Son of Arkaig – The Trakke Assynt 17 backpack

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Backpacks or rucksacks are an important feature of my life. Much of the time I’m cycling, which means a backpack is much more practical than a bag. Or I’ll be out with the dawgs, which also means having my hands free to scoop the poop is an advantage. I just can’t seem to get into that tote-thing with any enthusiasm at all. So a bag with two straps is my preferred mode of lugging stuff.

I’ve been using and enjoying my first edition Trakke backpack for over 2 years now and it’s been a faithful companion indeed. London, Scotland, Denmark, Sweden, Spain and even as far as trudging around dusty and hot New Delhi. The outside is a bit dirty from use, but so far I’ve not seen any need to wash it or rewax it.

Now though, there is a new pack out from Trakke, the Assynt 17, and here are my first impressions. In the form of a video!

So, first impressions done, let’s take a look at some of the details in, well, more detail.

The kinship between the Arkaig and the Assynth is obvious, there is a strong family resemblance. It’s nice to see Trakke staying true to the waxed cotton from Halley Stevenson in Dundee, keeping the main fabric local. This time there are some fresh colours, including this Navy Blue variant and also an Olive Green (which could be a perfect companion to your Barbour jacket). Incidentally, both packs take their name from Lochs in Scotland!

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New on this model is the Trakke badge. Normally hidden against your back when worn though.

The part most people will see. The stainless steel T for Trakke, and the biggest change from the Arkaig, the twin straps.

The part most people will see. The stainless steel T for Trakke, and the biggest change from the Arkaig, the twin straps.

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Another change from the Arkaig, the pocket in the lid is now accessed through a water-proofed zip from the outside, instead of the inside.

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The straps are identical to the old straps, no need to change something that works this well. Stainless steel hardware and the semi-circular pull to let you tighten them up easily.

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The lining is now orange instead of black and the closing mechanism is inherited from the later developments of the Arkaig. The monkey fist knot is still a signature feature.

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The zipped pocket has been moved from it’s rearmost position to the mid position, which means you don’t need to zip a laptop in place.

After a few days of use now, there are a couple of differences between the Arkaig and Assynt I notice, and wish had been otherwise. Not hugely important points, but one is the stainless steel ring that is used for lifting or hanging up the Arkaig. That was a nice piece of different there, and while the nylon strap on the Assynt works just fine (and is how it’s normally done), I do miss the stainless ring. The other point is the drawstring and closing of the main compartment. The Assynt has a wood ball on the inner side of the opening, the Arkaig had a cinching device (I’m sure there is a proper term for this) on the outer side. Having it on the outer side is more practical in use, as it’s easier to grab, and when opening it also means as you undo the fastening, the pack opens up. The only advantage I see in the new way is that the drawstring is more likely to stay inside the pack.

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And how does the new pack look in use? A good thing my brothers were hanging around for a trial fit!

If I was to consider the Assynt completely on it’s own, dropping all comparisons to the Arkaig, what do I think of it? Well, it’s a very accomplished backpack. The necessary features are all there and all very well done. You can tell that the people who make this pack also use these packs, so there is real world experience going into the design and construction. The combination of materials is excellent, what with the stainless steel details and the lovely waxed cotton. The straps are wide and padded enough to be comfortable and it is possible to order a waist belt or sternum strap if required. For the asking price of 133 pounds, Trakke have clearly got a new winner on their hands here.

So, there you have it. The Trakke Assynt 17, another great backpack from the Glasgow backpack masters!

 

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