Link: Magma | Price: $199/€189/£169
PREFACE FROM MARK SETTLE
In what can only be described as a fortunate mixup in communications, we have two complete reviews of Magma‘s Riot Pack XL for you. In this one, Dan Morse crams his DJ life into it and drops it in the shower for good measure. Arkaei’s follows right after and includes the trolley too.
When I was younger, I had this bag. It was a large, black travel bag. Not many pockets, but lots of space. As a teenager, I used it as holiday luggage. Then as I got older and went off to university, it served as a washing bag. Once a week I’d lug the full bag down to the launderette, and the nice lady in there would take some money off me and when I returned, all my clothes would be packed up, folded and warm. A few years later, I retired it once the zips gave up their last.
Ever since, that’s been my benchmark for heavy duty bags. That’s what I hope the Magma Riot Pack XL can do for my DJ gear. But am I expecting too much?
IN A NUTSHELL
The Magma Riot Pack XL is an extra large, heavy-duty DJ rucksack with lots of pockets, padding and a versatile storage system.
When I was first given the Riot Pack to review, I took it home and sat, staring at it wondering why I would need this over either of my trusty laptop bags (one came with an old Dell laptop and the other is a heavy duty Muji messenger bag). At this price point, it’s by no means the most expensive, but also not the cheapest.
Then I unzipped the main compartment, which is actually two sides separated by a loose padded flap. There’s pockets within pockets, plenty of velcro padding pieces and straps that not only keep things secure, but exert pressure to keep things compact.
The Riot Pack XL is a substantial piece of kit. It would barely scrape through as carry-on luggage in its initial form, never mind when packed. I asked if I could test that, but apparently Mark blew the last of our travel budget on his trip to Plaza in Leeds recently.
It’s hard to tell how long a product will last based on a few days with it, but stacked up against my other gear bags, this thing feels sturdy. I get the feeling that with most bags like these, the weakest point would be the zips, especially around the main compartment. That said, it seems to be built using similar materials you’d find on a suitcase. It’s not nylon, but more of a tarpaulin material, and the zips feel like they’d take a lot of pressure before splitting. And to give you some peace of mind while travelling, there are compression straps all along the main compartments.
Magma claims the Riot XL to be 100% waterproof, both the tarpaulin and the zip. I can believe it. In fact, I tested the fully loaded bag in the shower with no damp going inside. Obviously, I wouldn’t suggest going swimming wearing this thing, but you could probably drop it in a puddle without too much worry. Colour me impressed.
The only slight issue (and it is a very minor one) is that the stitching in a couple of places has some threads poking out. It might just be some of the fabric edges poking out, and I have to really nitpick to find this a problem.
LAYOUT AND FLEXIBILITY
A lot of thought has clearly gone into making the Riot XL as versatile as possible for all sorts of DJs. Magma have clearly taken cues from the photography profession, taking some of the useful elements from what we can find in camera bags.
The zip around the edge can be undone for extra space, much like you’d get on a suitcase. I did find that the material within the expandable part is quite stiff, sometimes making it harder to do up again. At a guess, I’d imagine this will relax a bit as you use the bag.
Nearly all of the pockets have a mesh pocket or zip-up pouch inside, to keep your fiddly odds n’ ends from rattling about. The front pockets are easily bing enough to accommodate anything from your headphones to an audio interface as well as any cables.
Removable padded separators keep all your gear in the main section compartmentalised. It takes a bit of creativity to get the hang of the system, but there’s plenty of different sizes of pads, so whatever you need can be fashioned. There’s also a handy padded section near the front with room for a laptop up to 17 inches. I’d still advise using a zip-up laptop sleeve for extra protection, but there’s definitely a safe place for all your tunes and software.
Magma claims the bag can fit “Kontrol S4/S2, Terminal Mix 4, VCI-400/380, MPK-25, MPC Renaissance, Sixty-Two, Kontrol Z2, DJM-T1 etc. + laptop and accessories”. Frankly, that doesn’t do it justice. As a sort of stress test, I gave the bag a real-world run when I hopped over to a friend’s house to have a bit of a session. The bag had no problems fitting the following:
- 2x X1 mk2 + cables
- Allen & Heath Xone:62 mixer
- 13” MacBook Pro
- Audio 8 DJ
- All the cables… All!
That’s pretty much all the gear you’d ever need to take out! You’ll have no problems fitting your controller in there.
Something I’ve realised in using this bag… you need a strategy for packing it. With so many pockets and flaps, it’s easy to lose your stuff in the rush to unpack or finding spares. Once you have a routine for packing and unpacking, the bag is so practical.
The back where the straps are is nicely padded for comfort when shouldered. It’s a breathable material which should mitigate the sweatiness one gets in their travels. The shoulder straps are also very comfortable, but even so, a full bag can get very heavy.
The Riot XL is huge when compared to your average rucksack or laptop bag. It can just about get away with being airplane hand luggage, but when full loaded, this would probably not be practical. If you’re thinking of using it for day-to-day carrying when not DJing, think again. But you could take it camping!
Everything feels sturdy, with decent materials held nicely together.
Pockets everywhere! If you can’t fit your stuff in this, you’re doing it wrong!
Probably a bit much for the bedroom DJ, but will make any working DJ’s life easier.
THE BOTTOM LINE
I can’t stress enough how impressed I am with the bag. While we were setting up the product shots in the studio, Mark was also in awe of what we could fit in there and how practical the bag is. It’s not perfect, and maybe the size of the thing could become a major issue for those who travel. Regardless, this is a must have for any professional working DJ. I genuinely can’t see how you’d need anything else for your gigs.
Only time will tell if the Riot bag is as durable as it seems. It’s really hard to tell in such a short space of time, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it lived up to expectations. Perhaps that will be part of Arkaei’s upcoming story…
WOULDN’T IT BE NICE IF…
One thing that occurred would be a very neat feature (while I was writing a quick review of the UDG hardcase), is to make one of the front pockets removable, maybe with a zip, to have as your emergency pack next to where you’re DJing.