Travel bag/system design

International travel: duffle with backpack straps, cubed-out international carry-on sized backpack, roller bag with snap-on or looped-over accessory/laptop/shoulder bag?

Context: plane was late leaving Qingdao, arrived Incheon with about 30 minutes before my flight back to Seattle. Ran past everyone, first person to the arrival inspection gates. Of course the security guy needs to toss my bag to look at something.

Oh yeah, travel pieces in question: Arcteryx Covert ICO (Review: Arc'Teryx Covert I/C/O — life is a beautiful detail and the small nylon Arcteryx Index 10 shoulder bag. Before leaving the plane I attached the backpack straps to the ICO in preparation for running.

SO the security guy goes through my bag, attempts to put everything back in, of course that takes some time that I don’t have. I zip it all shut, and go barging out of there. Incheon is about the LOONNNNGEST terminal on planet earth, and of course we parked at the other end of the terminal from my Seattle flight, which is now leaving in less than 20 minutes.

That was the most painful mile run of my life. Granted I’d been sitting on a plane for 3 hours and had just spent a week in industrial China, so getting moving quickly was bound to be tough. But my luggage which I’d previously thought well of, did not seem well suited to an airport sprint.

The minimalist backpack straps of the Covert might be OK for hands-free carrying, but weren’t a secure way to attach that backpack load when really running. The Index shoulder bag swung wildly, somehow unzipped itself, and spilled pens and digital camera across the shiny terminal floor. Feet hurt pretty bad due to the blood pooling and then sudden need to run, with a backpack load.

I made the flight with about a minute to spare and they closed the door behind me. Props to the very nice Korean Delta employees who literally ran with me and encouraged me to run faster.

So question is: when you have to make a tight connection in a big airport, what’s the ideal piece/system of luggage? Can’t help but think that a good roller bag with really good wheels would have made that run less awful, and unloading the human body would allow for better terminal sprinting.

(I’m doing no less than 4 hour layovers internationally from now on :blush: )

I think that a bag with wheels is more comfortable on the back and arms for any short-term travel that sees you going through multiple airports. It would probably be ok to run with if it had a long enough handle too.

My ‘dirty backpacker’ bag has a number of wide straps on it to help secure the bag and stop it from swinging, and they can be hidden away so that they don’t get caught in conveyer belts and mechanisms. It also has clips on it so that I can attach my smaller bag onto the larger one and carry it all as one.

I don’t think this bag with all of its straps etc. is sleek enough for the average business traveller, but the large, concealable straps give some versatility and the clip feature is particularly useful if I somehow end up with extra stuff to carry.

Maybe a carry-on size roller bag with concealable wide straps as the main carry-on, so that you can wheel it through an airport but also carry it on your back if you wish, and a smaller shoulder bag that can quickly hook onto the roller bag to stop it from swinging when you need to run.

I also feel your pain having had a similar problem happen a few years ago when I had an internship in industrial Tianjin for 6 weeks at a factory right next to a coal power plant. We were on our way home to Australia, and our Beijing to Singapore flight left late, so we landed in Singapore at the same time that our next flight was supposed to leave. We had to run from the end of T3 to get to the sky train going to T2, and then all the way to the other end of T2 to get to the gate, where I’m pretty sure I nearly coughed up one of my lungs :laughing:

A soft duffel works for me as a carryon.

I had a similar issue running through Charles De Gaulle connecting to ORD. Put it under my armpit like a football (albeit a large football) and ran. Closed the door behind me and we sat at the gate for the next 45 minutes. My personal bag is a messenger bag, backpack. But whether a a single strap or a messenger backpack, they are designed not to move on your body while riding and they do an excellent job while running.

My soft bag is by Faguo and the messenger bag is Mission Workshop.

More I think about it, I think wheels are the way to go - big smooth capable ones - for inter-terminal sprints. Provided the telescoping handle is long enough to allow the user to stride out while running, with enough width for stability at speed. Maybe the damn thing should convert to a scooter. Thule is doing some new wheeled luggage that looks good, Arcteryx has some pieces as well.

Messenger/courier bag would be solid as well, but in my experience doesn’t do as well with odd-shaped belongings as with clothes or big flat things. I do like that it can be cinched down really tightly into that X-body configuration and secured with the other cross strap.

A single piece of luggage would have been of benefit too, so if there’s a swinging backpack to manage at least its just one load. Two plus pieces oscillating in different paths made that run worse than necessary.

No getting around dirty coal-filled lungs though. I didn’t feel normal for hours after that sprint.

ideal? seems like that would depend on how one prefers to travel (and level of fitness! :wink: )?? while it’s probably an easier load off to run with a roller, would it not still be fairly awkward having to run while dragging it as trails behind while trying to avoid?dodge people? whenever i would travel on international flights, avoiding having to check baggage was my main goal, as to maintain flexibility to hop on whatever availabile flight and eliminate the possibility for luggage mishaps…

so i’d pack my backpack with all my electronics (ps4, laptop, tablet, cameras, cords, etc.) and just stuff clothes in a duffle (i used to neatly fold & wrap everything efficiently/neatly but this would almost always be for naught as the either the tsa check or the pre flight check after the boarding gate would invariably render such tight organization rather useless) with some room to spare for packing in my snacks.

this setup, while at time somewhat cumbersome, allowed for ‘terminal sprinting’ because i could do so hands free as the duffle i could sling over my shoulder and swing it so in hangs in the front of body and put the backpack on over the duffle strap or conversely have the duffle tightly secured to my back & wear the backpack backwards.

the best solution would seem to be foldable crutches, that way one could feign an injury and maybe get the airport to cart you right to the gate with those airport vehicles :smiley: !!!

See that smile? That could have been you.

It is pretty situational for me.

48-72 hour trip: Tumi laptop bag and a Herschel duffle

3-4 day trip: Herschel backpack (I need to replace this, it was a gift and it is not functional) and a Herschel duffle

4-6 day trip: Backpack + small spinner bag (a spinner bag is a carryon with pivoting wheels at all 4 corners. You can use it flat on all 4 wheels or tilt it onto two for higher speed walking. I’ve gotten rid of all my bags without spinners.) In the last 12 months we have designed spinners for 2 different brands… I’m excited to use a bag we worked on, but I’ll be kicking myself if there is anything wrong with them in practice…

6-8 day trip: backpack + largest possible spinner to fit in overhead (domestic spinners are larger than international, but if you are going to Asia in biz class they are ok with the larger spinner… usually).

8+ day trip, backpack and small spinner or duffel… I’ll just do laundry so I can carry less stuff.

I’m a pretty minimal packer. I used to load up with lots of shoes and wardrobe options, I’ve just learned to simplify it way down because I give less f@$ks now and comfort, ease and convenience is starting to trump having the right shirt #thisisforty

BTW, I had the same experience with an international Delta crew! They were waiting for me as I got off the plane and said “are you Michael, ok we need to run, now…”… loyalty points there big time because I wanted to make it home!

On my last trip to London my wife got me those vacuum packing things… I made fun of her to no end… until I tried it. True believer now. The key was staying in an airbnb so there was a vacuum to repeat the process coming home.

Or have the Delta Airlines Porsche drive me across the tarmac to the plane. Need a few hundred thou more miles first…

or stop flying commercial and be one of these dinguses…

Yes - although I was in Korea for all of 45 minutes, everyone from the customs guy who tossed my bag, to of course the wonderful local Delta gate agents, provided exemplary service and was unfailingly polite. I was like a relay baton being passed down the terminal every dozen gates to another gate agent who ran with me.

Then I get on the Seattle-bound 777 and the illusion is broken. Back to the surly mean unhelpful US crew.

Duffle bag for running though? I understand the spinner, but running with a duffle seems awkward.

I’m a minimal packer as well, prefer a tight small bag, and though I’d used that Covert bag with success in other countries, was really bothered by this angst-nightmare experience. So much so that I’m still thinking about it four months later. I have the same 6 day trip in September and want to plan better (ergo the 4 hour layover)…

Thinking next trip will be a smallish rolling carry-on like that Thule Subterra or Arcteryx V80 plus the trusty Mission Workshop Rambler backpack.

totally - maybe if I’m visiting with customers or other designers I might give more f***s but if at a Chinese factory it truly doesn’t matter. I wore Red Wing boots all week. Running with those things plus the backpack wasn’t real comfortable. Fairly slick sole thus poor push-off on the slick terminal floor.

Alright I’ll stop bitching about this flight experience. That run really sucked though.

I know what you mean about the blood pooling in your feet and then having to run. I’ve experienced that. Way to instantly feel 20 years older! I had an international layover recently like that where I was huffing and hurting. Not shoving people but clearly parting the waters. I got to my gate to see no one there… I read the time wrong and had an hour and 5 minutes instead of the just 5 minutes I thought I had. Then I felt like a total doofus as the people I hurried by caught up to me :slight_smile:

Straps over the shoulder, top firmly under armpit, and bobs yer uncle.

(It’s not that big but for me more than enough for at least 6 days/5 nights)

Segway got your back

Must be Iron Rangers!

You know it.

Great for industrial China factory sessions. Perfect for motorcycling. Not so great for polished Korean airports.

For a sprint through the airport on wheels, gliders are the way to go. I designed this one two years ago. They’re low to the ground so won’t tip like the more vertical spinners when they run across a harder curb and the handle has a lot of different height stops so you can position it exactly where you’d like it for your height

Thanks Skinny!

I’ve gone back and forth on travel bags for a long time now and always found that travel duffel bags with shoulder straps are almost always beat out by a backpack from an ergonomic standpoint. Duffels compress their loads in weird ways, usually internally and towards the bottom. I don’t want to put the bottom of a duffel against my back as they usually get thrown around and put down in some gnarly stuff (pay attention next time you use a duffel). If the shoulder straps are on the top, like North Face’s duffel (side compression straps, good job) or Peak Design’s new travel duffel pack (brilliant way of stowing and using them as grab handles), the compressed load is farther away from your back using the structure of the bag as a flexible hinge of sorts. This leads to a bag that sags away and down unless its completely full. A backpack with good compression and a comfortable suspension makes traveling much more comfortable in my experience, especially running for the next plane.

I did a couple of duffels earlier this year and they work great for the gym or car trips but I much prefer a backpack if I’m flying. I kept them without backpack straps because I could never make them work as good as a backpack, without them turning into a backpack. If you already have a backpack full of electronics and need a one shouldered bag for your clothes, that makes more sense to me. In that case a duffel should be what it is, a one strapped bag with a padded and grippy pad that you don’t have to fight.

I’ve got 3 duffles and I never use the optional backpack straps. When I use them:

  1. shorter trips, 1-2 nights
  2. car trips
  3. around town stuff like the gym is a good example

For longer trips I’ll use a roller.