To call the ultimate-specific bag market saturated would be a stretch, but there is a new contender on the block. The impending Kickstarter campaign for the Greatest Bag will put it in competition against the likes of the Heckler Bag, the Five Ultimate Tournament Bag, and the popular Patagonia Black Hole 60L. After using it for the last month, I can say the Greatest Bag will offer some stiff competition.
Before I’d gotten my hands on the Greatest Bag, I’d seen it was part of the official kit of Team Hong Kong at WUGC 2016. If you check out the Greatest blog, you’ll see the lengths one member of the Austrian women’s team was willing to go to try and swap for it. The brainchild of just four people based in HK, Greatest’s Project Manager Roldy Lo and company set out to make a bag specifically for the ultimate player. The result is a comprehensive package that has the functionality to cover any and all bases you might stumble across in your tournament travels; this is the Swiss Army Knife of ultimate bags.
This is a stylish bag. The colour schemes available so far are black panels with zippers and detailing in a vibrant green or red and both make a statement. The glossy finish is a great aesthetic choice, as is the material. All the panels on the outside of the bag are made of 900D ripstop ballistic nylon. That’s ballistic in the sense that this material was the precursor to bulletproof Kevlar; this is the same fabric WWII flight jackets were made of. The bag I’ve used has seen grass, mud, rain, concrete and sand and it is without a scratch or stain so far.
On both sides of the bag and the rain cover is the Greatest logo in your chosen detailing colour. While this may bag be a practical size for use on many other occasions other than tournaments, if you prefer an understated or conventional colour scheme this might be a step too far. You can’t fault the designers for staying true to their mission however – it is an ultimate bag first and foremost.
There’s a small piece of exposed velcro on the outside of the bag to keep the base rolled up when using this as a backpack and it’s something for the fashionable ultimate player to be wary of as it can catch and snag your shorts while walking. It’s black and doesn’t detract from the design visually, but it could christen your new hydros before you get a layout in the mud.
The large, bright zippers make an attractive bag out of what could have easily been a pitch side monolith; if there were more colours available to choose from when the Kickstarter arrives this could score a 4.5/5, but only time will tell.
There was a lot of deliberation over this perfect score and it is warranted because the greatest care has been taken to make sure this bag does everything you could need it to. There’s a lot to tell you about here.
Starting outside, the elastic cord on top can hold two discs securely without overstretching and you can easily display the last tournament you were at, or that you got a sweet Team Japan disc in the swap. The small red zipper hides the rain cover. The bag material and construction make it highly water resistant.
The 60L capacity main compartment is vacuous; as claimed by the website you really can fit your foam roller in there among your boots, kit, call props and anything else you couldn’t be without. It’s tall and wide enough that you can get more discs in with no trouble as well, so would make a great team kit bag.
At one end of the bag is the boot-specific compartment. The expanding pocket does move into the space in the main bag, but it is no price to pay to keep the boots you never clean away from everything else. It held both pairs of my size 9’s with no problem and could accommodate any off the shelf cleats without issue. At the other end is one of the best features of the bag; a cool pocket designed to keep and lunch and snacks you want chilled cold throughout the day. In it comes the Greatest cold compress that doubles as your ice pack for food and I was surprised at how well it worked and for how long. It’s less effective if you haven’t got daily access to ice but will definitely help when your team picks up its inevitable first day injury.
On the sides you’ve got even more. One is the replacement for your pockets; a hard case of reinforced cardboard to protect your phone, pen holders, mesh pockets and mini zipper pockets for all your small change and spirit sheets. This panel will appeal to the resident TD as it is as close to a mobile desk as they’re going to get – a place for everything and everything in its place. On the other side is the smell-proof ‘iso’ pocket, designed to keep your clean and sweaty gear separate. There’s an additional zipper here that lets you open a mesh window when it’s safe to let your kit air out too. After a full weekend tournament I imagine I’ll see the value in this pocket. Lastly and by far the most practical feature is the base, which when unzipped and rolled up lets you use the straps stored in there as a backpack. If you have to travel further than from the car to the field then this is a huge help.
The nylon handle on the duffel is an ergonomic touch that definitely adds some longevity to the straps and slows down any regular wear and tear. The backpack straps are wide and padded, as is the base/back panel, so even if you use the lion’s share of the capacity it will reduce the strain on your shoulders significantly, plus there the waist strap helps you better distribute the weight if you need it. If you don’t it tucks behind you and stays out of the way. The final two small zippers on this bag are on the waist strap to make the smallest pockets but they’re placed a bit too centrally to make it them practical. However I do prefer these straps on the bottom of the bag rather than the top with Five and Patagonia (and the strange side backpack addition of the Heckler), as it is less obstructive and can be up away if needs be.
What I would like to see in future versions would be the choice to attach a shoulder strap. The backpack can serve the same purpose it would be the icing on the cake if you could have this bag by your side and both hands free to access it, to whip out forgotten Spirit scores and take down phone numbers on the fly.
If you’re using this as headgear, you’ve got tons of options: Stick your face in the boot bag for some privacy, secure your flowing locks along with your head in the main compartment, or perch the compress on your head as a fashionable beret. So versatile.
Right now the there is no price for the Greatest bag as the Kickstarter is not yet open. But for a bag of this build quality, filled with these features and finished to this standard, I would pay up to $100 with no qualms at all. I’ve only tested it for a month but it still looks and feels brand new, I’d be very surprised if you got less than a seasons use out of it. Gil McIntire said of Five’s Ultimate Tournament Bag that at $100 it was an investment. This is the same concept but with twice as much on the inside.
With everything we know about this bag so far it puts up a fantastic fight against the other options. As ultimate-specific bags go, if it matches the prices of Heckler and Five, it’s the clear winner for me. It does more and looks more brilliant for the hypothetical same price. You could choose the Patagonia, but you’ll get the same volume and tons of features here. Sign up to the mailing list now, because this is the best bag you can buy very soon.