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GORUCK GR2 Buyer’s Guide

The GORUCK GR2 is a serious backpack with a price to match and given these bags last forever, deciding on one can be a big decision. Although there’s little variation between its two versions, a GR2 isn’t the ideal travel bag for everyone. Here’s what’s so special about the GR2 and how to tell if it’s the right backpack for you.

GR2 Toughness

The GR2 is made by GORUCK, founded by an American Green Beret who wanted to create a consumer backpack that’s military tough. Made with 1000D CORDURA Nylon the laptop compartment is bombproof and the GR2 can carry over 400 pounds (181 kilos) – whether you can though is another story.

goruck gr2

All of this durability through comes with a cost in weight of 4.75lbs (2.15kg); in other words 20% the average carry-on weight allowance for most international flights. Ideally, the GR2 is a backpack you load with mostly clothing (rather than heavier electronics) and use more for ground travel. You can watch my full review of the GR2 in the video here.

Solid Conditions

Travelers who spend  a lot of time outdoors, in the wilderness or exposed to the elements will enjoy never having to worry about the GR2. It’s the rare type of backpack you don’t have to worry about staining, nicking, or tearing at the seams. GORUCK also provides a lifetime guarantee with the GR2, practically daring you to damage this bag with normal use. And normal for this bag can mean carrying a hundred kilos through mud in a downpour.

You can see in my Road Tested! durability test video above after 6 months, the GR2 shows no signs of wear or tear.

Choosing The Size

The GR2 comes in one design at two different sizes: a 34 liter and 40 liter. Since there’s no standard way of measuring backpacks with liter sizes, GORUCK recommends anyone taller than 5″8′ (172cm) to go with the 40L. Shorter than that? 34L. Right at that height? I’d recommend ordering both bags, packing them, and trying to to get a good feel. GORUCK has a liberal 30 day return policy you can use for this very purpose.

To see what both bags looks like in a side-by-side comparison, watch the video here.

GR2 For You?

The GR2 is in a small group that can be considered one of the best one bag travel backpacks. They’re not for everyone, even though the GR2’s ultra-durability is tempting, for frequent air travelers a lighter alternative like the Travel Pack 2 a better match.

Fortunately, you can order most high-end bags like to GR2 to size and handle within the return window to make an informed choice.

Turkish Airlines Resumes Flights: What To Know Before You Book

Turkish Airlines recently resumed many of their flights in limited capacity, giving you some options for air travel after COVID-19 lock downs but there are a few things to know before booking. You should watch the video above for the full situation but here’s a recap below.

Flights On, Flights Off

Although Turkish Airlines is offering flights to many destinations, they’re still often canceling them as well. Covid-19 hasn’t magically disappeared and Turkish Airlines has yet to refund most of its customers for cancellations made as far back as 4 months ago. Travelers are entitled to a refund in the case of cancellations by Turkish Airlines (according to their Passenger Rights) but changed their policies recently to make refunds more difficult to obtain.

You can change canceled flights without a fee through December 31, 2021 but getting your money back will be a lot more complicated. Currently only voucher refunds or miles are options.

Situation In Flux

Many of the current destinations Turkish Airlines is flying are where some of the highest cases of coronavirus are being reported. A lack of demand or reimposed travel restrictions means the chance for a canceled flight is not insignificant so if you’re worried you won’t be able to get your money back, look at your options carefully.

For a lot of travelers, that’s going to mean looking at other airlines with a better record of refunds and good customer service or like many, holding off on air travel for the time being. To further protect your flexibility with refunds if you are set on flying and have the pointsbooking with your partner program miles makes it easier to get your miles back and book with another option when you like.

Choosing A One Bag Travel Backpack

The more you travel the less you want to pack, especially for shorter trips. Checking luggage can add 30-60 minutes to your airport experience, not to mention baggage fees, there are many other advantages to ditching checked bags altogether. As more people opt for carry-on only, an entire class of one bag travel backpacks has developed. Choosing the right one can be daunting so these are 3 of the best to start your search with.

1. Aer Travel Pack 2

Most one bag travel bags tend to either lean toward carrying clothing or carrying tech. Most of us don’t travel without both as the Aer Travel Pack 2‘s designers have clearly understood. The 34-liter Travel Pack 2 [full review here] has a dedicated shoe compartment in addition to a flat front organizational pocket for electronics. There are compromises made on both sides, tech and clothing, but the Aer Travel Pack 2 will satisfy a large group of people looking for a one bag travel backpack for shorter, city trips.

2. GORUCK GR2

There are two versions of the GR2: a 34L and 40L. The two versions of the GR2 are identical but the 40L is for taller travelers 5’8” / 172 centimeters according to GORUCK. These backpacks are tough – literally with a bombproof laptop compartment – created by an American Green Beret. The 1000D Cordura nylon will last a lifetime but comes with weight; the GR2 is a heavy backpack. Clothing should keep the GR2 under most international airlines’ baggage weight limits however if you’re going to load it up a camera lens, laptop plus other tech, you’ll feel it on your back. For travelers who go hiking or spend a lot of time exploring outdoors however, the GR2 rucksack is good option.

3. Tortuga Setout

Still on the higher-end of one bag travel backpacks, there’s a noticeable drop in the quality of the Tortuga Setout compared to the other two bags listed above. The 900D polyester fabric feels a bit flimsy (though is lighter than nylon) but overall the design is ideal if you want control over how you pack. There is a smaller organizational pocket but really, the Setout is one big main compartment (with a 35 and 45L option). Pockets in a backpack often mean the designer is leading you toward a packing strategy whereas in a bag like the Setout, it’s all up to you. Keep in mind for the Setout especially, packing cubes are probably an accessory you’ll want to add to your gear.

Only The Beginning

Shopping for backpacks can be daunting, fortunately most reputable companies (including all those listed above) have 30 day money back return policies. It’s worth trying out several bags 4-8 weeks before a trip, packing them as you would for your next adventure to see how they fit, feel, and meet your particular travel needs.

To help narrow your search even further, keep in mind the best one bag travel backpacks tend to be 30-40L and start in price at around $200. Some like the McKinnon Camera Pack are well over that price but a bag that protects all of your gear is an investment not worth skimping on.

Cleer ALLY PLUS Provide Budget ANC Earbuds For Travelers

For a long time active noise canceling (ANC) was a feature limited to bulky, expensive headphones. For travelers, the trade off has been a difficult one but ANC, when done right, is a technology that’s hard to travel without once you’ve used it. Cleer’s ALLY PLUS are a pair of ANC earbuds which have recently dropped in price and come with respectable ANC as well.

You can watch my full review in the video here.

Why ANC?

Most headphones have some sort of noise isolation – a pretty broad term meaning they block outside sounds so you can hear your music or podcast better. Noise isolation is somewhat inherent in headphones; they are, after all, sitting in or over your ears while simultaneously producing sound directly into them.

ANC uses reverse sound waves (analyzed by the microphones in the earbuds) to silence the outside world. When done effectively, it can make the cafe or airplane you’re flying in become a silent room. The ALLY PLUS aren’t as effective as the Bose QuietComfort or Jabra Elite 85h with its ANC. The outside world isn’t completely shut off but its the best ANC under $200 in an earbud I’ve tried. The battery life is decent, package small, and sound quality good enough to be a solid budget ANC option for many travelers.

DJI Osmo Action 2020 Review: Getting Better With Age

It’s rare that a tech product improves with time but since its release last year, DJI’s Osmo Action has gone from a cheeky upstart to a real contender for best action camera. Through a series of firmware updates DJI has corrected a lot of the initial problems present when the Osmo Action was first released still, those patches might not be for everyone.

To find out how good the DJI Osmo Action is in 2020 you can watch the video above or read on.

Breaking Ground

The most noticeable feature of the DJI Osmo Action is its front facing screen. The first 4K action camera to have a screen on the front as well as back, this valuable hardware feature had some issues. Notably lag and screen timeouts which, among other defects, have been fixed through firmware updates.

A front facing screen is invaluable in many situations though most obviously for frequent vloggers. Making sure you’re in frame with action cameras, although they typically have wide fields of view, is cumbersome without a way to see for yourself. Speaking of field of view, the Osmo Action lens can capture 145 degrees – not quite as wide as others but not as fish-eye looking either. Depending on your preference this can be a pro or con but I would say if you do a lot of helmet mounted filming (e.g. skiing, motorcycle) wider would be preferable.

Low Light Is RockSteady

Not surprisingly for a company that makes gimbals the Osmo Action’s RockSteady stabilization feature is impressive. RockSteady keeps your video looking smooth even if you’re bouncing down a mountain on skis. Additionally, the Osmo Action’s low light performance is impressive for an action camera; allowing you to see the darker parts of an image by not going overboard on contrast.

dji osmo action

Indoors are generally not good shooting conditions for the small lenses of action cameras but the Osmo Action does better than most. Colors are also represented vibrantly without over-saturating and skin tones look excellent. The microphone is decent, enhanced with a firmware update, or can be enhanced with hardware.

Lots In The First Gen

The Osmo Action is a look at the future of action cams with its front facing screen, solid stabilization, and image quality aiming to be a good camera that doesn’t necessarily have the word ‘action’ before it. Clearly a work in progress as the first action camera by DJI, the Osmo Action is improves and adds features with each software update every 1-2 months.

Still, users who don’t want to bother with firmware updates you might be better off looking at a fully baked competitor. You won’t get the latest cutting edge features but won’t have to deal with updating software. For travelers who want a front facing screen, good low light quality, plus a more realistic field of view the Osmo Action is really the top choice – but only if you remember to update its firmware on a very regular basis.

Is The McKinnon Camera Pack 35L Backpack Worth The Price?

The McKinnon Camera Pack 35L is a highly anticipated backpack for its features but controversial due to its price. A custom-designed collaboration between vlogger Peter McKinnon and NOMATIC, the Camera Pack aims to solve many problems with one-bag travel… for $599.

Many of you might expect that price puts the McKinnon Camera Pack 35L as a purely luxury item but for many travelers, certain functionality will justify the cost. You can watch the video above to see more or read on.

Unpacking The Price

Before many of us carried full offices on our backs, the primary piece of luggage we paid for was the check-in kind. Over the past 15 years though, laptops, cameras, drones, and other expensive items (with batteries that aren’t allowed to be checked) have made our carry-on more essential.

Interior designing a suitcase or backpack that will primarily hold clothing isn’t very intricate and the reason by hiking backpacks aren’t ideal for most travelers. Clothing requires a large empty space since the contents can get jostled around and won’t be access until you arrive at your destination. Exterior durability on a bag like the Timbuk2 Copilot is where a lot of the cost goes.

mckinnon camera pack

Modern backpacks, often filled with over a thousand of dollars of equipment have a much more difficult task. They need to efficiently keep interior contents in place, allow for easy frequent access, plus have a rugged exterior that’s light. Oh, and be carried on your back comfortably at the same time. Missing those marks is why some backpacks fail.

McKinnon’s Answer

For those of us who travel with a lot of electronic or photographic equipment, a carry-on is vital gear meaning we often have to check-in a bag for less important stuff like underwear. For longer or international trips, the carry and check-in combo isn’t too much of a encumbrance however on a weekend or day trip even, using a single bag is ideal.

For those of you who only travel with a laptop, then it’s likely you already have enough space in your backpack for a weekend’s worth of clothes. Now add in a DSLR like the G85, maybe some lenses or a drone and forget about it. The McKinnon Camera Pack 35L is the solution to this issue Peter was facing.

Segmented Spaciousness

The McKinnon Camera Pack 35L itself isn’t $599 – that’s the cost with all the accessories specifically designed for this bag. Without those accessories, the backpack is $399, on par with something like a GORUCK GR2. Much less expensive generic versions of the accessories (a battery pouch for example) can be found on Amazon to save money. Of all the accessories, the Camera Cube Pack – a larger organizer that turns into a daypack and can be used with any bag – is the one to take a look at ($129).

Segmented into two sections, one for bulky electronics and the other for clothing, the 35 liter Camera Pack expands to 42 liters. At nearly 3 kilograms (~6 pounds) the Camera Pack 35L is heavy but might meet your needs. You’ll need to evaluate the Camera Pack 35L based on these 3 things in this order:

  1. Materials – The importance of durability increases with frequency of travel.
  2. Design – How are those materials are arranged to organize your specific gear.
  3. Features – Frequent international travel means a quick access passport pocket will be useful, or loading straps for examples. These are the little things that determine the ease of use for you in particular.

camera pack 35l

Where the McKinnon Camera Pack is trying to differentiate itself is in higher level aspects of design and heavily on features and in many ways it will check a lot of those boxes for many travelers. There are though less expensive alternatives, like the Thule Subterra 34L or Aer Travel Pack 2 which have excellent quality with designs applicable to many people.

A bag with a lot of specific features, functions, and pockets means it will have a very specific user base. Given that NOMATIC has a generous 30 day return policy, the McKinnon Camera Pack 35L might be worth testing if it’s within your budget. Remember, your electronics bag is the most important piece of gear you travel with since it protects all of your most valuable belongings.

The McKinnon Camera Pack 35L is a heavy bag that comes loaded with features and might solve one very big problem in one-bag travel – a bag that can actually be that.

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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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