While the travel industry is somewhat in flux—proposed travel bans, privatization of air control, no laptops in your carry-on—the need for a simple travel pack hasn’t faltered. But the technologies driving those packs sure have. Here’s a handful of the best, from simple duffels and farmers market-friendly totes to the best damn waterproof bag on the market. And for those who have to bag check valuable electronics, we’ve got you covered.
1. Eagle Creek Converge Weekend Bag, $179; 2. Pacsafe Travelsafe, $70; 3. Thule Subterra, $225; 4. North St. Scout 21, $99; 5. Filson Grab’n’Go Large, $150; 6. Alchemy Goods Ad Bag, $30; 7. Dakine Cyclone II Dry Pack, $150.
Main photo by Dudarev Mikhail/Shutterstock
Nathan Borchelt is a gear-obsessed travel writer and adventurer whose collection of shoes, backpacks, jackets, bags, and other “essential” detritus has long-outgrown his one-bedroom apartment (and his wife’s patience).
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Eagle Creek Converge Weekend Bag
Part of Eagle Creek's new travel-focused Converge line, the Weekend Bag delivers a solid carry-on bag option that's both sleek and super-organized. Inside the durable 300D poly twill outer you'll find a dedicated 17-inch laptop compartment, a cavernous main pocket (ready for Eagle Creek's Pack-It mini-pouches), sizeable front compartments with built-in organization for those 1,001 cords and electronic accessories, and a slew of other organizational options in the front pocket, including a tablet sleeve, mesh zippered pockets, and a carabiner key fob…just to name a few. Zip-away straps also converts the suitcase into a backpack.
Photo courtesy of Eagle Creek
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This five-liter portable safe comes with a TSA-friendly three-dial combo lock along with a steel cable closure that lets you secure the pack to pretty much anything (a tree while swimming, say, or a luggage rack while sleeping on an overnight train). The water-resistant poly material also includes PacSafe's "eXomesh" tech, a durable netting that's very hard to cut. And for those flying to the States from countries that ban large electronic as carry-ons, this is a secure solution to a less-than-ideal situation.
Photo courtesy of Pacsafe
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Unlike most packs that use straps to help compress your load, this new two-wheeled, carry on-compatible pack employs an entire panel to help secure your goods, maximizing packing space and minimizing wrinkling—and it can also help you separate clean from dirty mid-trip. And it's baller on the outside, with a durable exoskeleton and molded polycarbonate back panel, oversized wheels, and burly V-Tubing telescoping handles.
Photo courtesy of Thule
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North St. Scout 21
This hand-made bag from Portland, OR, keeps thing simple: a traditional duffle with 30 liters of storage made of rugged 1000D Cordura on the outside, and a waterproof "X-Pac" sail cloth liner on the inside, along with a side zipper pouch complete with a key clip. But it's likely the bold array of colors—fatigue green, a bright teal, a rich khaki—that'll get noticed first. Better still, on select models you can choose your own handle color.
Photo courtesy of North St. Bags
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Filson Grab'n'Go Large
Some people have to have their kits secured via straps and zippers and snaps. For the less obsessed, the Grab'n'Go tote is a stylish alternative. Made of matte nylon treated with a liquid-repellent oil finish, the bag includes two side stow pockets and quick-drying two-inch-wide nylon straps, and is designed to stand upright, even when empty. Oh, and it also has a zipper closure, which folds into the bag when that feels like overkill
Photo courtesy of Filson
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Alchemy Goods Ad Bag
Alchemy Goods has upcycled fabric that once lived as a billboard advert in downtown Seattle into a simple, graphically striking tote. More suitable for a simple overnight jaunt or quick trip to the store or the beach, the bag is made of reinforced vinyl mesh, with seatbelt-and-inner-tube straps. The whole thing is machine-washable, and no two designs are alike.
Photo courtesy of Alchemy Goods
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Dakine Cyclone II Dry Pack
Designed for surfers—but able-bodied enough to handle any sort of water-centric pursuits, the Cyclone II is a fully waterproof pack, with a roll-top closure and a welded-constructed main compartment, along with welded front stash pockets secured with water-resistant PU-coated zippers. The two-way purge valve makes it easy to push any excess air out—or to inflate it and use the bag as a floatation device. Though the laptop sleeve accommodates computers up to 15-inches, it's unpadded. But it does include a surfboard-carrying system, with all the weight distributed across twin shoulder straps as well as a sternum strap.
Photo courtesy of Dakine