack is made possible due to some clever detailing…
The Travel Pack has a top flap that closes off the two main side panel zippers. This closure is possible due to the AustriAlpin 50mm COBRA buckle that allows you to cinch down the top flap. This flap closes off the top of the bag’s clamshell design.
This top flap is also a pocket, making it (sometimes) ideal to stow items you want to keep handy (keys, headphones, sunnies, battery charger, etc). It works great when the bag is sitting on its bottom yet, my one qualm with this pocket is when the bag is in an overhead bin and you open the pocket, your stuff spills out because there’s no “lower pocket shelf” to catch it all. Truth be told, I quickly realized this and stashed my necessary go-to items in the front pocket. The last thing you want is your passport falling out on a train or plane!
The front, outermost pocket (right by the ILE logo patch) made for a perfect location to store those aforementioned in-flight necessities. You can stash books, a jacket, or other items behind this flap as well.
These pockets are only weather-resistant, not waterproof, so if you’re expecting heavy rain, put anything electronic in a dry bag…
The two large side pockets also make for a secure place to store on-the-go accessible items. Think a small tripod if you’re taking one on your trip (thanks to the cinch strap just above), snacks, headphones, or even a small water bottle.
I wish these pockets fit a 32oz Nalgene, but I found them useful for other items.
Within the primary front flap is a padded laptop sleeve and two mesh, zippered pockets for other essentials. Since these two pockets are somewhat difficult to access without opening the entire bag, I used them for miscellaneous camera batteries and a charger.
Inside the main clamshell compartment are some stash pockets for things you might want to keep hidden. These two zippers run the length of the bag and are perfect for organizing smaller items. ILE makes these “Load Cell” bags that fit inside these side pockets, perfect for electronics or a dopp kit.
To help with apparel or anything billowy you want to keep flat and compressed; the main clamshell has a compression sleeve. This was a perfect place to store dress shirts or anything I didn’t want to get wrinkled while packing.
Once you’ve loaded the bag, cinch down the side straps and pull the top flap closed, latching the Cobra buckle. These straps really make the bag, in my opinion. They’re evidence of the hard work that went into developing a bombproof travel bag that can both expand and contract depending on your day-to-day demands.
The optional lumbar straps help distribute the weight to your hips but can be easily removed and stored inside the main compartment.
I’m a large, 6’2″ tall human with a 46″ chest, long legs, and a very short torso. For week-long backpacking trips, I usually use a 75L Osprey pack in size small due to my super short (10.5″ long) torso. The Travel Pack fit my back space perfectly, but since the lumbar straps aren’t adjustable up or down, I couldn’t get the waist support to hit the top of my hips. This is a common issue with me and backpacks, and it’s not like I was taking this into the Alps; it’s a travel bag, not an expedition pack.
I found the pack’s padding quite substantial, including that of the arm straps. I didn’t feel hot or sweaty carrying it around, and there were no pressure points on my shoulders like many ultra-ultralight bags.
Even loaded, the size is manageable. Remember, it’s a carry-on bag, and most airlines limit the weight of these bags to under 30lbs. The bag is light enough when empty (4lbs 4oz) that you’re not eating up this weight allotment with the weight of the bag itself. This lightweight pack keeps its form when empty thanks to the clever detailing, the location of pockets that act as reinforcement, and the XPAC Sailcloth material, which is very durable!
When it comes to weekend getaways or longer trips that involve transit between multiple destinations, keeping your gear organized and compartmentalized is crucial. The Travel Pack is a 40L bag designed for inner-city or inter-continental travel. It can hold most everything you’d need for a weekend or week-long trip, expands to accommodate a few extra items, and is fairly lightweight, allowing you to jam it full as a plane carry-on.
There are lots of pockets and many means of adjustment, and with eight available XPAC Sailcloth colors, you can find a Travel Pack for any style or preference. These bags are sewn in California and retail for $380. They are in stock and shipping from ILEquipment.com today.
- Minimally branded.
- Sleek profile. Not too “tactical bro” or mil-spec looking.
- The carry-on size is perfect
- Lots of pockets, including some secret stash pockets for… stuff…
- Cobra buckle is a nice detail
- Perfect size for weekend+ trips
- Padding is comfortable
- Ergonomics are great! Especially when compared to other UL packs.
- Lots of add-on accessory bags can make packing even easier.
- Made in the USA
- You have to be strategic in which pockets you use for specific uses. The top flap only works well when the bag stands straight up on its base.
- The side pockets don’t fit a Nalgene or any 32oz bottle.
- Sometimes your favorite color might be sold out (like this Coyote)
- The price is high, but considering it’s made in the USA from nice materials with a ton of detailing, it’s appropriate.
Got questions? Drop ’em in the comments! Check out more at Inside Line Equipment!