This soft-sided cabin bag packs it all in at under a kilogram.
Disclaimer: I was sent a CabinZero bag of the ‘Classic 44L’ variety to test and keep. As always, my reviews and opinions are my own.
Billed as ‘the suitcase on your back, this soft-sized carry-on / cabin-sized bag weighs well under a kilogram (about 760 grams or 1 pound 11 ounces, to be more precise). Coming with the usual backpack straps and a couple of handles (top and side), it lacks the handle, frame, and wheels found on hard-shell luggage. The result: extra weight allowance for your own stuff.
The sturdy open mesh pocket is fine for clothes and whatever, while the zippered pocket below it is plenty large for just about anything. The sleeve on the right can hold just about any-sized laptop you throw at it. My current laptop is a 15″ ASUS, and this pocket nearly swallows it up. Something smaller like a Macbook Air or netbook would disappear into the bottom of the pocket, so you might consider putting something at the bottom of the sleeve’s inside to prevent from becoming a long reach.
Padding wise, there’s a good layer of cushion on the outside, but just a thin layer of fabric on the pockets inside. If you’re the cautious type with your laptop, you might consider getting a neoprene sleeve to help add an extra layer of padding.
While it’s not a perfect reference for size, here’s a quick side-by-side with my current carry-on sized bag (that’s an extra pocket on the outside that runs the length of the bag, by the way):
I then tried to stuff the black bag into the CabinZero bag, and nearly succeeded. (The wheels on the black bag didn’t quite make it in, and I didn’t want to force the issue just to satisfy my curiosity!).
Here’s how it looks when packed:
…with some room to spare! That’s my well-worn but trusty LowePro camera bag, along with stuff I use to develop tabletop games. (What, you make tabletop games Chris? Yup — learn more about those at entrogames.com.)
Not pictured here is a small metal tag with the bag’s Okoban tracking number on it – a piece of low-tech metal linked to an airline industry tracing system called WorldTracer. I haven’t yet delved into the rabbit hole that is lost luggage (knock on wood!), but the gist is that the 12-digit alphanumeric code helps them get your bag back to you if it’s ever lost.
It’s light, it feels tough, and being without a frame there’s more flexibility to ensure it fits your stuff. Its best use is probably for clothes or anything ‘soft’, or if you need to comply with a strict airline baggage policy — it complies with virtually every major airline around the world.
The ‘cons’ here are kind of nitpicky. I’d prefer a zipper top to the innermesh pocket, or at least a bit of Velcro to keep it closed / out of the way. It’s also a good 5 inches (17cm) wider than my current backpack, and of course that’s by design – the goal of the bag is to replace a cabin bag, not a backpack. People with smaller frames may feel the bag sticks out on either side as a result.
If you’re in the market for luggage, head to one of the most complete reviews of packing cubes I’ve seen in awhile. Alternatively, if you’d rather check out a really in-depth guide to the best travel backpacks, check this post out.
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