Raja Pack Review

Tribe member, Matt King, just took his Guatemala 4 Raja Pack on one heck of an adventure to Lombok. Not only did Matt put his Raja through it's paces, he talked about it as well. See his product review below...


Photo: Matt King in Lombok w/ Guatemala 4 Raja Pack


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This is the mother of all packs! I have had it for a while now and it sees me through everything and not once have I had a problem with it. From trips to uni, or the shops, to big weekends away or even big backpacking trips my ETK Raja has served me well.

The laptop compartment near the back protects it beautifully and allows easy access to it without going into the main compartment. The main part of the bag is big enough for just about anything with the roll top meaning it can be expanded further. There is also a divider which is good for keeping documents flat, as well as a small zip pocket for a few items (kindle touch fits perfectly). The side pockets are great for those small items and the one that allows quick access to the main part can be extremely useful!

As well as a great bag for organisation you of course look the part with your thread, which contains yet another handy pocket. Awesome bag made by some awesome people, definitely the best bag I have ever owned!


You rock Matt! Thank you so much for the great product review, it really helps your fellow Tribe members get a feel for just how tough and functional our bags are.

Our Seoul Tribe has soul

Our Tribe in Seoul Korea now has a place to call home for all things Ethnotek.

Drop in and support Vita at: 229-64 YeonNam-dong MaPo-gu, Seoul, S Korea.

Be sure to visit their website here: http://vita-u.com/

Join their Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/vitatradekorea


Here's a pic from when Ethnotek Founder & Head Designer, Jake went to visit team Vita.


Photo from left to right: Joon, Joowon, Jae, Jake.

From Jake: " Joowon totally gets it! She has such great taste, sense of style, has really high quality standards and values our socially responsible mission to the core. Jae is smart and detail oriented and Joon is a tech guru. They're the perfect team and our brand is in good hands with them. We're excited for both of our small family businesses to grow together." 

Come help support our Tribe in Korea, these guys are going to do great things!

- Ethnotek

Singapore Tribe Member Pamela Ho On Keeping Culture Alive

Big love to Singapore Tribe member Pamela Ho for the shout-out on her travel blog this week! Check out an excerpt below...

"As a travel writer, I prefer to invest in travel products that go a long way. Also, I’m not a shopper. So when I do buy something, it’s usually because I need it. Or it’s a book. But if I’m prepared to spend a little more, it’s almost always because the product stands for something I believe in.

Like Ethnotek bags.

I found out about these travel bags through my best friend Ning (aka ‘Magic Babe’ Ning). We were planning a trip to Thailand at the time, and she thought it might be cool to check out this socially-responsible line of bags, recently brought in to Singapore by The Bag Creature.

Ning checking out the Raja Packs and Threads

I accompanied her down, of course, and what I found out about Ethnotek really impressed me. The business itself originates from the U.S. but the founders – two young men who are also travellers – have committed to supporting the work of local artisans in remote villages around the world, so that their traditional weaving practices can be kept alive.

These intricate weaving techniques are amazingly tedious and time-consuming. And at the speed fabrics are being mass-manufactured in urban factories these days, traditional artisans are not only losing their jobs, but also their cultural heritage. There is no longer an impetus to pass on the craft to the next generation.

What the Ethnotek founders did was to travel to these remote villages in Vietnam, India, Indonesia, Guatemala etc. and seek out these artisans, and negotiate a fair price for their handiwork. Not only are these weavers paid fairly through direct transactions, their unique culture and traditional practices – as well as their livelihoods – are kept alive by a global stream of demand.
These gorgeous bags aren’t cheap – I admit – but they are good quality, they promote fair trade, and help sustain the livelihood of villagers in indigenous communities.

I don’t normally promote travel products, but I’ve been so pleased with this travel bag and what it stands for that I’ve started following Ethnotek on Facebook and Instagram (@ethnotekbags). I guess it’s the satisfaction of being part of a community of world travellers that believes in fair trade and keeping cultures alive. Or as the founders call us - #etktribe :)

But above all, just as my 42-litre backpack reminded me of how much (or little) I really needed while on the road for 9 months, may your travel bag remind you too – in an unconventional sort of way – of what’s more important in life."

Full Blog Post

Minneapolis Tidbits Spotlights Ethnotek Bags

Tidbits is the essential tool for the style-conscious modern woman. They cover what's chic and locally-owned in their cities, and they only cover what they love. Cheers to Minneapolis Tidbits for the shout-out last week prior to our event at featured retailer Cliche! Read more below...

Excellent Adventurer

International Style Statement...

Your choice of bag each day depends on your outfit, which depends on your mood, which depends on how much you drank the night before. So you need roughly 17 bags to choose from on any given day. 

Save some bucks and grab one great travel bag with interchangable looks, courtesy of the all-new styles from local Ethnotek. Handcrafted by artisans all over the world, the carry-alls are travel gems that come with interchangeable THREADs, AKA a removable front panel, to go with any mood you're in. From stripes to ikat to solids, you'll have your pick.

If only swapping out the bags under your tired eyes was this easy.

Ethnotek Featured in Mpls.St.Paul Magazine

Cheers to Mpls.St.Paul Magazine for the local love/shout-out last week! Check out the article below...

Bags from Far, and Near

By Allison Kaplan

Ethnotek bags stand out from the pack with their colorful, globally inspired woven designs. It's the college in Boulder, Dead Head loving, frizzy hair, festival going you, and the grown up, running a company from a laptop at an indie coffee house and adventure traveling in Costa Rica you, all rolled into one durable backpack. The bags themselves are made out of a sturdy, water-resistant nylon, and then dressed up with interchangeable front panels, called Threads, that are created from textiles handwoven by artisans in villages around the world—Guatemala to Ghana; Indonesia to Vietnam.

The bags caught the eye of REI and launched in REI stores nationwide three years ago (with a thread design exclusive to the recreational retailer). Ethnotek has since been picked up by outdoors stores, bike shops and boutiques around the world. But on Friday, Ethnotek is coming home, for its first Minneapolis trunk show.

That's right: this company on a mission to fuse ethnology and technology and give new purpose to a dying craft in far off places was founded by a couple of guys who went to Eastview High School in Apple Valley. Jake Orak oversees manufacturing and artisans from Vietnam. Josh Linde manages operations from Minneapolis, along with a third partner, Megan Suszynski, a St. Olaf College grad who fell in love with her Ethnotek bag, and parlayed that into a position as sales director. Until last week, the bags were stored and shipped from Orak's mom's basement in Eagan.

Ethnotek just moved into a fulfillment center in the Twin Cities, and decided it was time to connect with the hometown crowd with an event at Cliche, one of the small, independent boutiques that has supported the company from its early days. Ethnotek will debut two new styles at the Cliche trunk show: a smaller, cross-body bag and a wallet—lower priced items aimed at a customer that might not be shopping the REIs of the world. Both styles will be available at the event for purchase and pre-order, a month before they hit other stores. Check out the brand, meet some of the players, and keep your eyes on Ethnotek—there's much more to come.  Friday, May 16, 7 to 10 p.m. 2403 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls.

Full Article

May 19, 2014 by Tribe Scribe

Burning Questions for Ethnotek? Check out this Q&A with Founder Jake Orak.

Join Anywhere But Home's "Nomad" Naomi as she chats with Founder Jake and asks the tough questions. From Naomi:

Ever wanted to get under Ethnotek’s hood? I have. The first time that I heard about Ethnotek, it caught my eye for a number of reasons: a company that supports local artisans? Intrepid travellers running the show? A mission to ‘keep culture alive’? Yes please. As a lover of travel and of the web of artistic heritage from around the world, I was intrigued and wanted to get in on spreading the word about its mission. But first, I had to do my homework - Ethnotek’s ideals might be there, but is the reality?

Saigon Buddies: Jake, Cori (Jake's wife) and Naomi

To get to the heart of the matter, I met up with Ethnotek founder Jake Orak and his wife Cori in Saigon to ask the questions I hadn’t seen answered in articles: for one, how was Ethnotek staying fair-trade? How did they find & select artisans they worked with? How do they pursue people-to-people business with all those language barriers? And though the THREADS come from small-scale artisans, what about the actual bag bodies? Nylon from China?

It was time to get down to brass tacks.

True sustainability

Jake and Cori have been living in Saigon for the past few years, so they seem to know all the hidden spots. We cab it to a restaurant out by the Saigon River, where we can see the sun coming down low over the water just next door. As we sit down to beer, I start our chat by asking about where the idea for Ethnotek came from.

Back in his past life, Jake had been a bag designer for a larger company which incorporated mass-manufactured fabrics into their products. But during a trip into the tribal regions of northern Vietnam, he began seeing small-scale artisans who were creating quality, hand-made textiles at their backyard looms. It was an industry that was ancient, and endangered.

 Hani, at the Cham village in Vietnam

“I knew this was a cultural tradition that certainly not a lot of people see anymore,” he says, “and I knew that the demand was diminishing because of the cost and the time it takes to create these textiles. The textiles and the culture surrounding them just inspired me – how can I do something about raising awareness and demand for these textiles so that they don't become extinct?”

At first, his thoughts went to starting a tour agency or a garment company, but then he (wisely) decided to stick to what he knew best: bags. However, it wouldn't be enough to simply buy up fabrics and make product – he wanted to make a business that was sustainable, not wasteful.


“It was kind of that Eureka moment,” Jake explains as he came up with the idea for Ethnotek's changeable front-panels. “People could continue to support the artisans while owning only one bag. The one core body provides all the functionality, but they could continue to purchase textiles – THREADS – from each of the villages to continue on with the preservation, and keep demand up.”

Bhuj, Gujarat, India Master Weaver Vankar Shamji and his father Vishram Valji.

Sustainability is also why the bag is made from a durable, 840-denier water resistant ballistic nylon. Made in the local Saigon workshop of Jake’s old coworker, Mr. Ai, the bags come from his family business that produces the entire nylon body from start to finish - no mass production from China here. And though nylon isn’t a natural material, it's extraordinarily durable – so much so, that Ethnotek is changing its 5 year warrantee to a lifetime warrantee.

“That's part of the sustainable mission,” says Jake, “making something that lasts as long as possible, and isn't just a throw-away.”


Alright, so I was feeling the idea of a quality product made from sustainable materials for the benefit of small communities and heritage art forms. But there was a new slant to Jake’s business model that, for me, set it apart: the question of respect.

As Jake stresses, Ethnotek doesn’t dictate the designs that its partner villages make. The artisans, instead, are asked which are the most traditional or which are their favourite.

“We don't wanna go in and say, 'We're doing this!'” Jake says with a laugh.

One the ground partnerships (L to R) Hani, Head Artisan, Hani's son Jaka,
Ethnotek Founder Jake, Packaging Developer Bao, and Head Bag Developer Ai.

But respect runs deeper than just guaranteeing artistic freedom. Most importantly, it lies in the quality that makes Ethnotek so often called “fair-trade,” and what Jake refers to as the “Village Sourcing Guide.” This guide is a list of questions that Ethnotek asks its partner villages in order to ensure that a long-lasting business relationship can be made. After all, helping these villages revive their dying textile traditions isn’t just about increasing demand: it’s about ensuring that an increased demand lasts.

“We just have to ask the right questions, like 'Who here speaks English? Do you guys e-mail? Are you familiar with shipping via DHL or Fedex? Can we wire money directly to you? Who's going to be our main contact?'” Jake explains, “All the logistics that are tied to 'Can this actually be a business to business relationship?' Because that's the best way that we can help preserve their own culture.”

Partnering Artisans Dying Fabric in Indonesia

I don’t know why this consideration and professionalism surprises me. I suppose I’m used to seeing products similar to Ethnotek run under a ‘rich uncle’ model - Western company sees dying traditional art form, swoops in and starts throwing money around - but what Jake’s describing is built on respect. It’s an attitude of approaching all artisans as equal partners, meeting eye-to-eye, and aiming to create a mutually beneficial relationship.

It isn’t patronising or charity - it’s empowerment.

And I can respect that.

People-to-people business

The afternoon rainstorm is just starting outside restaurant’s windows, and we can see freighters heading down the Saigon River towards the South China Sea. It puts me in mind to think about the origins of all those wares inside, so I turn the conversation to how Ethnotek does its in-person sourcing. Currently, Ethnotek fabrics come from five countries: Vietnam, India, Indonesia, Guatemala, and Ghana. Fabric from the latter two countries come from, respectively, an NGO from Colorado and a fair-trade certified trader from California which Jake has personal contacts with. But Indonesia, Vietnam and India are where Ethnotek's business partnerships get down to trade in its simplest form: just dropping in.

Or, as Jake puts it, “seat-of-the-pants sourcing.”

A People to People Business: Jake and Master Weaver Vankar Shamji

It was this element of Jake’s business model that really intrigued me, because the idea of rocking up to a remote village and diving right into the culture and lifestyle is something that adventurous travellers often dream about.

“When you go to these villages to set up relationships yourself,” I have to ask, “how do you deal with the language barrier, to start? I mean, how do you get an insight into the village?”

Jake laughs and says, “It really is just like parachuting in and hoping for the best.”

To do this type of on-the-ground sourcing, he starts as every backpacker does: arrives in a village, and finds a place to spend the night. From there, action mode begins. Usually with the help of the guesthouse or homestay, he’s got to find someone with enough English to understand what he’s looking for.

“Usually it's tricky at first, because they'll just escort me to the nearest souvenir shop, like, 'Here you go – textiles!' And I say, 'No, I don't want to just buy once and then go home, I want to go behind the shop to see where it's made, meet the family and set up a long-term relationship.’”

Jake, in the Cham village: "Seat-of-the-Pants Sourcing"

And so these business relationships begin - seat-of-the-pant sourcing, indeed. But the benefits of connecting with a community at the ground level are apparent. In the case of Ethnotek’s partner village in India, Jakes has been able to see how the artisan Shamji has had to expand his workshop to keep up with the demands of Ethnotek’s customers - newly involving more family members and neighbours in the business.

“That was total proof of concept for us that the mission is happening on its own volition. It's just evolving as it should.”

Community involvement

So with the new year, what’s next for Ethnotek? The answer actually surprises me. Outside of experimental new products - you’ll have to check back here to see them unveiled! - Ethnotek has a bigger mission: involve more of the Tribe.

In one of our last e-mails, Jake mentioned trying to open up possibilities for travellers to collect fabric on their own travels and have a THREAD made upon visiting the Saigon workshop. I ask how that’s coming along.

Jake immediately gets animated. “That's something that we really, really, really wanna make happen so badly,” - his emphasis is unavoidable - “because that's the ultimate closing of the loop in the mission. The whole idea is to reduce the distance between the customer and the artisan, to increase more transparency – that's the ultimate awareness of celebrating and promoting and keeping culture alive.”

 Jake's Wife Cori with a Limited Edition Ghana Raja Pack

The way Jake sees it, actually getting Ethnotek customers to visit the villages and artisans making these fabrics, to learn about those cultures directly, would be the ultimate benefit. Though it’s just a seed of an idea, there might be a day when Ethnotek can help customers and travellers visit its partner villages themselves.

Jake sees these village visits as a type of scavenger hunt: “Maybe just give out a cool, fun info dump of what to look for, who to meet, who you can stay with, and exciting things to see - but the rest is just like any backpacker would want, just kinda up in the air, just make your own adventure.”

That, I know, was exactly what caught my eye about Ethnotek in the first place - its spirit of adventure. This company was created by, and for, people with insatiable curiosity, who reach out with open arms to the diversity of the planet, who feel energized by possibility and thrilled by new experiences. It doesn’t matter if you’re hitting the streets of a city or the trails of a mountain: Ethnotek was designed to bring the world to travellers whereever they are.

And, most importantly, to carry adventure with them.


I'm Naomi, an occasional expat and permanent nomad celebrating an infatuation with the whole wide world! 
In 2010, I left home to pursue travel as a full-time lifestyle...and haven't looked back since... (check out her blog)

Getu See More

Our Tribe sends it!!!

This week's proof of that is a story from our friend and fellow Tribe member Andrew Seymore. We like to think of his last name as being spelled 'SeeMore' because this dude does exactly that. He works hard as a High School teacher in Saigon, Vietnam and with what little free time he has, he dedicates it all to seeing more...life is short people, and I think we all can take a page from his book in how to maximize free time as free people should. 


Andy surveying the ominous with Raja & VaRuna.

Andy is friends with Ethnotek Founder and Design Shaman Jake. When Andy told Jake about the climbing spot in Getu China that opened up a couple years ago, Jake was pumped to get a bag on his back to see how it would hold up on a real deal climbing adventure. Jake prefaces, "these are laptop bags man. They're designed for the urban commuter, but the feature set and materials we use are tough as hell. So who am I to say what the bags can or can not do. Go use it as a crag bag. Let's see what happens. We might learn something along the way." Here we go ya'll!

Mr. SeeMore's kit for the adventure was a Vietnam 5 Raja Pack, Vietnam 4 Cham Thread and a VaRuna Raja Raincover. Are you excited to see what he gets into yet? We are!!


Andy & friends on the approach to the Getu climbing area by foot. Rockin the Vietnam 4 Thread on Mr. Raja. Safe first day of climbing bro!

The approach continues by long-tail boat and we get our first glimpse of the arches.


Ok, let's talk to the dude himself...

Jake [Q]

Hey brother, can you pass on a few words about the area, your experience and how the bag held up?

Andy [A] 

"The verdict: this will remain a tucked-away treat for avid climbers and intrepid travelers for a good while to come."

Pitched as “rugged” and “mysterious” in the guides, Guizhou province has all the adventure you grow to love and dread while traveling in China. Three plane rides and three busses got us from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to Getu China. Our reward was $3 a night rooms, $.50 beers and a climbing sanctuary that’s one of a kind.  

Andy getting fresh on the first day after a long journey.

In the fall of 2011, Petzl climbing company “opened up” Getu with a well publicized trip, full of all-stars and world class routes. The magazines followed suit and now it’s on the map. The climbing reflected the area itself: unique, imposing and huge potential for development. 

Vietnam 5 Raja, on quick draw.

Homestay, cheap brews, new friends and family made. High fives to that! Andy's homie Kyle Bene making meaningful connections.

Inside the arch, we discovered what everyone had been talking about. In the only extensive write-up on the Getu area, Dennis Diaz gives a lyrical account of climbing in the arch: “Deep, shadowy scoops in the limestone give the area an uncommon feel and unfamiliarity. Climbing up these lines looks like trying to scale up giant bees’ nests in search of golden nectar.” 

Vietnam 4 Raja Pack, Getu China.

My Ethnotek Raja pack was a perfect companion on the trip. Easy to pack light and stow as a carry-on bag.  It was also large enough to fill up for full days at the crag, easy to secure the load. Very comfortable even on long approaches.

Crag bag after-all.

China has another newly-developed area, Liming, in the Yunnan province. It’s the only rock climbing in eastern Asia that boasts “splitter” red sandstone crack climbing just like you’ll find in the deserts around Moab.  If you get there first, let us know how it goes!"

-Andy Seymour


And that right there is exactly what we're talking about Tribe! A story shared, meaningful connections made and a call to action. Not from us, from your fellow Tribe member. If you get out there yourself - and we know you do - let us know. Share your stories and photos on Instagram (ethnotekbags), Facebook (ethnotek), and/or Twitter (ethnotekbags), or shoot Tribe Leader Megan an email at megan(at)ethnotekbags(dot)com. We'd love to feature you next and show the Tribe the kind of adventures you take your Ethnotek bag on.

From all of us at Ethnotek, thank you. Together we can keep culture alive!

Here is the full Getu experience from the Petzel lens. WARNING: it's a time consuming experience watching, but if you make the time, we promise your life will be better for it. Thank you Petzl, for doing your part in keeping culture alive.

May 08, 2014 by the Rambling Shaman

Celebrate Diwali with Tribe Member Arushi's Family

Diwali has come to a close, and the Ethnotek crew is full of good vibes. Diwali feels good. It celebrates all of the things we hold most dearly as a community, namely connection and celebration of culture. Sure, we can learn a lot about the historical significance of this holiday and its cultural traditions from the numerous sources, but in order to truly understand how the cultural traditions play out in modern India we thought it'd be fun to talk to one of our favorite Tribe members to see how her family celebrates in Mumbai. Check out the below, and enjoy!

From Arushi:

If you follow Ethnotek on Instagram you would’ve already read a fair bit about Diwali and why it’s celebrated. (If you haven’t, follow @ethnotekbags right away!)

Diwali is called the festival of lights and celebrates the triumph of good over evil.

According to Hindu mythology, Rama, the prince of Ayodhya, was banished from the kingdom by his father. His devoted wife Sita and faithful brother Lakshmana accompanied him to the forests where they lived for 14 years. While in exile, the demon king of Lanka – Ravana – abducted Sita. Rama fought and killed him, rescued Sita, and returned to Ayodhya. The story goes, that the people of Ayodhya were so happy to hear of their beloved prince’s return, that they celebrated it by lighting up their homes with lamps and decorated the entire city. This is believed to have started the tradition of Diwali.

But this was a very long time ago! What does Diwali mean today? How is it actually celebrated? What significance does it have? For me, Diwali has always been a time for family. Wherever in the country or world, we all try our best to be home for the festival.

In my home we have a couple of traditions that have been following for as long as I can remember. I may not always understand completely why we do what we do, but through them I feel a sense of connection and rootedness. We light 11 earthen diyas on Choti Diwali (literally meaning Small Diwali – the day before main Diwali day) and 21 earthen diyas on main Diwali. Soaking the earthen diyas in water, drying them, filling them with oil, making the wick for each, lighting them, and then distributing them in every room of the house along with my sister has somewhat become my own tradition of sorts.

Ever since we were little, my mother would enlist our help in creating the ‘Rangoli’ outside our home door. Just the other day, as I sat outside the door, creating a new rangoli, I realized how calming the process was. The white powder slowly being released from in between my pinched fingers to form whatever I was visualizing almost put me into a tranquil daze!

It is said that those that give and receive freely on Diwali, will receive in abundance through the rest of the year. On Diwali night, my entire family sits down to play a couple of rounds of ‘taash’ (cards). We wager measly sums of 10 paise per point, and by the end of the games someone is richer by a few Rupees while others not so much.

These are just some of the traditions and memories that make Diwali special for me. In general though, the camaraderie that is experienced and the joy that is seen on people’s faces during these 5 days (and even the days leading up to Diwali) is truly a reflection of their inner light. Sharing, giving freely, and a spirit of community are so visible and I find myself wondering why we can’t hold onto this spirit and joy all through the year.

It is also said that because the night is darkest on Diwali (Amavasya – no moon) that the Lights shine brightest!

Love, Light, Prosperity and Abundance to all of you awesome people!



A little bit about the guest Tribe writer, Arushi:

Arushi is an Indian product designer who likes to define herself as a "people-centered designer and maker" and has recently started a socially responsible brand dedicated to empowering women through design called The Initiative (follow on Instagram @_theinitiative). 

She never ceases to be amazed by the wonders India beholds. She's not exaggerating when she describes India in saying that the people, language/dialect, food and crafts change literally every 100-200 kilometers. Arushi is currently working with a group of women in omen in rural Maharashtra to empower them to be more economically independent through making what they know best - 'godhdis' - traditional quilts made from old sarees. In Arushi's words: "It's an amazing and challenging experience, as I fill several roles - sales and marketing person, funds manager, designer, counsellor, delivery woman and friend!" She loves handmade things and is intrigued about the story behind each item...in fact, her happy place is full of every conceivable craft supply on earth. 

November 08, 2013 by Tribe Scribe

Batik Week: Culture, Art and Beauty Collide Outside

Brooke on a recent hiking adventure enjoying a Mount Timpanogos Sunrise. PC: John Gaynes

"The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience." - Eleanor Roosevelt 

Join Tribe member Brooke as she shares her story, her passion and energy for all things adventure and the great outdoors, and her love for Bali and Batik...

After graduating from college, I spent some time in Bali, Indonesia where I hiked, ate well, and fell in love with the beautiful culture. One of the aspects of Indonesia that has inspired me was the way the Balinese people intertwine nature and art. Moss covered statues carved from stones, beautiful handcrafted Hindu offerings made with rice and flowers on the sidewalks, and the vibrant textiles that mirror colorful native spices and flowers. The sacred, and stunningly beautiful temples are as much an outdoor space, as an indoor space. Creating batik art, participating in religious dances, and shopping in the vibrant market are all events that happen outside. The Balinese people taught me a way of life that is full of beauty, art, reverence, and nature.

Since I have returned to the states, I have found myself longing for this way of life. Not only do I like my home to be filled with inspiration from our natural world, but I also like to express my personality with vibrant clothing and beautiful accessories while on my outdoor adventures. In a world of black and grey and single-tone outdoor accessories, it isn't so easy to do this. When I first saw the beautiful packs and Threads (the interchangeable front design panel) on the Ethnotek Instagram account (@EthnotekBags), I knew I wanted to bring one along with my on my mountain bike rides, summits, and climbing trips.

When I received my Raja pack, I studied the many pockets and zippers, deciding how to best use the pack for outdoor adventures. Having a pack that is hydration compatible is essential for my mountain biking and hiking outings. I used the laptop compartment to house my 3L CamelBak by leaving the zipper open just enough for the hose, and threading the hose through the ring on the shoulder strap. The side pockets (and pocket on the Thread) are amazing for holding items that I want to be readily accessible. I love to stash my headlamp, GoPro, and a few pistachio chewy bites in the left stretch-mesh zip pocket for quick access. The right side pocket holds my cell phone, car keys, and sunglasses. I like to use the front pocket on the Thread to hold larger items that I want to access without having to dig through the main compartment (maps, guidebooks, and more pistachio chewy bites).

One of the aspects that I love about the Raja pack is that the side straps allow me to control the size of the bag. This allows the pack to be used for many different types of travel and adventure...

When mountain biking, I like to pack light and minimize bulk. I pack essentials, like a multi-tool, mini bike pump, shock pump, spare tube, rain jacket, head-lamp, and GoPro. With the roll-top functionality, I am able to strap the bag down, making it low profile, and easy to ride with.

For a hiking trip, I usually need to pack a few technical layers, extra socks, and more food and water. The straps not only allow me to adjust the size of the pack according to the amount I need to carry, but they also hold my hiking poles on the side for stretches of technical scrambling when I need my hands to be free.

On climbing trips, the large size of the Raja pack really comes in handy. My 70-meter rope, 20 quick draws, harness, down jacket, long sleeved shirt, rain jacket, and food (we usually eat well during long days at the crag) fit nicely in the main compartment of the pack. With my climbing shoes and chalk bag clipped to the side straps, I am ready to go. 

Being able to bring this beautiful piece of culture on my outdoor adventures has enriched my experiences. Not only does the stunning batik thread stand out in photos, but I have also had several people come up to me and ask about my pack. The Balinese people taught me that interaction and communication with others is an integral part of life. The beautiful Batik threads are a reminder of the Balinese culture to me. It brings me much happiness to incorporate culture, beauty, and art when I’m out adventuring.


Brooke is an absolutely incredible hardcore chick and outdoor rockstar! She is quite the adventurer and we're beyond full of gratitude she has chosen Ethnotek to carry with her on her everyday trailrunning, hiking, biking, climbing, soon-to-be-skiing (with her VaRuna rain cover) and all-around mountain-conquering adventures. Check out Brooke's instagram @BrookeGaynes - it oozes FUN and ADVENTURE and will inspire you to get up and get out. There is a big ol' world out there that deserves to be explored!

Never stop adventuring,

Tribe Scribe

October 10, 2013 by Tribe Scribe

Two Rajas Take on Four 14ers: Wandering Vines

"You don't really conquer a mountain. You conquer yourself. You overcome sickness and everything else - your pains, aches, fears - to reach the summit." - James Whittaker   

Check out Tribe members Kim and Kyle Vines on their blog, Wandering Vines.

Since snagging their Vietnam 6 and Ghana 19 Raja Packs a few months ago, they've traveled from Costa Rica, to four 14,000 foot mountains most recently. 

Here's an excerpt from their blog: "A long cold day in the Colorado Rockies. Kimberly and I hiked to the summit of four peaks over 14,000 feet (14ers): Mt. Democrat (14,148'), Mt. Cameron (14,240'), Mt. Lincoln (14,286') and Mt. Bross (14,172'). It was a great challenge and a rewarding accomplishment."

Check out the pictures below, and check out their blog for more!

Kim and Kyle: you've set the bar high - 14,000 feet high - for the Tribe! Thanks for making adventure travel a way of life...we're stoked to be a part of your journey.

Adventure away,

Tribe Scribe

October 05, 2013 by Tribe Scribe