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Recommend me a travel backpack please

Discussion in 'EDC Bags' started by mivok, Mar 28, 2015.

  1. mivok

    mivok Loaded Pockets

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    Hi, I'm looking for recommendations on a backpack to use for travel. If this isn't the right place to post asking for purchase advice, I apologize - let me know and I'll delete/fix as appropriate.

    • Usage: personal item on an airplane (must be able fit under seat), day to day carry for my laptop and a few other items, overnight bag occasionally.
    • Ideal capacity - 20-30L
    • Smaller than 18" x 12" x 7"
    • Must be able to carry a laptop (15" macbook pro), ideally in a dedicated laptop compartment.
    • I prefer a less tactical/plain look, but this isn't essential.
    • Side carry handle and/or fold away carry straps would be a bonus.
    • Must be panel loading (suitcase style/opens flat).
    • Prefer less organization built into the bag (i.e. fewer pockets/admin) in favor of a single larger compartment (+ laptop compartment).
    Currently it looks like my ideal bag (aside from lack of a side carry handle) is the Goruck GR0 (I'm 5' 7"), but I don't need it to be bombproof, nor do I need it to be so expensive :)

    Bags I've tried/considered so far:
    • Timbuk2 commute medium (current bag). Good: Single large compartment, some organization, dedicated laptop compartment, good size. Bad: messenger bag (I'm now looking for a backpack).
    • Timbuk2 Q Laptop backpack (2013) (currently own). Good: side handle, dedicated laptop compartment. Bad: top loader, difficult to get at things in the bottom of the bag, organization tends to expand into main part of bag, limiting what you can put in.
    • Goruck GR0 (considering, not seen in person). Good: panel loading, not much organization, laptop compartment, size/capacity is perfect (17.5" x 11.5" x 5.5", 21L). Bad: cost.
    • eBags TLS Motherlode Weekender Junior (ordered, but decided to return it). Good: Lots of organization that gets out of your way if you don't use it, two large compartments, panel loading, straps fold out of the way, lots of handles. Bad: Too big, even in junior size (19.5" x 14" x 9").
    • Osprey porter 30 (considering, not seen in person). Good: panel loading, plain looking. Bad: Still too big (20" x 13" x 8)
    • Tom Bihn Synapse 25 (considering, not seen in person). Good: nice look, well built, tom bihn comes highly recommended. Bad: doesn't open flat, laptop cache is extra, cost is not that much less than GR0, at which point I'll probably just go with the GR0.
    • 5.11 Nitro (recommended below). Good: opens flat, two compartments. Bad: tactical look. Different: front pocket that folds down to allow you to stuff a bulky thing in.
    • Camelbak urban assault (recommended below): Good: looks, lots of room, organization. Bad: size (20" x 16" x 13" for non-XL version), doesn't open flat.
    • 5.11 Covrt 18 backpack (saw in another thread). Good: looks, opens flat. Bad: size seems a little large (19" x 12.5" x 9" based on compartment dimensions on the site), weird looking grab handle merged with carrying straps.
    Anybody have any suggestions that I haven't thought of? Or should I just get the GR0. Will I be (un)happy with the GR0 based on what I've said so far?

    Edit: Edited requirements for brevity and clarity.
    Edit: Added a couple more considerations.
     
    Last edited by mivok, Mar 28, 2015
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  2. AlgoOPC

    AlgoOPC Loaded Pockets

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    You might consider the 5.11 Nitro.
     
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  3. EZDog

    EZDog EDC Junkie!!!!!

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    Camelbak Urban Assault.
    Worth checking out too,it will hold a lot more than you list but also does not look silly not that full.

    I have tried a lot of bags and so far I think it is a winner.

    The Synapse is amazing too but I think it will need to be the 25 for the 15" MBP? and like you said it is pricey too.
     
  4. mivok

    mivok Loaded Pockets

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    Thanks for your answers!

    Camelback urban assault looks nice, but it does seem a little big (it's an inch wider and taller than the TLS motherload Jr which I found too big), and it doesn't look like it opens flat, which is something I'm really looking for if at all possible. Thanks for the info on the Synapse - I haven't looked into that in detail yet and didn't check on sizing. It also doesn't open flat but anything from Tom Bihn comes highly recommended from both here and elsewhere. Interestingly it seems to be about the same price as the urban assault?

    5.11 nitro - I like the panel opening, and the two panel opening compartments are nice. The opening on the front looks a little strange (the pic on the site has a helmet in. Can you open the bag's main compartment without having to unclip the pocket at the front?
     
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  5. mrsleeve

    mrsleeve Loaded Pockets

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    The covert is not as big on you as it might seem from the specs on paper. I love mine
     
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  6. grayman

    grayman Loaded Pockets

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    I had been using a TAD Gear FastPack EDC, which really didn't have much in the way of organization. It was super comfortable to carry, but not big enough for an overnight pack for business trips. These days I'm of the opinion that the less organization a pack has the greater the need for a full circumference zipper so you don't have to totally unpack the bag to get at your stuff. I've got a GoRuck SD25 I use for personal travel from time to time, but it doesn't look like they sell them anymore. Probably had too many people buying the $100 bags instead of the $400. These days I carry a CamelBak Urban Assault XL. I'm an IT professional I bought the bag on the recommendation of fellow member TARFU, who is also an IT professional. While it is a bigger bag, I have to say it is hands down the most versatile bag I've every owned. Dedicated laptop pocket that is suspended so you laptop doesn't hit the ground when you set the bag down. Large usable main pocket, great admin pouch outer pocket, and a very handy external cavity pocket between the two. Since it is so big, I am looking at another pack by Grey Ghost Gear called the Griff Pack. I have one of their Stealth packs I bought on TARFU's recommendation I really like. Check out the Griff, it looks like it might fit your specifications.
     
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  7. onebadwagon

    onebadwagon Loaded Pockets

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    GR1 all day.
     
  8. blkthunder

    blkthunder Loaded Pockets

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    My nitro is my EDC bag that I usually use for work but its worked out pretty well for some overnight~week long travel. The only real draw-back is that the compartments limit the depth of items you can take (a pair of sneakers were about the limit).
    It would have to be compressed pretty considerably to fit under the seat. Its more like 9-9.5 in depth with any real load. Mine was loaded for a full week and fit comfortably in the overhead bin on a United flight.
    I've been considering using the tier system to lash a Moab 6 to the front for some additional storage and to take advantage of the 'personal item' provision that most airlines allow.
     
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  9. Chocula

    Chocula Loaded Pockets

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    The GR0 is a reasonable choice in theory, given your requirements. I personally don't like using mine because it is uncomfortable and lacks a pocket for little things, but it is a very versatile bag. It has a slight military vibe to it.

    You might consider some briefcases with backpack straps as well; the Goruck bags are very square like a briefcase. I've been looking at a Tom Bihn Western Flier or Pilot to replace a Timbuk2 briefcase.
     
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  10. Southpaw

    Southpaw EDC Junkie!!!!!

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    I recommend the GR0. Current owner of one and it is my ONLY pack. Very simple design, yet has a lot of useful compartments but not over done and built like a TANK. And for travel, quality is number one priority
     
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  11. mivok

    mivok Loaded Pockets

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    Any particular reason you recommend GR1 over GR0? Without seeing them in person I could go either way, and am just going on Goruck's recommendations (I'm 5'7").

    Thanks for that - being able to fit under the seat is very important.

    Thanks. I'm definitely looking for a high quality bag, and the thing that attracted me to the GR0 was the minimal extras, and the internal webbing to add extras as needed. I'm just mildly reluctant to spend that much without being certain it's the style I want to use as my main bag.

    Versatility is the thing that drew me to the GoRuck bags in general. Everything else I looked at leans towards having a pocket for everything, even if the thing that pocket is for is something you don't have. I made that mistake once with the Scottevest jackets - excellent jackets, and lots of pockets, but quite a few pockets that are only useful if you are carrying specific things.

    In what way did you find it uncomfortable? Was it just stiffness and the need to break it in, or something else? I don't mind having the laptop close to my back, and it seems every bag with a laptop compartment has that.

    The western flyer looks interesting - I didn't realize it laid flat on both sides and could work as a backpack, and it looks to be just about the right size. The only thing that still has me leaning towards the GR0 is a single large compartment (with tiny area for laptop) vs what looks to be two mid-sized compartments that would limit the bulk of what you can put in.




    Thanks for your recommendations everyone.
     
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  12. Cobra 6 Actual

    Cobra 6 Actual Loaded Pockets

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  13. Southpaw

    Southpaw EDC Junkie!!!!!

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    I'm 5'8 and have the GR0. GR1 would be too big. GR0 below
    [​IMG]
     
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  14. onebadwagon

    onebadwagon Loaded Pockets

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    Either one, though at your height assuming your legs are normal proportion, the GR0 is probably the right way to go.
     
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  15. ldelray

    ldelray Loaded Pockets

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    Maxpedition - Unterduffel Adventure Bag $164.99 and meets FAA requirements.

    Overall size: 13"(L) x 9"(W) x 20"(H)
    Main compartment: 12"(L) x 8"(W) x 19"(H)
    Volume: 2300 cu.in / 38L
    Weight: 3.4 lbs
     
    Last edited by ldelray, Mar 30, 2015
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  16. Chocula

    Chocula Loaded Pockets

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    It was unpleasant to carry it with a laptop. I have other laptop backpacks that put the computer against the back, but I guess the GR0 holds the computer high on your back. Where a normal bag would bend, the laptop keeps it flat and I guess this is the source of discomfort. I guess it is not totally broken in either.

    I'm 5'8", GR0 is a good size for me.
     
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  17. mad one

    mad one Loaded Pockets

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    I love my covert 18 carry it everyday and use it when traveling as well. Plenty of room and functional layout
     
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  18. mivok

    mivok Loaded Pockets

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    So I decided to go with the GR0 after all, although the Tom Bihn western flyer was a close second. It arrived yesterday and so far seems to be exactly what I want. Size is just about right, and it holds everything I want. I haven't traveled with it yet, but it looks to easily fit under the seat (it's comparable in size to my timbuk2 commute when fully loaded, which I used on my last trip), and a backpack is much easier to carry.

    Next up, looking for attachments for it - another fun part.

    Thanks for your recommendations everybody!
     
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  19. mn_five_oh

    mn_five_oh Empty Pockets

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    I'm in a similar boat. My family and I are going on a vacation in a couple of months to Florida for a week. I'm looking for something I can take on the airplane and use day to day to carry some of the crap that family needs on vacation. (I've taken that job the last couple of vacations so my wife doesn't have to carry a huge mom purse).

    I already have an old school medium ruck with the frame that I acquired while I was in the Army so I really don't need a huge bag for camping or longer trips. I'm leaning toward the Condor II because it looks like it'll handle what I need it for.
     
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  20. tigz

    tigz Loaded Pockets

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