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Keep Travel Simple

By Joshua Fields Millburn of The Minimalists

 
 

When I started traveling more frequently nearly a decade ago, I quickly realized my oversized suitcase would no longer cut it: it was bulky, it was ugly, and it didn’t fit in the overhead bin. Worst of all, because my suitcase was so hulking, I felt compelled to fill it with surplus travel gear: unworn swimming trunks, extra tennis shoes, excess shirts and pants and accoutrements that were never meant to journey with me. Packing had become a chore.

Not only was my bloated case a nightmare to dig through, it weighed me down. The one item that was supposed to aid my trips actually got in the way, so much so that I developed an aversion to travel, dreading each trip because of the clutter I had to lug from airport to airport, hotel to hotel, city to city. So, of course, I tried a slew of new travel bags, none of which met my needs. They were too small or too large or too awkward, and they contained too many pockets.

“The bag itself defied categorization. It was a duffle bag, a carry-on bag, a messenger bag, and a suitcase all-in-one. And it was none of these things.”

Then my friend, Colin Wright, a full-time, minimalist traveler, visited my home for a week, toting everything he owned in one intriguing bag: the Getaway by Malcolm Fontier.

The bag itself defied categorization. It was a duffle bag, a carry-on bag, a messenger bag, and a suitcase all-in-one. And it was none of these things. Its streamlined design lacked the superfluous impedimenta sported by every other bag I’d tried, leaving only the crucial elements for travel: a bag that looked like a casual duffle, but functioned like a suitcase.

Since I purchased the Malcolm Fontier Getaway six years ago, I’ve traveled with it to literally hundreds of cities around the world—from Portland, Maine, to Portland, Oregon; Birmingham, Alabama, to Birmingham, United Kingdom; Hollywood, Florida, to Hollywood, California—and it has continued to serve me as the sole bag I need for all of my travels.

Best of all, this bag worked just as well for my weekend trips as it did for my friend’s year-long globetrotting. It forced me to pack only the essentials, but without sacrificing the necessities. There was room for everything I needed for my trips, and nothing extra. For me, it was the perfect bag.

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People occasionally stop me at airports to ask me where they can purchase my bag. And as my recognition grew as one half of The Minimalists, more people asked about the bag whenever they saw it at one of our tour stops or in the background of a YouTube video. And then, when we made a Netflix documentary called Minimalism, the same question repeatedly filled my inbox: “Where can I get the bag you used in the film?” Each time I responded with, “It was made by Malcolm Fontier, but, unfortunately, his company stopped making bags in 2012, and it looks like none are available anywhere online.”

The disappointment was palpable, which I understood because I get so much value from my bag. It’s the one possession I use more than anything else. It was obvious many people had the same problem I did: conventional bags had failed them, and they needed an alternative. “Good luck in your hunt for the perfect bag,” I’d tell people after letting them down.

And that was that. “Sorry” and “good luck” were all I could offer. That is, until I received an email from Malcolm Fontier himself, a few months after our film hit Netflix, informing me that he’d recently witnessed an outpouring of demand for the bag because of the documentary’s success. When I told him it was my most useful possession, and that thousands of people had messaged me about his bag, he asked whether The Minimalists might be interested in partnering with him to reintroduce it to the world.

Malcolm’s question was flattering, but it put us in a strange predicament. You see, in our seven-year tenure as The Minimalists, we’ve never endorsed or sold a physical product. And it seemed especially ironic that we’d consider selling a bag—a thing designed to hold stuff. But when you call yourself a “minimalist,” everything you do is instantly blanketed by irony: “you don’t travel a minimal amount,” “your podcast doesn’t have a minimal audience,” “your hair isn’t very minimal!”

Irony aside, I pondered the question for a while and eventually recognized the opposite could be true: The Minimalists aren’t opposed to physical goods—we’re against impulsive consumption—and this bag was the opposite of impulse for me. It was intentional. As a minimalist, everything I own serves a purpose or brings me joy, and Malcolm’s bag has added immense value to my life over the years—more value than any other item.

“The Minimalists aren’t opposed to physical goods—we’re against impulsive consumption—and this bag was the opposite of impulse for me. It was intentional.”

Ultimately, we said yes to Malcolm, but under two conditions: we keep the bag the same, while we simultaneously make it better. No, we didn’t want to add any bells or whistles to a perfect bag, but we also wanted to take years of traveling with the bag into consideration before we resurrected it.

The result is Pakt One, a bag designed by Malcolm Fontier with input from The Minimalists. It’s the same bag I’ve used for years, only better: more durable, more versatile, more beautiful.

Truth be told, there’s a good chance you don’t need a new travel bag. If you don’t, please don’t feel compelled to purchase one. But if you do, this is the best bag I’ve ever used. That’s why it’s the first and only physical good that bears our name. If you’re ready to purchase the last bag you’ll ever want, then this is the one.

 
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