(Disclosure: The Transfer Pack 28l in this review was sent to me to test. All opinions are my own)
Recently, I have found myself wandering around shops, looking at new backpacks. I have quite a few but five more can’t hurt can it!? Don’t you find that handsfree travel through a station or airport is SO much easier.
I have lots of fashion backpacks, they are just enough for a weekend but their lack of hip belt makes carrying them for extended periods uncomfortable. I adore my Kathmandu Litehaul 38l v3, reviewed here but it’s a little weird to wear when it’s not packed full.
If we were going for a long weekend, or a hike that involved carrying my bag for a long time, I was woefully lacking in appropriately sized back-mounted luggage.
- The Transfer Pack 38 comes in three different colour variations. Teal, blue and navy, and grey with black highlights. I have the teal version. I would say the colour is a light turquoise and I really like it. It would definitely stand out on a luggage belt.
- The bag has 28 litres of space and measures 59cm x 32cm x 25cm. This means that you couldn’t pack it full on most airlines (most have a 55cm height restriction) but it is a good size for train travel/hiking or just to check in.
- It weighs just 1.56 kg (around 3 lbs)
- At the moment, this isn’t available in the UK, but you can purchase it from the international website for. Click on any of the images below to go to the Kathmandu website.
The front is quite plain. There’s just a couple of hooks in a contrasting colour to break up the clean look. There is a reflective Kathmandu logo on the top.
There is a handle on the top of the pack, as well as on the side. This makes it easy to carry sideways and upright.
The curve away from the back panel serves a double purpose. Holding the bulk of the load away from the back creates air flow and keeps you cool. This is wonderful when you are carrying a bag in a hot country. It is also designed to be slipped over the handle of a suitcase.
The Transfer Pack’s main pocket is slightly tapered towards the bottom. I usually pack my clothing packing cells at the base of my pack but they didn’t quite fit so I had to change the way I packed.
The inside is a light grey colour. I find that a nice bright colour inside makes it easier find things inside.
You’ll also find a two smaller pockets inside on the back wall. One is a slip in pocket and the other a zip up mesh pocket for little bits and bobs.
The Main Poclet
The Transfer Pack is a top-loader with a difference. There is no drawstring, covered by a clipped lid, as with most top-loading rucksacks. Instead, the lid is zipped and hinges forward. This is good for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, the pack is lockable which I always find assuring. If I have to check my bag in, I can lock it. It also gives an extra layer of security when staying in dorms/night trains etc.
Secondly, the way it opens up means it very easy to get into the bottom of the pack. There are two expanding sections that give the opening a bit more room.
Mind you, it isn’t a perfect design. The bag’s lid is semi-hard and is quite heavy,so it tips the bag forward when it’s open which can get quite irritating whilst packing. It won’t stand up by itself when it is open and that’s how I like to pack my backpacks.
The Other Pockets
On one side you will find a small “important handy things” pocket on the side which will fit a passport in quite nicely. Being zipped, you may need to swing the backpack to the side to get into it. It’s quite close to back and so hard for a pickpocket to get into which is nice.
On the other side, there is another zipped pocket that runs the length on the bag. You could use this or boarding cards, folded paperwork of other flat-ish bits you need to find regularly.
At the back of the pack is a padded laptop pocket that can take a 15 inch model. This also has a smaller pocket in it designed for a tablet and has a little Velcro to secure it. Being slightly away from the body, your precious computing equipment is doubly protected.
Personally, I usually just use these pockets for the paper work that I need to take with me as it keeps it nice and flat.
To get into this pocket you need to take the bag off. The zip passes under the straps and and so these must be moved to allow access. I found that the padding got in the way of zip a bit and so I probably wouldn’t use this pocket for frequent use. I can see myself getting angry with it.
Here is where the Transfer Pack really makes its mark. Open up the top section and you will find a black, hard case indented with the Kathmandu logo.
The idea is that you have all of your most important bits in here, your passport, phone and other little bits. You can take it out of the bag and keep it in the seat back pocket in front of you on the plane whilst your bag remains happily in the overhead locker.
I love this idea. I have always created an “important things” pouch when taking a plane journey.
The case is attached to the inside of the lid with Velcro which for me creates two little problems. If you decided not to use it, it the hook side of the Velcro that is left in the bag. This means you can’t put anything made of material into the top pocket. No knickers, no tights, no handy scarves.
It also means that removing it is very noisy! If you frequently stay in hostel dorms, you will know that keeping quiet when others are sleeping is rule number one. Thus, anything that causes a racket isn’t great. The same goes for a plane when everyone is sleeping. I think hooks or a zip would have been a better choice.
The Transfer Pack is designed to pair with something a little bit special. On the top of the lid, you will see two little yellow loops. These are for the Goal Zero solar panels that Kathmandu stock.
Pop the solar panel on the top of the bag and your phone in the removable cabin case and you have your own power source with you all the time. Here in the UK, you may struggle to get enough sun but out on the road, you’re laughing. No more scrabbling around looking for plug sockets.
I haven’t tried the panels themselves but I’d imagine that the weight of them is the reason for the lid itself being hard. It needs to support the panel whether that internal case is present or not. They are quite an expensive addition but it may be worth it for those of you who are off camping, or going somewhere else where an electrical socket isn’t guaranteed. Click here to see the options that are available.
As already noted, this pack ha a hip belt. That isn’t that common on this size of pack (all my other small backpacks lack this) and so it is a very, very welcome feature. It sits perfectly comfortably and isn’t too bulky for storage. The clip seems of great quality, but then I expect that with a Kathmandu product. It also be tucked away which is great for when you are commuting and don’t want dangling straps that can get caught in train doors.
The straps themselves have built in APS (Air Pod System). The light foam has air holes and is covered by mesh in some sections allowing good air flow.
The Extra Bits
Look on the bottom of the Transfer Pack and you will find a rain cover. This is great for when that “little bit of drizzle” actually turns out to be a real downpour. Water resistant just cant cope in a proper rain shower. If you use the rain cover to keep the straps away for airt travel, bear in mind that it is black and so it does make the bag less identifiable on a baggage belt.
There are fabrics loops and two plastics loops for attaching gear, plus a chest strap to help secure your pack when hiking (or a last minute dash through a train station).
Final Thoughts on the Transfer Pack 28l V3
I recently packed this bag up and took it on a weekend trip. I discovered that I am a little too short for it. This isn’t a huge surprise, I have had to use children’s packs in the past because my bag is so stumpy. The more I used it, the more I liked the colour. It was nice to look at the hoards of black commuter rucksacks and stand out a little.
The build quality of the bag is excellent and I can safely say that it would last you a long time with no issues. It would easily serve for an extended backpacking trip or even as a walking bag.
Personally, because it is designed for an average height person, it’s not a bag that I can use in that way. There are the little niggles of the back packet zip and the heavy lid Despite that:
I give the Transfer Pack 28L a very healthy 8.5/10, well recommended.