That kind of thing IS my bag, baby
December 3, 2014 1:45 PM   Subscribe

We need new overnight bags, suitable for weekend car trips or a night at Grandma/Grandpa's. I don't think I've ever owned one of these that wasn't a hand-me-down from the back of someone's dad's closet. Can you help me find some good Christmas-able options for 1) my husband and 2) my currently-tiny daughter?

We used to just toss two t-shirts and some extra underwear in a laptop bag and go, but HA HA HA that will never happen again.

Neither bag should be a backpack or a rolling suitcase or anything specifically built as an airline carryon.

Price/style: I dunno; definitely under $200 or maybe $150 for him, and less for her. Prefer utility over brand (so no Banana Republic or whatever unless you know for a fact that it's tough).

--Currently uses a cheap and battered duffel bag that probably came from the Wal-Mart clearance section in 1989.
--Something with a cross-body strap would be helpful, as he will likely wear it while also wearing a laptop backpack (among other things -- and the laptop backpack will always be its own unit).
--It would be amazingly cool if it could fit a CPAP case (about the size of a fat phone book), but maybe that would be too bulky.
--I usually just stuff my things in here as well, so this is more or less the Bag For Adults.
--Does not need a separate toiletry kit or whatever, but an outside pocket for that would be nice.

--She's currently four months old, so this would be basically something that is bigger than her diaper bag that consolidates her stuff. I've seen many adorable toddler backpacks, but we'd probably need something a little bigger. We could probably eliminate the diaper bag altogether if we put in the changing kit.
--For the foreseeable future, even when she grows a bit, assume we will carry it for her. (This is how princesses are born, I guess...)
--I don't know if it should have a royal crapton of pockets, but it would be nice to fit her fluffy blankie inside (your basic yardish-square size) or eventually a stuffed animal or twelve.
--Bright, bold colors and modern patterns appreciated, but should err on the non-pink side of things. In my head all I can really envision is a LeSportSac kind of pattern selection.

Any brands or styles you have experience with would be nice. I know Lands' End and LL Bean are pretty standard, but they are fairly plain (for a kid's bag, at least) and there are way too many shape options for me to weigh in my head.

posted by Madamina to Shopping (8 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: For husband:
Wm. J. Mills & Co. Canvas Bags (linked to the duck duffel)
The canvas is thick and tough and washes well. It can carry a lot of weight but when you haul it on your shoulder, the shoulder straps don't dig into your skin. And I love the bold, solid colors. I have a red and yellow one. The yellow one shows dirt much faster, though.

For daughter:
Le Sportsac (linked to large weekender)
I also have a few of these bags and they are also durable but not as thick as the canvas above. They have lots of cute patterns. However, once you look at the plethora of sizes and shapes of bags, it will be overwhelming.

These are in the price range you asked for but can I just post my holy grail travel bag? Ghurka. I think if I had one, it would fully turn me into a insufferable yuppie. They're just so Martha Stewarty I feel I should despise them on principle but I don't.
posted by spec80 at 2:30 PM on December 3, 2014

Oh durr just read your Le Sportsac comment. Sorry :(
posted by spec80 at 2:32 PM on December 3, 2014

I really really love my Tom Bihn Aeronaut (I have the 45 which is the original). It has two end pockets, which are great for shoes/underwear/travel toiletries for flying, and you can get packing cubes and various organising devices if you need/want.

It's more than your limit, but other stuff in their travel section is closer to your price range and basically I love every bag I own from them. (I also have an Id (laptop messenger bag), both the Synapse and Brain Bag backpacks, and a Cafe bag, plus various pouches and smaller items.) They also *just* launched a diaper bag, which probably isn't what you want there but who knows.

They hold up extremely well (my Aeronaut is about 6 years old now, and still looks close to new - and so are my other bags that get much more regular use). If you end up flying somewhere, it's an unusual enough shape and color to make it easy to pull out of a row of bags quickly, very solidly made, and they come in interesting colours (as well as black and slate gray) if you want that. If you intend to do tons of carrying, upgrading the shoulder strap is worth the money, but if you're just doing house/car sorts of things, not a big deal.

(Part of why I love the Aeronaut is that when I'm schlepping across an airport, having it on my back is so much easier than a wheeled luggage thing or it being uncomfortably on one side of my body.)
posted by modernhypatia at 2:43 PM on December 3, 2014

I love my Black Hole Bag from Patagonia. I use the 60L as an overnight bag nearly every weekend, and it's a great airline carry-on.
posted by craven_morhead at 2:53 PM on December 3, 2014

Best answer: You might consider looking at LL Bean's luggage. It is reasonably priced, and they have a very good guarantee. I just used one of their rolling steamer-trunk sized suitcases on a 10-day trip through 3 countries in Europe, and it held up beautifully.

This might work for you and your husband: with wheels, without. There is also a bigger size, depending on how much stuff you tend to bring.

This might work for your daughter: it comes in an assortment of non-pink prints.
posted by Lycaste at 3:01 PM on December 3, 2014

Best answer: If you go with LL Bean, get a pattern you can live with for a LONG time. We are still using backpacks bought for school ten years ago and used hard by our kids.
posted by raisingsand at 4:20 PM on December 3, 2014

Came here to suggest the aeronaut as well, for much the same reasons that modernhypatia has. Mine is 8 years old now, but still looks brand new and I have travelled with it extensively. I was initially reluctant to spend the money but given the apparent lack of wear and tear it's definitely worked out well.
posted by aeighty at 9:21 AM on December 4, 2014

Response by poster: Now that Christmas is over (I know you were all DYING to find out...):

I ended up going with the L.L. Bean Medium Excursion Duffle for my husband. I went with the Excursion over the Adventure because the Adventure didn't have pockets on the ends, which we usually use for toiletries and stuff. I still think the Medium is a bit small -- quite a bit smaller than the one he has now, I think -- but the Large is a full 7.5" longer, which seemed a bit excessive. So who knows. He liked it. For $89, I thought it was a great deal.

For the baby, I got the LeSportSac large weekender in the Dot O Fun print. I thought I'd get her one of the smaller L.L. Bean ones, but I wanted something with a bit more personality without being TOO cutesy. This is the kind of thing I wouldn't mind using for myself, but I think she'll like it. (Not that she has a choice.) The fact that it's nylon and easily wipeable is a huge bonus. It was $118, which was pretty reasonable considering that we didn't spend money on a diaper bag and expect this one to last. And both my parents and my husband thought it was tres swanky. (Especially for a five-month-old who could fit inside it.)

Thanks for the help!
posted by Madamina at 8:27 PM on January 2, 2015

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