Looking for perfect hybrid bag!
September 8, 2016 7:14 AM   Subscribe

My dream is to have a travel bag that wears and is sized like a backpack but opens all the way up so I can pack it like a suitcase. I've seen a lot of Kickstarters lately for bags like this, but outside of this one bag I found on Amazon, I haven't really seen a lot of other bags in this vein. Are they really so uncommon? Are there more bags out there like this?
posted by helloimjennsco to Shopping (23 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
I think the Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45 might be close to what you're looking for. If that's too big they also have the Aeronaut 30.
posted by ralan at 7:18 AM on September 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Coming here to say Tom Bihn. I've got the Tri-Star but there's also the Western Flyer which is a smaller sized version.
posted by jessamyn at 7:25 AM on September 8, 2016

There's a category of "MLC" (maximum legal carryon) bags. I love my Aeronauts (45 and 30) and they're absolutely 100% worth the price, but there are some alternatives including the Patagonia MLC which opens up a bit wider than the Aeronaut.
posted by ftm at 7:26 AM on September 8, 2016

The ebags motherlode weekender?
posted by Ms Vegetable at 7:31 AM on September 8, 2016 [4 favorites]

I came here to say Patagonia MLC. We bought them 3 years ago and have used them on every trip since. We spent 17 days in Turkey with just those bags. They always fit in the overhead compartment. They can be somewhat heavy if you've packed them full but are usually pretty comfy to carry on your back. They are SO MUCH BETTER to chug through the airport with than a bulky roller bag. We love them.
posted by nakedmolerats at 7:54 AM on September 8, 2016

Most of the bags similar to what you describe are a little larger - as ftm says they are sized to maximum carryon.

The MEI voyageur and others are like that. I have the voyageur, it is the best suitcase I've ever owned or used.
posted by contrarian at 8:28 AM on September 8, 2016

> The ebags motherlode weekender?

Yeah, here's the "junior" (2538 cu) and the larger (3299 cu) version. There are more under the carry-on tag.
posted by rtha at 8:29 AM on September 8, 2016

This may be a bit smaller than you're looking for but MUJI makes this business/backpacky thing that might fit your criteria; I'm not sure if it's available in the US because I can't find it on the US site, though our local HK one does offer it. It definitely opens very wide though, enough to pack as a normal suitcase, if not a full suitcase-style flip open.

I've used it for weekend and even week-long trips around Asia over the last few years and it's held up really well - it's obviously well-made and with good packing practices (use packing cube things, buy toiletries there, do laundry while travelling) I've been able to get the most out of it.
posted by mdonley at 8:43 AM on September 8, 2016

Best answer: Cheaper than the nice Tom Bihn offerings is the Osprey Porter (it's hard to see in the images, but it is a front-loader).

Tortuga is also having a clearance sale right now on its older models in anticipation of its new release. I have the bigger one, which comes with a padded hip belt that really helps if you're packing heavy. (If you're going this route, though, you're going to need to commit to packing lighter.) I've basically been happy with it. But the clearance sale is final so that may be more of a commitment than you want for your first foray into this genre.
posted by praemunire at 8:51 AM on September 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

It is a mix between a suitecase (Koffer) and a backpack (Rucksack), hence Kofferrucksack is what you want.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 9:00 AM on September 8, 2016

The Goruck GR1 unzips fully to open and lay flat like this. It's also possible to pack a lot into it.

Here is a review comparing it to a Tom Bihn Smart Alec.
posted by James Scott-Brown at 9:05 AM on September 8, 2016

There are a wide variety of Photo back packs that fit your backpack plus fully open criteria.
posted by Mitheral at 9:07 AM on September 8, 2016

There's also the Tribeca backpack from Manhattan Portage.
posted by btfreek at 9:18 AM on September 8, 2016

I've got both the Osprey Porter and Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45. Love them both! The Aeronaut is definitely my favorite - more professional, fits better in overheads, seems to carry more, side pockets perfect for shoes. The Porter is more backpack style and better for periods of longer carrying.
posted by masters2010 at 11:05 AM on September 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Red Oxx makes a couple bags like what you're looking for. I have one of the Red Oxx bags, and they are built to last.
posted by gregr at 11:29 AM on September 8, 2016

I have a Campmor Essential Carry-On and I like it a lot. Really durable, fits a lot of stuff, and the lack of structure inside actually makes it easier to fit more things in when necessary. It's also pretty cheap and lightweight. It's not cool-looking like some of the bags on this thread, but I consider that a feature. I feel more comfortable traveling without a bag that screams "fancy expensive."
posted by a sourceless light at 11:57 AM on September 8, 2016

Oh, and Topo's 3-day briefcase.
posted by btfreek at 12:06 PM on September 8, 2016

Tortuga or Go Ruck
posted by oryelle at 1:01 PM on September 8, 2016

I spent a long time going back and forth between the Red Oxx and Tom Bihn bags, and eventually ended up with the Tom Bihn Western Flyer. Fits under the seat in front of me even on dinky commuter planes, and I've one-bagged with it for several one-week trips now. (I cheat with a packable light backpack for use at my destination.)

In retrospect, my Tom Bihn bag has stronger opinions about how I *should* pack, and I disagree with some of those opinions. The Red Oxx bags have no opinion at all - open wide, and it's entirely up to you.

Overall, I'm very happy with the Western Flyer.

(Also, since you didn't specify - note that MLC bags are aimed at the edge of the US-legal allowance. They do not meet European or other international carry-on rules, and for tiny commuter airplanes, you'll end up being having to gate check them most of the time. In my opinion that defeats the point of a carry on.)
posted by RedOrGreen at 1:40 PM on September 8, 2016

Try searching for travel packs. There is this one from Katmandu in Australia and New Zealand.
posted by poxandplague at 2:54 PM on September 8, 2016

Came in to recommend the Osprey Porter. I love mine - it's attractive, not dumpy, and works really well as both a backpack and a suitcase, bridging the two better than any others i know of. It's also really versatile, thanks to the compression straps and other mods, functioning as a viable light daypack and super-packed 2-weeker.
posted by Miko at 9:32 PM on September 8, 2016

I have an Osprey Farpoint 40 I'm very happy with. They come in larger sizes too.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:49 AM on September 9, 2016

Response by poster: Wow! Thanks for all of the fantastic suggestions! I ended up going with the Tortuga Air backpack, and it worked great on my recent weekend trip to Boston. I will DEFINITELY be passing this thread along to anyone who mentions to me that they need a new carry-on though! :)
posted by helloimjennsco at 6:54 AM on October 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

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