REVIEW: Karkoa Smartbag 40 – the ultimate fitness rucksack

FitBits | fitness rucksack review Karkoa Smartbag 40

You know when your mum packs you off for your first day of high school with the whole of WH Smith and enough PE kit to clothe a rugby team on your back? 

Yeah, that. 

Say hello to 12 year old Tess, still 4ft 10 and shorter than your child, with her massive bag full of fitness goodies to kickstart the day on a wave of endorphins. The Smartbag 40 is one of many in a range of intelligent, practical (and some of which massive) sportsbags made by French company Karkoa, now launching in the UK. 

FitBits | fitness rucksack review Karkoa Smartbag 40

This 40L badboy puts Hermoine Granger’s magic bag to shame, with an undetectable extension charm of its own to put everything in its right place.  

The multiple compartments, surprise pockets and detachable wash bags are designed for people on the go. How many times have you been for a morning swim or to the gym and gone straight to work with a sweaty, smelly kit taking up your bag space? Well this bag separates it all out for you so you don’t have to get to the office smelling like the boxing gloves you’ve just been using.

FitBits | fitness rucksack review Karkoa Smartbag 40

 FitBits | fitness rucksack review Karkoa Smartbag 40

The Smartbag 40 has it all – a dedicated compartment for your trainers (with removable false bottom) and insulated bottle holder to keep your drink cold. A removable waterproof bag keeps your wet swimsuit, towel or sweaty gym kit separate from your laptop and neatly folded work clothes (also in their own compartment). 

It’s got a few smaller pockets on the outside of the bag for your phone, keys and other small bits you need to get at quickly, and a chest strap helps keep it comfortable when cycling or walking to the gym. 

It’s also cabin size so it’ll fit as hand luggage when flying, which is ace.  

FitBits | fitness rucksack review Karkoa Smartbag 40
It won’t fit a yoga mat though… 

Over the past few weeks me and my massive magic bag have been getting to know each other en route to work via outdoor fitness classes with Brighton women’s bootcamp Fitbitch (read more on that here). It’s also come with me on a tour of Wales’ mountain bike trails, and passed with flying colours. 

I cycle to work and wanted something comfortable on my back, as my current rucksack is too small for the one million items that I seem to cram into it when exercising in the morning. The chest strap on the Smartbag is much appreciated, although, for me, it could do with a second strap around the waist to give it more support, but that might be because it’s always so jam packed and heavy when I use it. 

FitBits | fitness rucksack review Karkoa Smartbag 40

I often pack my laptop, work clothes, towel and wash stuff, deodorant etc. and makeup, a couple of notepads, pencil case, lunch and a heavy D-Lock with me on the way to bootcamp, and sometimes even my foam roller or yoga mat so I never travel light. 

Because it’s so massive and I pack the world into it, it’s always pretty heavy and not 100% comfortable for cycling more than 15ish minutes. 

I could’ve gone for one of the smaller Smartbags (25L) but then I definitely wouldn’t have fit everything in, and although I really like the look of the Plume 20, it’s not suitable for cycling, so I’ll stick to a trusty rucksack like I have done since school age. (This is why I don’t have handbags and wear skirts and heels to work – blame the bike) 🙂 

FitBits | fitness rucksack review Karkoa Smartbag 40
All hail the chest strap!

The quality of the bag seems to be really good and well made, so in all, a really decent, intelligent and practical sports bag for active people on the go. One thing I would change though is another strap for support when cycling, and also maybe another smaller pocket on the outside for keys etc. 

I’d mayyyyybe also add a loop in to keep the bike lock on the outside rather than having to open the whole bag each time you want to lock up, but that’s just personal preference based on my previous rucksack. 

At €89, it’s not cheap, but I’d say pretty worth it if you’re gymming or bootcamping a lot pre and post-work and are looking for a flexible, well-thought-out solution. 

Check out Karkoa’s range of bags on their website.

*DISCLAIMER: I was provided the Smartbag 40 in return for writing about it. All opinions and comparisons of myself and 12 year old children my own.


How do you pack your bag for the gym / workouts? 

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