- Buyer's Guide
Black Mile Mile One Travel Bag Review
Black Mile was born to create the world’s best one bag travel bag with “no compromises, no excuses,” and the result is one bold travel bag.
And much like other brands, the search for the perfect bag was the inspiration to launch the company and create the Mile One bag. For founder Charley Brown, his worldly travels provided both a need for a new travel bag and the experience to make his own.
As with many things this year, Covid-19 happened and delayed the launch of Black Mile. A very unlucky start for a brand with its very first release being so travel-specific. But hey, if you’re going to release a travel pack now, it might as well notch up X-factor points like this!
How’d I test it? I took this bag on two separate road trips to put it through its paces. This is what I came to find.
Who It Suits
The Black Mile Mile One travel bag suits those who require a lightweight solution in an all-in-one package. Its clean lines and straightforward design will appeal to minimalists and folks keen to stay discreet while traveling.
And if you lust after Dyneema. This might be the biggest Dyneema bag we’ve ever seen!
Who It Doesn’t
Those who require more stability in their travel. Travelers with smaller body types. And those with a limited budget – this is premium stuff.
The overall design takes the minimalist approach with the bag devoid of any logos, pops of color, or anything that would draw attention to the bag itself. For one bag travel, this is an important detail to minimize unwanted eyeballs and to help keep belongings safe.
Let’s start with the key feature and construction of the bag using Dyneema, an incredibly lightweight and exceptionally strong fabric. The material is durable enough to withstand typical and more extreme travel. To help protect precious belongings from various climates and weather, the material is waterproof and resistant to UV light. Another benefit of this material is the ease of cleaning. A damp cloth will help remove any dirt, dust, etc. that the bag may come across. It’s also hand washable. I personally needed to wipe the bag down a few times while testing it on a camping trip. This is easily the largest bag I’ve seen made from Dyneema.
Black Mile didn’t skip over the details. The brand opted for quality hardware with YKK water-resistant zippers, Fidlock magnetic fasteners, and Petzl carabiners. The zippers open and close with ease and provide the necessary protection. The use of Fidlock fasteners for accessing the main compartment is a unique solution and works easily although I did find a couple of drawbacks to this. Additionally, the use of Petzl carabiners really stands out. I found them to be very clever with this approach.
The Petzl carabiners work to attach the bag straps to the pack for both security and ease of use. They add a versatile element when not in use on the bag for other travel and adventure needs, from attaching other items to the pack such as a hat or water bottle, adding extra security to attach it to a post or chair leg, or to help hang items like a toiletry kit while you’re camping.
Black Mile equipped the bag with two straps for use as backpack straps or as a single shoulder strap. The straps are padded for comfort. I was told the padding found on the straps is the same material used in pet beds to help reduce odor, which is a nice touch. I did prefer using the bag as a duffel as it simply worked better for me in this mode.
Multiple biothane handles help for picking up, grabbing, and for clipping onto to convert the bag into a duffel. The handles are sleek and strong.
Another benefit of this bag is the large expansive opening that allows for complete access into the main compartment. The wide-open design makes it easy to pack the interior as well as unload it, but this is not without its slight drawbacks which we’ll go over. The main compartment area provides ample storage space with the flexibility to slightly increase the capacity in case you pick up souvenirs and the like while traveling. I was able to fit a long weekend’s worth of clothing, toiletries, and colder weather gear including a fleece hoody and mid-weight jacket. I do suggest always using packing cubes for more organization and protection. There is a zippered bottom divider that separates the main compartment from a secondary storage area.
The secondary storage section provides a little more organization with both a zippered pocket and a zippered mesh divider that separates the contents of the bag. This section has a clamshell-style opening for access. I found this area useful for holding items such as shoes and dirty clothing to keep it separate from the clean items in the main compartment. It works best for items that you don’t need to access repeatedly or quickly.
The size of the bag also qualifies it as a carry-on, which is ideal for one bag travel.
Not So Good
The main issue I found with the bag as I mentioned earlier is due to the Fidlock magnetic fasteners. The main compartment was designed to close with a combination of the magnetic Fidlock, two snap buckles, and as a rolltop. Here’s where I had some issues. In order to access the bottom compartment, you need to unclip both buckles, which are positioned at the very bottom of the bag and connected to the rolltop at each end in order to access the clamshell opening. Now while doing so, the rolltop tends to open and the contents spill out. The magnetic fasteners aren’t strong enough to keep the weight of the contents within the compartment, whereas a traditional zipper would hold the contents inside.
The laptop compartment is quite large and even a 15 or 16-inch laptop tends to slide around quite a bit within that section. There is padding at the bottom although I found the corners to still be lacking protection and I didn’t have much confidence that my MacBook wouldn’t be damaged during transit.
Note: Black Mile do supply a padded Dyneema Laptop Sleeve, that smartly converts into an agile over-the-shoulder laptop bag. I didn’t have this to test, but it would make the experience a whole lot better.
The included backpack straps take some effort to attach and can be a bit confusing. It took me a couple of tries to dial it in. Thankfully, the bag came with detailed instructions in the included “Guide to Packing Light” binder which is full of helpful packing instructions and serves as the bag’s manual. The first 200 Kickstarter backers will receive this and the rest will be able to check out the content as a PDF.
The straps don’t offer much in terms of a range of adjustability or quick adjustments either as you need to undo the carabiner to increase the length of the strap. I found the bag as a backpack to be large on my 5′ 7″ frame. As a backpack, the straps can only be adjusted to become longer, which may fit bigger people, but for everyone else the pack will dangle loosely, which is an ergonomic issue. The padded section is stitched into the straps themselves so you’re unable to adjust the positioning, which is limiting.
For those seeking more organization, this bag may not be the right fit. There isn’t much offered in additional pockets, sleeves, or internal organization within the main compartment. There is a single exterior pocket that can fit a passport or smartphone and one zippered pocket for miscellaneous contents in the bottom storage area.
Again, Black Mile does supply lightweight packing cubes as an add-on. And carrying without them wasn’t the best experience. I suggest adding your own or adding them to your cart to get the most out of this bag.
Finally, there is a lack of stability to the bag as it’s unstructured for the most part. As a backpack, I found it slightly large and awkward when packed full as the weight distribution can be uneven. Compared to other travel packs that offer waist or sternum straps this lacks those options. A top handle would also have been nice to be able to carry the bag with a single hand without the need for the shoulder strap.
Overall, the Mile One has some bright spots and it’s obvious a lot of thought went into the design. It’s badass and bold. The bag features high-end components with a lightweight design. It’s a solid option for one bag travel due to its durability and weather-resistant elements, versatility, and expansive storage.
If you require more organization or more specialized performance, then this one may not be for you. There are a few design details that need a little more finesse.
The bag costs $385 without a laptop sleeve (not provided during our test) or packing cubes (also not provided).
Black Mile offers a one-year warranty for manufacturer defects for the original purchaser.
The Black Mile Mile One is available now via their website.