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Thursday 12 October 2017

KARKOA: The bag that does 7,000 miles & ALL the snacks

As I was dashing to the gym the other day, juggling phone and kit, I received an email from Karkoa asking me if I'd review one of their sports and lifestyle bags. I have to admit, I thought “What relevance does a lifestyle bag have to me?”

Then I looked down at the bike shoes I was clutching in one hand and the Tesco carrier bag containing my towel, drinks bottle and hoody in my other hand and realised that actually a decent bag might really come in handy. So I shot them back an email saying “Yes please.”

But how do you test a bag ... apart from filling it up with kit?

It was a good time for a bag to arrive especially as I was back to being a student for 6 months again (training for a new job so I could avoid the instant noodle eating, partying until the wee hours and getting lots of piercings) as well as trying to juggle family life and triathlon training. This would involve long hours on a train at the mercy of Network Rail and London Underground during which I'd be carrying notebooks, textbooks, folders, snacks (Of COURSE – I haven't TOTALLY changed), gym and triathlon kit, towels, drinks bottles, uniform and assorted makeup, shoe polish, pens and tissues. Plus my usual assortment of painkillers, hayfever tablets, plasters, safety pins and crayons.

Just SOME of the detritus I carry around daily ... and this is BEFORE I've packed my A4 folders and laptop!

So the bag had a BIG job to do.

Luckily, although on the outside it appeared to be the size of a normal rucksack, inside it had positively TARDIS-like proportions. And just when I thought I'd investigated all the pockets ... there were more. And more. I love a good pocket and this had plenty of good pockets. 

One of the most handy was the small one at the very top which was just big enough for keys, phone and bank and travel cards. And because it was right at the top of the bag, it was in a position which would make it very awkward for anyone trying to stealthily undo it and take out the contents. Perfect for public transport. 

However, that was only my SECOND favourite pocket as my very favourite one was the snack bag. Yes – it comes with a snack bag. What can I say. It's like these bag-designers have me sussed. My only disappointment was that it didn't come pre-filled with snacks … but can't have it all, right? This bag came in extremely handy as anyone who knows me, knows I like my snacks but what I hadn't taken into consideration was that rush hour on the tube in London gets very hot … my chocolate melted and covered all my other food … but as it was in the snack bag, it stayed in here as it is waterproof.

I totally didn't STILL eat the snacks. Honest. *hic*

There's also a padded pocket for your laptop, plus room for the wires and cables and enough room for a large A4 folder in the main pocket. There's a roomy pocket on the front which the snack bag fits into, a laundry bag(!!) AND a waterproof pocket on the bottom of the bag for gym kit. Plus a circular side pocket for a drinks bottle.

And yes … ALL of this stuff fits in together. Which quite frankly is a minor miracle.

The bag is also a really good looking bag too. I'm not ALL about the aesthetics, for me if a piece of kit does the job that's the main thing but it was lovely to have something that did a good job AND looked great. Plus I had compliment after compliment about it.

However, what really matters is NOT what a piece of equipment looks like when it's brand new, but what it looks like when it's fully packed and has been used for a few months. I have a much loved piece of hand luggage (of a different brand) which I adored when I bought it, but which looks like a sack of potatoes when fully packed.

So I decided to put the Karkoa bag through its paces.

It has so far done:

  • 3,960 miles with Network Rail …
  • 2,288 on the tube …
  • Approximately 1000 miles in the boot of the car ...
  • Multiple gym visits where it's been shoved in a locker and filled with damp kit ...
  • 18 weeks on the floor of a classroom, under a desk, on the floor, in a locker ...
  • Several evenings under the tables in a bar and on one memorable evening in the middle of a dance floor being danced around where there wasn't a cloakroom but we WERE NOT MISSING THAT DANCE!
  • And even to my horror it had a cup of coffee knocked over and into it by a friend, who I've 
  • still not entirely forgiven ...

So how does it look after all of this?


I thought the bag was quite pricey at £65 ish for a rucksack / gym bag but after the abuse it's inadvertently taken by being my go-to bag for the last 6 months, it has come out the other side still looking marvellous. There's no damage at all to the exterior, the stitching has stayed perfect, the straps haven't worn in any way that I can see. The only thing I can see that this bag has travelled over 7,000 miles is that the writing on the snack bag has slightly worn away. And that's it.

Only area of apparent wear - ignore the chocolate stains *burp*

I'm not convinced that this sports bag will EVER wear out, in fact I suspect it may well outlive me the way it's looking at the moment, but if it does I wouldn't hesitate to buy another.

I'd like to find a downside to balance the review out a bit, but quite frankly the only one I can find is that the writing has rubbed off the snack bag. After 7,000 miles and quite a lot of snacks. Which is pretty bloody good.

This is a link to my exact bag here

And because I'm lovely here's a discount code if you wish to buy one that gives you 20% off the retail price: SARMYA20

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