Posts Tagged luggage
I get very attached to my luggage. If my checked luggage is a sight for sore eyes every time it makes it to that final baggage claim conveyor belt, my carry-on luggage is girl’s best friend. Finding the perfect carry-on bag is tough: I like my Crumpler Red Dye No 9, but wish it were a bit more streamlined for bulkhead storage, and like my trusty age-old duffel, but wish it had wheels. Crumpler’s Spring Peeper duffel combines the space of the duffel with the posh features I’ve come to expect from Crumpler. Hello, new favorite travel buddy.
The Spring Peeper comes in two sizes, large and medium. I reviewed the medium, which is 70-litres and carry-on size approved (even at persnickety airline counters). The large is checked-bag only, which is good to know going in. The medium Spring Peeper sports your traditional duffel style, with the added benefit of a three-position handle and wheels. The lockable main compartment is roomy, and includes Crumpler features such as extra tie-downs, an internal compression panel, and compartmentalized interior side pockets. Even though the main space is large, you can keep things organized. You get an extra zippered external pocket that’s also quite roomy, and an internal ‘wet pocket’. The Spring Peeper is simpler than other Crumpler bags I’ve reviewed, but in my experience, too many compartments and divisions can equal lost or unusable space.
I love the zipper closure of the Spring Peeper. No, zippers are not a new phenomenon to me, but this one follows a kidney shape around the exterior of the main compartment, making it much easier to
cram a ton of dirty clothes into close. The zipper pulls are well made, and I’ve never had a snag issue (even while cramming).
The trolley handle has a nice rubber grip and collapses with a button. The top straps close with thick velcro, and two additional straps tighten the overall shape to fit into any overhead compartment. I’ve taken the Spring Peeper on the smallest of commercial planes without a problem. The bag has wheels on one end (not on both), and pulls smoothly through terminals everywhere. The material is weather-resistant, and if you don’t want to take my word on the carry-on compatibility, the exact size is 32 cm in width by 55 cm in height (volume of 40 cm).
Pick up a medium-sized Spring Peeper at Crumpler for $210, or, if you are looking for the large, find it on Amazon for $265 (either way, enjoy their ‘death do us part’ warranty). The bag comes in black or red.
The ECBC Falcon Rolling Duffle, available in black and grey, is a fantastic companion for the busy road warrior thanks to its multiple pocket options and handles on all sides (side, top, and front) for quick-and-grab access. A unique identification tag pulls out of the side of the bag for easy identification access if travelers choose to fill in their information.
Nosy TSA agents can conveniently access the bag thanks to its compliant FastPass system that gives them the ability to open the bag despite it being locked to the general public. It even features a front pocket for electronics that is also locked with TSA-compliant features, but no one should check this bag with expensive electronics in it anyway. Still, as a carry-on bag, the foam-coated pocket can hold a 15-inch laptop. On a regional jet, any important electronics should be rescued before the bag is tossed hastily into the plane’s belly.
Even if the bag were mishandled, there are skid-resistant plates on the bag’s corners that are meant to absorb shock and provide resistance for the bag’s contents. And for heavy packers like me, an extra zipper pocket allows the bag to expand to allow for added purchases on the return leg of a trip.
One thing that I did notice is that the bag’s free-form shape did not allow me to stuff in larger items like lengthy documents or work equipment easily without being bent or damaged. Rarely do I carry such things, but for those looking for a durable bag to take to presentations, that could pose a potential problem.
Despite having the expanded pouch in use, I have never had a problem with this bag passing muster as a carry-on bag by conservative gate agents, and the durable fabric resists water so even if the bag is exposed to the rain for a few minutes, nothing will get wet.
It’s hard to go wrong with an Osprey pack. If I had to pick–absolutely had to–I think I’d rate Osprey as my overall favorite backcountry adventure and ski pack choice. That said, until introduced the the Portal Series, I’d never considered using an Osprey pack as a carry-on backpack or laptop bag. The Osprey Cyber Port backpack is tough yet streamlined, and stylish while still classic.
With its sleek panel-loading design, I understood right away that the Cyber Port’s function is ease-of-access to electronic devices, not maximum load capacity or even multiple attachment options like other Ospreys. There are three compartments: one main compartment, one small top compartment for keys or a phone (like many Osprey bags offer) and one outside ‘port window’ panel. This last compartment is really two, but since the inner and outer both work in tandem to create a space for a tablet, I’m counting it as one.
After wrapping my mind around the fact that this Osprey performs an entirely different function than its outdoorsy cousins, my next question was: as a travel carry-on and laptop pack, does it deliver? Why use it instead of my trusty messenger bag? The answer I came up with: because it’s an Osprey. The bag is exceptionally well-made, and I know it’s not going to fall apart on me. The brushed poly fabric is gorgeous, and like all Ospreys, the design is super smart. While other Osprey bags focus on usability in the backcountry, the Cyber Port focuses on usability while commuting, and does it well. Inside the main compartment, you get a fully lined and padded laptop sleeve, plus a great organizer panel with an interior zippered pocket, mesh pockets, a key fob, and plenty of small envelopes for zip drives, memory cards, and small cameras.
The small top pocket is the perfect size for my small wallet, or could fit a cell phone, keys, or a point-and-shoot camera. The outer panel zips all the way down to reveal a tablet pocket with an transparent sleeve, allowing travelers to use the iPad or other tablet without needing to remove it from the sleeve (by use of a port). This is the only design element that’s kind of a stretch for me: after using the backpack on several plane trips, I never felt the need to use this. It was all too easy to store my iPad in the sleeve, and simply retrieve it when I wanted it. Perhaps travelers would use this feature if they needed to access their tablet in a hurry in train stations or airports while checking directions or websites, and yes, I might play a movie for my kids while leaving the tablet in the sleeve, but for what it’s worth, this feature has not been crucial for me yet.
It helps to see the Cyber Port in action: check out this video by Osprey for a closer look. Perhaps the people in this video are simply more hip than me, and you’ll find more use for the tablet port than I do.
The backpack straps are padded, and while the pack isn’t ventilated with a mesh panel, I haven’t found I miss this feature. There’s a sternum strap, and all the zippers include handy pull tabs. I do wish a water bottle pocket had been designed on one side of the pack. The Cyber Port is 18 x 12 x 8, and the laptop sleeve measures 13.5 x 6 x 1. If you’re looking for a daily commuter bag or a travel carry-on daypack, you’ve found it. Pick one up at Amazon for $99. You can also find it at Backcountry or REI. It comes in black pepper, chestnut brown, pinot red, and grey herringbone.
When it comes to packing convenience, there are two basic types of traveler. First is the one who uses packing cubes, or has a time-tested folding/rolling technique for their clothes. That’s me. The other type is the person who, while they may fold their clothes, don’t do much else. That’s my husband.
The REI Sport Beast 22-inch Wheeled Luggage will make both types happy, but it’s my husband who has commandeered it for the past couple of months. The two halves of the suitcase (once opened) are covered by a zip panel. And when the bag is closed, those panels separate your gear (especially useful if you’re separating clean from dirty or nice from super sporty). You can be as organized (or not) as you choose.
The bag, made of abrasion-resistant Cordura nylon is durably built, but not so beefy that it’s added much weight. Its total weight is 6 pounds, 7 ounces. The back of the bag has molded foam—keeping a structure for the base when you lay it down.
The zip panels inside include two mesh pockets, and the exterior of the bag has two zipped pockets, as well. The telescoping handle and the wheels work smoothly to allow you to steer your suitcase through the airport, down the street, or wherever you have to go.
The 22-inch size meets carry-on size restrictions for most airlines, but be sure to check with your airline in advance, so you aren’t surprised.
See more luggage reviews on Practical Travel Gear.
It takes all kinds of luggage to please a variety of travelers. For me, business travel necessitates functionality and flexibility in what and how I pack. The Kelty Ascender Trunk Luggage System seemed like a good idea worth trying especially when I have long two or three week trips to varying climates.
Now, I will be the first to tell you that I do not carry backpacks on business trips so the option to wear this on my back was never one that I considered. But, it was nice to know that if I ever revert to the days of university student backpacker that I have the correct gear to get around. The shoulder straps can be tucked away easily converting the bag from professional to backpack in an instant.
What I found most useful about this bag is that it fits with a chassis that allows the bag to roll like a traditional suitcase. It is a modular system allowing you to add to the trunk if needed with additional pieces, but also giving you the capability to travel only with the Ascender Trunk for shorter trips.
In the bag, there are dividers to keep things separated and a hidden bag for wet or dirty items. I hate the musty smell that can come from carrying dirty laundry or wet clothing around for days so this feature is especially helpful.
The top and sides of the bag have durable padding keeping the contents safe, which is something that I was initially concerned about since I tend to prefer a hard-shell bag when traveling. Another benefit of a soft-shell bag is that it can expand easily if I over pack. Having that extra “give” is a plus on long trips.
With internal pockets, it is easy to keep things organized, and the outer zip pocket was convenient for storing items that I may need in a hurry such as a boarding pass or keys. Initially, I was worried that the bag would attract attention of nosy gate agents thinking it is too big to fit in an overhead, but when carrying the trunk alone, I rarely had a problem. Expanding it in size, however, shifts it from being a carry-on bag to a larger bag, which is a nice option if checking a bag.
The Ascender Trunk sells for $199.95 at Kelty’s website, but does not come with the chassis. For the complete system including the chassis and waterproof duffel bag, which can be easily zipped on to the trunk, the retail price jumps to $349.95, but provides excellent versatility. It is also available on Amazon,eBags, and Zappos.
I added the chassis to my bag since I prefer not to wear my luggage, and I was surprised at how easy it rolled due to the rather large wheels. Bags with small wheels can be tough to drag on carpeting or bumpy streets. This bag is designed for adventure travelers, but I found it to be quite useful for my business trips as well.