The Best Gig Bag For a Mobile Music Producer
Many people love Knack Packs because they are the most flexible everyday backpacks around. From work to the gym to multi-day travel, Knack Packs continually rise to the occasion. But even we were surprised to hear that a Knack can also hold an entire recording studio. Yep, want to record a podcast after work or lay some beats to a track you’re producing after working out? With a Knack as your gig bag, you sure can!
First, what’s a gig bag? Traditionally, gig bags were soft cases designed to protect stringed-musical instruments like electric guitars and basses. As opposed to hard instrument cases, which are carried via handles like briefcases, gig bags have dual-straps, like traditional backpacks, so they can be carried on your back. Because they are easier to carry, musicians often prefer gig bags over hard cases.
Over the years, gig bags branched out to cover other musical instruments like synthesizers, brass instruments, and even DJ equipment. Music producers also discovered gig bags and now rely heavily on them to hold all their essential tools and equipment.
We recently spoke to Xaner K, an independent Hip Hop, R&B, and Electronic Dance music producer based in Manhattan (check out some of his work at the end of this blog), and asked him about the critical features he looks for in a gig bag. Let's break it down:
- Durability and Protection
- Compartments for Organization
Durability and Protection
"I have everything I need in my gig bag to produce a full album," Xaner said."It's my livelihood right there, so the bag better be strong."
Xaner's setup is quite heavy. He has a 13-inch Macbook Pro, a Focusrite Scarlett 212, a Soundcraft 12FX compact mixer, a Blue condenser large-diaphragm microphone, an Audio Technica small-diaphragm condenser mic, an Arturia Minilab USB midi keyboard controller, a desktop microphone boom arm, a pair of closed-back studio headphones, three external hard drives, a Bluetooth trackball, an iPad Pro with Apple Pencil, an Apple Magic Keyboard, two XLR cables, tons of USB and USB C cables, and the Macbook Pro charger.
"Currently, my gig bag is, unfortunately, a travel suitcase complete with wheels and handle," Xaner confessed."Sure, it protects my gear but it's a pain to lug around."
Durability and protection are critical in a gig bag. The gear in a gig bag is worth tens of thousands of dollars, so producers like Xaner will not take a chance on bags made of inferior materials.
Xaner travels a lot and does most of his work on the road. So, his gig bag must have enough space to hold clothes, shoes, toiletries, and more. And, his travels aren't limited to domestic destinations. He finished his most recent project in Budapest, a collaboration with several local electropop artists.
"So, the travel suitcase holds my gear, and I have an extra backpack to carry my clothes and other essentials," Xaner said."If my backpack could also accommodate my gear, that would be a game-changer. So, yes, the ideal gig bag is one bag that can carry everything I need when I’m on the road."
While in Budapest, Xaner stayed at a hostel, which was about twenty minutes away from his client’s rehearsal studio. There were many sessions when he had to stay overnight at the studio so the hassle of carrying two bags really wore on him.
Also, he worried about carrying so many bags through the city. “Budapest has its fair share of pickpockets so carrying multiple bags leaves you vulnerable because your attention is all over the place,” Xaner said. “I believe using one bag would help make me theft-proof.”
Carrying heavy music gear for long periods is not comfortable (or good for your back), so ergonomics is one of the essential requirements for a practical gig bag.
"That's the thing I have with traditional gig bags. There are not a lot of options out there that support the body. It's a deal-breaker," Xaner said. "I would like wide cushioned straps and some back support."
Most gig bags in the market today neglect this crucial part of their design because they are too focused on aesthetics and less on ergonomics. Framed hiking or camping backpacks are just not an option since Xaner doesn’t want to look like a lost hiker in the middle of the city.
Compartments for Organization
A music producer's setup involves loads of cables, plugs, jacks, adapters, and many other small things, so it is critical that a gig bag has enough compartments to store these items.
Xaner said he lost too many cables and adapters because his travel luggage doesn't have pockets for his small production essentials. One time, he lost a proprietary hard drive cable on his way to a session in Northport, Long Island.
"Looking back, I think the cable fell from my unzipped travel suitcase,” Xaner said. “That drive was critical for my session and essentially became a paper weight when I lost that cable. The dream is to have a thousand pockets inside my gig bag that can secure things like that”.
While Xaner spoke about durability and protection earlier, he called out water-resistance as a separate “must-have” protection feature. When you’re carrying lots of expensive electronic equipment, you cannot afford to get them wet.
"Rain is my greatest fear," Xaner said. "My previous iPad Pro, which I use as my synthesizer, died after it got wet inside my backpack.”
Xaner just finished an afternoon session in Woodside when the weather turned sour. His client’s space was only a 10-minute walk from the subway. He covered his backpack with a poncho and even had an umbrella but as soon as he got on the train, he saw his bag dripping. He opened his bag and saw his gear drenched in rain water with his expensive iPad Pro ruined.
"I never trusted backpacks after that," he added. "But If I find one that is truly water-resistant, then I would not hesitate to use it."
After listening to all the things that a music producer looks for in a perfect gig bag, we introduced Xaner to the Large Series 1 Knack Pack and he was pretty surprised. He quickly discovered that this Knack Pack checks all the boxes and more:
- Made of custom-made, high-quality, durable fabric
- Provides maximum protection for laptops up to 17”, as well as other technology items, with its easy-access, padded side-zip computer pocket
- Comfortable carry is designed in the bag with a molded, comfort-cool foam back panel and wide cushioned shoulder straps
- Xaner’s music gear and a change of clothes fits in the patent-pending, expandable packing compartment
- The spacious main compartment has lost of organization pockets for all of Xaner’s small items, a fleece-lined tablet pocket for his iPad Pro, and a removable key leash
- All Knack Pack are built with water-resistant fabrics and reverse coil YKK zippers.
The Large Expandable Series 1 Knack Pack
We loaded the Large Series 1 Knack Pack with all of Xaner's gear above, plus a few other things to show how it can do the job.
So, there it is. Problem solved! It's One Bag Life in action.
“Phenomenal,” Xaner said in disbelief as he saw his entire setup fit into a Large Series 1 Knack Pack.”This is revolutionary for me and other producers out there.”Xaner left us with a track he produced called Dig Your Roots by the duo Klub Kuryente. Check it out and tell us what you think in the comments below. We love to hear from you.
Learn More About Knack
Laptop & Travel Backpack In One Bag