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Thread: Carry-On Traveller's bag

  1. #1
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    Carry-On Traveller's bag

    Okay, Tom, I want to re-open this discussion (it got lost when the forums went kaplooey.)

    Carry-on travel bags, for those of us who wish to avoid getting our luggage lost or schlep around with a suitcase, are expensive, ungainly, poorly designed, and increasingly oversized. You are totally the guy for this job.

    That bag I want:
    * Conforms to actual carry-on standard size.
    * Is convertible between backpack straps and a shoulder strap.
    * Has a waist strap for stability/to prevent back strain, removable chest straps if needed.
    * Has a much better compression setup inside. Two narrow straps are only slighly suckier than X-shaped straps. Please think of something brilliant.
    * NO WHEELS!
    * I won't say no frame in all caps, but if there is any kind of frame, it better not weigh anything.
    * Some sort of lock or clip for all zippers to help avoid pickpockets, without actually requiring keys and locks to get to the stuff.
    * Handy zipper pocket on outside somewhere that's reachable without taking off the whole bag.
    * Lock-able for real, with locks, when necessary.
    * Thingy for water bottle.

    (I believe you already are aware of One Bag ?)
    eWalker likes this.

  2. #2
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    eristick,

    why would you be against wheels?

    for weekend trips, i like to pack a bag like the ID or SmartAlec for my notebook, etc. or my tenba camera bag (which also holds my notebook) along with a small carry on suitcase on wheels.

    I've carried a large shoulder bag that actually accommodates more than the small suitcase. both are made by briggs & riley and are quite heavy without anything in them. i prefer the suitcase on wheels over the shoulder bag because it's a lot easier to pull something on wheels behind you than to carry something heavy on your shoulder or your back. i can also attach my ID and SmartAlec to the suitcase by the attachable strap on top of the suitcase.

    you really appreciate the wheels if your trip requires you to take a connecting flight :-). about all i want to carry on my shoulder or back is what my SmartAlec will hold (which is quite a lot).

    do the wheels not work for the application you have in mind?

    i'd like to see a poll of what people like to carry for short (e.g. weekend) trips.

    maverick

  3. #3
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    On my last trip from the US I seem to recall that I only had the ID as my carry-on bag, but I did have 2 large suitcases as well. And here is the main reason I think none of Tom Bihn's bags should have wheels. I usually have wheels on my larger checked-in suitcases and you run out of vacant hands to pull the wheel equipped stuff real quick.
    Second of course is the fact that Tom Bihn himself has said that he doesn't like luggage with wheels, and thus I doubt he has any experience making any suitcase with wheels or has anyone to buy the wheels from etc. So a big startup cost in both money and time to make that first wheel equipped bag. But of course we'll have to wait until Tom Bihn himself or Darcy or someone else answers this to get to know that for sure...

    But that being said I would also be interested in a bag similar to what the OP suggested. Even though I normally like to be able to use my carryon as a daypack as well when I arrive at my destination.

    Cobos
    If you are not part of the solution you are part of the precipitate!

  4. #4
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    1) Wheels are about only useful in an airport -- they're maddening on cobblestone or uneven sidewalks.

    2) Wheels are heavy, and require weight-adding structure, if the bag is to be any kind of durable. Plus, the bag then has to be reinforced against the wear-and-tear of having the wheel structure. It adds up.

    3) If they are to be of any use on anything other than an airport floor, the wheels have to be larger. Small carry-on suitcases with wheels that don't suck are generally in excess of the official guidelines for carry-on baggage. (Actually, the ones with small wheels are also frequently too big.)

    I'm not talking about weekend trips, I carry-on only for one and two-week long vacations! If I can't carry it on my back in a carry-on, it doesn't come with me. I bring a small bag to use as a daypack. (For weekend trips, I just use my ID.)

  5. #5
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    Having just returned from Paris with my old cheapo bag, I reiterate the necessity of a minimal-weight bag. My significant other's carry-on bag (small flight case) had to be checked on the return flight because his two bags together exceeded the 12 kilo weight limit by three kilos. (This was not extra-souvenir-weight -- we were simply not asked to weigh our bags for the flight over.) Weight-restrictions are not as commonly enforced as size restrictions, and it was clear that these restrictions were not evenly enforced on our flight, but frustrating, nonetheless.

    Also, regarding the original list, a water-bottle thingy, on second thought, is not really a priority.

    I saw a cool backpack that had additional compression straps on the outside to further smoosh the back and front closer together. The backpack was a little too "backpacker" for my taste, but I liked the extra straps.

  6. #6
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    I really like this bag, except for the lack of assurance that it provides enough compression for contents. (I can use those sleeves, too, but I need the bag to provide some compression!) I do particularly like that this bag is more professional than backpacker-looking.

  7. #7
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    Hey, thanks for the link to One bag. Very cool.

    All the reasons that eristick gave for not making wheeled luggage are ones that I fully agree with. In addition, there are literally hundreds of manufacturers making wheeled luggage, while no one seems to be making the perfect bag for eristick.

    (That being said, we are looking into sources for all of the hardware and parts required to build wheeled luggage. Who knows where this will lead?)

    What we always say is: Siquid mantica non capit, domi relinquendum est. This translates to "If it doesn't fit in your knapsack, leave it behind.".

    I am working on sketches and prototypes for a maximum carry-on sized soft luggage piece that will convert into a backpack. We will not use a frame, but we do intend to make it out of Ballistic nylon which is a heavy fabric that maintains its shape.

    Questions:

    Should we also make it available in a lightweight fabric, sacrificing the durability of Ballistic nylon?

    I am considering using YKK's splash-proof zippers for better protection against the elements. However, a lockable slider is not available for this type of zipper yet. Which is more important - a splash proof zipper or a lockable zipper? Keep in mind that you can always put a luggage lock through the standard holes on the splash-proof zipper.

  8. #8
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    Tom Bihn asked
    Questions:

    Should we also make it available in a lightweight fabric, sacrificing the durability of Ballistic nylon?

    I am considering using YKK's splash-proof zippers for better protection against the elements. However, a lockable slider is not available for this type of zipper yet. Which is more important - a splash proof zipper or a lockable zipper? Keep in mind that you can always put a luggage lock through the standard holes on the splash-proof zipper.
    Please use the splash-proof zippers; these are really great on the Buzz and I would go for the extra durability and protection. By the same token, I personally would prefer the durability of Ballistic nylon.

    The link to the One Bag was interesting, but it made me think about whether there are better carrying options than that single, long, padded strap.

    I think there's a market for a better designed carry-on. I'd also like something that could hold a laptop/Brain cell, but which has more space than the Empire Builder and which could go as carry-on, but that should probably go into a separate thread and request (maybe a larger Empire Builder?). Maximum compression would not be an issue here.

  9. #9
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    Tom:

    THANK YOU! (I've been holding off on buying a bag until I found out whether you would make one.)

    Stick with the heavier fabric -- I agree that using ballistic nylon will eliminate the need for a frame. Lighter fabric saves me that extra pound or two, but it'll slump all over the place and I'll wish it had a frame, which would make the bag heavier than if you'd just used the ballistic nylon in the first place. Unless...well, I'm guessing that it's not worth it to combine the two fabrics in the design?

    Splash-proof zippers. Protection from the elements (and I'm visualizing of all the under-the-bus cargo areas and wet sidewalks) is more important.

    After looking at pictures of a zillion other bags, then re-visiting my first post, I say this: Screw the other stuff, just give me brilliant compression and stowable waist/harness straps in a bag that does not look too backpacker-y that meets carry-on restrictions when fully packed. With a little style.

    Adequete support is key. This bag will be holding 25-30 lbs of stuff, and I'm a pretty small girl. My current cheapo bag just kills my back because of the sag & lack of waist strap.

    I find the MEI "Voyageur" pack pretty unappealing-looking, though it is the bag currently on the market that most meets my needs.

    Moriond: The long shoulder strap allows you to maneuver your bag better when in close quarters, like standing on a croweded bus & making your way down the aisle on the plane.

  10. #10
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    Originally posted by eristick

    Moriond: The long shoulder strap allows you to maneuver your bag better when in close quarters, like standing on a croweded bus & making your way down the aisle on the plane.
    Eristick: Thanks for the comments. I was actually thinking about the design of the strap in your link (to the JanSport Modus Convertible Carry-On Luggage at the REI site) rather than the value of having a long shoulder strap (" . . .it made me think about whether there are better carrying options than that single, long, padded strap.")

    Because the bag can be fairly heavy and the strap will be long, I'd like to have a really comfortable shoulder strap option -- not just the straight sliding pad of that figure. The absolute strap that Tom Bihn sells is very comfortable, even when used with heavier bags. On the ID bag, which is a great design overall, I'd have to say that the strap, relatively speaking, is the weakest feature. I don't mind having to adjust this (the first time) at both ends, and the width of the strap is a plus, but the straight, slider shoulder pad is less than optimal.

    I'd prefer a curved pad, but with the way it attaches to the two ends it would be difficult for people to adjust (shifting from one side to another), and would probably be more expensive to make and design cleanly. It's not so much of an issue here, because even stuffing the ID bag pretty full, you won't get near the weight of this carry-on. But it will be an issue for the carry-on.

    And I also want something that works well for smaller, female, builds. Large backpacks often seem designed for people who have broad, flat backs. The Buzz, however, is really great for small people, too.

  11. #11
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    On the ID bag, which is a great design overall, I'd have to say that the strap, relatively speaking, is the weakest feature. I don't mind having to adjust this (the first time) at both ends, and the width of the strap is a plus, but the straight, slider shoulder pad is less than optimal.
    Oh, I see. I agree with this. It never occured to me that the slider pad on the ID would bug me, but I've never used a bag quite as much as I've used the ID, either. And I find that the adjustment of the strap length does slip in teensy tiny increments, too, until I'm suddenly perplexed as to how my strap got so long and have to readjust. But this isn't a serious complaint, it's just, as you said, the weakest feature of a fantastic bag.

    There are plenty of backpacks designed to distribute weight better for the narrower female back and shoulders, but they are all backpacker-style packs. This is more important to me if I were hiking -- it wouldn't be a major issue for me with this bag. Walking all day on uneven terrain is a whole different ballgame than walking a mile or two to the hotel from the train/bus station.

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    There are plenty of backpacks designed to distribute weight better for the narrower female back and shoulders, but they are all backpacker-style packs. This is more important to me if I were hiking -- it wouldn't be a major issue for me with this bag. Walking all day on uneven terrain is a whole different ballgame than walking a mile or two to the hotel from the train/bus station.
    I think this is more than distributing weight better for the female body as some bags are physically too big for smaller people to carry. A maximally sized carry-on (22" by 14" by 9") is going to be too wide and too long for my body. It would be nice to see a petite version of this bag that would be a inch or so narrower and a couple of inches shorter. This would even be convenient for larger people traveling abroad as some international airlines limit carry-on size to 19" by 13" by 9" (particularly for travel that's not to or from the US) and its hard to find a bag here in the U.S. that meets these requirements.

    (Note: For me at least, comfort is king. After schlepping my bags all the way around the world through more airports than I care to remember, I want a bag I can carry around for long periods of time and not regret it the next day.)

    Another unrelated suggestion I have for this bag is to have at least two compartments: one for clothes and another for a computer. With more than one compartment, you can take your computer out in the middle of a meeting without worrying about your underwear spilling all over the conference room table.

    I look forward to seeing this bag!

    Amanda

    P.S. Go for the ballistic nylon. It holds up really well when abused which is key for luggage.
    Last edited by aakepley; 02-22-2005 at 08:51 AM.

  13. #13
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    You brought up a point that I wanted to make too, which is that the size should be under the "maximum" size to allow for the bulge of a stuffed bag and also to provide some extra assurance that it will indeed be accepted as a carry-on for international travel.

    22" by 14" by 9" would actually be a bit over, even by American standards. Tom, let this serve as a warning -- don't fall for the "creeping bloat" syndrome!

  14. #14
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    Originally posted by aakepley
    I think this is more than distributing weight better for the female body as some bags are physically too big for smaller people to carry. A maximally sized carry-on (22" by 14" by 9") is going to be too wide and too long for my body. It would be nice to see a petite version of this bag that would be a inch or so narrower and a couple of inches shorter. This would even be convenient for larger people traveling abroad as some international airlines limit carry-on size to 19" by 13" by 9" (particularly for travel that's not to or from the US) and its hard to find a bag here in the U.S. that meets these requirements.
    Yes, it's not a question of weight, but shape and size. I agree with aakepley and eristick that you don't want this to be as large as 22" X 14" X 9". Some overhead storage bins in the smaller aircraft used by feeder airlines won't take something this large, and you need to allow for how much bags are stuffed. The key point, though, is really how comfortably the bag is shaped to carry and move around while maintaining its capacity. Not to keep harping on the Buzz, but this is the only bag for which I regularly use the snaphook for keys. And that's because when I want to get something out of the front pocket, I can slip the bag around so that the zipper is at exactly the right position to access (while I'm still carrying this on my shoulder), and so that the keys attached to the snaphook come easily to hand without getting in the way of anything else. It's these kind of design details -- the comfort when you shift bags around and still find things distributed well and compartments easily to hand -- that I'd like to see factored into the new carryon bag design.

  15. #15
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    After a few recent trips, man, do I wish ferverently for this. On one trip, I had to...Check A Suitcase. Egads. It was horrible. What's the status, Tom? (Um, no pressure, of course.)

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