Jack Wolfskin Expedition Pack 42 review

The Jack Wolfskin Expedition Pack 42 is a tough travel bag that's built for exploring. Here's our review

T3 Platinum Award
Jack Wolfskin Expedition Pack 42 on shingled ground, against a stone wall
(Image credit: Future)
T3 Verdict

The Jack Wolfskin Expedition Pack 42 is perfect for keeping your belongings organised on your adventures. The build quality is tough, and the design makes it easy to organise and locate all your various bits and bobs. A tech pocket with separate access is a particularly nice touch.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Complies with carry-on luggage sizing

  • +

    Very durable and weatherproof

  • +

    Lots of useful pockets

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    No hip straps

  • -

    Not ergonomically shaped for hiking

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The Jack Wolfskin Expedition Pack 42 is part of a small capsule range of luggage designed for 'the most extreme missions'. Launched right at the end of 2021, the Expedition range is characterised by hardy build quality and high levels of water-resistance, alongside PFC-free materials.

The Expedition Pack 42 (opens in new tab) I'm reviewing here is the hero piece, a durable backpack with space to keep all your luggage organised. There's a smaller version – the Expedition Pack 22 (opens in new tab). I'd count it amongst the best travel bags on the market, especially if you're looking for something tough and weatherproof. Read on for my full Jack Wolfskin Expedition Pack 42 review.

Jack Wolfskin Expedition Pack 42 review: carry options

There are multiple carry options. First, it can be worn as a regular backpack. There are shoulder straps and a chest strap, both of which can be adjusted to distribute the load (here's how to fit a backpack, if you didn't know).

Jack Wolfskin Expedition Pack 42: specs

Size: 56 x 36 x 25cm
Laptop / tablet compartment: 15" and 10"
Weight: 1400g
Capacity: 42l

While it's comfortable enough to wear for relatively long periods of time, to be a 'proper' expedition backpack, really you need hip straps and a more padded, ergonomic design, akin to what you'd find on one of the best hiking backpacks. The up-side of the boxier shape is that the Jack Wolfskin Expedition Pack 42 backpack does comply with airline carry-on luggage rules – hurrah.

For carrying shorter distances – for example picking up and putting down in the airport – there are padded handles at the top and side. In this carry mode, you can tuck the shoulder straps away into a back zip pocket so they don't get in the way. Along the sides and top you'll find daisy chain attachment loops that can be used to lash the bag to, for example, a luggage rack (for security), or – as Jack Wolfskin suggests – a roof rack or donkey. 

Jack Wolfskin Expedition Pack 42 on shingled ground, against a stone wall

(Image credit: Future)

Jack Wolfskin Expedition Pack 42 review: design and compartments

Inside, there are loads of options for stashing all your gear in an organised way. In the main body of the bag you'll find two roomy, zipped mesh pockets for smaller valuables, along with a water bottle pocket and packet with a drawstring top. There's also a whole area dedicated to holding your devices. This sits against your back, fills the whole length and width of the bag, and is accessible via a separate zip. Here you'll find padded pockets sized to fit your laptop, tablet and phone.

In use, it's a practical number of pockets that mean you can easy keep track of what you've put where. The clamshell opening on the main part of the bag makes it easy to pack and find clothes, while the ability to access devices separately, without having to open the whole bag, is super useful. 

The build quality is excellent, and there are some small touches that make it extra usable – the zips have chunky pulls that can be operated while wearing gloves, for example. Jack Wolfskin has used heavy-duty, water repellent fabric for the main body of the bag, and the zip on the front compartment is water-resistant, too. While it doesn't claim to be fully waterproof, it saw off a fairly heavy rain shower with no trouble in my tests, and it's nice not to faff around putting on and off rain covers, or worrying about things getting damp. 

Jack Wolfskin Expedition Pack 42 review: verdict

The Jack Wolfskin Expedition Pack 42 isn't particularly geared towards travel on foot – there's no padding on the back, and no hip straps. It is, however, a great option for almost any other mode of transport, with its stow-able shoulder straps and cabin-bag-compliant boxy shape. A wide range of pockets give you places to safely stash all your various bits and bobs – tech or otherwise – while the rugged, weatherproof material means everything stays protected, whatever the weather. 

Ruth is currently on secondment as Sleep Editor for Tom's Guide and TechRadar. The role is an extension of her work on T3, where she ran the site's Wellness channel, which includes sleep, relaxation, yoga and general wellbeing. She was also Outdoors editor, reviewing and writing about everything from camping gear and hiking boots to mountain bikes, drones and paddle boards. She has tested more mattresses than her small flat can handle, and has had to implement a one-in-one-out pillow policy, for fear of getting smothered in the night.