We love this bag from Issara — a small, socially conscious leather goods company in London — because of all the thoughtful, functional details for travel. It's got a full zipper closure to keep everything secure (and for stowing under the airplane seat without your belongings spilling onto the floor), multiple interior and exterior pockets to keep you organized, a roomy and sturdy interior (no collapsing in on itself while searching for an item), and a structured bottom with metal feet. As a major bonus, you can feel great about your purchase: the artisans Issara works with in India and Indonesia receive fair living wages, healthcare, and safe work environments, and all of the materials and processes used to produce the leather products are environmentally friendly.
Here in late 2018, as an autumn expedition wraps and we plunge into holiday travels, our crack test team is sharpened up on travel. We spent the last few months initiating a transition in the test team (long-time OGL legend Ian Nicholson hands duffel review coordination off to fellow globe-trotting mountain guide Jediah Porter) and testing a couple of unique pieces of luggage. We grant two new Top Pick awards. The exciting Yeti Panga is fully submersible and has category-leading shoulder straps. For super-wet adventures, you won't do better. On the other end of the spectrum is the budget-friendly and user-packable Bago Packable. Supplanting the Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole, the Bago is our newest preference as a secondary duffel for adventure travel and day-to-day life.
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1. For a $200+ dollar bag, I would not expect to have so many problems with the zippers. The design of zippers around the top of the bag is such that they get stuck in the corners at the bottoms and it take a minute of rearranging the sit of the zipper tracks and jangling with the zipper to get it come unstuck and finally zip up. On my bag, this is a bigger problem on the right side corner as you are looking at it. Perhaps this could be remedied by simply using a slightly bigger zipper track or bigger zipper tag? Regardless, its an obnoxious tick.
I’m a crossbody bag fan for sure, because I really like having my hands free. That said, there are times my shoulders begin to beg for a little relief. I’m seriously considering the Henri Bendel Jetsetter Convertible Backpack for my upcoming trip through the Czech Republic, because it can be worn so many ways…and I won’t have to transfer the contents from bag to bag!
In general, the outer pockets on the top and bottom of the bag embed into the larger bag, so if you are searching for something in the larger bag, you have to move around the outer pockets to look around. It seems it might be better to just have layered pockets so that if you were looking at the bag from the top, there were two different larger pockets you could open to get into the main space of the bag.
NOMATIC was born and raised on Kickstarter. We have successfully funded and delivered 5 projects through crowdfunding. In 2014 we launched the BASICS Wallet, in 2015 the BASICS Notebook, in 2016 The NOMATIC Travel Bag, in 2017 The NOMATIC Backpack and Travel Pack, and the beginning of this year The NOMATIC Messenger and Laptop bag. All of these past products are available at www.nomatic.com
Made in Italy, Senreve's bags are designed to be used, not tucked away in a dust bag. The pebbled leather exterior of this tote is scratch- and stain-resistant (and the microsuede interior won't stain either). You couldn't ask for more pockets inside, with two tech sleeves, and size slip pockets for smaller essentails. And a zip-top is always helpful to have when traveling.
I was on the search for an anti-theft bag recently that wasn’t ugly and wasn’t too big. I was set on one of the ones shown here, but when I arrived at a local luggage shop, I found the Travelon Anti-Theft Signature E/W Shoulder Bag in black. It is the perfect size so that I didn’t feel weighed down or look too touristy, and because it has various zippered compartments and decent depth, I was able to also use it for as a camara bag for my compact-system camera with extra lens. It’s a good price at around $40 and comes in different colors ebags.com/product/travelon/anti-theft-signature-ew-shoulder-bag/276982
"My Calpak spinner totally converted me from a duffel-toting, backpack-wearing traveler to a serious fan of the hard-shell suitcase. And with the Wandr carry-on, Calpak solved my only qualm: there's an easy-access front pocket for my laptop and necessities. I see no reason to ever swap out my suitcase again." — Melanie Lieberman, Associate Digital Editor