Seeking Convertible Carry-on Bag
I am looking to replace my current TNF Long Haul Carry-on bag for a model which has hide-away straps. I am looking for a bag that looks and packs like a carry-on (horizontally rather than vertically) rather than a backpack like the Brain Bag (no offense intended). The models that I have seen so far that seem closest to what I am looking for are the MLC from Patagonia, a bag from Brenthaven and the Tri-Zip from Tough Traveller.
The ideal features that I like are the compression panel from Brenthaven rather than just compression straps. Even better would be the option to go either way - panel or straps.
Tough Traveller's Tri-Zip, which I have not seen in person, has a three compartment design with padding that removes from the middle compartment to allow more room. While I like a three compartment design, the TNF Long Haul has two compartments with a zipped divider panel that allows the single compartment to be split into two sections. Very handy as it gives you choices as to how to configure the space.
Another good design that I forgot to mention is an old convertible bag from REI. Although this bag does not have backpack straps, it is very well designed. It folds itself in half to use as a shoulder bag with its outside pockets for use. Holding the folding thought for just a minute, its outside pockets are large (each one is half the size of the bag) and very useful, but they do not clutter up the lines of the bag.
Hopefully this is enough to get some discussion going on the topic. More later.
I have made a few prototypes of a carry-on convertable bag, but sadly they got hung-up in my attempts to make it also able to carry a laptop (preferably in a relatively easy-to-get-at place near the outside of the bag!). Apart from the laptop question (still unsolved), my carry-on features a large rather squarish main compartment with two large end pockets, each big enough to carry two pairs of shoes or one pair of boots (just to give you a sense of the space - I ain't no Imelda Marcos). As it currently stands it doesn't have any removable dividers & I'm not sure where they'd go anyway. I've used a prototype sans backpack straps and really liked the way it was divided, though I'd imagine it wouldn't be perhaps the best for everyone.
Check back for progress and/or offer your suggestions.
BTW, I don't usually bash other company's products, but Patagonia's MLC is pretty disappointing, especially since it's so spendy.
Thanks for the reply, Tom. It appears that Tough Traveller tried to address the laptop issue by having a partial zip (opening only on the top of the bag and not extending down the sides), padded compartment in the middle of the bag with full zip compartments on the outsides. The padding in this compartment was removable if one wanted more space. Not a bad idea, and relatively easy and quick access to the laptop without opening any other compartments. I am curious about your shoe compartment solution since packing shoes is always a major pain.
Regarding the inner divider, think about an open bag (full 3/4 zip) fully splayed out in front of you. Now, instead of having just two halves of a large compartment laying in front of you, think about having a 3/4 zip panel covering one of those halves. Use it if you need it, unzip it and fold it to the bottom of the bag if you do not. You could even do a partial zip if an item only partially spills over from one half to the other when the bag is closed.
Another suggestion I could offer, but I do not know if it would work on a carry-on bag, is the design of TNF's Mason bag. The feature I like about this bag is the bottom compartment that sits underneath the large top compartment. It packs (and zips) horizontal rather than vertical and is a great place for shoes or other large objects.
While I agree that the MLC is pricey and of unknown construction quality, I do like its minimalist approach. Sometimes what is not there (to clutter things up) is as important as what is there. Still, they probably could have done better.
Thanks again for being open minded and listening to my suggestions. BTW, my office is directly across the street from your Pioneer Square store if you are ever there and/or have any prototypes to show for comment.
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