The Gonex 45 liter packable travel backpack is an intriguing concept. It looks like a small, lightweight backpacking or mountaineering pack, but it has no real suspension—thus making it able to be packed into the lid of the pack and brought along in your luggage. It is best suited to short day hikes at your destination, where you only need to carry lunch, water, some extra warm layers, perhaps a picnic blanket, and you want the option of attaching trekking poles to the outside of the bag. When you load it down with more gear, it becomes uncomfortable on your shoulders and difficult to pack in a way that doesn't make something poke your back through the pack. If the limited use of this bag suits your needs, it is certainly an affordable option.
Gonex 45L Packable Review
Cons: Uncomfortable, no suspension, too big for purposes
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Gonex 45L travel backpack is a lightweight trekking-style backpack most well suited to lightweight loads for short day hikes at your destination.
The Gonex 45L looks like a fully equipped backpacking or even mountaineering backpack—but it definitely is not. While it has many of the features, like ice axe loops and, it lacks any suspension whatsoever. If you pack the bag very strategically and have a foam pad to slide into the back of the bag, then you might be able to make it more comfortable for longer treks, but the thin, unpadded hip belt will still limit comfort if you pack any heavy items.
This travel backpack is best thought of as a bag for extra layers, water, and lunch on an impromptu hike around your destination. If you ensure everything inside the backpack is soft and relatively lightweight, it is comfortable enough. Once you add anything heavy or oddly shaped, the bag quickly becomes uncomfortable as you can feel the texture of anything in the bag on your back. Additionally, the bag is most comfortable if the volume is filled out, so the bag has more structure to it—and at 45 liters, it's a relatively large back to consistently fill out.
The Gonex backpack has tons of features. It looks like a backpacking or mountaineering bag, complete with ice axe loops, compression straps, a cylindrical shape with a lid, a bottom access zipper, two mesh water bottle pockets, and an internal hydration compatible sleeve. In this category, more is not necessarily better. These features were mismatched for the backpack's lack of suspension and carrying comfort.
We did like the zippered pockets on this bag, however. There is a front zippered pocket which provided easy access to documents and books during travel. Inside the lid of the pack, there is an extra secure, secret zippered compartment which we really liked for our wallet and passport.
Packing & Accessibility
As outdoor enthusiasts, we liked the packing style of the Gonex 45 liter pack. It's exactly like a simple backpacking pack. It has a tubular design with a bottom access zipper, a large lid with another internal zippered pocket for security, a front zippered sleeve, and two mesh side pockets. This was very satisfying to the outdoors person in all of us and meant that the pack worked well as a backpack for lightweight day hikes at our destination.
As a bag for traveling, however, the organization scheme added some logistics. Getting through airport security, for example, we had to unclip two buckles, loosen the collar of the main compartment, and then wrangle our laptop out of the hydration sleeve where we preferred to carry it (so it made a smooth surface against our backs and kept the heaviest item close to our center of gravity for the most comfort we could muster). This became tedious. We like travel backpacks to facilitate all of our travel logistics. While we love outdoor style backpacks, this one was a little too outdoorsy to be useful on all of our travel itineraries.
The Gonex bag introduces another concept to this category: it can be stuffed into its own zippered pocket in the lid of the pack. This makes the backpack easy to toss in your luggage and deploy it for a day hike at your destination. And it is so light and compact that it's easy to justify bringing it in your luggage, even if it is not a versatile item.
The Gonex is a highly durable backpack made of nylon ripstop fabric. It is very well made and holds up well to rough use on trails, for which it is intended. For a travel backpack, burly materials are not our only consideration. Since we will be walking through crowded places, tossing and cramming these bags in all sorts of strange compartments, we don't like lots of straps dangling around to get caught up as we stuff the bag in the airplane's overhead compartment or under the seat. The Gonex has lots of straps. If our flight is packed and we have to check the bag last-minute at the gate, we are concerned about what might happen to the bag when not under our careful supervision. Again, this limits the utility of the Gonex travel backpack to moderate outdoor use at your destination.
Weight & Capacity
This category is a slam dunk for the Gonex travel backpack. It is designed to be light and compact enough to bring with you in your luggage. In fact, it even stuffs into its own zippered pocket inside the lid of the pack, making it easy to bring with you almost anywhere. The bag is 45 liters in capacity, which is larger than many backpacks in this review. The pack's performance in this category confirms it as an excellent bag to bring with you for the occasional day hike at your destination.
The Gonex is so absurdly affordable that it is almost not even worth considering buying this bag based on cost, but rather on whether or not it is worth the space in your luggage, closet, or life. As gear reviewers, the accumulation of equipment can feel cumbersome, so weigh the utility of this bag for your uses more than the traditional cost/benefit measured in dollars.
The Gonex 45L is a specific-use travel backpack. It is great for short hikes with lots of soft, warm layers and some snacks, and maybe a picnic blanket. It is not a very comfortable bag for longer distance treks, and the organization scheme and extra straps make it cumbersome for airport and city use. That said, it is super compact and lightweight, making it easy to toss in your luggage for those occasional day hikes at your destination. If you don't need much from a hiking backpack, this is a simple, affordable, and durable option great for occasional use.
— Lyra Pierotti