If you travel as often as I do your luggage is most likely your best (or worst) friend. I personally have gone through many phases and dated multiple varieties of bags. When I was young, I would hang out with big, bright backpacks with large 30 lbs capacities that I could take and do anything with. Roughing it, with little compartments to hide weed, and lots of loops to hang water bottles and charms off of. Wild times. As I got older and perhaps more refined, I started courting more modern, sleek models, with wheels and multiple compartments that were a little more complex. These weren’t bags, these were luggage, luggage that I didn’t feel awkward introducing to my boss or taking home to my parents (just to be completely honest, I still am friends with my old backpack online and yes, we do send travel shots to each other).
No matter where you are on your luggage journey, choosing your satchel, your case, your vestibule is a very personal matter. Only time, experience, and many miles will forge some sort of bond with a bag. Here are, in my opinion some of the best, and most iconic bags from my past. Lets start at the beginning.
THE TREKKING BACKPACK
The backpack, other then your basic bindle which is only used in deep Williamsburg, is your most elementary vessel to carry your junk in. I have gone through many iterations of backpacks, from your classic Jansports of high school, to your rust-orange nylon specials from REI that roll through Europe with you in your 20’s. Now, I’m a little bit wiser, a little bit more sophisticated, so I opt for the hard to find Partner’s & Spade VSTR.
This pack is the tits. Waxed waterproof canvas, side opening, removable day-bag, and lots of compartments so you can say “oh, that’s where I put that” when you get home from your trip. Best of all… it comes with a goddamn hammock. Yeah. A hammock. Nothing says pro traveller then your own personal hammock.
THE BASIC BACKPACK
Sometimes you need to get away, but not too far, so you need something a little smaller, a little lighter. Maybe you need it to possibly expand incase you stop at the grocery store, or maybe don’t want to carry your winter jacket all around the Mediterranean. Maybe you need a slick side pouch for you 15 inch laptop, and a front pocket with more compartments than your girlfriend’s purse. Maybe you need the Cotopaxi.
City? yes. Mountains? yes. Stuck at the airport? yes. This bag goes everywhere with its thick canvas shell and rawhide bottom, and damn that’s sexy when I even write it. Side pockets for water bottles, totally inconspicuous yet still a good looker. It feels real good on from its padded supports and even a waist belt that holds you like a needy lover. Buying it even makes you feel good because cause part of the proceeds go to fixing the earth and the people on it. It’s basically like a blowjob for your back, that you can carry things in.
THE CAMERA BAG
Camera bags are tricky. You need it to be portable, comfortable, and versatile. I also don’t like it looking like a camera bag because it’s like your 17 year old daughter’s virginity at a UCSB frat party; someone is going to steal it. Seriously, it’s like a super rapey school, keep your daughters away. It’s taken me years, and many varieties, but I think I found the be-all-end-all of camera bags and her name is the Lowepro Fastpack.
I mean look at those two in the picture. They’re talking about train schedules, and no one is getting in an argument! What couple you know is that chill? Could it be that they have all their expensive dope gear on their backs, plus a shit ton of personal effects, AND their laptops, and aren’t worried about it in the least? Yeah, I think so to.
The 250 is what I have, it’s the perfect size for a 5D with a 28-300 lens (yes, it exists, and it is the best lens for travel, story coming soon) plus two other lenses, and all the do-daddery that goes with cameras. Laptop in the back, toiletry bag and schtuff in the top pocket. Secret compartment for condoms and passports inside. You can even strap a tripod to the side if you’re one of those people. It’s a great bag best ever.
Most people live for their carry-on. It is by far the most popular type of case, as well it should be, since it is used by pretty much everyone and their grandmother. For me a carry-on is all about space. I want space for my shit, and I want it to fit in the overhead space with ease. Throw in some wheels and you got a deal. You might be surprised, but this time it’s the good ol’ Travelpro Crew that takes the cake.
See, it’s not always about being flashy; sometimes you just need the right tool to do the right job, and there is no other bag more tool-like then the classic Travelpro. Used by cheap fucks the world over, the Travelpro is bar none the best carry-on a person can buy. Why? Cause it’s a bag, and it is indestructible. Oh, nice Rimowa Aluminum case … what’s that? They lost your luggage? Wow, weird, considering it was a 1,899.00 dollar suitcase, and it was carry-on checked plane-side. You would think no one could “lose” that. Oh this? This is a Travelpro. It’s 70 bucks. I’ve had it 12 years.
I decided to get one when I saw that every flight attendant around the globe has one. If you want the best, look to the rest my friends. Front pocket for a laptop, top handle for easy pick-up to hit the stairs. What? you like spinning wheels because you’re too weak to drag your 20 lbs bag on the archaic two-wheel system? Well I hope you enjoy them for the week they work. I also hope you enjoy loosing an extra 2 inches of space (that’s a whole pair of shoes people) and also it not fitting into the overhead bin of a puddle jumper. This little succulent bag can practically fit under my seat, and hold all 9 seasons of Seinfeld … on VHS.
Or, of course, there is this:
I mean, it’s fucking sexy.
I hate checking-in luggage for two reasons; I don’t believe it is right to make human’s wait for things they already own, and two, airlines are seemingly better at loosing your luggage then actually getting you to destinations you paid to go to. That said my criteria for choosing a check in is as such:
- It needs not to attract attention because luggage just doesn’t go lost, trust me, I know guys on the ramp.
- It needs to be expandable because wherever I’m going half my shit is either staying, or I’m planing on bringing back twice as much crap.
- It needs to be indestructible and easy to roll (that’s two things, I know, but I believe in the trinity).
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you, the Delsey Titanium:
Polycarbonate, under 10 lbs, expandable, and with a dinky little lock that can be opened with a well cooked french fry to give you that extra false sense of security. This bag is amazing; you can run it over, throw it down stairs at your in-laws house, or stumble drunkenly down a cobblestone street and it will easily trail behind you. Best of all is that when those amazingly easy, but weak-ass spinning wheels break, you can buy a replacement, and with two screws be rolling again. It’s like you’re your dad, and can fix things that break instead of buying a new one you silly millennial!
That’s the whole story folks. I’ve been traveling for a long time. I travel for work, not as in my job sends me places to do my job in other places, rather, my job is actually to travel. I’ve worked for the airlines, I’ve seen what happens below the ticket counters, and I’ve gone through more bags than I have abusive relationships. This line up, at this moment, is the result of years of frustration, broken zippers, and miles and miles of tears. I hope it serves you well, and remember this, no matter what bag you choose, you will definitely always forget to put something in it.
Roberto Serrini is a professional traveler who records his adventures in word, photography and film. He is a staff writer for Get Lost Magazine, a senior contributor to Trip Advisor, as well as a commercial film director and drone pilot. His work can be seen at www.robertoserrini.com where he can be contacted as well.