Recommend me the perfect travel/carry-on bag!
September 23, 2019 1:44 PM   Subscribe

I’m on the lookout for a travel bag to fit my many electronics. My main requirements are that it can fit everything (listed in main post), looks nice/professional, and can slot onto the handle of my rolling carryon.

I’ve been using a Herschel Sandford messenger bag for this purpose the last couple years, but both zipper pulls have officially jumped the tracks. (Very unfortunate as this happened just now while I’m at the airport!) I’ll be wrestling with keeping everything contained for my flights today, but now definitely need a new bag for future trips!

I almost always have inside a 15” MacBook Pro, iPad Pro, Kindle Paperwhite, Nintendo Switch, and Bose headphones in this thing. It was definitely a stretch for my poor deceased Herschel. Open to pretty much all suggestions and would be willing to spend up to a few hundred bucks on a quality replacement, although $1-200 is an appealing range. Something a little more professional/quality or leather is also of interest; I was hoping this one would last a bit longer than it did!
posted by caitcadieux to Shopping (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: "Professional" is a fuzzy quality these days. I have drifted back to a messenger-style, specifically Timbuk2. You can get them in a variety of colors and fabrics, all of which clean up well and wear like nails.

That might not scratch your itch specifically, but they've definitely branched out a LOT from their messenger-only roots; I'd still take a stroll through their site to see if there's anything there you like.

Another vendor I really like is Tom Bihn; they've been mentioned a bunch on similar questions here. The build quality at TB is really stellar, but you pay for it. And, again, you're working with synthetic fabrics, not leather, but they're also very professional looking (moreso, probably, than the standard messenger style). TB bags are also more on the "I like lots of organizational compartments" end of the scale, vs. the "I like a big unstructured cavern" end. Anyway, definitely take a look.

Finally: Leather is visually nice, but the good stuff is VERY expensive, and it's always going to be materially heavier than a bag made from a modern synthetic while also being harder to maintain/clean. I dunno if you're sold on it, but it's definitely worth looking at the nicer stuff available in the nonleather world for those reasons, IMO.
posted by uberchet at 1:59 PM on September 23, 2019

This probably won’t be an issue for you if you travel domestically only. But as someone who flies internationally on Norwegian, the weight of my carry-on and personal item together are limited to 22 pounds. Depending on how you travel, the weight of your new bag might be really important.
posted by Bella Donna at 2:46 PM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

FYI, Herschel does replace damaged items at least some of the time (I got a free replacement backpack when my own zipper failed). Herschel also makes a duffle if you want something of that size. Otherwise, I recommend checking at a store like Marshall's- the one near me has an enormous selection of travel bags that attach to rolling suitcases, and some of them are very good quality bags.
posted by pinochiette at 3:12 PM on September 23, 2019

Response by poster: Not married to anything at all, so leather, not leather, it’s all good!

I do sometimes fly internationally but typically check a suitcase on those occasions and bring on a small carry on item only (this bag) for my work laptop and in-flight entertainment stuff. I do mainly fly domestically and just want a 1:1 replacement for this bag (but hopefully more able to take the burden I lay on it, haha).

I am definitely planning to see if this can be repaired/replaced by Herschel, but I’m hoping to find something a little hardier since I put this bag through the ringer, and it isn’t my first Herschel. I do like them a lot though.

I would love specific brand recommendations — there are definitely some Timbuk2 bags that look like very strong options, thank you uberchet!
posted by caitcadieux at 5:14 PM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have a bag from Baggallini for this purpose; looks they don’t make mine anymore but this is similar and they have lots more travel bags.

Also check out Lo and Sons and the Away Everywhere Bag.
posted by leeloo minai at 3:15 AM on September 24, 2019

Best answer: I've traveled quite a bit, most recently internationally with my laptop. I used to use a laptop bag like your Herschel one but I found it inconvenient. So I changed up my routine, and now travel with a carry-on rolling backpack with a padded side compartment (kinda like this), and a small handbag. My laptop goes in the padded side pocket and in my handbag I have my tablet, Switch, cell, a powerbank and 3ds in it. If I ever need to shove my handbag into my backpack, I can. Putting my laptop on the side of my carry-on made my personal bag so much lighter, (since I would roll it) and made it so much easier to slip it out of that pocket during scanning (since it always needs to be scanned separate). Much less fumbling.

That's just me though. Since you have a carry-on you're presumably happy with already, you want a multi-purpose laptop bag. Personally, some ofthe best bags for travel I've ever used are Lesportsac bags, due to their multiple compartments, and Kipling for the same reason. I love me some compartments, ok?? I've been using the same Lesportsac bags for at least 10 years now, the zips have never jumped and apart from getting grubby (despite them being water resistant, I'm bad about cleaning them after trips... oops) they are in great working condition. I prefer Lesportsac myself, one because I'm kinda cheap and two I like the cute colorful designs better and the feel of canvas (the water resistant thing helped too, since I always carry a lot of electronics with me) but YMMV. One thing about LSS-- they look small in the photos but are deceptive. All of the bags I've gotten from them fit all my abundance of stuff comfortably. Also imo the website is pretty confusing because of all the patterns.

Anyway, the LSS I recommend are:

- Harper Bag Super roomy, and it's designed to latch through the handle of a carry-on specifically for travel, like you want. It has a built in laptop compartment inside. It's an awesome travel bag and I highly recommend it.
- Messenger Backpack. This is a multipurpose laptop bag that can be converted into a backpack if needed (it has hidden backpack straps), it has a padded compartment for laptops inside, and is definitely big enough to fit everything else comfortably.
- Medium City Tote has a laptop compartment, but is kinda designed as a shove everything together bag as it has a few less compartments.

There's a few more but I don't know if they'd be too big for you-- the Weekender line fits so much in it, it's huge, and the Large Brook Messenger bag is also super handy if you like messenger bags. There's also The Easy Carry Tote.

Anyway Kipling is also a great choice too and have a ton of laptop-friendly bags I recommend. I haven't used them in a while but in the past they were really solid bags. They are a little more spendy, though, and their sales not quite as good but they are more 'trendy' and look all fancy, oooh, ahhh. Unlike LSS, not all their bags are water resistant, but some are, so check the desc.

- Esiana Looks like this is a new one they've just done and it caught my eye because it looks HUGE and has a laptop compartment inside. LOTS of pockets.
- Lizzie is one my cousin had I believe, its super versatile. From the pic it looks small but from memory it's really big, like easily fit a 15" laptop big. Unfortunately not sure where all the colors have gone, they only have two on the site right now, (one super bright one metallic) so it's possible Lizzie is discontinued but I dunno. Other sites might have plain colors.
- Perlani is a great one because the laptop compartment is on the outside for easy access, and the inside has a lot of pockets for devices.

There are more laptop bags (including a ton of backpacks with added laptop compartments) but they look a little small to me so I haven't linked them. Also, like LSS, Kipling has tons of non-laptop bags that would still fit a laptop, like the Art tote, etc. I'll let you look for them if you want as this post has really gone on long enough.

Hopefully that helps you find your holy grail travel bag. Happy travels!
posted by Dimes at 10:04 AM on September 24, 2019

« Older What neighborhood of London to stay in?   |   Does anybody know anything about Antique... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.