5 days 5 bags – day 4: ZUCA Business Backpack

Welcome to day 4 of our “5 days 5 bags” luggage lineup. Today’s spotlight is going to shine on the ZÜCA business backpack.

Last week I introduced you to what I described as “the best damn bag I have ever seen“. The ZÜCA Pro rolling case really did impress me that much. Of course, the ZÜCA Pro is designed as a bag for your clothes and other travel items – not as a rolling case for your laptop.

So, when I came across the official ZÜCA business backpack, I just had to take it for a spin, and see how well it goes with an already brilliant piece of luggage.

The ZÜCA business backpack does not require a ZÜCA Pro, but it is designed as an additional accessory for the rolling case. That said – I think anyone in the market for a business backpack could really benefit from it.

The ZÜCA business backpack has internal storage space for a laptop, 2 separate file/document pouches and a whole host of internal and external storage pockets. On the side of the bag is a large “office organization pocket” with space for everything you could ever need to take your office on the road.

The bottom of the bag is made of a rugged plastic, and no matter how full you stuff the bag, it is designed to stand upright in any situation. On the back of the backpack are or course the 2 padded backpack straps, as well as 2 adjustable straps for attaching the backpack to the ZÜCA Pro.

Once clipped onto the ZÜCA Pro, the bag hangs on very well, and doesn’t slide around like I’ve often seen with other bags designed to attach to the handle of a rolling case. Some of the other features of the bag include a cellphone pocket on one of the straps, and an opening in one of the side pockets to route your headphones to an iPod or other media player.

The ZÜCA business backpack costs just $95, making the entire combination of a ZÜCA Pro with backpack just $380 – under half of what I’ve previously spent on a premium luggage combination.

Of course, there is one thing not incorporated in the ZÜCA business backpack – the laptop portion is not “TSA friendly”, which means you will still have to remove your laptop at the airport checkpoint.

Other than that, I’m very impressed – it isn’t easy to take something as boring as a business oriented backpack, and turn it into a well designed bag. The ZÜCA backpack has pockets everywhere you’d expect them, something I noticed on their rolling bag as well.

Dimensions (W*H*D): 17*13*7.5
Weight: 3lb
Colors available: Black
Warranty: 1 year from date of purchase
Price: $95.00
Product page: ZÜCA

How To Buy A Backpack

Whether you’re floating around Europe for a couple of months or trekking through Asia, your most important piece of equipment will of course be your backpack. It’ll be your constant companion, your lifeline, and it will protect and carry all of the rest of your belongings for the extent of your journey. That’s why it’s important that you pick the right one, and have an idea of what you need before you buy.

Backpacks essentially come in two design types, internal and external frame. Most modern designs are of the internal frame variety, which offers the most flexibility and versatility of use. In fact, it’s rather difficult to find external frame packs any more, and for the sake of travel, they are not all that desirable. They don’t stow away as neatly, and they don’t fit in over head compartments as nicely either.

Knowing that you’ll most likely be purchasing an internal frame pack, the next thing to think about is size. Packs really do come in a wide variety of sizes now days, and the size you’ll need really depends on the length of your trip. For an extended journey you’ll be looking for an expedition length pack or a pack that is in the 5000 – 6000 cubic inch capacity. Remember, it’ll be holding all of your clothing and other gear, such as a sleeping bag, possibly a tent, cooking equipment, and more. Bigger isn’t always better however, so don’t just rush out and buy the biggest bag you can find.Armed with this information, the next thing you’ll want to do is go to an outdoor store and try on some of the bags. Any reputable gear reseller, such as REI, should have someone on staff who can measure your torso and help fit your properly with the right pack. It’s essential that you get the proper fitting, which is why I generally don’t recommend that you order a pack off the Internet without first having tried it on. If you do decide to order online, Backcountry.com and Eastern Mountain Sports often have great deals on packs.

It’s likely that you may be a bit overwhelmed with the dizzying array of backpacks that are now available. There are dozens of companies, making hundreds of different packs, and in a larger store you could have far more of them to choose from than you ever thought possible. However, knowing the size and style that you want will help whittle the selection down quickly, as will having your torso measured. From there, it’s a matter of finding a pack that has all the options you want and fits comfortably.

The level of comfort when you are wearing the pack is the single most important factor when deciding what to buy. When measured properly and adjusted for your body, something the staff at the store can help with as well, the pack’s weight should rest mostly on your hips. A good outdoor store will fill your pack with some weight to simulate what it’ll be like when you have it full of gear. This will help you to determine if the pack will be comfortable over the course of long days and carrying heavy loads. Try on as many packs as it takes to find the one that is most comfortable to you personally and fits your body the best.

The gear companies have come up with a ton of options for backpacks as well, some are gimmicks, and some are real. They put pockets in all kinds of locations, and they design special suspension systems to make the load more comfortable. The one option that I recommend that you absolutely do not go without is that your pack is “hydration ready”. That means that it has a special pocket that allows you to slip in a hydration bladder, a plastic reservoir that holds liquids, allowing you to carry your water easily. A small tube from the bladder will extend out of the pack and over your shoulder, connecting to one of the straps, and making it easy for you to take a drink at any time. The usefulness of this feature can not be over stressed, but it’s also common in most packs these days, so almost anything you buy will be hydration ready.

It should also be noted that most gear manufacturers now make women specific packs. This was not always the case and in the past ladies were often forced to endure a bag that didn’t fit well nor allow them to carry their gear comfortably. Now there are plenty of packs, in all sizes, that are designed to fit the female form, providing more comfort for extended time on the trail. They even come in more feminine colors so the girls won’t feel embarrassed to be seen wearing them. The Deva line of packs from Gregory are excellent as are the Aura packs from Osprey.

The last thing to consider is price. Go in with an idea of how much you want to spend ahead of time, as these days there are backpacks for all budgets. You can spend as little as $100 and get a decent backpack, or as much as $500+ and get an amazing piece of gear. But not everyone needs the top of the line item, and the packs found at the lower end of the spectrum these can be really good, although they tend to lag behind the higher end gear in features and fit by a few years. High Sierra has made a name for itself with it’s high quality packs at reasonable prices. Obviously price is an important consideration, but I wouldn’t recommend trying to save a few dollars at the expense of comfort. If spending a bit more gets you a noticeably better fit, then it’s worth dropping the dough. I personally own packs from The North Face, Osprey, and Mountain Hardwear, and while a bit more expensive, they are definitely worth the money.

Remember, buying a backpack is a major investment in your travel gear, but if you buy a good one, it can last you for years. You’ll can take it with you on your travels no matter where they lead, and you’ll come to realize that it really is the most important piece of gear you’ve ever purchased.

Daily deal – REI Traverse daypack in red for $19.83

My daily deal for today is for the REI Traverse daypack. This (women’s) daypack only comes in red and offers a huge amount of storage space.

Inside the spacious pack is a special sleeve for holding a hydration pack as well as pockets for smaller items like a compass, multi-tool or a flashlight.

The bag has been specially designed for woman, and has a molded backpanel with air channels to help keep your back cool and dry.

The REI Traverse daypack normally retails for just under $70, but is currently on clearance for just $19.83.

If you chose the REI “ship to store” option, you can pick it up at your local REI store, plus you’ll save on their $5.99 shipping charge.

As with all deals like this, if it’s something you need, don’t wait too long to order as this bag is sure to sell out before the end of the afternoon.

Daily deal – Swiss Gear Montreaux backpack for $8.54

My daily deal for today is for the Swiss Gear Montreaux technical daypack.

This high quality bag has 2 side pockets, one large main compartment and an iPod/mp3 player pocket with a headphone pass-through jack.

The bag is available in several colors, but to get the low price of $8.54, you’ll have to select pink, red, black or gray, if you select any of the other colors, the price will shoot up to just under $19. The normal retail price of the bag is over $30!

As always, you’ll need to order more than $25 from Amazon to be eligible for their free shipping, or you can use your Amazon Prime account if you have one.

There are no reviews of this bag, but to be honest, at eight and a half bucks, there is very little that can go wrong, so I’ve ordered one for myself (just not in pink).

Daily deal – massive SwissGear clearance – great luggage deals

In my daily deal for today, you’ll find not one, but 24 different bags on clearance.

The lineup includes some of the most popular SwissGear backpacks, rolling cases and messenger bags.

The discounts vary from 60% off, to a whopping 73% off. Some of the highlights of the clearance include this rolling computer briefcase, from $299, for $99 or this red computer backpack for $29.99 (was $100).

All items are over $25, so you can pick free super saver shipping, but if you need it on time for Christmas, I highly recommend upgrading to a paid shipping option.

The bags are a great way to get your hands on a quality piece of luggage, without spending too much. I have several SwissGear bags and they have never let me down.