Some people need all the help they can get. I’m one of them, especially when it comes to packing.
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Hotels around the world have a collection of my shoes, forgotten in the rush to check out on time. And when I do remember to gather up all my belongings, I’m generally too flustered to bother with being a tidy Kiwi (who needs nicely pressed clothes when you’re island-hopping?).
So the Kathmandu Packing Cell Ultra – Double ($79.98) seemed an ideal solution. By compartmentalising my suitcase with these smaller cases, it’d be harder to forget stray shoes, I’d be able to find everything in a flash, and the folding board would ensure my skirts weren’t crumpled.
The Ultra, made from recycled plastic bottles, consists of two small rugged bags that can be used separately or zipped together to make a water-resistant unit. One has a mesh top and internal compression straps to keep your clean clothes ventilated and well-pressed; the other, with a coated lining and anti-odour treatment, is perfect for dirty laundry.
It’s not something I’d usually lug along on a walk, but to find out how the Ultra stood up to some rough handling I took it on a weekend hike. The Ultra is a hefty 470g and also rather bulky (34x25x20cm). Still, the T-shirts I’d stuffed in one cell for the trial looked freshly pressed when I unpacked them later at home.
As for the odour-absorbing technology? It’s effective – the compartment kept the whiff of sweaty socks contained, and a quick wash had the cell smelling fresh again. With its basic carry handles, it made for a compact, albeit unusual, gym bag – there was more than enough room for activewear, a towel and toiletries, although closing the zip on chunky trainers strained the seams (but slimmer sneakers slipped in nicely).
I tend to travel light so I could use the Ultra as an overnight bag – a pair of jeans, a T-shirt, pyjamas, a cardigan and a towel all fitted comfortably into one cell, with the rest of my paraphernalia in the other. It’s great for tossing in the back of the car, but if you’re looking for a standalone cabin bag, it probably wouldn’t fly as it’s not designed for hauling long distances. Nevertheless, for someone who’s not a neat freak, the Ultra is a smart way to stay organised while travelling. Plus, if I had a few other cells from the range, I’d be able to play Tetris with them during stopovers. Bonus!
First Looks are trials of new and interesting products from the perspective of our product experts. Our lab-based tests offer truly objective product comparisons.
By Julia Addison
Cars, phones, infomercial products and anything else that takes our fancy — First Looks are trials of new or interesting products from the perspective of our product experts. Check out our latest.