PACK Gear Travel Organizer Review
December 4, 2015
The PACK Gear Travel Organizer is a packing cube that not only keeps your stuff where it belongs in your pack but also keeps it organized like a travel closet when you get to basecamp (by basecamp I mean your buddy’s couch). Setting the Travel Organizer apart is it’s two hooks, attached to the left and right sides by webbing, that allow you to hang the Travel Organizer vertically. It’s a miniature version of those accordion shaped closet organizers. You put all your clothes, toiletries and other random stuff into it’s 6 pockets (two of them full width and 4 of them half width) then stuff it into any 30L+ backpack and head out. Once you get to wherever you are calling home pull it out and hang it up. You get to use your backpack as the daypack it was meant to be and you don’t need to leave your stuff in a weird pile stashed in the corner of a living room next to the TV to be turned into a bed your friend’s dog while you are out on a hike.
This thing works pretty much as advertised. I hung it up on the front of my dresser and filled the PACK Gear Travel Organizer with what I would consider a weekend’s worth of clothes – 4 t-shirts, 2 pairs of shorts, 1 pair of pants, 1 pair of boardshorts, 4 pairs of underwear, 4 pairs of socks, a pair of flip flops, my toiletries kit and a hoodie. Next I stuffed it into my trusty REI Traverse 30 pack, zipped it up, and shook it around a bunch. When I opened it back up and pulled out the Travel Organizer all my clothes where they should be.
The main selling point, the ability to hang this thing up, is pretty slick. I’m the type of person who likes my stuff organized. A friend of mine always gives me a hard time because my packing style is “bags in bags in bags” while he takes the “stuff it all into the main pocket and fish for it later” approach. When I stay in a hotel I prefer to unpack my clothes into the dresser and closet rather than live out of a suitcase. Consequently the theory behind the Travel Organizer really appeals to me. I could see myself using the it on a regular basis for trips where I’m limited to a single bag and space is tight – such as when 6 guys share a hotel room at Whistler to save money. The Travel Organizer is, without a doubt, a brilliant concept.
Even though I think this thing is pretty sweet there is still a LOT of room for improvement on a number of fronts. The most concerning issue is it’s construction quality. After very limited testing I’m already seeing stitching coming undone in multiple places. You should reinforce the stitching in a few key spots if you are considering using it for an extended period of time – like a backpacking adventure through Europe (which seems like the perfect use for something like this – I don’t see myself taking it into the outdoors on a backcountry overnight).
There are also a few design flaws. The hooks you use to hang it are sharp enough on the ends to scrape the finish off of furniture – rubber ends would be nice. Another issue is the lack of structure. The bottoms of each “shelf” are made out of fabric that doesn’t have any rigidity. This results in the front of each pocket sagging as soon as you put anything inside it. Any small items you toss in there, like your watch or sunglasses, are going to slide out if you leave the sections open. A simple piece of thin plastic sewn between the layers of each shelf, like reusable grocery bags have at the bottom, would mitigate this issue.
Finally we come to the lids that keep your stuff in each pocket. They are pretty worthless. Sure they keep your clothes in there and other big items but anything small, such as chapstick or a cell phone charger, doesn’t stand a chance of staying put. The issue is that they don’t actually close. There are a couple clips that hold a flap of fabric over the front of each shelf but nothing like a zipper or velcro that really seals up each pocket. Really anything smaller than some rolled up socks is probably going to fall out. This is a huge bummer and an issue that shouldn’t have made it past testing and into production.
While there are a number of problems with the PACK Gear Travel Organizer it still seems useful enough that someone, like me, who is a neurotic packer might consider using it. Really though I hope that PACK Gear releases a version 2. The Travel Organizer is a brilliant idea that just needs a bit of refinement to become a great piece of gear.
UPDATE: I heard from a very reliable source that PACK Gear is already addressing the issues I brought up in this review and creating a version two of the Travel Organizer to be released in 2016! I can’t wait to give it a try!
UPDATE #2: It appears that PACK Gear no longer offers the model reviewed here. They now have several new versions out that appear to address the issues I had with their first iteration.
NOTE: I received the Travel Organizer for free from PACK Gear, as coordinated by Outdoor PR, in consideration for review publication.