Here are The Travel Tester, we’re ALWAYS in search for the best backpack for a specific type of trip and we love to review them for you! Recently we were approached by US brand Flowfold, a gear company that designs “minimalist gear for everyday adventures”, which sounded really interesting to us.
While we are personally the opposite of minimalists at home, we do love products with a good design that are simple and practical. Definitely when it comes to backpacks, we can totally feel Flowfold when they say that they don’t see the need for a zillion pockets, straps, bells, or whistles. Those features we never really end up using anyway.
Instead, Flowfold are focusing on building the lightest daypacks, the thinnest wallets and a whole other range of things that make you happy on the road, instead of weighing you down. They also seem to put a lot of research into the materials they use, so that their products have long durability and are purposeful for a lifetime.
Curious? Keep on reading, because we put one of their backpacks to the test, have a look at some of their most popular wallets AND dig a bit deeper in the interesting ethos of this innovating company.
The Flowfold Story
Flowfold founder Charley Friedman says he started thinking about designing gear while he was growing up on Peaks Island, the most populous island in Casco Bay, Maine (part of the city of Portland) in the USA. His daily commutes involved travel by boat, bicycle and foot. It was challenging to carry everything he might need throughout the day, and he discovered problems with the gear he depended on. Seams blew out, bags didn’t fit correctly and they were often heavier than they needed to be. Flowfold’s designs are based on those insights.
As a teenager, Flowfold founder Charley Friedman was introduced to the fabric of sailcloth and learned to use industrial sewing machines making and repairing boat sails working a summer job in a sail loft in Yarmouth, Maine. In 2005, his grandfather’s hand-me-down leather wallet finally fell apart, so he crafted a new one out of scraps of racing sailcloth from the factory trash. The wallet was super thin, lightweight, and tough as nails. And just like that, trash turned to treasure, and Flowfold’s first product was born.
From that, they started building outdoor gear with other reclaimed fabrics: short ends, blemished material or discontinued styles of fabric that would be dumped in a landfill if they didn’t make use of them.
Along with the bag that we’re reviewing in this article, we also kindly received three different wallets made out of high-performance, waterproof racing sailcloth with X-ply™️ technology (as far as I understand it, this technique enhances membrane stability and shape retention and helps to prevent tears in the fabric) and ballistic nylon webbing (a specific type of nylon fabric designed for maximum durability and abrasion resistance) in the colour ‘Black Pearl’.
The wallets are slim and thin for sleek use in your front pocket and -for those of you interested- they are Vegan!
This wallet has three pockets and is Flowfold’s second thinnest wallet. It has one center cash pocket, flanked by two card pockets.
Dimensions: 3.75″ x 3.125″ x 0.1″ (9.53 cm x 7.94 cm x 0.25 cm)
Weight: 0.6 oz (17 g)
Traveler Trifold Wallet
This wallet has an international-sized cash pocket at the back and six card holders in the front.
Dimensions: 4.4″ x 3.1″ x 0.2″ (11.18 cm x 7.87 cm x 0.51 cm)
Weight: 1.1 oz (31 g)
Navigator Passport Wallet
This passport cover keeps your travel essentials securely within reach. Three inside pockets hold currency, passport, and tickets while the outer piece keeps cards and ID’s readily available.
Dimensions: 6″ x 4″ x 0.12″ (15.24 cm x 10.16 cm x 0.31 cm)
Weight: 1.1 oz (31 g)
And now it’s time to put the backpack to the test:
Flowfold Denizen Limited Tote Backpack Review – The Travel Tester in Action
As with all the product reviews on The Travel Tester, we subjected the Flowfold Denizen Limited Tote Backpack to our 5-senses test. Here is what we found:
1. What does it SOUND like?
To me, this 18 Liter bag sounds like an echo. Really, when you zip it open at the top, all you see at first is a gaping hole, perfect to store pretty much anything you want.
But when you look a bit closer, you can see the bag actually has 4 pockets!
Besides the main compartment on the inside of 11 x 17 x 6 inches (27.94 x 43.18 x 15.24 cm), there is also a little inside pocket of 8.5 x 6.5 inches (21.59 x 16.51 cm), which is perfect for your wallet and keys. Then there is a nearly invisible laptop sleeve inside of 12 x 15 inches (30.48 x 38.1 cm). And finally, there is an outside pocket of 7.25 x 9.5 inches (18.42 x 24.13 cm), which is actually quite deep and fits things you might need to access quickly when on the road, like a water bottle.
On my last road trip through South England, I was able to carry my tripod and all my other camera gear easily in the pack (and was able to zip it shut!)
2. What does it LOOK like?
The pack we chose has the colour: ‘Heather Grey’ and I like how you can see the weave of the fabric, it really gives the bag a nice ‘outdoor’ and a bit of a rough look.
The bottom of the bag and the shoulder straps are made of so-called X-Pac™ material, which is basically a laminated ‘sandwich’ of nylon and an inner X-ply™️ (same as in the wallets) pattern of polyester yarn for added tear strength and stability. Yes, I did my research :)
The rest of the bag is made of Lite Skin® composite fabric, which is a patent-pending, non-woven polyester face fabric designed specifically for improving the abrasion resistance of carbon fiber racing sails. It is lightweight, UV resistant and (oh yes!) waterproof.
And as a bonus, the bag has so-called YKK® Aquaguard® Water Repellent (meaning nearly waterproof) zippers, which come with a polyurethane (PU, some sort of artificial rubber) coating that keeps moisture out.
So in short… this bag has a lot of features with fancy names, which make it lightweight, water repellent, durable and pretty easy on the eye. Just as we like it!
On this close-up, you can see the rubber coating on the zippers. We walked with it in the rain for a bit, and were totally fine!
3. What does it TASTE like?
To me, the whole message of Flowfold tastes like more of a lifestyle choice rather than simply buying another bag for your gear collection:
We are motivated by moments of peak experience, when hesitation falls away and we are free to exist as our best selves.Our passion is building gear to carry what you need in pursuit of this experience. Our gear fits intuitively and functions effortlessly so you can find your moment.
Browsing their website, you can see they’ve put a lot of thought in their branding and mission statement, which I love. It’s fantastic to see how Flowfold realize that as a business, they have the opportunity to contribute more to our society and our environment by promoting environmental responsibility.
For example, in 2016, they salvaged almost 18.000 square feet (almost 1700 square meters) of material, enough to make 23.589 wallets! Since they started in 2010, they have diverted almost 44.000 square feet (almost 4100 square meters) of fabric from the landfill.
And it gets even better. Just the other day, Flowfold announced that they started a partnership with “1% for the Planet”. This organisation collaborates with individual and business members to identify environmental organizations and certify that every dollar contributed goes to a vetted, trusted nonprofit. For you this means that each time you shop the 1% for the Planet assortment, you are directly supporting one of the non-profits that work with them.
4. What does it FEEL like?
In short: LIGHT. Or perhaps: ULTRA LIGHT!
This bag really doesn’t weigh more 16.5 oz / 1 pound (475 grams) and is by far the lightest full-sized day pack that I ever had. This makes the bag perfect to take in your suitcase as a separate day bag. I also love how you can just roll it up, so it doesn’t take up much space.
The only thing that I perhaps would have liked is that the shoulder straps were a bit more padded. If you do end up stuffing your bag to the brim (which I usually do, no matter how big of a bag I bring with me on a trip), it can become quite heavy on the shoulders. Also, because the fabric of the bag is so thin, there isn’t really any support, so anything you put in the bag is free to move around (and poke you in the back) at its own will.
The fabric is, on the other hand, very easy to clean with a sponge a bit of mild soap, after which you just hang it to dry. No fuss!
The shoulder straps feel a bit flimsy, but they are very strong and durable nevertheless
Rock and Roll!
5. What does it SMELL like?
This bag definitely smells like everyday use rather than perhaps taking it on a multiple-day hike, as you really should be looking at a pack that gives you a bit more shoulder- and back support. But for short day trips or every day commutes, it’s perfect.
I also think this pack is suited for both man and woman because of the versatile colours (there are also bags at Flowfold in black, clay, red, blue, yellow and aqua) and shape of the bag, which can suit any type of person. Nick takes this bag to work now, as it easily fits his work documents, his umbrella as well as his trainers for the gym, he prefers longer backpacks as he is quite tall (1m85 / 5.9″), but the bag also fits me well (1m73 / 5.6″).
The 18 Liter is good enough for a one or two-night getaway as well. If you’re going longer than a weekend, you might want to bring an extra trolley or bigger backpack, depending on how minimalist of a packer you are, of course.
After our 5-senses test, we’re ready to answer our final (and perhaps most important) question in our Flowfold Denizen Limited Tote Backpack Review:
Does this product make us happy?
YES! Well, to be honest: me not so much anymore, because Nick has claimed this bag as his own, so I guess I would have to order my own now, haha. But that aside, we’re both really happy with the simplicity of this bag (basically just one big pocket) and the fact that the bag is super lightweight (perfect for travel to bring as a second bag) and durable. The bag is multi-functional and I can see us using this bag on many occasions. If Nick lets me, that is!
Are you also still looking for the perfect day bag? What does your ideal bag consists of? What do you think of the Flowfold Denizen Tote Bag? Let us know in the comments!
- Flowfold Denizen Limited Tote Backpack (shop)
- Flowfold Craftsman Wallet (shop)
- Flowfold Traveler Trifold Wallet (shop)
- Flowfold Navigator Passport Wallet (shop)
Prizes at time of writing this review:
- Sailcloth Craftsman – £ 14.38 / $ 19.00
- Sailcloth Traveler – £ 26.49 / $ 35.00
- Sailcloth Navigator – £ 30.28 / $ 40.00
- Denizen Limited 18L Tote Backpack (regular version) – £ N/A (£ 74.93) / $ 129.00 ($ 109.00)
With all products, you get a lifetime warranty
We kindly received the products in this article complimentary from Flowfold to review. All photos and opinions are 100% our own.
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