I have been searching for a good travel bag for awhile now. Usually I would just empty out an old work backpack and “convert” it to a carry on. By convert I definitely mean just stuff a bunch of stuff in it. So I was really excited to get the Kuhl Kove. It is more of an old rucksack style of bag that worked great on my most recent trip.
As a disclaimer I would like to mention that I have an affiliate agreement with Kuhl and any purchase you make from links on this website results in me getting a small commission. All opinions on this page are my own and based on my own experiences with this bag. This review is for general informational purposes. Your experience with the pants may be completely different.
According to the Kuhl website, the Kove is described as, “KÜHL’s minimalist design of the KOVE 22L pays tribute to the history of the rucksack, while incorporating modern features that help keep you organized and on the move. Antiqued alloy hardware and an extremely durable shell material supply style and function.”
18.75 x 11.5 x 6.5 inches
Dark Khaki, Ink Black
67% WaxednCotton 33% Nylon
Gear Capacity – 22 liters (1342 cubic inches)
Exterior Pockets – 2 plus Main Pocket
Laptop Compartment – Yes (fits 15 inch Laptop)
Carryon – Yes
*All information from Kuhl.com
What I Liked
I feel like this bag was designed with me in mind. The way I travel is with a bigger suitcase for when I get to my “home base” and then I like to pack out enough clothes and supplies for a day or two. The Kove was perfect for this. It also worked really well as my carryon bag when I took my flight. The inside pockets were great to keep things organized and the open main section was perfect to fit whatever I needed for the day. Here is a bit more of a breakdown of what I liked.
The main storage area of the Kove is very large and I found it to be very expandable as well. I pushed the 22 liter capacity to the limit and it won with flying colors. There is an internal sleeve or compartment for my laptop which was perfect. The back of the pack also has a padded zippered section that can fit a laptop as well. This makes it easy to have your computer away from the rest of your gear so you have quick access. I didn’t use that pocket as I was ok with having my laptop in the main compartment.
There are also three smaller sleeves in the main compartment. This was great for an external hard drive, a USB hub, and a wireless mouse.
The rest of the main section is wide open and ready to be filled with whatever you need for the trip. I used it for clothes, a jacket, some medication, a hat, a small camera bag with a couple of GoPro cameras in it, and some snacks for the flight. When I was going on smaller day trips I would change what I had in the main pocket. Sometimes it was water bottles and jackets for a small hike, sometimes it was change of clothes, extra shoes, and toiletries for an overnight. With that wide open space the possibilities are endless.
The Kove also has a side pocket on either side of the outside of the pack. The design of these pockets is pretty cool as they are pretty much hidden when looking at the pack. They run down the bottom side seams and I thought they would be pretty small. In fact they are quite large and fit a cell phone, air pod cases, wallets etc. In one of the pockets there is a key clip so you can clip in your keys and not have to worry about them falling out. That is always my biggest fear when traveling! I used the small pockets to help stay organized with the items that I knew I would need.
There is also a pouch on either shoulder strap that is a perfect size for Chapstick or to hold sunglasses for quick and easy retrieval.
I was a little bit concerned that the design of the pack was going to make it really hard to adjust depending on how much gear I was bringing at any certain time. That concern was quickly solved. The front latching system has four separate section to latch into depending on how much you have in the Kove. If you packed heavy, latch into the top band. Not much in the pack, latch into the bottom. This system gave a good amount of flexibility and made sure the top panel was tight and nothing would fall out.
The Kove also has an extendable flap of material with a drawstring at the top of the main compartment. That allows for some vertical flexibility with filling the pack. Especially if you are like me and stuff a ton into it! The drawstring can be tightened and has an auto lock feature to provide more security in packing.
Where was it written that every backpack needed to have zippers? One of my favorite features of the Kove is the classic style clasp that it has on the main pouch. The brass looking “Antiqued Alloy” main latch gives the Kove the classic look that I loved. Plus, it was extremely functional! I mentioned earlier about how the latching system allows for flexibility depending on how full the pack is. The single bar latch is easy to open and close and performs as well as it is stylish.
The rest of the zippers on the pack are of similar material and function very well.
The Kove is made of two thirds waxed cotton material and one third nylon. There is a flexibility to the top pouch that helps close and seal the pack with different size loads inside with ease. There is also a firmness to the bottom section of the pack and the back section. This helps to keep the shape and to prevent the bag from falling in on itself when there isn’t much inside.
The straps are also made of a very sturdy material and are solid. The Kove is really comfortable when worn across the back and the thick straps feel good over the shoulders and chest. Adjustments are also very easy with the straps making for a great fit.
I took the Kove through airports, on the train, threw it in trunks and backseats and it held up great. Every part seems to be made extremely well and I had no worries of any issues of it falling apart.
What I Didn’t Like
While I liked almost everything about the Kove, they take my blogger card away if I don’t find things I didn’t like. So here is that small list.
First, I wish the small sleeve pockets on the inside were a little bit tighter at the opening. As I mentioned before I packed my wireless mouse, USB hub, and external drive in those pockets and my mouse slid out during the flight and was loose in the main section of the pack. I didn’t lose it or anything like that but a little extra firmness around the top of those sleeve pockets could make sure everything stays in place.
The only other thing I didn’t love about the Kove is that the drawstring around the top piece of fabric in the main pouch area can be a little tricky to loosen up. This may also be operator error because I can be clumsy at times but when I tightened the string completely the locking mechanism kind of recessed into the fabric. I am not sure if there is away to loosing the string from the locking mechanism but I ended up just pulling on the taught drawstring until it loosened.
Nothing major, just a couple of little things that I found.
Overall, I really liked the Kuhl Kove. First and foremost I loved the style. It had a classic look and feel that I really liked. I loved how big the main pouch was and how much it could hold. The hardware really put it over the top for me with the brass styled metal that gave the Kove that classic rucksack feel.
I think as a travel bag, whether on road trips or on an airline the Kove is a great piece. It keeps the electronics protected and has compartments to separate important things. The key holder in the side pocket also relieved a lot of stress of worrying I was going to lose my keys on the flight.
This definitely does not have the feel of a modern backpack. If you need 97 zippered pockets to hold all your gizmo’s and gadgets you might not love it. But if you are looking for a versatile bag with a classic look and feel you can’t do much better than the Kuhl Kove.
If you like this review, you can see other products I have reviewed on my Product Review Page. If you have any items you would like me to review or any comments feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow me on any of the below social media platforms. Happy Hiking!