Duffel bags have no shape. Packs are meant to carry, not serve as suitcases. And wheelie bags have their limitations on stairs and over cobblestones, not to mention that they’re awkward in the overhead compartment. After over 1,000 flights dissatisfied with his suitcases, Nathan Kukathas joined Acr’teryx’s design team and created a collection of clean, sophisticated, functional travel bags that are arguably the simplest, most understated, discreet and sophisticated bags we’ve ever tested.
The Covert bags are the iPhone of travel bags. Each is a rectangular cube, vaguely army duffel like, that stands on end, slides easily into the overhead, and is made from materials you could back a truck over—or even hand over to baggage handlers without fear. The bags are superbly durable, treated to repel dirt and water, and can be carried in numerous ways: with hidden backpack straps, or by side and top handles.
The internal organization is perfectly practical, with pockets sized to actually hold the items you need, without so many that your car keys, passport or magazines end up lost. Buckles and zips are hidden, offering a new kind of theft protection.
But the bags aren’t invisible. On a recent BTV-ORD-SLC-PHX trip west, a gate agent, a flight attendant, a pilot and several passengers all admired and inquired about the bag, a phenomenon this traveler has never encountered. Inside, I had everything I needed for two weeks of business and fun, from meetings to mountain biking, five star hotels to camping.
Available spring 2013 in three models: check-in sized Covert CI, $229; international carry-on sized Covert ICO, $199; and carry-on sized Covert CO, $179; arcteryx.com.