- Buyer's Guide
Duality in design. A fine blend of Scottish and American history. Heritage inspiration with cutting-edge fabrics and technology. A love of the outdoors with everyday urban practicality. Two bags in one. And our second collaboration with Trakke.
Introducing Trakke x Carryology: The Muir Project.
Front: 20" (51cm)
Back: 22" (56cm)
Width: 11" (28cm)
Depth: Narrowest 5.5" (14cm); Widest 8" (20cm)
Weight: 1.5kg (Tartan 1.7kg)
Height: 9" (23cm)
Width: 14" (35.5cm)
Depth: 2.5" (6cm)
Backpack Without Sling
Front: 17" (43cm)
Back: 19" (49cm)
21 Liter Volume
Custom Abrasion Resistant EcoPak Ultra 200XBlaze
YKK AquaGuard Zips
2 x Whisky Bottle Pockets
3D Air Mesh on back and straps
External Access Padded Laptop Sleeve (Fits 16" MacBook with room to spare)
Aluminum Load Lifters
Custom Trakke x Carryology 'Muir Project' Velcro Patch
2 x AustriAlpin Frame Adjusters on the straps
Fidlock 'Snap' Fasteners to secure the sling
Fidlock 'Stripe' Fasteners to secure the sling strap
Sling Security Hook
Quad-Zip horseshoe access
Interior Zip Pocket above the crush zone
'Muir' Tartan Detailing
Front Admin Pocket containing:
Padded iPad Sleeve (Fits 11" iPad Pro)
Internal Zip Pocket
Quick Deploy Sling
2 Liter Volume
Dual Adjustable Strap (Featuring 2 x Cobra Buckles)
Hidden Zip Pocket on rear
2 x Accessory Drop Pockets
Custom 'Muir Tartan' Velcro Patch - each one is unique
Finding Inspiration in an Icon
For many of these projects, inspiration comes from a variety of different places. Oftentimes, we’ll design a project and assign it a codename or character name somewhere throughout the process, when it feels right. For this one, we wanted a clear driving motivation behind our decision-making processes from the very beginning.
Being that adventure is at the heart of both our brands, we focused on great explorers and adventurers. British, Scottish, American, and more.
After some deep research, Alec proposed the idea of Mr. John Muir, an adventurer whose story connects Scotland (Trakke’s home) to the United States (Carryology’s design home base) in one clean, straight line.
John Muir, Father of the National Parks
Why John Muir?
He was born in the small village of Dunbar, Scotland in 1838.
Then, in 1842, he emigrated to the United States.
While there, Muir made legendary accomplishments as a naturalist, author, environmental philosopher, botanist, zoologist, and glaciologist, and he was an early advocate for the preservation of wilderness in the United States of America. His most famous undertaking, which is how he earned the nickname “Father of the National Parks”, is by far his most important.
In 1903, Muir, who was a somewhat known author at the time, reached out to the President of the United States, Teddy Roosevelt and he pitched… get this… a 3-day camping trip together in the Yosemite Valley. Imagine doing this today. You’d have the Secret Service at your door in minutes. Despite this incredibly bold Hail Mary invitation, Roosevelt accepted.
That camping trip would change the fate of the outdoors as we know it forever. Muir’s entire goal: to show the President how beautiful and how special the outdoors were. And most importantly, that these areas needed to be protected.
It worked. And today, people are still reading Muir’s works, and are inspired by his message and actions, and dozens and dozens of locations are named in his honor. Muir was the perfect embodiment to inspire the direction of this project: the Scottish-US connection and culture, the love of the outdoors, epic travel, rugged exploration, and an environmentally-conscious approach.
From Inspiration to Execution
With the spark found, deciding on the product took a lot of back and forth. The easy answer was to trick out a Bannoch Backpack or maybe even a Largo Sling. It just seemed too easy. And we wanted to really go big and bold with this. Challenge ourselves to push into new ground, create something new and special.
As Alec mentioned in our group: “I think a good collab should take both parties somewhere they couldn’t go alone”. We wanted our own John Muir-style Hail Mary. So referencing our driving inspiration, Muir, we looked at hiking packs and gear silhouettes from the late 1800s and early 1900s, via The Scottish Mountain Heritage Collection. There were dozens of timeless examples that we found, all sharing a similar design language of that time period. Two vertical straps, a floating brain… and cord-cinch closures…
An Adventure Pack from the Ground Up
We agreed to create a brand new backpack from the ground up, inspired by these packs of the past. Heavy on the outdoor aesthetic, with all the features of a great everyday carry and light travel backpack. We sketched and patterned. Rather than use a cord cinch closure at the top, we opted for a “horseshoe” style zippered access. This is a favorite access method of ours, which can be seen on products from several different brands over the past decade or so. However, we love the top-loading lid/pocket… and the two together just don’t play well together. Sketching, miniature paper pattern mock-ups, sub-assembly prototyping, we just couldn’t get it right. The top pocket just wasn’t working. And then… it happened so quickly… someone pulled the lid off of the backpack.
And then the lightbulb went off.
Backpack + Sling = Magic
As part of our 1.5-bag travel system philosophy here at Carryology, the traveler uses one primary backpack to get from point A to B. And once they’re at point B, they can leave their larger pack behind, utilizing a small agile carry solution to carry their essentials to points X, Y, and Z. So we agreed it would be epic to combine the two.
This path adheres to the following three ideas:
1. The backpack is an amazing backpack on its own, not missing anything if it isn’t paired together with the sling.
2. The sling is an amazing sling on its own, not missing anything if it isn’t paired together with the backpack.
3. Together, they work flawlessly, connecting and disconnecting with ease, not affecting the functionality of either product.
Hardware Without Compromise
We played with Velcro and plastic military-grade buckles, but neither of those are at the level of a Trakke x Carryology collab. German-based Fidlock and Austrian-based AustriAlpin to the rescue. Having the entire catalog of both brands at our fingertips, we played with dozens of different combinations of magnets, buckles, snaps, clips, webbings, and more, until we finally found the correct German/Austrian combo of magical magnets and brute strength. The result? An easy-to-attach, easy-to-remove sling. A sling that stays strong and secure, even when getting active. And a sling that doesn’t hinder access.
We’ve got it. Two 25mm AustriAlpin COBRA Pro Style buckles (2,000+ lbs break strength), four Fidlock magnetic SNAPs, two Fidlock magnetic HOOKs, and more. And a G-hook on the backside, keeping the sling securely locked on, with no chance of it being stolen away while walking through busy city streets.
Detailed info on AustriAlpin’s hardware and Fidlock’s magnetic hardware can be found here on Trakke’s mini The Muir Project website.
While it’s much easier to experience this incredible quick deploy feature in the flesh, it’s quite difficult to write about. So the next best thing until you can try it yourself… this video shows how effortless and awesome this system is. Plus, if I may say so myself, it’s a lot of fun to use.
The World’s Best Performing UHMWPE, Fully Custom
In the initial stages, we were completely focused on making sure our concept would work, using off-the-shelf fabrics for the prototypes. But it was time to select fabrics. The easy answer? Waxed cotton canvas or X-Pac. Collectively, we’ve used both of those fabrics over and over again. Something new, something bold, something awesome was in order. We had the heritage aesthetic inspiration on the pack design… so we needed a modern element. We’d been talking with the folks at Challenge Sailcloth for quite some time and at a meeting we had together at Outdoor Retailer in Denver, Colorado this year, Hale and Josh pulled out some swatches of something absolutely revolutionary. Ultra high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE), the strongest strength-to-weight material on earth, often referred to as “Dyneema” (like how tissues are referred to by the brand “Kleenex”). We’ve used UHMWPE and brand name Dyneema in the past, like on the GORUCK x Carryology GRXC1 collab, and we love the stuff. But the difference between Challenge Sailcloth’s ULTRA collection and Dyneema Composite Fabrics we’re all familiar with? DCF uses non-woven UHMWPE fibers which are laminated to a polyester face.
Challenge’s ULTRA collection takes the UHMWPE fibers, combines them with HT polyester into strands of fibers, and then weaves them together. Basically, think about a 1000-denier nylon fabric, except those fibers are the strongest fibers ever made. Insanely strong, lightweight, and ultra durable. Win, win, win.
Challenge offers several different versions of ULTRA, from 100 to 800. 800 is truly wild stuff, but a bit too aggressive and heavy for this particular project. We love the look and feel of the 200, but the 400 has the perfect weight and drape we were looking for… perfect until we asked the question: can we make something completely custom?
ULTRA fabric, laminated to a blaze orange backer, eliminating the need for a floating liner inside the bag, saving weight and complexity of construction. They agreed to run a full custom run just for this Trakke and Carryology project. After some fabric swatch prototypes, we ended up concocting an ULTRA + ECOPAK custom hybrid, selecting ULTRA 200 as the face fabric (a woven blend of 200d Ultra yarn and high-tenacity polyester), laminated with 0.5 mil RUV film (recycled PET film with UV conditioning), a Blue 45o CrossPly (recycled 500d polyester yarn), and a Blaze Orange RBC200 Backing (recycled 200d polyester oxford). The combined weight of the sandwich puts us right back to the properties of the off-the-shelf ULTRA 400.
Introducing the ULTRA 200XBlaze (Challenge Product code: UPE200TXBO), an ultralight, waterproof, durable fabric, custom-made for The Muir Project.
High Vis Liner Fabric
We weren’t done with fabrics just yet, as we needed some additional paneling inside for this design’s construction. Loving the bold blaze orange polyester backing of our ULTRA 200XBlaze, we opted for this same ECOPAK half of the sandwich (EPX200), minus the ULTRA. Fully recycled, 20 plastic bottles for every yard produced. Lightweight, strong, waterproof, and bright orange for visual contrast to help locate items inside your pack in low lighting. Plus, it's both Trakke’s brand color and Carryology’s brand color, after all.
The Timelessness of Tartan
We are wildly excited about both of these fabrics from Challenge Sailcloth, representing the United States side of the collaboration equation. But we realized we needed a Scottish punch to balance the scales. Again, back to the Scottish-American John Muir as inspiration. Alec swiftly pulled out a sample book from Lochcarron of Scotland (founded in 1892), the world’s leading manufacturer of tartan. We flicked through different weights and patterns of tartans, legitimately laughing with excitement about the concept.
The variety is astounding; greens, reds, blacks, even purples. We began our search for a swatch of orange-colored tartan in their vast library… and came up empty-handed. Sure, a classic red/black or red/green tartan would look cool, but it felt forced. Along our search for the “right” tartan, we discovered the Scottish Register of Tartan, the official library of tartans throughout Scottish history. Each specific tartan has its own unique history, with tartan dating back to 3000BCE. Most are tied to a specific family, each uniquely woven so one could visually identify one clan from another. At one point, the British government even criminalized the wearing of tartan in the Highlands… but for those who know Scottish history and their rebellious nature, you can imagine why that never stuck.
Finally, we discovered Dunbar tartan. This design is from the same area where John Muir and his family were from. It was perfect… except it was green and red.
Alec called up the fine folks from Lochcarron of Scotland, located in Selkirk, located less than two hours from Trakke HQ in Glasgow. We were curious… could we custom weave our own bright orange and black tartan, based on the tartan Dunbar from Muir’s roots in Scotland? Shockingly, not only did they agree, but they invited Alec and myself to their mill, to sit with their lead designer and select the different fibers, fabric weight, and scale, so it would be perfect for our application. Pulling from hundreds of fiber color options, we huddled together over the specific tartan software, going back and forth for hours, dialing in the balance of visual pop and traditional. And then we had it… the fully custom Trakke x Carryology custom tartan inspired by John Muir.
They began weaving the unique tartan immediately. We use this 100% British wool fabric throughout the internals of the bag for a unique visual pop and visual contrast. USA-based Challenge Sailcloth + Scottish-made custom tartan, just like Muir’s Scottish/American heritage. Our fabric selection is complete.
The Sizing Sweet Spot
As we want this backpack + sling combo system to work for the outdoors, everyday carry, and for travel, the sizing is critical. Using several other favorite packs and slings as a reference point, we selected the perfect sweet spot of 21L backpack + 2L sling, for a grand total of 23 liters. Now, Alec and his team measure volume in a simple but wild method… they actually use water. Yes, water. They find this is the most accurate method of volumetric measurement for literage for all their products. That being said, this pack carries a whole lot more like a 24L pack from other makers. Every brand has their own method of measuring and that’s totally cool, but I wanted to make sure the sizing is understood in relative terms. A large backpack to carry all your larger items. A sling to deploy off and carry all your essentials.
Weatherproofing for All-Round Adventure
We wanted to create a pack that could go anywhere, in any country and climate, any scenario. As the exterior fabric is a 100% waterproof laminate of ULTRA and ECOPAK, the number one way for water to ingress was via the zipper openings on the main compartment, the admin pocket, a large horseshoe compartment, and a rear side access laptop compartment. All three of these areas are sealed from the elements using YKK AquaGuard zippers; zippers kitted out with Trakke’s brand new design Trakke-branded metal-ring pullers, for tough no-nonsense durability.
The combination of the above makes for serious weatherproofness. Check out Laurence’s ‘Waterfall Test’ here.
The horseshoe-style main compartment opening is a favorite of ours, as mentioned above. But sometimes you don’t always need to fully splay open your pack to access something inside the cavernous main storage. So we added four zipper sliders to this compartment. Leave two sliders in the top center so you can fully open your pack like a clamshell, and then, at the bottom of each zipper, there’s another slider on each side. This allows you to quickly reach inside the main compartment by zipping up one of these sliders. Three different ways to access this compartment.
And at the top of this orange and orange tartan-lined compartment, there’s a small zippered accessory pocket for important accessories you want to keep tidy.
Super Sling Experience
The sling can be worn in a variety of ways, thanks to the adjustable COBRA Pro Style buckles on each side, without any bulky hardware in the middle of your chest or riding on your shoulder. Left shoulder, right shoulder, cross body over right shoulder, cross body over left shoulder, or even as a hip pack. It contains one main zippered compartment, lined with custom tartan and ECOPAK. Within this main area, there’s a center divider to keep larger items separated as well as two small covered drop pockets to store smaller items like pocket knives, multitools, or flashlights. At the top, the branded Trakke key split ring, so you can swap your keys from pack to sling with ease. And hidden on the back of the sling, against the wearer’s side, there is a deep zippered compartment, perfect for storing secure medium-sized items like a passport or cell phone while in an airport or a busy train station. The sling’s front main compartment can be used while in the Backpack+Sling combo mode, not just when it’s in Sling-only mode, adding extra organization for your system.
Carrying the Smaller Essentials
We love one large main compartment, it’s great for large bits of gear like jackets, packing cubes, and other bulky items. But it’s not great for all the small important EDC items we all carry. Taking inspiration from Trakke’s newly released Hoy backpack, we transported its admin front accessory pocket design to this design. This ECOPAK and tartan-lined compartment has a padded divider, separating the deep pocket into two areas. The 7″ x 10″ tablet sleeve can easily swallow up an iPad (up to an 11″ iPad Pro) for accessing rapidly while on the go. There’s also a branded Trakke metal split ring to hang your keys and an additional small zippered pocket for your small bits.
Tech Suspended, Safe and Secure
The laptop compartment is conveniently located on the back panel. It can be accessed via a YKK AquaGuard zipper, with the pocket lined with the blaze orange ECOPAK and plenty of padding to keep your important tech dry, safe, and secure. The 15″ long vertical zipper access easily swallows up a 16″ MacBook Pro, with room to spare. So many of you with 17″ laptops will likely have success with fitting yours in here when you insert at a slight comfortable angle.
Comfort and Airflow
The back panel uses soft but sturdy airmesh with a center air vent to keep things cool and quick drying. As a fun visual pop, we tossed some of our custom Trakke x Carryology tartan in this channel, a hidden feature when you’re wearing the pack, breaking up the all-black exterior colorway. The shoulder straps are a sandwich of closed cell foam with airmesh on the interior and the custom ULTRA 200XBlaze on the topside for strength. High-strength polyester webbing controls all the areas of comfort, with load lifters at the top, COBRA Frame hardware at the bottom of each strap to adjust the length, and an included sternum strap with G-hook for secure adjustment and fit.
Hidden Storage (AKA Whiskey Bottle Pockets)
Scotland is the land of the delicious nectar known as Scotch, so we had to include a smart but aesthetically pleasing way to carry a full-sized bottle or two of the amber-colored juice. Of course, I guess you could carry a large water bottle too, but I personally don’t touch the stuff. This took quite a lot of patterning and patience, but we designed these to “pull in flat” while wearing the pack, maintaining its sleek exterior, but they also have plenty of their own volume to hold whatever sized bottle you’d like. While we can’t test every bottle that exists, we had room to spare when using a full 1-liter sized whiskey bottle. One on each side, of course.
Muir and Morale
This feature took quite some time to get just right. We had a design that we all loved, minimal yet tough at the same time. And we couldn’t just slap a 2″x3″ Velcro panel across the front, feeling like an afterthought. “John Muir” wasn’t necessarily an easy character to turn into a patch either. We drew out some silhouettes, but it just didn’t click. In the Trakke HQ, we were surrounding the final prototype, cutting out paper and fabric and sketching designs, trying to find something perfect.
We wanted to keep this simple, so we went with a circular 50mm Velcro patch, following the same curvaceous lines as the pack itself, with a black-on-black patch containing the Trakke logo with “Carryology” and “The Muir Project” at the top and bottom. Simple, clean.
We decided the sling needed its own Velcro loop field… the challenge here is when it’s on the pack, the patch would be upright, and then when you wear the sling, the patch would be upside down. The morale patch could not have a top or bottom side at all. So we took our custom Trakke x Carryology x Lochcarron of Scotland tartan, and turned it into a patch. Bold and classic. Two patches. One patch for the backpack, one patch for the sling, two patches for the complete two-bag system.
Handmade in Glasgow, Scotland
Trakke is extremely unique in that they manufacture their own products in-house at their Glasgow-based headquarters, via a team of expert craftspeople. Each one is painstakingly handmade here, paying an honest working living wage for UK employees. No outsourcing here. The result is a brilliant example of a small batch production, proudly and expertly made in the UK.
1 System for everyday carry, outdoor, and travel
30+ prototypes and subassemblies in total
12+ months of design, development, and testing
7 humans involved with design and development
322 minutes of sewing (per bag)
50 pattern pieces (per bag)
28 pieces of hardware (per bag)
21 meters of binding (per bag)
12 zipper pullers (per bag)
8 pieces of foam (per bag)
3.13 meters of zipper (per bag)
2 custom Velcro patches (per bag)
1 Challenge Sailcloth custom-made ULTRA+ECOPAK fabric
1 Challenge Sailcloth ECOPAK fabric
1 Lochcarron of Scotland custom-made Muir-inspired tartan
13 humans involved with hand-making each unit in Glasgow, Scotland
We are proud to announce the second collaboration between Trakke x Carryology: The Muir Project.
For more information, visit Trakke’s mini The Muir Project website.
One Last Thing…
And there’s one more thing…
While we were over at Trakke HQ in Scotland, playing with all the fabrics… I’m not sure who it was, but someone held up a swatch of the custom Lochcarron blaze orange tartan to the exterior of the bag. We laughed. And then stood silent for a few moments. What if, just for fun, we made a small handful of these… with the exterior fabric being all tartan? Well, we like having fun. So for those of you who don’t mind making an extremely bold statement, there is an extremely small number of these units available. Definitely one for the collectors among us!
Cheers to the brave folks who can pull off this wild look and cheers to being quick enough to score one!
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