I found the GoBAG on Kickstarter and immediately I saw three traits that suited me. I am always on the lookout for the perfect carry-on. But what is the perfect carry-on? How do you define that? Consider the following three trips I have taken in the last twelve months and will take in the next month.
- 16 Day Long-Haul trip from the US to Thailand
- Back to Back mileage runs to Bangkok and Shanghai
- 5 Day Mileage run to Shanghai/Ningbo with the family
- 3 day business trip to Houston
What Immediately Drew Me to the Bag
Like many serious travelers, I am always looking to reduce the amount of baggage I take with me. My current modus operandi is a rolling Rimowa cabin bag (Topas) and a backpack. This is less than ideal, but the interior to the Rimowa is formless and there is nothing quick about getting things in and out of the bag for security or when seated in the cabin. The backpack is perfectly compartmentalized – just point to a pocket and I can tell you what is in there right now.
Ultimately, I wish that my two bags were just one bag. I wish that I had the compartmentalization of the backpack with specific places for what I need, the space for clothes for a trip, and a quick draw for key items. The GoBag looked to solve most of these issues and would allow me to reduce one bag from my setup. That would be a serious benefit.
Secondly, I loved how the bag was large (like some of my favorite duffels) but not formless. It has a solidified edge, and while it will fit just about anywhere – the sidewalls are bendable if you need to slot it in somewhere – but still hold firm.
Thirdly, the quick access to liquids, laptop and outside pocket are excellent. I could open just a portion and slide out my laptop, it was protected inside but detachable (in case you didn’t need to take a laptop on your trip).
Oh, and there is also an included laundry bag that has a vacuum component to reduce size which can be vacuumed from outside of the bag to reduce the volume of laundry.
Laundry bag in yellow; soft detachable laptop case on the bottom of the image; backpack straps at the top of the photo.
Packing for China
I am going to just be clear that I am not the average flyer and my tech preferences cause me issues that are difficult to get around. Like some of our readers, I carry two laptops, a personal laptop and a business laptop. While I understand that I could just take my business laptop and reduce some hassle (less weight, one less charger) I am a lot less happy doing so. I have resigned myself to carrying two. But my tech requirements go on. I have a work phone, a personal phone, and an unlocked international GSM phone. I carry an iPad with me, chargers for everything, USB cords, sim cards. The picture might be starting to fill in for you. I also have two cameras, one for still images and a GoPro which has it’s own accouterments, flash drives, memory cards, my car keys, sunglasses, and some important documents I always take anywhere I go. There are also a couple of books, and of course I always have my a notebook, pen and passport.
That’s a lot of stuff and explains why a backpack has always been a logical choice, and before a backpack it was more of a messenger bag type that I could quickly wear across my chest, but with the compartments that I needed.
As I packed for our trip to Shanghai and Ningbo, China I rolled the laundry bag and left it in the corner intending to use it for dirty clothes on the return and slid in some clothes. I started to slot in some of my items, and found some instant advantages. The laptop slot is really nice, it protects the computer well and is adjustable for size, something that other bags don’t really have. I placed my documents in the netting, slid my passport in the front (just like they do in the video), dropped some of my cords in the detachable liquids bag (I have not separated my liquids in years and never have problems except in the UK).
From the GoBag website (pardon the next button)
I was trying to jigsaw my other items together in a way where they would be secure-ish and not just slosh around at will. One way I did this was by essentially filling it full but I encountered my first serious drawback of the bag – there is no segmentation inside the main compartment of this bag. I can understand that it gives travelers the flexibility to moves things around at will and doesn’t pigeon-hole you to fitting everything you need in certain slots. There is an advantage to that. However, there really wasn’t an option for securing much inside.
The netting on the inside was easy for my travel documents, but it was too tight to fit in anything else but some random cords. One “key feature” (that was for you Dozer) is the key clip strung inside. I love not having my keys in my pocket when I am on vacation, and if I am traveling for work and driving a rental car, I loathe two sets in my pocket.
Key String +1
Running total = -1
The bag opens in a really unique way. There is a wrap around zipper that makes opening it really easy, whether it’s just for accessing the laptop or if you want to grab your liquids out. Further, you can zip across to open your whole bag, something I cannot do on my backpack.
On this trip, I had far too many electronics and miscellaneous items jostling around to really enjoy the bag. However, when we lived in Europe we would take short weekend trips on RyanAir to destinations across the continent we would have loved to have this bag. We also fly from Pittsburgh to Florida for weekend trips and the GoBag is ideal. The outside is water resistant, and I really wouldn’t hesitate to drop this in a puddle or take it to the beach.
Wrap around zipper +1
Water resistance +1
Running total = +1
For business purposes, the GoBag does not have the compartments and dedicated slots I need to supplant my Rimowa and backpack combo, as badly as I would like. But for mileage runs, quick trips to the beach and especially any place where I need to reduce the size of my laundry dramatically, the bag is a perfect fit.
My brother, Aaron, has different needs. He is more likely to head out for short trips, carries less electronics (just a single tablet with attached keyboard) and had a different experience. For him, this bag was ideal, and his review follows mine next week. I would put him first, but I am the big brother and therefore take precedence – also, it’s my blog.
I reached out to GoBag to find out more about the product I found online and they were kind enough to send me a sample. As you can see from the above review, there are likes and dislikes to the bag and it’s usefulness to me for my unique purposes. I was not compensated for my review and my opinions are honest and entirely my own – I believe they are as fair as one can be. Your preferences may differ. If you would like to buy one for yourself, please follow the link here. The website sells in British Pound Sterling so you can take advantage of a cheaper exchange rate (thank you BREXIT) using a “no foreign transaction fee” credit card.
Final total = +1 AKA, buy it if it fits your needs