Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Travel gear: getting a new backpack/hand-luggage

I don't buy myself a lot of new travel gear, mainly because I'm just not much of a shopper. However,  recently I did pick up a new backpack for myself. This also means I bought a new piece of hand-luggage, since my backpack pretty much goes everywhere with me, including on flights.

SwissGear ScanSmart Laptop BackpackSwissGear SA1908 ScanSmart Backpack - Black

If you shop at Costco, you might have seen my backpack there: it's the grey version of the Swiss Gear Scan Smart Computer Backpack. I can't find the identical one at Amazon, though it is very similar to SwissGear ScanSmart Laptop Backpack and SwissGear SA1908 ScanSmart Backpack .

Like I said, I bring my backpack pretty much everywhere: to the beach and on hikes, on the bus and the Skytrain, to the mall, and to play-dates. When the kids were smaller it doubled as a diaper bag.

These days I'm thinking they're old enough for me to downsize to something else, since I don't have to tote around so much gear for them on a daily basis, but it's hard to give it up.

And it is the perfect hand-luggage, at least for me. It leaves my hands free (which is why I don't use a wheeled backpack: I give those to my kids), and the compact size makes it possible to stow it under a seat or in the overhead bin.

So yes, I admit, I'm quite excited about my new travel gear, because it has a lot of features that I always look for in my backpack/hand-luggage (and I've gone through a few over the years!):
  • The fabric, seams, and zippers all feel durable and heavy-duty - This is a very good thing, because when it's used as hand-luggage, this backpack will take a beating and be heavily loaded with everything from extra clothes to pretzels and medical supplies
  • It has lots and lots of pockets and compartments - This really helps me stay organized when I'm traveling, so I don't have to dig around so much when looking for something important, like antibacterial wipes, granola bars, a pen, or a bottle of water. 
  • Actually, there seems to be a special holder for everything - A detachable key fob (no digging around for those keys when we come back home), a cellphone pocket, a sun-glass holder, pen holders, a special audio-player compartment, a carabineer clip (that I'm not sure what to do with yet), and two really deep and roomy bottle-holders (refillable water bottle, here I come!).
  • There's a "Scan Smart", 17" laptop compartment - This compartment holds a laptop, and also zips open, essentially opening up the backpack like a book. There's a mesh "viewing window", so that airport security can see and x-ray your backpack without it being removed. I'm not totally sure that airport security will always allow the laptop to stay in the backpack, but I'd love it if they would.
  • The straps are comfy and padded - Which is a relief when you're lugging around extra clothes for 3 people, and maybe a snuggly blankie, as well as a stash of snacks supposed to last for 20 hours of travel-time.

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