Man, do I see a lot of luggage. Roll-aboards. Day packs. Laptop/iPad/digital whatever storage solutions. And honestly, most of them don’t quite make the cut. Part of the reason I have so many of these things is that I continue to quest for The Perfect Bag. Light, versatile, the right pocket for that one thing that always gets loose and floats around inside my luggage.
I’m impressed when a bag designer really thinks about how a bag will get used. Attention to detail, that makes all the difference. (See also, this bag by Tom Bihn.) The folks behind the Airporter by Guerrilla Packs have given a great deal of thought to putting their bag together. They’ve made a well designed backpacker/round-the-world bag and if you’re in the market for such a thing, you should check it out.
The Airporter is one of those system packs with a clip on day pack. Gravity isn’t always your friend with these things, your balance gets out of whack because where the weight sits is just wrong. The day pack on the Airporter is small, so that helps. Pack smart and keep most of your gear in the big bag, just use the day pack for stuff you need to access frequently and you’ll be fine. Then, when you’re day tripping, use the bag for whatever you need — stowing your swimsuit for that snorkel boat day, shopping, whatever.
There’s a sleeve for your laptop in the back, a pull through for your headphones, some internal pockets and key loop. Plus, hey, that’s nice… picked up too much stuff while out shopping? The day pack expands, just open the wrap around zipper. Clever. What’s missing? A water bottle pocket. Sure you could stow your water bottle inside the pack, but that’s beside the point, no?
The main pack has a couple of external pockets — two smaller zip pockets on the top and water bottle/dirty hikers pockets on the side. There are lashing straps for your sleeping bag or raincoat or whatever, and a bunch of tie on loops along the top. In the bottom, there’s a rain cover that’s sewn on; you won’t lose it unless you cut it off.
Inside the body of the pack, there are two attached padded pockets — ideal for your pocket camera, and a clip in place padded laptop sleeve that you can use as a shoulder bag. The sleeve just fits in the day pack if you’ve got the day pack expanded. Another useful feature? The entire front panel of the pack zips away for loading. Those top-loader packs make me crazy, the thing you want is always at the bottom.
A removable lightweight plastic frame helps the pack hold its shape. A zippered back panel hides padding for your back and the padded shoulder and waist straps. That panel stows in the same place where the rain cover is hiding. It’s nice to be able to stow those straps when you’re checking your bag for a flight, or tossing it into an overhead bin on a plane or train. Grips on the top and side mean that you can handle this just like any other duffel — though there’s no additional shoulder strap. Oh, and yes, it’s the right size for a carry-on, because really, who wants to check a bag these days?
Besides the lack of a water bottle pocket on the day pack, I found little to criticize on the Airporter. Tougher hardware would be nice, but that would add more weight. There’s only one of those “keep your stuff in place” straps inside, but packing cubes would fix that. Truth be told, I look at this thing and kind of wish I was graduating from college all over again, with a Eurail pass and a boundless sense of optimism.
The Airporter retails for $129.00. It’s super versatile, has a lot of genuinely useful features, and designed for the urban backpacker who travels light. Check it out here.