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Thursday, May 02, 2019

Review: Amazon Backpack Carry-On

For a fixed based tour, I decided to acquire a backpack carry-on case. The reason was that even though we were not going to tour carrying luggage, I wanted to connect from Barcelona to Girona via a train, and there would be a 3-4 mile ride in the city carrying luggage on our backs, and roller luggage would be incompatible with that. Furthermore, Norweigian Airlines had a 10kg limit on carry-on, as did Ryan Air, so while web-sites and other traveler reports were that we’d never get checked, the lighter the backpack, the more weight budget we would have for our actual cycling gear.

The gold standard, of course, is the eBags WeekenderConvertible, but I wasn’t expecting to use this luggage on many other trips: with kids, it was more practical to have roller luggage, and I wouldn’t expect my wife to hoist 10kg onto her back while traipsing through the airport with kids, so I didn’t expect to use this too often, so the eBags lifetime warranty didn’t come into play.

Enter the Amazon carry-on backpack. It’s priced at $50, half the price of the eBags carrry-on, and offered most of the features of the eBags, and even had a laptop compartment built in. It also came with straps to convert it into a shoulder bag, and extra tabs to hook a waterbottle with a caribiner.
Into this bag, I stuffed the following items for my tour:
  •           1 ebag packing cube stuffed with clothing
  •           2 ebag half-packing cubes stuffed with clothing
  •           1 pair of cycling shoes
  •           1 pair of SPD pedals (in case our bikes somehow got lost and we were forced to rent bikes)
  •           Travel pillow
  •           Noise cancelling headset
  •           Toothbrush, toothpaste, all the charging accessories required to charge the electronics I was carrying with me
  •           Travel keyboard for the smartphone
  •           Anker 3000mAh battery
  •           Kindle, travel documents, and a map
  •      Eucalan

The true test was how the riding felt with the backpkack on, and I thought it was great! There was next to no sway, and while I wouldn’t want to climb or descend with it on, it was more than serviceable for a short city ride. Walking through airports with it was quite comfortable. The backpack also packs down to a mere 2 inches in depth when empty, so it would be a great sailing luggage: you’d unpack everything inside and then flatten it for storage.

The laptop compartment doesn’t expand very much, and since I didn’t bring a laptop on this trip I can’t comment on how good it is for an actual laptop, but I managed to stuff my travel pillow and noise cancelling headset as well as the various liquids that needed inspection at airport security into it. The front pocket was also perfect for the kindle.

The biggest flaws of the bag is that the small compartments are no good for securing stuff: they aren’t quite tight enough so things have a tendency to fall out during a flight. The secondary flaw is that the expander zipper doesn’t seem to add very much volume to the bag. When I expanded it, I didn’t feel like I gained very much room in the bag, and would rather have saved the weight of the zipper and seams that had to be stitched and depend on the external compression straps instead.
Nevertheless, for the price, this is one heck of a luggage. Recommended.

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