Guerrilla Packs Voltij Backpack Travel Gear Review & Giveaway!
If you’ve got exciting travel plans this year, you may want to consider upgrading your travel gear (it’s an important travel tip). And if a backpack is on that list, I’ve got a great recommendation – the Guerrilla Pack Voltij Backpack*.
In 2005, when I took my first backpacking trip through Europe I carried with me a Columbia Europacker (photo) (no longer in production). It’s served me well over the past 7 years, but is starting to show signs of fatigue and knowing now what I know about travel and what I need, a new backpack was in order.
The team at Guerrilla Packs sent me over one of their most popular packs to give it whirl. I took it on a recent business travel trip and here’s the full report on how it held up…
Every time I use the pack I’m finding all sorts of fun, little, secret design details. A lot of attention was put into the design of this pack, which makes it a standout. Here are some of the top features:
- Sleeping Bag/ Wet Clothes Compartment
- Detachable Daypack
- Laptop Shoulder Bag
- Detachable Top Compartment Bag
- Interior Storage Pockets
- Attached Thermometer & Compass
The Voltij is a 55-litre pack which is much smaller than my old pack (which was approximately 87 liters). This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s a matter of personal preference. What you lose in size, you make up for with a lighter weight. When I pack for a trip, I tend to add enough clothes and gear to fill the space I’m carrying. The smaller the space, the more judicious you need to be in selecting what you bring.
With that being said. you should still find enough space to carry all the gear you’d typically need for a trip. The top part of the pack is detachable and can hold small toiletry and personal items. And the sleeping bag compartment is like a second storage space. It’s an interior compartment that can be unzipped from the inside (photo), thereby extending the total volume of the main compartment and when zipped, compartmentalizing your gear (photo). I found it useful to keep my dirty clothes and a second pair of shoes. I really like this feature, a lot.
The Voltij had more than enough room and then some for my business trip, but I also packed it for a typical excursion. Without using the separate, sleeping bag compartment, I was able to fit:
- 6 t-shirts
- 2 pairs of pants
- 1 bathing suit
- 1 pair of cargo shorts
- 6 pairs of underwear
- 6 pairs of socks
- 1 long-sleeve shirt
- 1 thermal shirt
- 1 diving t-shirt
With the additional sleeping bag compartment, you could easily fit a pair of shoes, a heavy sweat shirt, more clothes and/other items. In short, there’s more than enough space here. And at the top of the pack are two interior, cup-like pouches for small items you need to access easily.
You can access your stuff from a top-loading, drawstring opening and a front-loading opening. No worries about digging everything out of the bag to access your stuff on the bottom.
One of the most comforting features of my Europacker was the strength of the fabric it was made of. I’m please that the Voltij is just as strong. Additional straps on the side help secure your gear tight and the interior aluminum frame is flexible, but strong. The straps are thick and secure and the clips, durable plastic.
There’s a handle on the top of bag to help carry it when it’s not on your back (photo) (though a side handle would have been more convenient).
The zippers on the main bag can be locked with a standard backpacking lock, but know that you’ll be securing the zipper pull (photo) and not a separate “O-Ring” on the pull (photo). A strong tool could break the zipper pull, but then again, a sharp knife could pierce the bag itself. Backpack locks generally serve as a deterrent to thieves than a sound protective mechanism anyway.
A nice feature is the inclusion of two separate eyelets (photo) to run a cable through to attach your bag to a luggage rack. At the bottom of the bag is an attached rain cover that protects the entire bag (photo1) (photo2).
The most-used element of any traveling container is the zipper. A frustrating zipper that doesn’t want to open or close smoothly will make you scream. The main zippers on the Voltij are strong and secure.
The backpack measures 26 inches long and 14 inches wide. This makes it just a few inches bigger than most airline carry-on limits (which typically end at 24 inches). I wanted to test the airline’s policy and took my bag on the plane as a carry-on. On my outbound leg I did so with the top compartment detached, to make it appear smaller in size (which it is, by about 2 inches). It was able to fit (barely), in the overhead bin.
On the return trip I left the top compartment attached and full with my toiletry supplies. The bag would not fit into the overhead bin when placed bottom-in, but would fit when placed sideways.
On both trips, gate agents never questioned the size of my bag. But just to be sure, at the conclusion of my trip I placed my backpack in the bin-checker. It was able to fit, thanks to the compressionability of backpacks (photo). Check your airline’s policy before you fly, but the Voltij should be able to be brought onboard with no problems. This is a big deal for me, since I hate checking bags, so I’m glad the Voltij can fly along with me.
The Voltij comes with a detachable daypack that clips to the back of the backpack. The shoulder straps also have clips that enable you to attach the daypack to the front of the backpack – keeping your valuables exactly where you want them. Sure “turtling” (as this practice is known) is kinda geeky looking, but the peace of mind you’ll have knowing where your valuable are at all times outweighs the funny looks you’ll get.
The zippers on the daypack don’t cover the full length of the bag, which was mildly annoying when traveling through security. Given that I kept my laptop in my daypack, I had to practically take everything out to finagle the laptop sleeve out of the bag. The daypack does have an interior pocket for a 13-inch laptop. Mine fit snugly without my neoprene laptop sleeve (separate from the GP sleeve below), but was a tough fit when inserted with my own sleeve.
The daypack is made out of the same material as the main backpack. I loaded it with my laptop, headphone case, electronics pouch, portable hard-drive, nook, blackberry, and coffee mug (photo). There wasn’t any space left for anything else. While the exterior held up well, the interior lining did separate slightly from the seam. I’d say it was due to the fact that I overloaded the bag than the quality of the bag itself.
There are some additional interior pockets for keys and other small items. The exterior pocket also comes with a security eyelet too. For a daypack it has everything you’d need but a water bottle holder, but the exterior pocket is wide and deep enough to accommodate one.
LAPTOP SHOULDER BAG
The Voltij includes a laptop shoulder bag, which shows some great forethought in designing this bag for techie travelers like me. But in practice, the use of the bag was just good, not great.
The bag is large enough to hold a 13-inch computer (my macbook fit just nicely). If you protect your laptop with a laptop sleeve, the bag won’t zipper close – which is fine. The bag itself is padded and acts as it’s own sleeve. There is an additional pocket for your charger, and a side pocket for something flat, like documents.
When you go through security you may/may not be able to leave the laptop in the shoulder bag. On the first occasion I placed it in the bin just fine. On the trip home, security told me that since I had my charger in the outer pocket (as I had on the first trip), I had to remove the laptop. Had the charger been somewhere else, I could have left the laptop in the sleeve. TSA is always unpredictable with the enforcement of their policies, so be maybe you’ll get lucky.
The shoulder bag can be clipped to the inside of the main compartment of the backpack (photo). But this feature didn’t work for me. And by that I mean the clips worked just fine… I just would never carry my laptop in the main bag. If I have to check the bag, place it under a bus or on a rack on a train, I want all my expensive gear with me. Additionally, placing the shoulder bag in the main compartment would use up space that I’d rather have for clothes. Perhaps you may find this feature suitable for your travel style.
I’ll finish by saying that the laptop bag is designed to carry a laptop and that’s it. It’s not a messenger bag, and the shoulder strap could easily be cut if you’re walking the street with it. But I don’t think it was designed for street-use, but rather, for walking from your hotel room to the lobby.
DETACHABLE TOP COMPARTMENT
The top of the backpack includes a detachable top compartment. It’s large enough to store plenty of gear, whether it be cameras, toiletries, books or other assorted items. It attaches to the top via clips in the front and straps in the back. You are able to detach it completely from the bag and carry it as mini-shoulder bag with the included clip-on strap.
But I found this shoulder bag transformation awkward. The compartment has two pockets, upside-down from each other. So when slung over your shoulder, one has the zipper on the top and the other side has the zipper on the bottom (meaning your contents could spill out). It also seems off-balance when loaded with gear as the clips are located on the bottom of the bag, making it slightly top heavy. If you’re using it to run to the hostel showers, it will do you fine. But I’d stay away from using it on the street as a daypack. It’s not designed for that.
Look & Feel
The Voltij has padding for your back and shoulders. They are incredibly comfortable. The back frame is adjustable for various torso sizes as are the straps (photo). There’s also a waist strap for support. The Voltij balances just nice and is a pleasure to wear.
When empty (and without the detachable daypack – but with the laptop sleeve), the bag weighs 5.5 lbs. Fully loaded with my gear, a comfortable 17 lbs. My detachable daypack, when fully loaded came in at 12.6 lbs – but felt much heavier than the main pack.
The Voltij is available in orange, red and blue. I chose the blue and love the look. It’s a sharp looking bag.
What else is there to say? I really enjoyed taking this backpack around with me. The backpack is strong, spacious, has great interior compartments, offers plenty of straps to secure additional gear and small touches like the thermometer, sleeping bag compartment and attached rain cover to take care of practically all your needs. The fact that I can bring it with me on an airplane is a huge win. It’s shortcomings are minor; an awkward design of their detachable bags that didn’t fit my travel style. It’s a great backpack that comes in at a reasonable price.
Not convinced? Checkout these additional reviews about Guerilla Packs for more opinions.
Win Your Own Guerrilla Pack Voltij Backpack!
Guerrilla Packs will be offering one Voltij Backpack to one of you lucky readers! How awesome is that? This is a fantastic backpack that will treat you well. And whether you’re in need of a backpack, or in need of a gift to give a fellow traveler, this will be sure to hit the spot. Here’s what you need to know to enter.
- I’ll be using Rafflecopter to administer the giveaway.
- Winners must have a valid U.S. Mailing Address to receive the backpack from Guerilla Packs.
- Entrants must be 18.
- Sorry, family members are not eligible.
- Void where prohibited by law.
What do you look for in a backpack? Share by commenting.
I’ll see you out there…!
*Guerrilla Packs provided me with one review backpack and will be shipping one backpack to a lucky reader in exchange for a review on this site. All opinions stated in this review are of my own and Guerilla Packs did not edit the content in anyway.