- Jan 3, 2020 at 6:24 am #3625327
I’m planning a 2 week trip to Vietnam and Cambodia and am considering the best packing option. We will be staying in local accommodations so packing will be almost exclusively clothes, shoes and toiletries. On a similar trip to Panama I simply used my backpack and while I greatly appreciated the quality of carry I quickly tired of the top loading.
So I’m looking at 40L travel duffles with backpack shoulder straps, realizing that I will be trading some quality of carry for ease of packing/unpacking. I’m not interested in larger alternatives…trying to keep the dimensions such that it could be used as a carry-on on an airline. I have been traveling within the US with a cheap 35L duffle with zero features for many years, so I’m hoping to use the new duffle for most of my non-backpacking travels in the future.
My priorities are:
- Large top opening, preferably “U”-shaped i.e. the bag opens completely. The entire reason for the search is to facilitate easy access to the contents.
- Carry quality. I see this as important, but will not be wearing it as a backpack for many hours or miles. I see this as being useful for getting through large airports, between hotels, etc.
- Sturdy. I don’t expect the bag to be stressed, or strapped to vehicles/animals, but it needs to be reliable.
- Effective compression. I’m thinking exterior compression would be preferable to interior, but lack the experience to be certain.
- Price/Appearance. I’m not afraid to spend money, but have a philosophical problem with paying for the brand. Do NOT want bright or gaudy, or prominent branding…thinking simple black is best
- Water resistance. Not expecting (or willing to pay for) water proof (and am planning on using standard packing techniques to ensure dry things stay dry) but on this point more is always better than less.
My initial searches have yielded all the usual suspects, Patagonia, TNF, Osprey, REI. Reviews indicate that all have thier pluses and minuses. Would really appreciate any experience-based advice on specific products and ideas if my expectations above are flawed or lacking. At this point the REI Big Haul is coming out on top.Jan 3, 2020 at 9:15 am #3625346Mark VerberBPL Member
@verberLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
Most of the duffels with straps don’t have weight bearing hip belts. If you OK with that, then my first recommendation is the Osprey Porter 46. Was my travel bag for 10 years and is now one of the family “go bags” for emergency supplies. There are countless other traditional duffels with straps out there, I didn’t find any of them as comfortable to carry / used as the Porter, the best was Marmot’s version, but TNF and Eagle Creek are decent. If you want carry on size, panel loading, with a real hip belt I would try ula-equipmen’s camino-2. There are also a number of purpose designed packs (a number originally funded on kickstarter) which are on my list of travel packs either my family have used or were recommended to me by friends who are digital nomads.Jan 3, 2020 at 11:07 am #3625361idesterBPL Member
@doug-iLocale: The Cascades
I’ve used Patagonia black hole duffels for travel for a number of years now. I have a few of them, from the largest to carry a large pack and gear for backpacking trips, and smaller ones (including the 40L) for short trips to visit friends and such. All have worked quite well, are burly as heck, and you can get one in black. It does say Patagonia along the side, but the black one is quite subdued (I have the orange ones, I can pick my bag out of an airport baggage claim easily and quickly).Jan 3, 2020 at 2:09 pm #3625392ed hyattBPL Member
@edhyattLocale: The North, Scotland
I use the REI bag for about 2 years and really like it; better than my Patagonia bag, better than my NF face duffel.Jan 3, 2020 at 2:57 pm #3625404John McBPL Member
I have 61 countries under my belt. I currently use the Osprey 40 Farpoint. Prior to that I used the Kelty Redwing.
Both are good travel packs. I believe the Osprey will work better for you.Jan 3, 2020 at 6:20 pm #3625424Steven ParisBPL Member
@saparisorLocale: Pacific Northwest
You might like the Timbuk2 Wingman duffel. I don’t think they make it anymore, but it’s still available and on sale at ebags:Jan 3, 2020 at 10:48 pm #3625453Rick MBPL Member
I use the Arcteryx Carrier Duffels as they is the lightest weight weather resistant duffles with the cleanest lines I could find. But if you want something with pockets, perhaps look at the Eddie Bauer Maximus 2.0 45L duffle with their lifetime warranty.Jan 4, 2020 at 12:43 am #3625457Dale WambaughBPL Member
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
Osprey Porter 46*
Osprey Farpoint 40
Gregory Compass 40*
Cabin Zero 44L Classic
*I have these available for sale if interested. Send me a PM.Jan 4, 2020 at 12:49 am #3625458David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
My wife has been using the Patagonia duffle/travel packs and they carry a load better than the first few I backpacks I had 40 years ago.
OTOH, performance/price, for $18 at Walmart you can get a sturdy duffle and if the two hand straps don’t suffice as shoulder straps (they do for me for short distances), use the single shoulder strap as such. It doesn’t scream “I have money” like the Patagucci.Jan 4, 2020 at 8:24 pm #3625591Jenny ABPL Member
@jenniferaLocale: Front Range
I also have an REI Big Haul duffel and really like it. You get nice features, relative comfort for carrying, easy to get into, and subdued color choices without the price premiums of some other brands. I really haven’t found any minuses for this product.
I do not fly much anymore and don’t travel abroad, but in general keeping a low profile as a tourist can be a good decision. To me, part of keeping a low profile is using gear that doesn’t scream “rich American tourist.” But maybe that is hard to disguise anyhow. (And maybe you’re not even American….)Jan 5, 2020 at 1:36 pm #3625671Peter AtkinsonBPL Member
@peterbobLocale: Yorkshire, England
I’d very much recommend wither the 35L or 45L Ortlieb Atrack; waterproof and incredibly flexible for strapping on items, 4 zipped internal pockets, full opening, and a decent carry:
For me the best carry on camera bag I’ve ever had.
PeteJan 6, 2020 at 9:30 am #3625784
Many thanks to everyone who took the time to respond, all of your information was very helpful and I appreciate your insights. Most likely you will not be surprised to find out that I made a choice that no-one suggested :)
After (way too) much research, reading reviews, looking at photos, comparison of designs, youtube videos, etc. etc. etc., I ended up with the Osprey Transporter 40. Loaded it up to the max and really like the way it carries as a backpack. The materials are great, it is sleek when it needs to be with very few “things hanging off the outside”. One great design feature is that the lid (that contains the stow-away shoulder straps) opens from the end. This means the straps are anchored to the bag body, not the top where they can stress the zipper. This seems to be a big winner.
Edit: And no auto-generated links to the product mentioned…YAY!!!Jan 7, 2020 at 10:21 am #3625944Chris FriesenBPL Member
You’ve already made your choice but I’d like to toss in a vote for the Hill People Gear Aston House Backcountry pack. We spent a year travelling out of the Osprey Porter carry on bag (46 litres?) and the AHBC is better. Just finished 15 days in southern Mexico using it as our primary bag.
Big clamshell zipper. Multiple entry points for pulling out sandwiches or water bottles from the bottom of the bag. And the harness – oh my the harness. When you have to walk several blocks to buy water, beer and groceries the shoulder straps make the weight disappear on your back. We took off the capture flap and it slid in easily to the overhead bins on every bus, plane and collectivo. Really can’t recommend this bag enough as a “one bag” travel bag.Jan 7, 2020 at 2:03 pm #3625972David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
Going off-topic a little bit, but one of my travel-luggage tricks is to have a little, cheap ($20), 2.5-ounce silnylon, 20-liter unpadded day pack. I’ve seen a few styles on eBay. A few years ago there were some Bear Grylls branded ones for like $9. It rolls up to the size of a large lemon. It helps when traveling by:
Jan 7, 2020 at 3:53 pm #3625986John McBPL Member
- carrying the camera, water bottle, sunscreen, and sweater for a day on the town,
- carrying the extra stuff you acquire due to mission creep and gift buying (ideally only on the last day),
- letting me check my main bag (say, on a small commuter flights with tight carry-on limits) but keep my expensive / personal / medical items with me as carry-on,
- doing a shopping trip and not have to use disposable bags or purchase a shopping bag,
- Sometimes all that weight hanging off my back in the main 40-liter pack leaves me straining against it and I can put some weight in the 20-liter and wear it on my chest to be more balanced, fore-aft.
@JCH…. Good looking pack. I’ve never seen it. I understand why you picked it. It’s inexpensive and good looking too.
I’m impressed with how small the pack can compress down to.Jan 7, 2020 at 5:31 pm #3625992
@wilbur007 – The Hill People have some impressive looking gear. A little heavy and way expensive but looks like it works well and will last forever. Thanks for the recommendation.
@davidinkenai – agreed on all points. I have a (discontinued) ~2 oz GG daypack that I use in exactly the same way.
@hairlessape – I actually like the Transporter 40 more the more I mess with it. Surprisingly light, tough and easy to pack. Clean lines and carries impeccably. The single shoulder strap also works well and is very well padded. Got it in black and the branding is quite subdued…not sure you can say that about the other colors. Relatively inexpensive to boot. Have yet to find anything I don’t like about it. Time will tell.
Edit: had to change “Goss a mer Gear” to “GG” to get rid of the auto generated link :( Truly invasive and maddening “feature”.Jan 7, 2020 at 8:30 pm #3626057Chris FriesenBPL Member
Pretty sure the Transporter will work just fine. Having one of those tiny nylon backpacks can be a useful addition. Based on my family’s travels in Vietnam and Cambodia, don’t forget some extra ziploc bags (great for repackaging snacks or waterproofing a camera), a binder clip or two (holding drapes together in hotel rooms), earplugs and probably a little extra Pepto. We could never seem to find it there once we ran out. Enjoy your trip!Jan 8, 2020 at 12:19 am #3626067Mark VerberBPL Member
@verberLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
@davidinkenai. yup… a small bag is really useful. I generally like the second bag to be a courier style (like the now discontinued Patagonia UL Courier) so it can be used while I carry my main bag on my back, and several other reasons I list in my packing light post.
We have used some of the cheaper micro backpacks but found we prefer the more pricy bindle from packlightgear and packs from Matador, particularly the larger (but waterproof) FreeRain24 that been ripped of by a number of companies.Jan 9, 2020 at 11:45 am #3626276Diane “Piper” SoiniBPL Member
@sbhikesLocale: Santa Barbara
The way we have done it in the past (my partner and I) is to bring decent backpacks and put them inside cheap crappy duffels. Then when we get where we are going, if we have a place to keep the duffels, we keep them. Otherwise we throw them away. Buy a new cheap crappy duffel for the return trip.
Also, don’t bring a lot of stuff to an inexpensive country. Just buy some clothes when you get there. I’m going to want to buy clothes when I get there anyway.Jan 9, 2020 at 11:50 am #3626278
“Also, don’t bring a lot of stuff to an inexpensive country. Just buy some clothes when you get there.”
Brilliant! Thank you.
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