The Friday Fillip: One Bag to Hold It All

You’re off for a week’s holiday to Halifax. You’re on a five-day business trip to Vancouver, L.A., and then Chicago. You’re headed to Rio on the spur of the moment and a last-minute cheapo ticket. And so you’ve got to pack some . . . stuff: clothes, shoes, reading matter, a discreet pharmacopeia, tablet computer with associated wires and adapters, and then that small collection of odd things such as your eye mask, your alarm clock, your hotel door stopper . . . . The mound grows. And the question presents itself: what do you pack it into?

Carry-on is the only sensible thing for anything but a long trip, and now the question is transformed into: what 22″ x 14″ x 9″ bag would be best? (One size does not fit all airlines — that would be too easy; so be sure to check. This chart, for example, isn’t a bad place to start.)

Here’s a small selection of highly praised carry-on bags, any one of which could meet your needs.

First, there’s the Western Flyer from Tom Bihn, featured as a Cool Tool. This sturdy bag has all the pockets and compartments you need without looking like one of those insanely pocketed vests that are often spotted on Canadians abroad. Of course, there are enough pockets accessible from the outside to let you fetch your papers, a book, or your phone as need be. As well, it can be fitted with handles allowing you to carry it pretty much any way you like. Or, you might prefer the Aeronaut from the same manufacturer.

Or you could consider the Air Boss (“I make other carry on bags nervous.”) from Red Oxx, which the other half of the bag-buying world seems to prefer. Currently, the Air Boss has a larger selection of colours, which appeals to me. It’s also the “recommended business bag” of, a site well-worth looking at to learn about the intricacies of choosing a travel bag.

Both of these bags are completely soft and must be carried. You might be unwilling or unable to shoulder the load, however; and even though the wheel, strut and handle apparatus consumes valuable space, you want a roll on. In which case, you should take a look at the Switchback Max 22 from Eagle Creek. This is a convertible solution, offering hideaway back pack straps as well as wheels. Take a look at the video that demonstrates these features and more.

Of course, these are simply a few of the myriad travel bags available. If you’ve got a favourite, I’d love to hear about it from you. And then there are the other bags that make our life more livable, such as the ones we use to tote our daily gear around. I’m partial to a courier, or messenger, bag; and I mean to give this one a try. Unless I go this route first, in which case I might opt for bright yellow. Or this one, from here in Toronto. . . .

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