Luggage Archives - foXnoMad

Category: Luggage

Patagonia’s Black Hole Wheeled Duffel Is Grounded

Finding a travel bag that’s just the right size – not too big but not anxiety-inducing small isn’t easy but Patagonia’s Black Hole Wheeled Duffel comes close but doesn’t work where you might need it most.

You can watch the full review in the video above or read on.

Less Shiny But Still Glossed

The Black Hole is a long standing line by Patagonia and the wheeled version of this duffel is 70 liters and comes in several color options, black, buckhorn green, and touring red. Patagonia says this redesign of the Black Hole is less shiny then the previous versions but make no mistake, the recycled polyester rip-stop used here is noticeably glossy.

patagonia black hole wheeled duffel

The hard plastic back is covered with the same polyester but has a matte finish and contrasts nicely with the shinier elements. The Black Hole 70 liter version measures 70 centimeters by 35.5 by 30 centimeters and the use of polyester here makes it about 25 grams to a kilogram on average lighter than similarly sized luggage in this price range that uses nylon. The reduction in weight also comes with better weatherproofing since it uses TPU-film laminate.

Keep On Rolling

The wheel bolts are placed on the outside and exposed which has lead to other users reporting damaged, dented, and misaligned wheels, especially when the Black Hole gets chucked about by baggage handlers. I haven’t had any problems and it might not be a problem for you depending on how you use this bag.

patagonia wheeled duffel 70l

There’s also a lack of handles on the Black Hole. Being a duffel, you have a large snap-able grip on the front that goes over the main opening of the bag but there are no other handles on the sides, making it difficult to get a hold of at certain angles. There’s a plastic handle on the bottom of the Black Hole but a flimsy fabric grip on the top, making for an uneven hold. In situations where you’re just throwing the Black Hole into a car trunk or back of a truck, it’s not an issue. For train overheads or airport luggage carousels though you’re going to miss those handles which are common on most other bags.

Spacious Gravity

Patagonia have really maximized the interior space giving you a large 70 liters to work with. There is one big bucket with no interior dividers and there’s usable space right into the corners. Internal compression straps give you a little more room if you pack softer items like clothing that can be tightened down.

The interior space is good for gear or longer trips and it’s one of the roomier 70 liter bags I’ve come across (though from the outside it doesn’t look that big). To me, the Black Hole is a good back for hauling gear for fishing, skiing, or hiking, that’s going to go right into a car. It’s also good for family road trips but doesn’t have the best feature set for airports. Trust me, you’ll be looking for those side handles in a lot of situations so while the size of the Patagonia Black Hole 70 liter is spacious without feeling excessive, carrying all of that weight, at least on planes, will have to wait.

Rolling Your Clothes Saves Space In Luggage But At A Cost

We could all use a little more space from our suitcases and aside from packing less or getting a bigger bag how you fold your clothes can make a big difference. It turns out that rolling your shirts and pants can significantly save space, reduce wrinkles, but not if you’re short on time.

Watch The Technique

You can see in the video above on how to roll shirts (sleeves in, collars forward) and pants (split down the middle and rolled straight) results in space savings of around 44%. That is a lot of added space compared to folding and just a little more than having no method at all. It turns out the throw everything in your bag and smash it down so the zippers close is a valid method only 11% less efficient.

In between though on the scale of time, is folding. Rolling is the slowest method, free for all the fastest, and folding lands in the middle. You can see there are advantages and disadvantages to each packing method so if you’re short on time, fold or throw, but keep in mind that luggage won’t be as efficient. Rolling takes more time not just at packing but also repacking, which can add up if you’re taking a multi-city trip.

The Ridge Commuter Backpack Is Solid But Standard

Ridge the company most known for its line of slim wallets has more recently ventured into luggage. They’ve got their durable but pricey Ridge Carry On and as part of the line, the Commuter Backpack. It’s sits between this world of travel bag and office bag and depending on where you’re going, the Commuter Backpack may or may not be the best fit for you.

Size And Specs

The Commuter Backpack is on the smaller side at around 20 liters and measures 46 x 31 x 18 centimeters. It’s available in four distinct colors ranging from black, matte olive, base camp orange, and alpine blue with all of the colors bright but not overstated or tacky. As Ridge tend to do, they’ve opted for durability but the use of 900 denier ballistic nylon makes the Ridge Commuter Backpack heavier than average at 1.43 kilos (3.15 pounds).

Quality YKK zippers are used and the combined with the other materials in use, the Commuter Backpack is weatherproof. You can’t submerge this backpack (unless you want to get everything inside wet) but it will keep its contents dry in even a strong downpour.

Inside The Bag

There are two side pockets for small water bottles, a flat front pocket that goes down about a quarter of the bag length you can use a a quick grab pocket or for smaller items like chargers or cables. (Since this pocket is more exposed, I wouldn’t store anything of high value like a passport.) The main compartment is a big open pocket with a halfway zip although a three quarters or sided access would make getting your stuff in and out a bit easier. Ridge have also squeezed in a separate laptop compartment as well with a soft microfiber suede lining and big enough to hold a 16 inch laptop.

ridge commuter backpack

Inside 210 denier nylon is used and made to be  anti-microbial. As an added bonus Ridge have sneaked in a hidden Airtag pocket. Overall the Commuter Backpack has a straightforward design when it comes to the pockets – not too different than many other similarly sized backpacks – but the materials used are more durable than most.

Cost Considerations

You will pay for those premium materials though – this is not an inexpensive backpack. As Ridge says, the Commuter Backpack is built to last and given the liberal use of nylon I would tend to say they’re right. At only 20 liters though this isn’t going to be a one bag travel backpack but more of an office, school, or business trip bag.

At 20 liters it may be a bit overkill and heavy for everyday use but if you want a rugged yet stylish backpack to carry a laptop, some books, or light clothes in, the Ridge Commuter Backpack should last you for years of short trips.

Ridge’s Carry On Is Pricey Luggage Built To Last

Ridge have ventured from building metal, minimalist wallets to luggage that places a premium on durability. The Ridge Carry On (that’s the rather bland name) is a hard shell roller with a conventional design that’s been beefed up for rugged luxury.

Solid State

The Carry On comes in a nice set of choices from Royal black, Alpine navy, to Basecamp orange, personally my favorite. It’s bright – easy to find at the luggage carousel if you decide to check it in but isn’t as neon as it looks like on the Ridge website. This is more of a fuller orange that stands out but isn’t tacky looking. The polycarbonate shell is matte so there are no reflections or fingerprints to worry about and also makes the carry on more scratch resistant

All around Ridge have accented the Carry On with black bumpers around the exterior and anodized aluminum corner guards. It stands 20.5 inches (about 52 centimeters) high and is 14 inches (35.5 centimeters) wide.

ridge carry on

Ridge have used weatherproof zipper lining – these are YKK zippers one of the more durable manufactures – the lining also being black adds a nice contrast to the over all look of the ridge carry on. Weatherproofing here is IPX3 rated, which means the carry on can a spray of water but isn’t waterproof. For rainy days though even if you check this bag and it’s sitting on a tarmac, it should provide a good amount of protection for the contents.

Keep On Rolling

The Ridge Carry On moves along 4 sets of double solid plastic wheels that are roll fairly well but occasionally still do that thing a lot of 4 point rollers do where it takes a second to align the wheels when changing directions. The wheels are thick and feel sturdy making it easy to move around on relatively flat surfaces. You can also roll the carry on at an angle on steeper inclines or less even pavement.

The handle has three height settings and a unique honey comb rubber grip that’s easy to hold – this thing isn’t going to slip out of your hands any time soon. The handle is smooth and clicky when it gets set and collapses nicely back into the body of the Carry On when not needed.

ridge carry on luggage

The Ridge Carry On isn’t a revolutionary design but raises the bar on the quality of parts and materials of a typical 4 point roller. The corner guards, slightly thicker shell, and use of heavy plastics in the wheels are some of the things that set it apart from luggage with similar body shapes and design. The use of those materials though does come with two other carry-ons though: price and weight.

Calculating Costs

The Ridge Carry On costs about twice as much as some other 4 point rollers you’ll find in this size and shape. Ridge are hoping that their investment in the build will mean while you’re paying more upfront for their Carry On, it’s luggage that will last you many years. The second price of the design choices Ridge have made with the Carry On is the weight. It’s 3.4 kilograms or 7.6 pounds, which is about a pound or half a kilogram heavier than similar hard shell rollers this size. Fortunately you probably won’t have to weigh the Carry On for many flights depending on where in the world you are but the weight is something you’ll want to keep in mind for both airlines limits as well as lifting the carry on into overhead compartments.

The Carry On is spacious enough for a 2 week trip. There’s enough storage for clothes, jackets, extra shoes, and most people, the Ridge Carry On will let you travel without having to check a bag. I could see this going well with a backpack for your laptop and other electronics so if you pack wisely that could be your entire luggage set up.

The Ridge Carry On is a bit pricier than some of the competition but if you travel frequently and find that you’ve had to replace your roller more than you’d like or you want to jump into the world of freedom that is not having to check a bag, then you might want to take a look at the Ridge Carry On.

Aer Travel Pack 3 Review: Two Steps Forward But One Back

The Aer Travel Pack 2 is the backpack I’ve been using and traveling with for years, but it’s not a perfect bag. It has some design choices that make it a confused crossover between a one-travel bag and a travel-tech backpack. But the Aer Travel Pack 3, improves upon the 2, and moves it closer to a travel backpack. Still, for all it’s improvements, the Travel Pack 3 has some new drawbacks.

Sizing Them Up

On the outside the Travel Pack 3 looks a lot like the 2 but this time has a little more depth adds some more space, totaling a 35 liter capacity compared to the 33 liters of the previous version. The Aer Travel Pack 3 has gained some weight too, coming in at 1.87 kilos, about 200 grams from the previous version.

aer travel pack 3

Aer also make an X-Pac version of the travel pack 3, which basically swaps out the nylon exterior with a water proof material made from sail cloth. The X-pac version is a bit lighter, but also a bit more expensive. If you’re traveling to places where you’ll be taking this bag out in the elements often – or hanging out in Southeast Asia where there are frequent downpours, the X-Pac version might be worth considering. Otherwise the regular travel pack 3, although not waterproof, is solidly water resistant and can handle a decent amount of rain from time to time.

The weight difference between the Travel Pack 2 and the 3 is surprisingly noticeable when you pick this bag up. Though there’s only 200 grams difference the Travel Pack 3 just feels weightier and more solid.

A Look Inside

1680D Cordura is used for the exterior, a very strong fabric that’s a bit heavier than alternatives but is incredibly durable. You’ve got YKK zippers, basically considered the gold standard of zippers. They’re thick, easy to open and close, and don’t snag or get struck. Some of the zipper pulls are longer, but the ones for the smaller pockets aren’t as dangly, and a bit less in the way. But either way, like the rest of the Aer Travel Pack 3, the zippers are made to last.

aer travel pack 3

Inside the Travel Pack 3, the basic design is roomy. There’s a large main compartment for the bulk of your gear. It’s very spacious and if you travel with a lot of stuff, whether it’s camera gear, drones, or an extra jacket, the travel pack 3 will have space for it. In the main compartment you have a small zippered pocket for papers, or a passport, or any other thin items. Up top the cutout of the small upper pocket and behind that a little elastic pouch, perfect for an AirTag.

Who’s This Back For?

Now, if you’re already using the Aer Travel Pack 2 though, I would say the improvements aren’t enough to justify upgrading and you might not like some of the tradeoffs or design changes. But if you’re looking for a large backpack for travel – one that’s pretty much at the maximum size most airlines will accept for carry on, then the Aer Travel Pack 3 is a good one to look at.

How To Protect Your Backpack From Slash Attacks

Slash attacks on backpacks are brazen theft attempts where a thief uses a knife to cut through your bag and make a run for it. These are quick grab attacks where the crook doesn’t really care if you notice because by the time you react, they’re already running away at full speed.

Fortunately, there are a few tactics to avoiding slash attacks on backpacks, purses, and other handbags.

Prioritizing Prevention

There aren’t many statistics on specific ways people are pick-pocketed but anecdotally the slash and grab is most common against bags with one strap. That’s purses, belt packs.. things where the slash immediately detaches the bag from your person. With a backpack that’s a lot harder to do, so one piece of advice right off the bat is to always wear your backpack with two straps on. Also, don’t wear your backpack too loosely, so you can better feel if your bag is being tampered with.

Plan Of Action In Progress

A good backpack security strategy against slashing starts with the bag you choose. Fabrics like nylon with higher denier counts, sailcloth, and polyester tend to hold up well. The Aer Travel Pack 2, Tortuga Outbreaker Laptop Bag, GORCUK GR2 and Pacsafe LS450 offer solid protection. No matter which backpack you go with, inspect where the backpack and supportive straps meet.

Not only will strong stitching and reinforced straps be more durable over time, strap meets the bag, is a part that tends to get a lot of use, movement, and wear over time. Also, the thicker the material used for the thinnest part of the backpack straps, the more resistant they’ll be to cutting.

Layering Strategy

Many slash attacks don’t go for your entire bag but rather vulnerable exterior pockets. So, pack your most valuable items in the interior, closest to your back. A lot of backpacks have multiple pockets so don’t use outside facing ones for your wallet, phone, or other important items like a passport. With your valuables deeper inside the bag, there’s more material between the knife and your stuff.

When you’re riding in a bus, metro, or train, don’t keep your bag by your feet which gives a thief a lot of time to attack your valuables without you noticing. Always keep your bag on your lap. It’s inconvenient but a lot more difficult for someone to tamper with.

Like most pick-pocketing security, you want to deter an attack from even happening and give a thief reason to look elsewhere. Being aware of your surroundings, having your gear secure, and using a strong backpack will all help. But if you do notice someone cutting through your backpack and turn around to see someone with a knife in your face – do the smart thing and give them what they want. That’s a mugging situation, don’t be a hero and risk injury or worse, for things that can be replaced.

<script type="text/javascript"> jQuery(document).ready(function(){ jQuery(".post-meta").find('a:first-child').each(function () { var obj = jQuery(this); obj.removeAttr("href"); }); }); </script>

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

YouTube Twitter Instagram Facebook

Image Map

Image Map