Category: Luggage

The Aer Travel Pack 2 Is Nearly Tech Backpack Perfection

Backpacks, especially the larger kind, tend to be made either for cloths or computers but rarely both. There are plenty of smaller backpacks like the Swissgear Scansmart 1900 (my full review) that have plenty of pockets but good luck trying to fit an extra sweater in there. (Planes are COLD and airplane blankets never washed.)

Aer’s Travel Pack 2 though is very close to perfection for digital nomads who carry an office on their back and has become the main carry-on bag I use. You can watch my full review in the video above or read on for some brief highlights.

Right Size

Versatile backpacks have a large, empty front pocket. Electronics bags similar to Dell’s Premier (full review here) try to guess the most common slots and pockets you’ll use. For travelers with a lot of electronics though, cameras, drones, and other bulky items are inefficiently stored unless you can do the organizing.

aer travel pack 2

The Travel Pack 2 has a good combination of large pocket with organization… almost. First, the main compartment is spacious at 34L but front-loading unlike the Thule Subterra’s open-top design. It’s nearly an ideal big compartment, except Aer has put in a shoe compartment common to other bags this size.

  • Dear Aer, look, this is clearly a tech bag, the shoe compartment isn’t needed and the pocket eats into space many need for camera lenses, microphones, that sort of thing. We can still put shoes in a bag and jam them into the Travel Pack 2 if needed.
  • And as Mr. Robot as those compression straps look (I’ll admit they come in handy on occasion) they make opening the main compartment cumbersome. Maybe placing them at an angle would solve this problem.

Otherwise, the build quality, intuitive front organizational pocket, and slim design make this a very enticing bag for travelers with a DSLR or drone, or some combination or large electronics. Plus those who want to be able to pack an extra shirt or two as well. Brrr.

A Roundup Of The Most Intriguing Travel Tech From CES 2019

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is over 3.2 million square feet (297,200 sq. meters) of the most current, upcoming, and concept technology, brands and startups alike want to share with the world. There were a lot of travel products at CES 2019 and starting in the first part of this video series, you can see the emphasis on wearables and enhancing experiences on the road.

Check out the video above for the second part of my visit to CES or read on for the most useful inventions that might help you travel smarter and easier in the near future.

Headphones

The audio industry seems to have two takes on headphones pitting portability against quality. Most headphones under $100 don’t have premium audio quality (the kind that’s hard to resist once you’ve heard it) so to keep costs down, companies like ToughTested are innovating with physical designs. The Bluetooth ProComm Flex 2 have a flexible neckband which is meant to withstand regular smashing into small backpack pockets.

toughtested procomm flex 2

On the other end of the audio spectrum, a newcomer to headphones is the audio development company Jabra. They debuted the Jabra Elite 85h at CES combining their audio expertise with artificial intelligence. Without a doubt the Jabra 85h have the best noise-cancelling of any headphone I’ve worn (including the Bose 20i). For air travelers, even without music playing, the 85h’s noise-cancelling will turn a plane in flight into a silent room if you want it to be. Using the AI, the Jabra 85h automatically tune the headphones to allow some sound in when it might be important, for example when there’s a gate announcement or at a crosswalk.

Underwater Drones

The majority of travelers aren’t using flying drones yet but the underwater drone category might quickly surpass them in popularity. One big disadvantage of underwater drones is that radio waves move very poorly in water. Navatics MITO gets around the problem with a 130 foot (40 meter) tether attached to a floating buoy.

navatics mito

Alternatively, the PowerDolphin stays on the surface of the water while the RoboFish has two modes, an on-surface mode controlled through a phone app plus an sonic remote you place into the water to direct this cute drone.

Capturing Your Vacation Virtually

Nobody likes sitting through your vacation photos (says the guy who blogs for a living) but the Vuze XR might change that. Pocket-sized, the Vuze XR captures 180 or 360 degree footage you can live stream to Facebook or YouTube but even better, use to create your own virtual reality experience of a trip. Using the VR myself at CES to see what the Vuze XR was capable of, I was impressed how well it could recreate a trip of say, your day wandering around the streets of Istanbul.

vuze xr

With Wheels

Moving on to the technology that actually moves you, BMW showed me their electric iNext car, with embedded touch sensors in the seats, smart lights that follow what you’re looking at, and yes, it drives itself. (The car in some form is scheduled for release in 2021.)

Gyrolift showed off a Segway-inspired wheelchair that allows travelers with disabilities to move over sand, dirt, city terrains and generally get around much easier, as well as adjust their height easily when needed. (I could see this being useful, among other things, to better read signs often posted at standing eye-level.)

modobag

  • Most Fun Product – The Modobag. Although I’m not completely convinced as to how practical it is, riding this motorized suitcase without a smile is impossible. Also, I’ve got a $300-off coupon code for you CES2019 good through March this year.

Travel Vlogging

Some other products that stood out were the Shure MV88+, the best microphone this size I’ve tested and one that can double as a voice-over as well as on-the-go microphone for a larger camera or smartphone. Speaking of smartphones, Huawei unveiled their Honor View 20, with it’s AI ultra-clarity feature best seen in the video above, that could help you read far away signs.

There are still a lot of other gadgets I haven’t covered year, from airbag vests and air-purifying masks for cyclists, space tourism opportunities, and flying vehicles. One thing is clear though, the trend is for inexpensive electronics to become more creative as premium products refine at the highest levels, with a shrinking market in between.

Review Of The Dell Premier Backpack: Built For Business Travelers

I once said the Dell Premier Backpack might be the best electronics backpack for travelers and having taken another look at it again, would say the same – with a caveat. Finding the perfect backpack is difficult because it’s a very subjective measure and rather than trying to make something for everyone, Dell focused on the business traveler. In doing so, Dell very nearly created a perfect, generalized electronics backpack – but ended up with a very good bag for a particular type of travel. Frequent business travelers who need more storage for gadgets than other generalized travel gear like extra clothing should take a close look at the Dell Premier Backpack. My full review in the video here.

The Osprey Sojourn 60L Is Nearly Everything Right With Luggage

Most luggage seems like it’s better designed to look good in a storefront than actually be used for traveling. Considering how bags are handled by airline staff, generally overstuffed, and often too heavy to avoid fees, you would hope someone would make a bag that’s light and durable – not to mention sleek and efficient.

The Osprey Sojourn 60L is a piece of luggage that, if you’ll let me be cliche for a moment, actually seems like it was designed by travelers, for other travelers. As cheesy as that sounds, it’s how I feel about the Sojourn 60L. You can watch my entire review of the Sojourn 60L luggage in the video above (after 8 years of wear and tear) or read on to find out why I think it’s so great.

To Roll Or Carry

There are two reasons I initially considered the Sojourn 60L. The first is the Sojourn 60L is wheeled luggage that can be used as a backpack; the second reason is because it’s just at the limit of what most airlines consider carry-on size. As it turns out, using wheel luggage is a lot more efficient when you carry two bags (no double-turtle shell) and the Sojourn 60L looks too big for airline staff except on the largest of planes.

sojourn 60L

In other words, I’ve hardly ever used the Sojourn 60L as a backpack and don’t usually bother entering a debate with airline staff by not attempting to bring it as carry-on. Despite not really meeting my two first expectations, my experience with the Sojourn 60L has given me a new checklist for every bag after.

Selective Size

Like a gas, you’ll end up filling most of the empty volume within a given bag, no matter how large it is. A bag that’s too small will increase pressure on the person packing, terrified they won’t pack enough. Scale the bag up to 90 liters and now you’ve got pressure on your arms, back, mind, and baggage fees. 60 liters seems to be a size that’s spacious but conservative enough to force yourself to pack wisely.

sojourn 60l osprey

Two internal compression straps can be used to secure and tighten your packed clothes, which not only keeps the Sojourn physically smaller, but reduces stress on the seams. There are two external straps as well, which also redirect a lot of the pulling that ends up destroying most luggage over time.

8 Years And Going

All of those design efforts, the compression straps, exterior stitching, and selectively used hard plastic are probably what’s made the Sojourn 60L so durable. I’ve been using the Sojourn 60L in the video for 8 years and it’s in great shape. I don’t plan on replacing it any time soon and considering I travel several times per month, I suspect it might last much longer for most people.

Knowing all of this now, the Sojourn 60L has certainly earned its price. Osprey sells the Sojourn 60L for around $250, which isn’t inexpensive but given its durability, is a good investment for frequent travelers. On top of that (literally) the Osprey Daylite day pack [full review here] attaches to the Sojourn; given how well that’s held up after a year, it’ll probably last forever too.

SwissGear Scansmart 1900 Backpack Review: Lots Of Pockets For Little Gadgets

The SwissGear Scansmart 1900 is a durable backpack with a lot of benefits for most travelers that leads to one big drawback for everyone else. One of the most popular travel backpacks, especially for people who carry a lot of electronics, the Scansmart 1900 has pockets for just about everything.

Plentiful pockets is not surprising for a brand associated with functionality, but the Scansmart’s dividers rob it of a large main storage compartment, meaning it’s a great backpack if you only use 75% of it.

Durable Unlike Most Others

The SwissGear line of backpacks are designed to last – I used the Synergy for over 10 years – and have been using the 1900 as my primary electronics backpack for the past 18 months or so. (I switched because I needed a larger bag to carry this stuff.) The 1900 has held up very well over the extreme amount of travel I’ve done, though there are small indications of imperfection I never noticed on the Synergy.

swissgear scansmart 1900

A slightly loose plastic logo on the handle and a few errant strings in the stitching are things I wouldn’t even mention for other backpacks but SwissGear have set their own bar very high. Still, the Scansmart will last, despite my constant over-stuffing of this bag, the seams have held strong and survived where many other backpacks I’ve reviewed wouldn’t.

Divided On Pockets

Originally I moved to the Scansmart 1900 when I picked up a Mavic Pro drone. I organized the drone, as well as my Panasonic Lumix G85, in two SwissGear toiletry kits. They fit perfectly into the front main compartment of the 1900 but two additional dividers in that compartment steal space if they’re not used. In other words, a notebook, cable organizer, and some other small items would fit well; it’s when you stuff the main compartment those dividers force the bag into an awkward, uncomfortable shape. Sure, the Scansmart 1900 can handle it, though your back might be slightly sore after a long journey.

swissgear scansmart 1900

Then, there’s the biggest complaint I have about the 1900: the thick dividers between the laptop compartment, tablet compartment, and main compartments. Those dividers take up space, again, which is fine if you’re not going to really fill the main compartment. Using the laptop and tablet compartments push those bulky dividers forward into the main compartment and if you try to fill it up too much your backpack will look like a water balloon ready to burst.

The Size Of Your Stuff

Alternatively, the North Face Recon I’ve previously reviewed, has roughly the same internal capacity though allocates much more space to the main compartment. It’s got one roomy laptop pocket in the main compartment without cutting it up into smaller sections. For travelers with a lot of small items, the Scansmart 1900 might be a better backpack, because it’s designed not to be filled anywhere near capacity.

The Recon on the other hand, has a large main compartment that can easily fit a DSLR, small drone, or otherwise be jammed with clothes when you don’t feel like packing properly. The Scansmart 1900 is a large backpack designed for small things, best compared to the Dell Premier backpack, if you’re not planning on pushing your bags limits.

The Cocoon Grid-It Is Cable Management For Your Backpack

Traveling with a lot of electronics means traveling with a lot of cables. Charging cords are especially difficult to manage inside a backpack and the Cocoon Grid-It is one of the few organizers that’s portable enough to be useful for travelers. The Grid-It isn’t for every backpack but for those it works for, can make frequent trips though airport security much simpler.

You can watch my full review of the Cocoon Grid-It in the video above or read on.

Grid-It Basics

The Grid-It comes in several sizes, though I found the most effective one to be the 10.5 x 7.5 inch (26.6 x 19 cm) version. That’s because the smaller the Grid-It is horizontally, the more space it takes up vertically. More on that in a bit, but first, how the Cocoon Grid-It works.

cocoon grid it

Basically the Grid-It is a flat panel with 12 elastic strips across, 6 down on one side, and two on the back. The most effective way to use the Grid-It is to coil a cable and place it under one of the bands. Longer or thicker cables should go under the longest bands and it’s important to spread out the cables as much as possible. Otherwise, you’ll only accentuate the Grid-Its main drawback.

Advantages

Once you’ve got your cables all under the gentle, but firm grip of the Grid-It, taking all of your cords in and out of your backpack is a breeze. Being able to take all of your cables out at once, organized, makes going through airport security much, much faster than pulling out of a clump of cords. Plus you won’t have to worry about losing everything else that tends to get tangled up in cord clumps as you yank it out of your bag.

It’s also worth noting it makes the job of airport security easier too and the clear view of all your cables seems to put you on their good side. Always a good thing for a frequent traveler who wants to get to the lounge or gate as quickly as possible.

Organization Costs Space

I mentioned above, the Grid-It has one major drawback: the amount of usable space it takes up inside a backpack. Although it’s excellent at organizing cables, it takes up a lot of usable backpack space to do so. The more cables you have, the larger its horizontal profile – creating a bump that can be awkward to fit inside of a tight backpack. Coiled cables also have a lot of space in them which isn’t practical to fill up.

cocoon grid-it

Sure, you can stuff as much of your other gear inside the cable coils as possible, but chances are the Grid-It is going to occupy a lot of empty space. For travelers whose backpacks are less than 80% full, the Grid-It can provide much needed cable organization. If your backpack is in need of a diet, already stuffed, the Grid-It is probably going to take up too much additional space to be useful.

Clumps of cables are ugly but more easily smashed compressed inside of a bag. Chances are if you don’t have space for a Grid-It, you need to start with some basic backpack organization first.

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About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutI'm the blogger and computer security engineer who writes foXnoMad while on a journey to visit every country in the world. I'll show you the tips, tricks, and tech you can use to travel smarter. Read More


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