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Guerrilla Packs Voltij Backpack Travel Gear Review & Giveaway!

 Guerrilla Packs Voltij Backpack Travel Gear Review & Giveaway!

Hey Adventurers,

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…

Functionality

FEATURES

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

STORAGE CAPACITY

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.

STRENGTH

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).

SECURITY

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).

ZIPPERS

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.

SIZE

 Guerrilla Packs Voltij Backpack Travel Gear Review & Giveaway!

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.

DETACHABLE DAYPACK

 Guerrilla Packs Voltij Backpack Travel Gear Review & Giveaway!

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

PADDING

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.

The waist strap also had a thermometer and compass which was a nice, touch (phot01) (photo2).

WEIGHT

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.

COLOR

The Voltij is available in orange, red and blue. I chose the blue and love the look. It’s a sharp looking bag.

Price

The Voltij is available for sale directly from Guerilla Packs at $149. It’s also available at amazon.com. It’s priced right for travelers of any style. Worth the investment.

Conclusion

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!

THE PRIZE

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.

RULES

  1.  I’ll be using Rafflecopter to administer the giveaway.
  2. Winners must have a valid U.S. Mailing Address to receive the backpack from Guerilla Packs.
  3. Entrants must be 18.
  4. Sorry, family members are not eligible.
  5. Void where prohibited by law.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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.

Comments

Jefton

Hey great review! I’m really considering getting the Voltij but i showed it to some friends and they said I should get a wheeled backpack as the weight can be quite annoying at times. What do you think?

Also, I was wondering if the shoulder straps on the Voltij can be zipped up for when checking in the bag at airports? that would be the deal maker for me.

thanks in advance!

adventureswithben

Jefton, it all depends on how you travel. I have found wheeled backpacks add extra weight. If you want wheels, get a proper suitcase. The Voltij does not zip up the straps, but it does fit in overhead bin sizers, so you should be okay.

Shirlene from Idelish

Comfort and durability would be what I’d look for in a backpack. Could definitely use one for our upcoming camping trip in March!
Shirlene from Idelish recently posted something special..{USA} Creative Omakase at Sushi of Gari in New York

Kathy S

Yellowstone National Park!

adventureswithben

I haven’t been there in ages! Can’t wait to return.

Danielle Whitson

If I win… AWESOME! If I don’t then I might have to look into these bad boys anyhow! I am a big fan of your articles and postings, so thanks for all the good travel advice!

adventureswithben

Thanks so much Danielle! Good Luck.

Sara Lorenz

I’ll be traveling to Chiapas Mexico later this year and am planning to acquire my first real “backpacker” pack – this would be perfect!

Lindsay Pond

Planning to use this to backpack across Europe on my honeymoon! From goat farms in Italy to bike tours and archeological digs in France to Spain´s Camino de Santiago, I´ll be showing my Guerilla Pack some love if I win!

adventureswithben

Make sure you get it a passport too!

siampuii

looks like i can’t win this one :( am from India so no US mailing address for me..

Norbert

This is a really good review, Ben. The backpack looks really versatile for different types of travel. I guess this could be a nice addition to my RTW gear… my current backpack is showing its signs of age… lol
Norbert recently posted something special..Paris In My Dreams

Jha

A fellow traveler once told me there is no such thing as a perfect backpack for all activities. But the “Guerrilla packs Voltij backpack” with so many features is as close to perfection as it can get. Perfect for my post-grad Asia Trip this Year.

adventureswithben

Celebrate your degree. Where ya off to?

wendy wallach

I would bring it to Israel the next time that I go

madamerkf at aol dot com

Danielle Whitson

Gong to Panama nex year, I demand my future husband to take me shark diving in Cape Town fo my honeymoon ;) I feel my soul pulling toward the Great Plains in Africa… I am going to need a lightweight, versatile backpack to get me through all of my adventures. I love the feature that keeps you from over packing! haha, I ave that problem. I am a “just in case” packer!

adventureswithben

I am a just in case packer too!!!! It’s a horrible addiction.

Leah

I’m off to Rio for Carnival next. That would be totally perfect for a carryon and to run around Rio with.
Leah recently posted something special..It’s a (free) Sign!

Ben

I’d love to hit Nepal next. This backpack would be fantastic!

Thanks for the fantastic giveaway Adventureswithben.com!

Cassie

This looks like a good pack, thanks for the review. I love the detachable daypack. I do like packs that have an external water bottle pocket so you don’t have to strap the bottle on, but that’s of lesser importance. I love that it is (mostly) carry-on size, that’s the way I’m trying to travel from now on.

adventureswithben

You’ll still be able to carry a bottle – but in the zippered pouch. No biggie.

Michael Figueiredo

This is an awesome giveaway! As you can see by my most recent blog post, I’m going to need a nice backpack this year. Right now I’m leaning toward Peru, and one of these Guerrilla Packs would be perfect for the trek!
Michael Figueiredo recently posted something special..Dream Destinations for 2012

Reynald M.

I like the attached thermometer and compass in case you get lost while strolling. How much is one set of this gear?

Thanks for the item review! I’m thinking of buying one.

-Reynald
Reynald M. recently posted something special..how to get a girlfriend

adventureswithben

The backpack is $149. But there are additional models available at a cheaper price.

Amanda

I’m doing my first “real” backpacking trip this summer (meaning longer than 2 weeks), so I’m absolutely in the market for a good pack. I love that this one should fit in most overhead bins! I hate having to check a bag.
Amanda recently posted something special..Photo Essay: Queenstown to Christchurch

Kevin - The Mad Traveler

I could totally use a new pack. Mine’s a bit worn out. This one looks pretty great!

adventureswithben

Good luck! Where would you take it next?

Tara Levy

We’re headed to France this spring–with two Bens, and this would be perfect for the trip!

adventureswithben

I take it one of those Ben’s isn’t me since I haven’t gotten the invite yet.

Shelley Seale

I would take my new backpack to Laos! It would have come in handy on my past three weeks in Nicaragua (heading home today), but I’m leaving for Laos on Feb 18 and would love to take it with me! Great review and info, thanks!
Shelley Seale recently posted something special..Peta and Ben: Building Sustainable Bamboo Housing in Nicaragua

adventureswithben

It even has a place for you to keep your passport tucked away inside the main compartment! All it needs is a stamp from Laos!

Matt Gibson

I’m heading to California next month and basically destroyed my current bag when one of the straps got caught in the rear tire of a motorcycle I was getting a ride on. Totally ruined the bag (and did quite a number on the motorcycle too).

adventureswithben

Ouch! I can only imagine. Did it roll around in circles like the cartoons?

The World of Deej

I pulled my old backpack out of the closet the other day because I wanted to use it on a flight…It was in sad shape and didn’t make the trip. Maybe this will solve the problem:)
The World of Deej recently posted something special..Adventures to Disney – What’s Ahead in 2012

Jeremy

We are going to Spain for our honeymoon and would definitely like to have a pack that is more mobile
Jeremy recently posted something special..Traveling is Better By Perspective