So, now that I know my aim, let’s assemble the tools for the trip.
The Bag-the aim is to carry my main bag on. That means understanding airline rules. You need to do your homework as airlines have varying dimensions for what they will allow and some also have weight restrictions. In my case , I am flying British Airways, and they have a pretty generous hand baggage policy. (56cm x 45cm x 25cm (22in x 18in x 10in) including handles, pockets and wheels and can weigh 23 kg) NOT ALL AIRLINES ARE THIS GENEROUS SO IF YOU CONNECT FROM BA TO ANOTHER AIRLINE YOU NEED TO KNOW THAT AIRLINES POLICY. So I know how big and heavy can be.
Now what type of bag? Hard side, soft side, Roller, Dragger, spinner, backpack, hiking bag, hybrid….. to help decide, let’s go back to my aim. Mine is: Moving quickly, handling stairs and crowds, tough enough to handle being kicked around but still stylish. For myself, that rules out wheels as I have seen people clip others in crowds and struggle to get wheeled bags up stairs and along cobblestones. I have seen telescopic handles snap off, refuse to collapse and wheels fall off. I also believe people pack more into wheeled bags as they know they won’t always be carrying them.
One note is that there is an argument to be made for the new connected bags by Trunkster and Bluesmart as they are wheeled, hard sided and can charge your gear but I don’t need the protection of a rigid bag and I carry portable battery packs in case I need them, but I do admit the concept is great.
I want something I can carry and, by eliminating wheeled bags with telescopic handles, I also save on the weight of the bag.
My bag is the Minaal, but there are other great bags out here, Tortuga (my wife’s pack), Red Oxx, Tom Bihn, Osprey, etc. What I look for is durability and zipper build. Better to buy a more expensive bag than risk a bag failing at the worst possible time. For me, after travelling with the Red Oxx Air Boss, the Minaal had what I am looking for. Don’t get me wrong, my Air Boss is indestructible and has a no bull return policy. Their Skytrain would have been my next bag as I wanted a backpack, but the Minaal had the more discreet look I wanted.
Bottom line is that there are many great bags out there. You need to figure out how you want to travel and the environment you are travelling to or through. Lastly, you need to know the rules and policies about the dimension and weight of allowable bags. Keep in mind, when travelling on different airlines, your bag must conform to the smallest and lightest rules in order to avoid unexpected fees and hassles.