Monday, January 04, 2016

My Review of the Standard Carry-On Backpack/Suitcase

I'm baaack.... Florida was great...

The Standard Luggage Company's Carry-On bag

For the past few trips, I've been carrying the bag shown above, and I'm finally ready to review it! Overall, I like the bag a lot - I'm going to keep using it regularly. Given the idiotic number of bags that Belovedest and I own, that's saying a lot. We are, in fact, going to sell at least a couple of bags that aren't getting out of the closet often enough to earn their keep...

PRO:

  • It holds a LOT more than a rolling bag of the same size. This is because it doesn't have any bars or rods running through the middle of the bag. It was surprising to me how very much space those bars were occupying!
  • The soft sides let you stuff it. While I'm a big fan of packing neatly, I'm not opposed to filling a bag pretty full and giving it a good squish in order to zip it.
  • I've checked the bag twice (back and forth to Florida), and it shows no signs of abuse. Based on the way they were absolutely FLINGING luggage onto the belt last night when we got home, it probably wasn't treated with kid gloves...
  • It has a zipper which lets you expand it about two inches in depth, just in case you shop like an idiot (as I did in Paris...). Squishing is fine, but there is a limit to how effective it is!
  • The handles are comfortable, as are the backpack straps. I was surprised by this too.
  • When the backpack handles are stowed, they are COMPLETELY hidden. This bag does NOT look like a backpack, unless you are using it as such.
  • I love the ability to change between orange and teal accents. When you buy the bag, you get both colors...
CON:

  • You have to carry it. Period. No wheels means you either carry it, or find a cart.
  • It was challenging to get a week's worth of winter clothes into it, but that might be more a function of me wanting to pack too much, rather than the size of the bag. If I had tried to take my rolling bag, it would have been worse. 
Bottom line, this bag is a great deal for a well-designed bag that has the option to become a backpack. It looks MUCH more elegant and low-key than usual backpacks, it holds plenty, and appears to be pretty durable. 

For me, carrying the bag is a bonus, rather than a negative. First off, I like the exercise, and the feeling of being strong enough to hoist my own goodies. Carrying a bag makes things like slushy streets, water-filled gutters, cobblestones, or public dog "presents" non-events. If you share my preferences, this bag is available here.

Now, if I can convince them to make the leather accessories available in red...

love,
Janice
p.s. I had a brainstorm about the "Whatever's Clean 13" while I was out of town; tomorrow I'll tell you all about it!

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25 comments:

  1. I have a similar carry-on size bag (with hidden backpack straps) that I used when traveling on multiple trains across UK/Europe. It makes getting on and off trains a bit simpler than a bag on wheels especially since so many rail/tube/subway stations have stairs to navigate. That said, be sure you are fit enough to handle carrying it on your back for distances and up stairs and try to remember it is there when in a crowd or you might knock some folks around.

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    1. Being careful behind you is CRITICAL when carrying a backpack. I can't count the number of times I've been biffed in the head by a backpack while riding the bus... Thanks for the reminder!

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  2. I have this bag and in fact bought it after seeing the photo you posted when you first got it. This bag is my unicorn bag because I own't check luggage ever and refuse to use a wheeled bag (too much extra weight). I only wish it came with raspberry colored options as I'm not a fan of either orange or teal.

    Most recently I used it on a 10 day business trip and didn't need to use the expansion option. I will say that I pack very lightly :)

    You might consider getting the Tom Bihn Absolute luggage strap instead of using the one that came with the bag when you don't use the backpack option. I have no idea how the Absolute strap does it but it makes any bag I carry with a shoulder strap feel lighter and easier to carry.

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  3. I used a small carry on for 3 weeks in France...2 weeks of which I spent in Paris and it worked out quite well.
    The airlines are very strict about weight on international flights so a minimal wardrobe is imperative...I agree that carry on is the way to go...I read a distressing post from Adrienne of The Rich Life on a Budget where her luggage was stolen from the carousel in SeaTac airport...she lost all her clothes including a much beloved leather jacket from her trip to Italy.

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  4. :-) Sounds like a wonderful travel companion.
    However, there are so many airports here in Europe that don't have carts inside the airports anymore and I couldn't be bothered to carry such a bag. If they made this thing with wheels, then yes, I would try it.
    Thank you for the review!!
    Have a wonderful and HAPPY 2016 :_)

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  5. I had a bag like this for a trip across Asia (a round-the-world ticket, from Nairobi to Minneapolis!). It was great because it had the practicality of a backpack but could switch to a shoulder strap easily, for when you don't want to look like a scruffy backpacker (I was young).
    I have a duffel bag that I carry on now, but I find my back has really gotten too old. It's one thing when I'm with hubby and can plop my bag atop his roll aboard. It's another when I'm pacing the Madrid terminal (very beautiful architecture) to get some exercise during my three-hour layover. Not all airports have trolleys after security (Brussels, I'm looking at you).
    I'd like a canvas bag with two little wheels on one end, and I would just drag it after me. Just to keep it off my aching back.

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  6. I like the look of this bag. Can you give me the link to the site? I don't see it in today's post. I'm in UK. Thank you.

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  7. I like the look of this bag. Can you give me the link to the site? I don't see it in today's post. I'm in UK. Thank you.

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    1. If you click on the caption below the photo, it should take you to their site, and the ending word "here" in the penultimate paragraph should also be a link.
      regards,
      Janice

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  8. I have a bag similar to this that I love. I spent 2 weeks in Europe traveling to 5 different cities with a carry on back pack like this and a 13 piece wardrobe (used your packing and capsule wardrobe advice). One thing that was helpful with this kind of soft bag are packing cubes, they help keep everything neat and organized and helps keep the weight distributed throughout the bag which is important when you carry it on your back. Also, the bag I have has straps that come around your waist also, which I found to be much more comfortable than just using the backpack straps, they also hide away if you don't want to use them.

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  9. Your travel wardrobe, packing advice has been invaluable Janice - completely changed my habits and liberated me from so much inconvenience. Not to mention the fun of exercising ingenuity in the planning. An associated consideration for me is weight. I weigh just over 50kg and have a grumpy back, so the airlines' domestic limit of 7kg is actually helpful. (I have to fly domestic first to get anywhere outside Australia.) So travelling light is a joy, particularly when, as you and other readers say, you have to lift your bag up and down train stairs, on the stairs in stations, in and out of overhead racks, across cobblestone squares, etc.
    Now you have shown me a sturdy, smart, carry-on without wheels and with backpack straps I'm in luggage heaven. But I can't be doing with all those little separate bags for filing clothes. I take just 'inside' bags: a washable one for dirty laundry, a sponge bag, and a plastic bag for the packed shoes.
    Robyn in Tasmania

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    1. Robyn, just to let you know that Caribee have a very similar bag. Its called Skymaster I think and I have the 40L which meets Aust domestic carryon requirements. I've used this for many trips and love it.

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  10. I'm off to Baffin Island, Nunavut, early this spring and cannot wait to try this bag out -- a backpack/carryall seems like the perfect solution to all the walking and ferrying one does up north. Your advice on these matters is so helpful and appreciated, Janice. : )
    I will certainly be following your thoughtful pre-planned wardrobe packing lessons carefully!
    Cheers Sue G

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  11. That would have been the perfect bag for me when I was more able bodied - after a disaster while water skiing I now have 2 new knees and while I could handle toting that bag on my back for a good distance on level ground - hoisting it up and down several flights of stairs would be a tad too much. So unfortunately I'm relegated to something with wheels - I have yet to find one that works well for me.

    I think they should design one where the rods that support the telescopic handle are built into the side of the frame - rather than running through the middle of the back.

    I'm curious - how much did you bag weigh when you had it fully packed? And what wonderful goodies did you bring back from Paris?

    Mary mcm

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    1. Maybe 18 pounds? I'm absurdly strong, so I can only say that it didn't bother me at all carrying it...

      And Paris? A couple of "star" tee shirts from Agnes B., as well as some really inexpensive jewelry from Another Story. And enough chocolate to pacify the entire staff of the building in which I live!

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  12. I'm curious as to which other bags you examined and how you decided on this one. I was considering the ebags Weekender or the Rick Steve's expandable bag. These both share a lot of features with your bag but are considerably less expensive and appear to be just as durable. I'm shopping a bit for luggage now so I'm extra curious. Thank you!!

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    1. The honest truth - this bag was given to me, so I didn't consider ANYTHING else! But I also own a bag from Tom Binh, and Tumi, and a leather duffel, an I like this better than any of those, if that helps!

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  13. My husband says I have an obsession with suitcases and bags; he's right, which means I've tried many. I'm a longtime advocate of carry on only.

    Rick Steeves gave the advice once to pick a pack back style or a roller. After having one that did both, I agree with him. The straps took up room or the roller added weight while on your back. That suitcase is gone.

    Spinner wheels count in the size of your luggage. Also if you look around at the airport, you'll see folks pulling them like them have two wheels. I predict the spinners will disappear soon. They are also vulnerable to breakage.

    My latest suitcase is by PacSafe. It fits the rules and has a single telescopic handle. I do miss the expansion aspect when I get to my destination. My last suitcase, I'd pick up supplies while moving about, then pack more neatly when heading home. I just have to learn to stay efficient while moving about.

    My ideal suitcase would be similar to a PacSafe with single-handle duffle style, yet made of a very lightweight, strong material. A pound or two matters. I don't like excess compartments where I can lose things.

    I use packing cubes inside the suitcase.

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  14. So just two comments: Janice and the commenter who wished for accents in another colour - if these are leather, they can probably be dyed, orange to red should be especially easy. If you find it messy, maybe your cobbler could do it for you.
    And a request - I'm petite, and when it comes to backpacks, I always wonder how these will look on me. The Standard website shows a picture of a man carrying the backpack, but I would really like to see how it looks on a woman, although obviously I don´t know if we are similarly built.
    Apart from that, keep up the good work!
    Sonja

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    1. They aren't leather.

      I'm 5'5" tall, and short waisted (so semi-petite). The backpack option fits me, although I generally won't use it because I'm also carrying my laptop in a backpack. It's easier for me to do the shoulder strap plus my laptop backback.

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  15. These days, I only ever travel from Australia to Europe with a Tumi carry on case (which I check). But not that long ago, I only travel ed with a (large) backpack, so I'm super intrigued by this pack...looking forward to the day you convince them to produce the accents in red!!!

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  16. I have a Tom Bihn bag that is similar and I love it! My husband and I were always carry-on only (including our ten-day honeymoon in France and Italy) until our son was born. For a while it was nearly impossible. Now that he's big enough to carry his own backpack we're carry-on only again and hopefully never going back!

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  17. Hi Janice! Just wanted to say THANK YOU! I started following you several years ago and you have revolutionized how I look at a "wardrobe". I always had lots of clothing but nothing that went together. Now I'm slowly realizing I love very classic cuts and styles in navy, black, gray and camel, will accents of blue, mallard teal, coral or olive. Can I ask Your thoughts on the fashions in Florida? I have a business conference in Miami in 2 weeks and thought your keen perspective would be interesting. I loved your takes on Paris fashions last time!

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    1. I was in Central Florida, and the few business people that I saw looked pretty unremarkable - nice dresses, or skirts and tops, or pants with a pretty top and jacket or cardigan if needed. But I think Miami is probably pretty different - we need to scare up some Miami-based readers for some on the ground information...

      Let me put a note on tomorrow's post asking for some insights!

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    2. Thank you so much! What a thoughtful idea.

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