I like good design and a love a bag – whether it’s a duffle bag, shoulder bag, day pack or wheelie carry-on … I’m there.
So I never thought I would ever write these words – you can over-design a backpack.
I’m feeling very ungrateful as the backpack in question was a gift from my fellow writer and hiker Kieran. He knows all about my passion for design and luggage so he bought me a bag called the Oakley Kitchen Sink.
That’s Oakley (as in the sunglasses) and Kitchen Sink as in, it’s got everything. And it has. Laptop compartment, soft padded easy-to-access section for sunglasses (of course) and phones, hard case sections for … well, what are they for? Pens? GPS trackers?
My reaction on receiving it was an ungracious “which small country do you wish me to invade?”
To be fair, there are things about this bag that I like a lot. The zipped side access for your laptop – every backpack should have that. The hard shell compartment for sunnies and phones, ditto. The twin quick-release hooks that hold the top flap in place are very cool. The exposed steel cable structures look like they mean business.
Had I broader shoulders the padded straps would have been very comfortable and the removable waist strap was a boon for long hikes.
But do I really need three shiny black loops to attach carabiners for … well … what?
The commodious side pockets are great but you have to open them more than half way from the bottom to put anything in or take anything out. Spillage is inevitable.
The huge internal section is only one giant pocket, apart from the laptop sleeve and the obligatory shoe bag. And there is no waterproof hood to pull over it to ward off heavy rain.
To get to the insides, you have to lift the top flap then unzip. The front section with it’s hard-shell pockets is small and impractical. It speaks volumes that the official Oakley pictures show the biggest utilities section loaded with nut bars.
And as for the triple Velcro straps on both side pockets? What are they for? How many rain jackets do you need. Trust me, they are next to useless for walking poles.
Confession time – having used the bag on a six-day hike in the Highlands of Scotland, I have regifted it and the recipient absolutely loves it. He’s a carabiner and Velcro strap kind of guy. My excuse was that it was just too big for me – which is true.
Maybe it’s just me but this very sexy looking bag, when put to the test, felt like a sunglasses case around which they had built a backpack.
Interestingly, the reviews on Amazon (4.5 stars) are almost evenly split – some think it’s the bees knees, but others, while admiring the look, say it’s just to big, heavy and fussy.