- Buyer's Guide
We asked you what your dream collab would be. And now, we’re extremely excited to announce our third collaboration project is with one of our all-time favorites – and one of the brands you asked for. Scotland’s inimitable adventure travel brand, Trakke.
To combine our knowledge and passion for great carry with Trakke – a Carry Award champion that has delivered timeless design and supreme quality, release after release – has been an opportunity to revel in. We started with some questions: How could we weave their mastery of craft with our hard-earned knowledge? What could we do to take it to the next level? How could we incorporate real innovation?
Read on to find out how we designed the answer.
Storr: Starting at 1st class
As a team, we’ve played with the world’s great travel bags, and have collected a dossier of the features that make a truly great ‘one bag’ travel bag, but we’ve never found one that had it all. So that’s what we wanted to create with this project.
We wanted to create something that blended rugged durability, versatility and good looks. That made excellent work of ‘usable space’. And that had everything a bag like this needs, with nothing it doesn’t. Of course, we were also sure it needed 10/10 X-factor.
So we dug into Trakke’s stable and locked on their Storr – loved by reviewers all over. It would be our foundation design onto which we could build something remarkable. And, with Trakke’s open invitation, I was on a plane from Austin, Texas to Scotland.
Sailing beyond borders
Trakke’s HQ is located in the hip corner of Glasgow. There’s a dozen brands, artists, startups, and organizations all located in the massive shared warehouse space where Trakke calls home. Through the winding hallways of the complex and up the elevator, I’ve arrived. Trakke’s workshop is a warm antidote to the brisk Scottish weather outside, in more ways than one. Upon meeting Alec (founder, owner), Madeleine (designer, studio manager), Alexander (head of marketing), and Rowan (head of production) I’m incredibly pleased with the team I’m here to work with. I’ve said this before in my life, but this time I really mean it… we were immediately close friends.
Alec gives me a tour of their headquarters and workshop. Craftsfolk sew away at beautiful waxed cotton packs and messengers, rolls of the world’s finest cotton stack head-high from wall to wall.
We share jokes, laugh, and probably man hug one too many times. But I’m here for “work” and we’ve got to keep the progress of the collab rolling. Into the design room. Out come the sketchbooks, material swatches, and some very rough prototypes they’ve already worked on. It’s on.
Days fold into days, and the final form starts coming together. A serious one-bag solution, that still uses Trakke’s design language and roots, with Carryology’s special spin on it.
We reach into the archives of some previous Trakke designs that couldn’t be done before, some ideas they had already been working on, and some secret features and construction methods that I have been squirreling away for some time.
We agree to take advantage of this opportunity, to push Trakke beyond its usual borders of ‘tradition’. And to introduce something that’s dear to our Carryology family – cutting-edge tech. This would be something daring and special, that without our teaming up, Trakke would probably never have the license to try. Party!
Taking flight with the lightest fabric in the world
We jam on the makeup of a perfect travel pack, the need for that ‘ruggedness’ that can help a pack move from urban worlds to the outdoors, to ride those bumps and scuffs and whips of heavy weather. But every pack we’d carried that nailed ‘rugged’ had come with a weight penalty… lightbulb… we’d use the world’s strongest and lightest fabric on the planet. A fabric which first came to infamy in the sails of racing yachts. Dyneema! But not just the black or raw colorway we’ve all seen – we agree we need to go bigger, better. So we reach out to the Dyneema Project – an elite program for premium brands – to gain access to their newest experiments. And we find just what we’re looking for: CT5K.18/wov.32c. In normal speak: mind-bending translucent orange.
Not only would it trim weight, add strength and weatherproofing, clean easily, and increase visibility when rummaging for essentials, but it’d totally fit with our now signature collab internals – orange pop lining.
That’s right, the lining and lining only. You see, going all Dyneema would have been too much. It wouldn’t have been, well… ‘Trakke’. Everything else will be sourced from the UK. Canvas and steel and loveliness.
Learning from the Swiss – and soaring higher
If you’re familiar with Trakke’s offerings, which have long been Carryology favorites, you know they’re fans of waxed cotton. Not only is waxed cotton a main ingredient in their products; you could say it’s in their DNA. Waxed cotton’s history dates back to the 18th Century sailors from England and Scotland who used it to make clothing and sailcloth. That’s right: sailcloth.
So this one bag travel pack will be the representation of 200 years of sailing innovation combined. Dyneema meets waxed cotton. Past meets present. Or maybe even the future?
We don’t want to just pick out a color off a roll and call it a day. Nope. Alec and I hop in his van and take a few hour road trip up to Dundee, the home of Halley Stevenson. Halley Stevenson makes arguably the best waxed cotton on planet Earth. And they’ve been making it right here within the walls of their Dundee factory since 1864. Alec and the team here have a close working relationship and they’re constantly experimenting with different fabrics, coatings, patterns, colors and more. When we explain the project to their team of mad scientists, their eyes light up.
They pull out a fabric I’m familiar with (after handling the Bannoch), and this stuff deserves its own article. The base fabric is made from cotton mixed with stinging nettles. Stinging nettles! This idea actually came from the Swiss during World War 2. Switzerland, being such a small country with a neutral position in the war, had to maximize what little resources they had available within their borders. And cotton was nearly worth its weight in gold during this time. But they discovered that they could use stinging nettles in a cotton blend, which adds strength as well as a unique ‘salt and pepper’ coloring.
Of course, Halley Stevensons applies wax to this base fabric after it’s combined together, giving the salt and pepper a darker grey appearance. But, again, we’d need to go bigger. Find a way to weave in a modern twist – the ‘tech’. As the suggestion escapes my mouth, one of the Halley Stevensons’s representatives stands and runs out of the room. And a few moments later she returns holding an experimental fabric that was even darker. A special combination of a traditional waxed coating and a modern secret synthetic durable water resistant coating they've developed. We need no more exploration. Alec and I carry the roll, which contains barely enough yardage of this magical fabric, out to the van and run it back to HQ for prototyping.
Taking the details to another altitude
Over the next few days we adjust the pattern, bringing it to a healthy 35 liters. We add in a much-needed exterior water bottle pocket (that can also be used for accessory storage). We tweak the shoulder straps with a version of a WWII-style felt padded backpack strap (another nod to wartime ingenuity) but with super premium high-density felt. Stowable for when you need to check it in, of course.
A dual diagonal zipper on the front panel adds more versatility and gives the pack an aggressively awesome two-zip smile (high-fives all round). We then reconfigure the internal pocketing so you can gain access to them without opening the full clamshell. WIN.
My favorite addition? The bright orange Dyneema packing cubes. I’m a huge fan advocate of packing cubes while traveling. And these can’t be purchased anywhere else. Rare like hen’s teeth.
Some other fun bits worth noting: We initially planned to experiment using custom titanium hardware, but that would have increased the cost by a few hundred dollars per bag. So, we land on tried and true, real metal hardware, stainless steel. This is ‘buy it for life’ stuff.
Of course, we opt for YKK AquaGuard zippers, as they slide nice and smooth and are extremely water resistant, just like the rest of the bag.
We design three exterior grab handles so you can carry it however you prefer (top, bottom, side), which helps when maneuvering the pack in or out of overhead bins. And finally, the luxurious hipbelt and sternum strap are designed to be removable, so folks can choose to trim down or add-on when a fully-loaded pack calls.
Prototype done – set for takeoff
After several prototypes, dialing in all the details, the Storr SP (Special Projects) is born. Our ideal one-bag travel system using the original Storr as the foundation. A pack made with only the finest materials, classic and cutting-edge, combining the beauty of traditional craft with the smarts of modern technology. All while being handmade in Scotland at Trakke’s headquarters.
We all stand around it super proud. It’s everything we wanted to achieve.
Next step: testing. In the morning, we pile into Alec’s van and head to the Highlands. It’s beautiful and rugged and wild – and the perfect testing ground. Rains fall and the winds bite. We jump across streams, traverse up mountains and through gullies, and the pack performs like planned. It’s gorgeous. It’s a wrap.
After I return home, Alec’s team continues to tinker and finesse and make it ready for its final reveal to the world. A reveal only days away. And boy are we excited to unveil it to you!
This Thursday, 25th of Oct (8pm EDT New York time)!
And you guys, our readers, will have exclusive first dibs, nearly three full days before the public. Please note, this pack will be an ultra-limited edition – only 100 handmade pieces available – so make sure you’re one of the lucky ones!
Mark your calendars. Get ready for the big reveal. And keep an eye on your inbox or our blog for the exclusive shop link.
NY – Oct 25th, 8pm
LA – Oct 25th, 5pm
London – Oct 26th, 1am
Vancouver – Oct 25th, 5pm
Sydney – Oct 26th, 11am
Singapore – Oct 26th, 8am
Berlin – Oct 26th, 2am
Paris – Oct 26th, 2am
Tokyo – Oct 26th, 9am