Review: The Hook & Albert Garment Weekender Bag (+ Dopp Kit)
Some products really live up to the hype, and this is one of them. That’s not say it isn’t without some flaws, but, coming right out at the top of this thing, the Garment Weekender Bag from Hook & Albert ($500) is truly a superb product.
For starters, it is available in a whole range of different leathers and colors, and even a canvas option for about $100 less. At $500, this is by no means an inexpensive product, but when you buy something like this, you pretty much are buying it for life (or close to it, at least). I very often travel for the weekends, and take a suit or two with me. So, I was in the market for a new bag like this. I always hated having two take a total of three pieces of luggage: a weekend bag, a suit bag, and my backpack. Which is why when I heard the basic concept of Hook & Albert’s garment weekend, I was super intrigued. The basic idea is that instead of using a separate suit bag, that then folds the suit into thirds, this garment weekender is a two-in-one. It “curls” the suit around the bottom lining of the bag when it is closed. This was your suit is protected, gets less wrinkled, and then you pack in all your stuff on top of it, and only need to carry one bag with you to wherever you are going.
The bag starts off fully open, and, in a way, looks like any other suit bag. You put in your suit and shirts, loop the hanger through the hanger loop, and then zip and button that section shut. Then comes the fun part. You zip up the sides of the bag, and attach them with a cool, and sturdy, special hook. Then you end up with a bag that looks and functions like any other weekender, only this one has a suit lining the bottom of it without you knowing. And let me tell you, these bags are so loved for good reason. I am still able to fit just about everything I usually would take, but now in just one bag. There are awesome side pockets for shoes (you can really only fit one pair in these bags, especially when using the side pockets, but of course it depends how much else you are taking as well). I can quite easily fit two suits (I only use one suit hanger though) and two shirts in the suit section, and then in the main compartment fit undershirts, underwear, a full casual outfit, a Dopp kit, some books, watches, and have room to spare. Plus, with the extra pockets on the outside, there truly is enough room to pack enough for even up to 4 days (maximum), I would say. (On that note, some of the models do not come with the two extra front pockets. We recommend avoiding those. The extra room they provide is nice.)
The quality of the entire bag is fantastic. The leather is rich and supple, and the pebbled texture is beautiful. I strongly considered the canvas option, but caved and bought the leather, and am glad that I did. It’s so, so nice, and is sure to improve and break in with age. I have not been gentle with this thing, and in the months I have had and tested it, it still looks new to me.
On that note, there are two downsides to this bag. The first is that if you keep the bag packed for some time, the suits and shirts in their section will definitely pick up some wrinkles, and maybe even a tiny bit worse than what you would experience in a separate garment bag. Second, when you arrive at your destination, you are somewhat forced to undo and unpack the entire bag to get your suits out so you can hang them up. This might not be something you think about at first, but it’s a key point to consider. Finally, I found the bag to be quite stiff and difficult to zip up into its final shape at first, but it has steadily broken in with time, and each time I use it the bag is closer to truly being buttery smooth. Like I said, I don’t treat the zippers delicately, and they hold up incredibly. Overall, all elements of this bag are some of the highest quality I have ever seen or used.
The last thing I will say about this bag is that, even in the event you need to take 3 suits somewhere, and want to use an additional garment bag, you can still simply use this bag as a regular, standard, weekender without putting any suits in. Just zip it up as per usual, and you are left with a wonderfully functional, beautiful, manly weekender bag. When you are done, the bag folds up quite small and thin for storage, just by the way.
Hook & Albert also offer a package deal wherein you can get the weekender and Dopp kit for a combined discount. I went with this option (plus a sale, so I did quite well for myself), and quite like the matching Dopp kit as well. It’s spacious, looks great, and has some nice features. For instance, the opening at the top — while taking some time to get used to, especially when it comes to zippering it shut — can snap and sort of stay open, so you can easily get to things inside without having to mess around with your other hand to keep it open. It’s quite cool and super convenient. The nice side pockets that fold down are also an ideal place to keep some things you don’t want bumping around with your other items, like a toothbrush, nail clipper, and so on.
All in all, Hook & Albert is a wonderful brand that, in my experience, produces some of the best bags out there these days. They’re pricey, but you are getting what you pay for, no doubt about it. I don’t expect to be replacing these items for many, many years to come. From a standpoint of cost-(and value)-per-use, these bags are a fantastic option. FINAL GRADE: A