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How to Pack like an Industrial Designer

A minimalist packing list from the co-creator of cult bag, the Pakt One.

Malcolm Fontier

A 10-year obsession with motorcycle trekking taught Malcolm Fontier to be diligent about what goes in his bag. It also taught him a lot about what a bag should be – soft-sided and durable, with pockets for organization. Last year, the designer teamed up with podcasting duo the Minimalists to produce the Pakt One, an updated version of his cult duffle-suitcase hybrid, available for pre-order now. We caught up with Fontier at his home and studio in Brooklyn.

What’s your packing style?
Minimalism through versatility, which means anything I carry does double duty. So instead of bringing my e-reader, I’ll just use the Kindle app.

How did the Pakt One come to be?
Before folding my travel accessories line, I did a limited run of 300 bags. The Minimalists bought two, which then appeared in the background of their documentary Minimalism. People found out I designed it and requests flooded in. So I reached out to the guys to see if they were interested in collaborating to resurrect the bag.

Why the interest in designing a bag?
If you design a cool-looking modem, say, someone will buy it, put it on their shelf and forget about it. People connect with luggage and travel with it for years – it becomes like a sidekick. You actually end up appreciating the thing more the longer you have it.

Your motto is “always take the scenic route.” What does that mean?
To my wife’s dismay, I mean it literally, so I’ll always take the route that adds 30 minutes to the trip. It also translates to my decisions – like opting to motorcycle through Europe rather than hop around on flights. I like to be in my environment, rather than insulated from it. And I added that line to my site because it speaks to how I do business. Entrepreneurship is not the easiest way to make a living, but every day there’s a new adventure.

What's in the bag of Malcolm Fontier

In updating the bag, we used more durable materials, like PU leather, and we thought about the pain points of travel. One addition is a TSA pouch that makes it easier to access documents, and we repositioned pockets so you can grab your computer and magazines easily before taking your seat.

This case by Baggu weighs almost nothing and doesn’t add any airspace to my luggage.

I bring a pair of dark sneakers that can be worn on a hike or out to dinner. It helps that any place sneakers aren’t welcome probably isn’t my kind of place.

I’m not a souvenir person but I like buying something that’s functional and will remind me of a place. This sarong is from Rio de Janeiro and can be used as a picnic blanket, a scarf or a towel in an emergency.

These adventure shorts by Patagonia are comfortable enough to run or bike in and have zip pockets to secure my wallet and valuables while exploring. Plus, they dry quickly and can double as swim trunks.

When I come across an article online I don’t have time for just then, I use this app to save it for offline reading later, which is great for when you’re on the plane.

To give my eyes a break from screens, I carry magazines like The New Yorker and National Geographic.

I pack dark, simple pieces like black and grey V-necks from Vince, which have a high-end fit and feel. There’s something about that cut that’s just a little dressier.