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Luggage Archives - foXnoMad

Category: Luggage

GORUCK GR2 34L vs. 40L: Choosing The Right Size For You

Extremely durable, GORUCK’s GR2 series backpacks are appealing choices if you’re looking for a medium-sized travel bag with a tough aesthetic and smart internal organization. The GR2 are popular for many reasons but when deciding to buy one, trying to pick between the 34 liter (L) or the 40L can be tricky.

GORUCK’s website recommends if you’re 5’8” (172 centimeters) or shorter, go with the 34L. Taller people, go with the larger bag. Easy advice to follow for those who are decently away from that common average height. To see what a GR2 34L and 40L look like on someone about 5’8”, you can watch my video above or read on.

The Differences Simplified

Looking at the specs, the GR2 40L is only two inches taller than the 34L, with all the other dimensions the same. The 40L does weigh more though, a noticeable half pound (~250 grams) in the hand. In both cases, neither of these bags look huge because of the black color and smart use of the space. The GR2 doesn’t bulge at the bottom or sides like many bags this size, even if it’s stuffed to capacity.

goruck gr2 34l vs 40l

Let’s begin there. If you already have a larger (30 liter or more) backpack filled to capacity – particularly with electronics – go with the GR2 40L. I say this because even if you’re a lot shorter than 172cm, if you’re maxing out a 30-33 liter bag (like the Aer Travel Pack 2) already, you may as well get the bump up in space. You should probably carry less since one thing most travelers should avoid is a backpack that touches the top of your butt cheeks when you walk.

Cheeky Measurement

Backpacks that touch the top (or lower) of your butt cheeks when walking cause the bag to move with every step. That constant motion causes a continual shift in weight that becomes very uncomfortable quickly, particularly as the load increases. For many people 5’8”, the 40L won’t touch the top of your butt, especially when it is full since the bag tends to “lift” away from your lower back when fully packed. It’s fairly close though, so your individual torso length will make all the difference here.

  • Shirts – Another reason not to get the 40L if it’s going to move across your back with every step – the 1000 Denier nylon used on the GR2 is strong, but also hard on clothing. You’ll go through a lot of shirts if you get a GORUCK GR2 that’s too big.

goruck gr2

15-Inch Laptops

One thing to be aware of is the 2-inch (5 cm) shorter 34L makes it difficult to get a larger laptop in and out of the laptop pocket when the rest of the bag is full. I use an Incase sleeve to protect my laptop when traveling but even without that, it’s a very tight fit requiring some gentle jamming into the GR2. Smashing your laptop in and out of this pocket can’t be good for your expensive Macbook Pro, for example. Personally, the smaller laptop pocket was a deal-breaker on the GR2 34L I was maxing in the front compartments. Some electronics like mirrorless cameras do well with compression, laptops do not.

Still Right In The Middle?

Ultimately, if you’re 5’8”, the 40L may not be too big on you. It’s really the length that’s in question here – at 22 inches (~59 cm) long it’s a close call. I understand GORUCK leaving in some leeway here and the absolute height cutoff is probably closer to 5’7” or 6 (168-170 cm). I’d suggest if you’re around 5’8”, trying to pack or reorganize a bit because the 34L can practically hold everything a 40L can. (I was able to fit all my electronic gear, albeit tightly.) If you’re shorter than 5’7” then the added space of the 40L won’t be worth the discomfort during travel.

In case you still can’t decide, order both bags and try them on (fully loaded) to see how they fit. GORUCK has a generous return 30-day return policy if you decide to return one or both back. Some (much less expensive) backpacks you may also want to look at are The North Face Recon, Thule Subterra 34L, and Swissgear 1900 which are shorter bags but deeper, allowing for larger capacities on smaller frames.

Timbuk2 Copilot Review And Discount Trick

Travelers looking for a new suitcase should take a close look at the thoughtfully designed and thoroughly durable Timbuk2 Copilot series that comes with a small discount trick.

Stop Here

Depending on your travel budget, a Timbuk2 bag might not be for you. People who take less than one or two trips a year probably won’t see (for a long time anyway) the immediate benefit of such a well-built bag. Particularly though for air travelers who check-in their luggage more than 6 or 7 times annually, the Copilot series has a lot of advantages worth its price tag.

timbuk2 copilot

What’s A Timbuk2 Copilot

Timbuk2 is a San Fransisco based brand that’s somewhat hipster blended with business sleek. Their Copilot series comes in 4 different sizes: 42, 52, 80, and 108 liters. You can review all the dimensions here but basically:

The exterior of the Copilot luggage is made of Cordura nylon (over 1000 Denier if you’re wondering) which is the standard for tough as hell bags. Internally, Timbuk2 use a variety of nylon, polyester, and other fabrics for a combination of strong but light fabric. And lightweight they are – even the gigantic 108 Copilot is just 4.6 kilos (10lbs) – compared to most bags that size pushing well over 6.5 kg (15 lbs).

timbuk2 copilot

I think it’s also worth mentioning that Timbuk2 don’t use materials that are toxic in any way, plus have an excellent recycling program for older bags. (They give you 20% back as well on your next purchase after you send the old bag back, which is a nice touch to the environmental benefits.)

Design That Makes Sense

Too often bag manufacturers try to get fancy, adding superfluous pockets that only take up space. Smart designers create bags, like the Copilot, that give users more flexibility to organize on their own. The Copilots (they’re all designed the same just at different sizes) open up clam shell style. On the outer pocket there’s quick access to the front compartment.

timbuk2 copilot 80l

Both interior sides of the “shell” have a mesh divider you can choose to use or not. All of the bags are spacious since they don’t have pockets in the way to steal space – but the clam shell style doesn’t work well with particularly bulky items. It’s perfect for clothes but if you’re lugging around boxy gifts, or large stuff that doesn’t compress, the Copilot can be tricky to pack.

Additional nice touches include skateboard wheels resulting in a very smooth roll without any pullback on your arms. Those wheels are also strong enough for skateboards plus they can be found all over the world if needed. The handle is also one of the smoothest I’ve used on roller luggage.

Save Some Money On A Timbuk2

Overall, there’s a lot to like about the Copilot series. For most of you interested in this bag, it’s a matter of finding the right size. Minimalists will appreciate the 42 and 52L varieties, most travelers who don’t mind a bigger bag will be happy with the 80L. Unless you’re a family who wants to use a single suitcase, think very carefully before deciding on the 108L. In any event you can return most bags with a minor (less than $10) processing fee.

Finally, to sweeten the deal for yourself, go through the Timbuk2 checkout process. Add the bag you want to the cart, fill in your details (especially email), then submit to get to the payment page. At this point, don’t submit your payment and just wait 24 hours. Typically Timbuk2 will send a 10-15% discount to your inbox to encourage you to complete the purchase. There’s also a popup on their site often but the email discount might be a bit more enticing so it’s best to wait and see. Good luck!

Nayo Smart’s Almighty Is A Serious Backpack For Less Than $100

Until fairly recently the gap between premium backpacks and budget options was a big one. Cheaper backpacks often being made with poor quality or simply too small to be practical for a serious traveler. Over the past two years the budget backpack market has been spitting out a lot of knockoffs with few being serious competition against high-end hipster delights.

Nayo Smart’s Almighty backpack is not only a very good option for a large carry-on backpack under $100, it might be a sign of an important shift in travel luggage. You can watch my full review in the video above or read on.

nayo smart almighty review

Well Designed And Executed

Two sides of failure for most ultra-budget backpacks – they’re either poorly designed, made poorly, and sadly, usually both. Nayo Smart, a Chinese company, has in the Almighty been able to cut costs effectively as well as incorporate some of the smartest features typically found on more expensive bags.

nayo smart backpack

Starting with the material, the Almighty uses treated polyester instead of the more common nylon of over-$200 bags. That’s not to say polyester is a poor choice of material which comes with its own advantages. Almighty’s polyester is solidly waterproof, much more so than standard nylon. Not quite as scratch or tear resistant, if you’re going to go with a second choice in backpack material over strong nylon, polyester is the way to go.

Pleasing Pockets

What’s really appealing of the Nayo Smart Almighty is it’s not a copy of other backpacks but rather, one that brings in a variety of familiar features and makes the bag their own. At initial glance the Almighty looks like a lot of other backpacks you may be shopping around for. When you take a closer look though you notice the Almighty has its own take on carry-on luggage, particularly on the inside.

nayo smart almighty

There are two versions of the Almighty – a normal (25 liter) and a large (32L) Based on the meshing on the interior, the Almighty seems designed for two types of traveler as well. The first being someone who’s got a regular amount of gadgets with them; laptop, tablet, the usual. The small Almighty then adds a decent amount of space in the front pocket for other stuff like a sweater, large headphones, charging bricks, and other items you tend not to think about until you need the space.

Almighty’s large accommodates travelers with a lot of bulky electronics like a drone, cameras, or simply want to be able to pack a few days clothing to go carry-on only.

Blending Worlds

There aren’t enough luggage makers that consider useful organizational pockets with open space compartments for bulkier items. For a long time the backpack industry treated electronics bags separately from day or hiking bags, but the demand for versatile luggage is finally getting a response in the form of choices.

Much like the newest gadgets, after a few iterations the competition becomes more varied and less expensive over time. The Nayo Smart is one of what might be a new trend for travel bags, which is good news for travelers. In the meantime if you’re looking for a large-capacity carry-on bag selling for under-$100, the Almighty may be the bag for you.

Gear Travel Bloggers Carry Episode 2: Derek Baron’s Minimalist Tech Setup

It’s fair to say I travel with a fairly large tech setup with things like a drone and multiple hard drives which is even more evident when comparing it to the minimalist setup Derek Baron has. Derek, who writes Wandering Earl, has been traveling for 19 years and manages his tour company Wandering Earl Tours from a mobile office that fits entirely into his Timbuk2 Command Messenger Bag.

You can see all the gear Derek travels with in the video above: Episode 2 of Gear Travel Bloggers Carry. His setup is much less photography oriented than Jessie Festa’s gear bag and includes some unorthodox items that may give you a few packing ideas, particularly useful if you’re a messy eater.

Targus’ CityLite Pro Backpack Is A Great Bag With One Big Flaw

The first time you see the Targus CityLite Pro it is sleek, spacious, and thoughtfully pocketed in a way frequent travelers can admire. Clearly durable with thick nylon, sturdy zippers, the CityLite Pro is an enticing backpack but there’s one side of it that might put many people off – the side without a zipper. For all of wise design choices made with the CityLite Pro, I had trouble getting over the front zipper. You can see the complaint I had in my video above and let me know if that would annoy you too.

The Inateck Backpack Is An Aer Knockoff $200 Cheaper And Pretty Good Too

Typically when you’ve got a knockoff – ok, it’s technically not one – but if you look at the Inateck 30L Backpack and compare it to the Aer Travel Pack 2, you get the idea. As I was saying, knockoffs in electronics can often be close to the quality for the price of the brand version. When it comes to physical products like bags however, the drop-off is generally more pronounced. Yes, there are big savings but you sacrifice so much in quality over time, it ends up being more practical to go brand in the long run.

The Inateck 30L bag however, although it’s not as good as the Aer Travel Pack 2, might still have enough to consider, particularly if you want to save $200. You can watch my full review in the video above or read on.

Gentle Enough

For travelers who don’t demand a lot from their baggage, Inateck’s good but otherwise not outstanding nylon stitching should provide a decent lifetime of use. A little less nylon means the Inateck is lighter too, around 1.5 kilos (3.3 pounds) compared to the 1.7kg (3.7lbs) of the Aer Travel Pack 2. Though the Inateck tends to flop over when it’s not full mainly due to the internal padding being ever so slightly thinner.

inateck 30l backpack

Good Design Cues

Ripping off the design of the Travel Pack 2 (here’s my full review of that bag) and improving on it somewhat is something Inateck has pulled off well. The annoying shoe compartment of the Aer is collapsible in the Inateck, compression straps a bit more manageable, though it’s missing the very handy quick grab pocket that works great for passports.

Unpolished But $200?

Inateck’s 30L backpack is not one I’d trust for a frequent traveler, particularly if you’re going to be throwing this bag around a lot in less than ideal trains, taxis, or dinghy boats. Inteck has cut costs, a lot of them, meaning the zippers are hardly weather resistant, fabric you don’t want to snag, and straps that aren’t as comfortable as they could be. Still, for the different of $200, unless you’re looking for a premium backpack in the Aer Travel Pack 2, the Inateck may do just fine.

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About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutHi, I'm Anil. foXnoMad is where I combine travel and tech to help you travel smarter. I'm on a journey to every country in the world and you're invited to join the adventure! Read More


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