- Buyer's Guide
Trakke Bannoch Backpack Review: Drive By
The carry world has a lot of small brands making exceptional gear. But trying to find such carry brands in Scotland? Unfortunately, in the past, you’d be hard-pressed to do so. That is, until a small Glaswegian brand decided to step out into the unknown, in the hopes of creating something world-class. A little brand that could hold its own on a global stage, while celebrating local craftsmanship and materials and a fusion of function and form. That little brand is Trakke, and they’ve come a long way since their humble beginnings. That journey has involved a natural evolution in their design, ultimately resulting in the Bannoch range. Taking inspiration from a WWII fabric but built for modern-day use, the Trakke Bannoch Backpack aims to embrace diverse carry needs through versatility, sustainability and durability.
Suffice it to say, I was eager to put it to the test…
Who It Suits
The adventure lover who wants a grab-and-go carry option for day hikes, overnight trips or urban sightseeing. The commuter who wants work-friendly style and functional organization for their EDC and work tools. Seekers of the elusive all-rounder who want one bag for work and play.
Who It Doesn’t
With its versatility there’s not a lot of people this bag wouldn’t suit in some way. But to dig down into specific scenarios and style preferences, if you’re into tactical aesthetics then its more heritage-inspired vibes may not be for you. And if you’ll be outdoors for an extended period of time, summiting mountains or embracing multi-day treks, you’ll want a pack dedicated to those tasks. Also users in hot or humid climates might want a more breathable back panel. I haven’t used the pack in particularly hot environments, so I can’t comment on how well it fares, but you won’t find any air flow channels or breathable back panel mesh here.
You can’t talk about this pack (and Trakke in general) without talking about the material choices. Trakke have made a name for themselves through bags that combine beautiful and durable materials with excellent craftsmanship. And the Bannoch is no exception. However, it arguably ups the material appeal with its Salt & Pepper canvas. A truly lovely material that looks stylish and offers a soft handfeel but is tough and weather-resistant enough to embrace the wild outdoors and lashing rain. Inspired by Swiss Army WWII fabric, the material features a blend of cotton fibers and stinging nettles.
But Trakke don’t just stop at one layer of weather protection. The dry-finish waxed canvas lining provides further protection from the elements, while also making the pack’s contents more easily distinguishable thanks to its bright orange colorway. Some people may not be big fans of the color, but personally I dig it.
So, the important question. Does it stand the weather test? After enduring hours of Scotland’s belting rain, I can confirm yes, it really does. I purposely left it outside for two and a half hours in what can fairly be described as torrential rain. Even after a particularly solid drenching to the exterior, the inside of the main compartment remained dry. Bonus? The exterior Salt & Pepper canvas dried quickly, right as…well, rain, overnight.
Using quality British-made materials is a big part of Trakke’s design ethos and they’ve spent a lot of time sourcing British suppliers. Is this local sourcing a cheap option? No. But Trakke are about great quality, sustainability by crafting bags that will last through years of demanding use, and a dedication to supporting fellow British manufacturers. From the waxed canvas and webbing to the buckles and strap foam, most of the materials and hardware are sourced in the UK apart from the interior YKK zipper (and that’s only because Trakke wants the best and Britain doesn’t make a worthy alternative to YKK).
“Trakke ups the material appeal with its Salt & Pepper canvas. A truly lovely material that looks stylish and offers a soft handfeel but is tough and weather-resistant enough to embrace the wild outdoors and lashing rain.”
Those top-notch materials are well complemented by excellent craftsmanship. This pack has been handcrafted with attention to detail and it shows. Everything is neatly finished off, with no uneven stitching or loose threads. It’s a bag that’s built to last, by people who take pride in their work.
I was lucky enough to check out Trakke’s Glasgow-based HQ in person, where I got to explore their workshop and see the team in action. There’s a great vibe about the place; relaxed but professional, if you will. Experienced craftspeople quietly getting on with the job at hand. The whirr of sewing machines is interspersed with the brief lull of a quick coffee break now and then, before it’s back to building bags designed to find adventure everywhere.
This pack is comfortable to carry, though for larger loads you may want to purchase the optional sternum strap for additional stability on the go. The pack also has a slim profile, making it easy to navigate through crowds and tight spaces while wearing it. Ideal for the commute or sightseeing with the essentials.
If you’re a fan of “everything has its place” packing (which I am), the Bannoch is Trakke’s stand-out option. The pack offers the most organization options across Trakke’s range, providing a wide range of pockets to store work tools, outdoor trail essentials or weekend travel supplies. The padded laptop sleeve fits up to a 15″ device. Also on the inside, located high up for easy access, is a ‘Gask’ pocket array and a zippered pocket that’s useful for keeping valuables secure.
On the exterior is an A4 document pocket and two vertical front pockets under the flap, as well as two side pockets.
Trakke have also done well in creating a design that holds a lot for a bag that isn’t bulky on your back. You can use it at full volume or cinch it down more compactly for a smaller load. The wide opening also makes it easy to pack and access gear in the main compartment. And for travel convenience, the bag packs down flat and can fit inside a travel bag for use as a daypack at your destination.
The Not So Good
I salute Trakke’s dedication to sourcing British-made materials and hardware including the Bannoch’s stainless steel buckles. They’re made from 70% recycled steel and are lightweight yet durable. The attractive buckle aesthetics also suit the overall look and feel of the Bannoch. However, I found the buckles at times awkward and time-consuming to use, especially when the bag is bulging with a larger load. When closing the buckles you need to take time to line them up correctly to secure them, lining up the shorter edge to fit through the corresponding gap.
While not as quick as a side release buckle or magnetic buckle for example, it’s straightforward enough if the bag isn’t full. When trying to align the buckles at an angle (for instance, with the pack slung over one shoulder), things get a little trickier, and when the bag is full it can be very awkward to line up the buckles. Opening the buckles is much easier and quicker than closing them, with a simple lifting action usually sufficing.
“I found the buckles at times awkward and time-consuming to use, especially when the bag is bulging with a larger load.”
The pack also has dangling webbing straps with no elegant way to secure the excess webbing on the shoulder straps or the optional sternum strap. You’ll need to add your own webbing management solutions if you want to secure it out of the way. You can also try tucking the excess behind the webbing anchoring the base of the shoulder straps or hooking the ends through the webbing on the front of the shoulder straps. Not particularly tidy but it gets it out of the way.
I also felt the lack of an external quick-access zippered pocket for storing items such as keys, a wallet or phone. You can undo the buckles and lift the covering flap to get to the front pockets but these are too big and reach down too low to conveniently store and access smaller items. An exterior zippered lid pocket or zippered side pocket would be a handy addition in my opinion.
Speaking of pockets, it’s also worth noting that when full the side pockets eat slightly into the main storage space. It’s not a major issue but the image below shows the interior with both side pockets full and it was tricky sliding the laptop in afterwards. So you may want to plan your packing order accordingly.
Lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the price tag. This isn’t a negative in and of itself as it goes with the territory of top-notch materials and craftsmanship. But it’s something that will factor into your purchase decision-making process. The Bannoch Backpack costs £260 (around US$330). Do I think it’s worth it? For the quality and versatility of the bag you’re getting, yes. But that’s still a lot of money, so this bag certainly shouldn’t be an impulse buy.
Others to Consider
I would definitely suggest checking out Trakke’s full lineup to see what might suit your needs. If you like the Salt & Canvas material but want a messenger, consider the Trakke Bannoch Messenger. If you want urban/outdoor versatility Alchemy Equipment and Mystery Ranch are well worth exploring too, with pieces such as the AEL006 or the Urban Assault or Rip Ruck. Filson also offers heritage aesthetics with rugged durability for a variety of environments.
The Trakke Bannoch Backpack excels at finding that sweet spot between urban style and functionality and travel or outdoor readiness. It’s a bag that plays really well in the city but can accompany you on rural pursuits and overnight trips too. Like any bag, it has its drawbacks. But with its excellent build quality, world-class materials and flexible functionality it offers great value for money. For me personally it’s the Bannoch’s versatility that makes it really shine. It’s an all-rounder that can move from work to play and urban to outdoor. Yes, it costs a lot of money and you should take your time in deciding whether it’s right for you. But if you do decide to go for it, you won’t be disappointed.