A few months ago, we were contacted by Trexad, the company behind the successful Kickstarter project Air Pack. Usually I’m not very keen on testing Kickstarter projects because – let’s be frank; many of them are flawed. However, Trexad managed to exceed its Kickstarter funding goal by more than $100.000 which significantly increased my curiosity about the product. Therefore, I agreed to test their pack and write an unbiased review.
So, the Trexad mission was to develop a comfortable super lightweight waterproof daypack that fits in your palm when folded. Such a pack is very useful as an extra pack while travelling and on long backpacking trips. You simply fold it in the main backpack/suitcase and pull it out when you need it – for example for a day climb. Now, such packs are typically not very comfortable to carry because their shoulder straps and back panels are very thin – otherwise they wouldn’t pack small. A thin back panel is especially problematic because it often entails that the items in the backpack poke you in the back. Trexad tackled the problem by equipping the pack with inflatable back panel and shoulder straps. This in theory gives the Air Pack some structure and cushioning for added comfort. Over the last couple of weeks, I thoroughly tested the Trexad Air Pack and below is what I learned about it.
The Trexad Air Pack is suitable for:
- Everyday use
The Trexad Air Pack is a stuff pack, meaning that it folds very small so you can easily carry it in a bigger pack or a suitcase. It weighs merely 13 ounces (385 grams) and has a capacity of 33 liters which is quite a lot for such a pack. The back panel and shoulder straps should be inflated for extra comfort and stability/structure when in use. Inflating the pack is simple and fast. The valve is located on the right shoulder strap and it only take one to two breaths to fully inflate it. Unless you push your finger into the valve, the valve doesn’t let the air out which is convenient because it allows you to fully inflate the pack without hassle. During the testing period I haven’t noticed any leaks and the whole system seems to be well made. The Air Pack also features a hip belt, chest strap, two side mesh pockets, a big zippered stash pocket and a large main compartment. The main compartment is easily accessible and has a buckle closure system.
The pack is made of sturdy Cordura fabric and I must say that the material feels more durable than the material of my Osprey Talon 22 daypack. In the exposed areas the Air Pack even features two-layer fabric for extra durability. According to Trexad, the pack is waterproof, and I can confirm that it kept the water out during the testing period. The pack has three buckles (at the main compartment, on the hip belt and the chest strap) of the robust Duraflex quality. The water-resistant zipper of the stash pocket also didn’t cause any problems during the testing period and it seems high-quality.
Comfort and Fit
Comfort is the unique selling point for Trexad Air Pack, but ironically I was less impressed with the comfort of the pack than anything else. It is true that the inflated back panel and shoulder straps give the pack some structure and cushioning but there are also drawbacks. The inflatable back panel is obviously made of non-breathable material and even though it has a ribbed design (like your standard pool float), it quickly makes your back sweaty. The same goes for the shoulder straps.
However, the most annoying thing was that the shoulder straps didn’t remain at the length I had fastened them at. They were unfastening on their own while I was moving, and becoming longer and longer thus making the pack slide lower down on my back. To prevent them from unfastening I simply used duct tape to keep them at the required length (see image) but this indeed is a big flaw! The pack also comes with a hip belt, but I found it excessive as the inflatable back panel is obviously not rigid enough to transfer the weight from the shoulders to the hip belt. Thus, the hip belt is more for decoration than actual function. It was the first thing I removed from the pack. Luckily it can be easily removed via its Velcro system. The chest strap, on the other hand, is useful because it improves the fit of the Air Pack. It is height-adjustable and features a buckle with an emergency whistle.
Pockets, Compartments and Attachment Points
The large main compartment has a wide opening at the top and allows you to easily load/unload the pack. The roll-top dry bag closure with a buckle also functions really well. It can also be used as a handle which is very convenient for carrying with one hand. The large zippered stash pocket is great for storing stuff that you don’t want to put directly to the main compartment, such as sweaty and wet clothes. The stash pocket’s zipper is equipped with a loop which makes zipping and unzipping fast and easy – even when you are wearing gloves. The mesh side pockets seem to be high-quality and fit water bottles perfectly. When it comes to attachment points, the pack only offers loops for a bungee cord along the front side. One thing I really missed on this pack is a small pocket where I could store sunglasses and similar small items.
So, let’s start with the good things. The pack is made of high-quality sturdy materials and durability issues are thus not likely to occur. The main compartment is very large and easily accessible due to the roll-top dry bag closure. In addition to the main compartment the pack also features a handy stash pocket. I was less impressed with the comfort of the inflatable back panel and shoulder straps because they provide no breathability whatsoever. The unfastening shoulder straps were also a big downer. In terms of capacity, I think that the pack is too big for a foldable pack – a capacity of 20 liters is more than enough for such a pack which is typically used for day hikes and trips. As noted in the article How to Pack a Backpack, it is important that you fill up your pack sufficiently to ensure that the items inside aren’t moving around with your movements and potentially throwing you off your balance on a steep mountain side. If the Air Pack was smaller, it would be also lighter. Competitive products for example weigh as little as 4 ounces (100 grams), but they typically have a capacity below 20 liters.
If you have any questions about this product, drop me a line in the comments below.