Gadling gear review: Hummingbird Carry-on Zip

The Hummingbird Carry-on Zip duffel bagPicking the right bag to carry with us on our travels can be almost as important as selecting the items we put inside of it. Our baggage must be versatile, rugged, distinctive, and now days, easily fit inside an overhead compartment. The Carry-on Zip from Hummingbird meets all of those criteria, and then some, providing travelers with a simple, but very useful, bag for active excursions. Especially ones involving water.

Before getting into what the Carry-on Zip brings to the table, it is important to understand what it doesn’t. In terms of design, this is most definitely a no-frills, minimalist bag. There aren’t a lot of pockets – in fact there is just one large 40-liter compartment – and the bag doesn’t have wheels or feature a retractable handle. It is, for all and intents and purposes, a simple duffel bag.

But to call the Carry-on Zip “just a duffel bag” is to greatly underestimate its value for travelers. This bag is designed for those that prefer to travel light and are looking for something they can take with them anywhere they go. Made from a tough, but flexible, vinyl material, the Carry-on Zip takes a beating without showing the wear and tear that comes from frequent travel, and its large, comfortable shoulder straps make it a cinch to carry, even when packed to the brim with gear. Those same straps can be easily adjusted to wear the bag like a backpack, and its single, cavernous, compartment has plenty of room to store everything you need for weekend escapes, or even week long adventures.

The vinyl material that makes the Carry-on Zip such a tough, durable travel option also makes the bag waterproof as well. Hummingbird has matched those materials with heavy duty zippers that when locked into place, they seal the bag up tight, keeping everything inside safe from the elements. The waterproofing is so good in fact, that I recently carried this bag on a trip to the Virgin Islands, where I spent my days snorkeling, scuba diving, and sailing the beautiful ocean waters there. Thanks to the Carry-on Zip, I was able to take my camera, cell phone, and laptop with me where ever I went, without fear of damaging those expensive items within. On more than one occasion, I found myself wading into chest and neck deep waters to meet a waiting boat, and each time this bag kept my gear completely dry. It was very reassuring to know that I could trust this pack with my most fragile gear, even while swimming in the Caribbean.As the name implies, this bag was designed to carry-on any flight, and it does indeed store nicely overhead. But upon returning from the Islands, circumstances dictated that I check the bag on my return home. Waiting at the baggage carousel as the luggage was unloaded from the flight, I discovered another great feature of this bag – it is very easy to spot in a crowd. The distinctive bright yellow coloring and unique shape of the Carry-on Zip allowed me to identify it from a distance and grab and go very quickly. That might not be a feature on the manufacturers spec sheet, but being able to quickly pick-out your bag from the sea of other luggage is greatly appreciated, especially when you’re not use to waiting for the airline to offload it in the first place.

Hummingbird designed the Carry-on Zip to be highly packable in its own right. That means that while it may not be your primary bag on an extended trip, it can still be taken along very easily. This is piece of gear that is highly useful in a variety of situations ranging from a simple day at the beach to an extended kayaking excursion through remote regions of the world. The waterproof nature of this bag makes it very unique and useful for adventure travelers and beach combers alike, and with a price tag of just $149.95, it is affordable enough to add to your gear closet without breaking the bank.

The Carry-on Zip certainly isn’t for everyone, but anyone who spends a decent amount of time in or around water will definitely appreciate what this bag has to offer. Paddlers, surfers, and scuba divers will especially find it valuable, although I think plenty of other travelers will as well.