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Biaggi ZipSak with MicroFold Carry-on

biaggi rolling bagFrequent travelers like myself have an arsenal of luggage that takes up attic or valuable bedroom and closet space. The benefit of Biaggi travel pieces is that they can fold conveniently for easy storage and minimize the amount of space that they take in your home or while traveling. This Biaggi ZipSak with MicroFold does just that.

Ever taken a cruise where your luggage took up a third of your allotted cabin space? Or what about a cramped European hotel that surprised you with its spacious website photos, but more realistic minimal square footage.

Biaggi benefits travelers while on the road and at home thanks to its foldable design. The bags are lightweight to begin with, which is a huge perk in today’s hyper-sensitive, eager-to-weigh-everything airline world.

With 4 multi-directional spinner wheels, these bags roll with ease through an airport or train station even when they are packed to the brim. I tested one out along the cobble-stoned streets of Lisbon and was pleasantly surprised at how fast it moved with no damage to the wheels.

The composition of durable oxford nylon is perfect for heavy airline use with eager baggage handlers throwing bags left and right. Zippered lining keeps interior contents secured, and the bag itself can stand up readily to any tears or cuts protecting the contents with its microfibers.

The ZipSaks come in a variety of colors and sizes (including carry-on and checked versions), which appeals to people with various travel needs or personal styles. It is especially popular with people that live in small apartments in large cities where storage space is minimal. The bags do not wrinkle even when squashed for lengthy periods of time.

While it may not be the most stylish of suitcases, it certainly wins out on its sturdy structure and ease of use. It retails for $70-100 depending upon the size from Biaggi’s website, on eBags, and also on Amazon.

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Crumpler Spring Peeper Duffel

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.

crumpler-spring-peeperThe 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.

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ECBC Falcon Rolling Duffle Bag

carry-on duffle

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.

The price tag is a fair $350 for such a durable bag, and it is available for sale on the ECBC website or on Amazon.

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Osprey Cyber Port Daypack for Travel

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.

Osprey-Cyber-PortWith 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.

See reviews of other travel daypacks here. Keep up on the latest practical travel gear by following this blog on Facebook, Twitter, or RSS. 

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REI Sport Beast Suitcase

Sport Beast 22 inchWhen 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.

REI Sport Beast Wheeled Luggage comes in red and black, and lists for $179 at rei.com.

See more luggage reviews on Practical Travel Gear.

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