The Travel Bag Winner? Red Oxx!

and the winner is . . . Red Oxx!

Last month I posted about how I was trying to find the perfect travel bag for carry-on (nothing with wheels as they just add weight, you lose 1/3 of the space for the wheels and handle, and it will not fit in European carry-ons). Both bags I examined were wonderful. In many ways, they were even comparable–the weight, the thickness, the quality. I even considered keeping them both, though could not justify this to myself (at least for now!). While the Tom Bihn Aeronaut seemed a little more stylish and eye-catching, I really do not want to draw any attention at all to my travel bags. The more attention, the more somebody, somewhere, on some airline will want to measure or weigh or otherwise examine my luggage, potentially delaying me or separating me from my luggage during the flight. You see, style for me translates as attention, and I do not want to attract any of it, for any reason, when I travel.

To be honest, the other deciding factor that had me settle on the Sky Train from Red Oxx, besides this bag feeling a little more rugged, was what I perceived as being stronger backpack straps and hardware. Nothing plastic in sight, the straps had solid metal hardware, felt a little more padded, and appeared to be more firmly attached to the bag itself. Let me be clear, I cannot carry any bag for long on my shoulder, as it will throw off my alignment and leave me nursing knots in my back. I am fully planning to use the backpack straps as I navigate the public transportation, trains, and walking to and from airports (not to mention navigating between terminals), as I move to and fro for the academic conferences I attend. Filling this bag with 20 pounds of clothes and books to test it as I walked around my apartment clearly showed me the Sky Train would be the hands-down winner carrying this on my back. Of course, only time will tell, so expect an update after my next travel in September.

Now I settled on a bag, all that remained was to get the assorted peripherals to help me organize the minimal load I will carry. That box just arrived, so let me share what else will travel with me (all in the colors I ordered to fit together!).

For my computer, I ordered the Metro Briefcase:

For my toiletries, I ordered the Tri-fold Shave Kit:

For my socks and such, along with assorted small items (like a clock, slippers, vitamins, etc.), I ordered 2 Nomad Shave Kits:

For my electronic items, such as chargers, camera, cords, adapters, and the like, I chose the Lil Roy:

And finally, the Travel Basket so I can have a central place in the hotel room to put my wallet, watch, hotel key, and such when I am in the room (as these things always get spread around since there is not a central home for them):

The colors of all these items fit nicely together, and will help me organize (and locate) things along the way.

I spend  a lot of time thinking about travel, due in part to the fact that the trips I take are often very busy and commonly involve a number of side excursions. The less I have to consider how and what I transport while on the way to seeing what I am really traveling to see and experience, the better. Let’s hope all this gear from Red Oxx will work as I am planning; I am confident it all will.

Travel Bag Face-Off for Conference Travel

I love to attend academic conferences, though there are few things I hate more than having to check my bag along the way. I tend to carry very little with me, doing laundry along the way so I can avoid the lines, costs, concern over lost luggage, and hassles associated with checking luggage while flying. The conferences and peers I work with along the trip often take all my energy to manage, and the last thing I want is to encounter airline or train or bus hassles with my stuff. After my last trip to the UK and Ireland in April, when I was asked to check my carry-on luggage (that seemed to bulge at the seams), I vowed to never do so again.

Why didn’t I notice that my proposed carry-on luggage was overpacked? Wheels. Yes, I used wheeled luggage that should have fit into the overhead bins, and never considered that the airlines might ask to weigh it; I thought if it fit in and could zip, that was that. How wrong I was.

Thus began my quest for the perfect bag, one that was designed and tailored for people like me, those who seek to travel light and only with a single bag that will be unchallenged at the airport as being within the Maximum Legal Carry-on (MLC). Aided in my search by some other travellers fanatically interested in the same goal, I turned to sites such as One Bag and One Bag One World for reviews, advice, and suggestions for packing smarter, lighter, and better. Yes, the wheeled ones that lose 1/3 of their capacity carrying the handles and wheels while also doubling their weight will have to go.

With all this said, and considering my own specific needs and concerns, I have narrowed the world of realistic bags down to two, both of which come from small American firms that specialize in travel products for consumers looking for just the right bag that is light, lasts forever, and expresses a certain individuality–no mass-produced pieces here!

 The first bag I am considering is the Sky Train from Red Oxx, a small firm that hand produces all their bags in Montana. They are known for their quality and attention to detail in an array of bags that come with a lifetime guarantee and are known for their rugged characteristics:

The other bag I am considering is the Aeronaut from Tom Bihn, a firm that also hand-makes their bags, though this time in Seattle. Their bags are also known for their quality, along with a design sense unmatched in the industry:

I read nearly every review online about these two bags, and after making a list of the strengths and weaknesses (for my needs, as neither have any inherent weaknesses), I was at a complete draw. They both have backpack and shoulder straps, as well as a variety of handles. However, as these bags are only sold online and in their own stores (they both have exactly one store, just near their factories), I could not see, touch, or compare them in person. Not knowing what else to do, I purchased them both, and will try them out with my travel clothes and items in my apartment to see which will work best for my needs and stuff.

Let the best bag win! More to come once I try them out . . .