Alex Roddie reviews rucksack organisation options from Eagle Creek
When it comes to packing our rucksacks, most backpackers make do with a motley collection of plastic bags and stuffsacks. But is there a place for Pack-It’s more organised approach?
The Specter Tech line of products includes a number of lightweight packing solutions made from high-quality 30D ripstop nylon shell – and the manufacturing is PVC-free. They have a variety of bags from small standard packing cubes to larger and more specialised products. Common features include webbed carry handles, high-quality zippers with integrated zip pulls, and a water-repellent finish (but not waterproof).
Eagle Creek also offer a lifetime warranty for their products.
Pack-It Specter Tech Quick Trip
£22.99, 3L capacity, 25x8x13cm, 64g
This is a wash bag, and it’s a pretty good one. While there are lighter options, it’s still very light and it gives you enough space for essential toiletries plus a lightweight towel. There are three individual zippered compartments separated by water-resistant and seam-sealed panels of translucent fabric – a nice touch that makes it easy to see at a glance what’s in the next compartment. It also reduces the consequences of a shampoo explosion.
While this is marketed as a wash bag, it would make a pretty good gadget/electronics bag too, as it’s lightly padded and the side pockets are just the right size for small items such as cables, batteries or memory cards.
Pack-It Specter Tech Starter Set S/M/M
This bundle ($43.16 / £32.43) includes three different products:
Small packing cube
5L capacity, 17×24.5x8cm, 30g
This size is ideal for spare underpants and socks, and is probably the least useful size for backpackers.
Medium packing cube
12L, 25×34.5x8cm, 50g
A useful size. Ultralight backpackers in summer may be able to get all their spare clothes in one of these.
Medium Structured Cube
5L, 25×34.5x3cm, 200g
This one looks about the same as the standard Medium cube, but it has a clever trick. There’s a lightweight plastic insert (‘folding board’) to give it structure, and a second zip system around the side can be used to reduce the interior volume by more than half, compressing the contents (the stated volume is when compressed).
This is really made for storing folded shirts – not something the average stravaiger is likely to want to do! – and the compression system is fiddly to use, as the zipper easily snags. I also think it would be easy to break the zip if trying to cram too much stuff in this one. It shouldn’t really be treated like a compression sack as it’s too fragile for that. Maybe an option for TGO Challengers who want to carry a smart shirt with them for the party at the end, but otherwise of limited use for UK backpackers.
Pack-It Specter Tech Clean/Dirty Cube (Medium)
£31.99, 12L capacity, 25×34.5x10cm, 120g
This product attempts to bring laundry management to the great outdoors. It has two individually zippered compartments, one on the front and one on the back, separated by a layer of water resistant fabric. While the line between ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ becomes rather indefinite after a few days on the trail, if you like to keep smelly socks quarantined then this is a decent way of going about it. This would be ideal for someone going on a trip with a mixture of camping, hostels and other forms of accommodation where you want to at least try to look presentable from time to time!
Pack-It Specter Tech Shoe Cube
£27.99, up to men’s size 13, 34x13x22.5cm, 120g
Few backpackers bother with a storage container for spare footwear (I normally just shove my flip-flops in the front pocket of my pack and call it a day). However, as lightweight shoe bags go, this is quite a nice one – and perhaps something else worth considering for the backpacker who stays in hostels and B&Bs as often as a tent. It folds flat when not in use, which is a nice touch.
Like the Quick Trip, there are structured and padded panels for protection, and the inner surface is also water resistant to help keep mud inside. Despite its light weight it feels robust enough for heavy use. In terms of capacity, it’s big enough for trail shoes or mids (depending on your shoe size) but a bit snug for larger boots, and it certainly won’t fit big winter boots.
None of these items can be called an essential for the hillgoing backpacker – stuffsacks serve their purpose perfectly well, and are usually lighter. However, if you want to make your life on the trail a little more organised, or if you often go hostelling or car camping, there are some good ideas here.
I think the Quick Trip is particularly handy. The standard packing cubes are also useful and the Clean/Dirty Cube is worth a look if you want to try keeping smelly socks away from your clean clothes (good luck with that). Most backpackers won’t find a genuine use for the Shoe Cube or Structured Cube.