3 months on the road: an Ethnotek bag review

Ethnotek backpack in Thailand
This backpack and I, we’ve had some adventures.

Since starting this period of endless wandering back in August, we’ve traversed half the globe and back, seen sights from ancient temples to modern metropolises, and been down to deserts and on top of mountains. With almost my entire life inside, my batik buddy’s been thrown in the back of trucks, on top of busses, in the cargo holds of planes and beneath the seats in trains.

I’ve already told you why I love Ethnotek’s mission, but behind the message – is the actual product any good? Does an Ethnotek bag really hold up on the road, or does it start falling apart once off the factory line? And how well does it work for a backpacker?

Ethnotek backpack Ethnotek backpack
3 months in, it’s still looking good. Surprisingly, the stitching is tight, despite the amount of times I’ve stuffed it to the gills. The nylon over the entire bag hasn’t torn or started coming apart. And despite being rolled in the dust and thrown about public transportation, it still looks almost like it did on day 1 (though the front is a bit grungy). It’s certainly good material.

However, there is one major failing. This bag was designed more for day-to-day use, as opposed to long-haul backpacking, so it doesn’t include a waist-strap or internal frame…and that makes it pretty rough to cart around on transit days with 10 kg inside. If I were just using it for weekend trips, the design would suit perfectly, but my shoulders definitely need stretching after a long day hauling the bag around.

I will admit, however, that I’m really pushing the bag to its limits, and using it in a way it wasn’t originally intended. If Ethnotek makes a backpack with frame and waist strap, I’ll be first in line.

In the end, though, with the little amount of stuff I actually carry with me, I’m still happy to be using this backpack. The lack of frame does make it really lightweight, and it fits into any compartment it needs to be thrown into. The size is perfect for how much stuff I carry, and all the different pockets are indispensable. Also, the design gives it such personality!

And as for Bangkok?

Golden Buddha at Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand

Flower garland at Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand Spires of Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand

It’s tiles all over temples, done up in flowers and curling vines. Golden Buddhas and bodhisattvas, peering down from altars and walls. The smell of diesel and cooking oil. Grit on your face after a tuk tuk ride. That soft, gentle heat that seeps right into your muscles. Street food on every corner, meat and vegetables and fruit and ice-cream. Busses done up in neon and rainbow-coloured ferries on the river.

I have a feeling that here, there are even more adventures to be had.

(This post is written in partnership with Ethnotek, one of my new favourite organisations. All opinions, however, remain always and forever my own!)

8 Responses to 3 months on the road: an Ethnotek bag review

  1. Dan 18 November, 2012 at 18:13 #

    Glad to hear the bag’s still holding up. Miss you lots, and I can’t wait to see your further adventures! I loved Thailand, and your post reminded me of the best street food ever. The pad Thai you get on the streets of Bangkok was some of the best food I’d ever had. As for the fried grasshoppers… I’ll let you make your own judgements there!

    Safe travels!

    • na-o-mi 22 November, 2012 at 15:10 #

      Oh man. I have yet to try them but…maybe….MAYBE it will happen. ;)

  2. Eunsuk Kim 19 November, 2012 at 13:26 #

    hey lady! You are having great time! Just let you know that our school sent the rest of your money. Did you get that? Let me know to make sure! ^^ Hope you are fine in Asia!! You know what? I also bought a nice camera!! :D CANON 60D AND also I made my own blog. haha you can visit sometimes! But the site is related in naver…so you can just see some photos that I took. ^^

    • na-o-mi 22 November, 2012 at 15:11 #

      Yes, thank you!! So cool that you got a new camera…LOVE THE BLOG! xx

  3. 2 Digital Nomads 8 December, 2012 at 05:13 #

    Very nice review, we are using osprey packs and they proved to be super awesome :) specially with their lifetime guarantee (on some models).

    • na-o-mi 14 December, 2012 at 20:40 #

      Nice! Haven’t tried those myself but I have heard good things :)

  4. Ku 30 November, 2013 at 12:16 #

    Hi! Sorry to comment on such an old article, but I’m really interested in buying an Ethnotek backpack and using it for long term travel. What size bag did you get? The 56cm one or the 48cm one?

    • Naomi Alyssa 2 December, 2013 at 19:53 #

      No worries, my friend! Just measured the beast and it looks like the 56cm one. Loves it. Durable & reliable, fits all my stuff with no worries on access. Wouldn’t recommend if you’re taking loads of gear and need something with a frame, but I packed it to 11kg-13kg during my year of travel and it worked well with my travelling-light lifestyle. The threads are so killer too…just upgraded mine to finally get all the bus dust off ;) Enjoy!! x

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