We were really excited to take delivery of a new stock of cabin baggage last week. We're strong advocates of travelling with hand luggage only – it saves money on baggage fees; you spend less time at the airport; your cases won't be lost in transit or damaged by over-enthusiastic baggage handlers.
The best luggage is versatile enough to suit trips of various lengths and modes of transport. It needs to be lightweight, but also tough and durable – and fit within those all important airline luggage dimensions.
We've been looking for a while for something that meets all our own criteria, and finally we think we've found it… introducing our Cabin Max Wheeled Backpack. Taking an early opportunity to test it ‘on the road', how did it fare?
At first glance it's really impressive – the manufacturers seem to have thought of everything. Lightweight for a trolley bag, it has the option of using a handle and wheels, or rucksack straps – all of which pack neatly away or are covered when not in use. It has a multitude of pockets and compartments (and I have to say I get very excited by storage pockets ;)).
It looks too big to take as hand luggage, but the allowance is bigger than you think and the bag is guaranteed to fit even budget airline restrictions (measuring 55 x 40 x 20 cm / 22 x 16 x 8 inches when fully packed, and weighing 1.8kg when empty).
And so for it's first outing. A bigger test of capacity will come next month with a weekend break for two, but for now I'm off solo on a girly weekend for 2 days and 2 nights (in February, and it's definitely winter-wear!). The journey involves a 4 hour train trip, with 3 connections including one stage across the London Underground. Wheeled cases are really not practical on The Tube – the densely packed and fast-walking crowds mean people will just fall over you and your case if you pull it behind you (and you will not be popular!). Having a bag big enough for my essentials but easy to carry will be very welcome.
Fitting everything in for this trip was a breeze, in fact it's probably a bit too big. But my regular rucksack is a bit too small, and I like having the option of wheels when the situation allows. There are side straps to compress the bag in when it's not full, to keep everything neat and compact.
I really like that the rucksack flap opens right out, so you can pack it flat like a suitcase rather than downwards like a bag. It also makes it easy when you open it up to see your stuff and just take out what you need, rather than rummaging around for something which is inevitably at the bottom. Like most cases, even when you think it's full there is plenty more space in the lid. The bag is well under half-full (depth-wise), after packing:
- 2 x underwear and socks
- 1 pair of slipper socks
- 1 pair of flat smarter shoes
- 1 pair of jeans
- 1 long-sleeved top
- 1 smarter evening top
- 1 padded gilet (may not be needed, but there is room so I added it)
- Toiletries decanted into small bottles, make-up
- Magazines to read en-route
- iPad and charger
And I will travel in:
- ‘Cargo' style trousers (with handy pockets!)
- Long-sleeved top
- Hooded fleece
- Hat, Wonderboa scarf, gloves
Walking from home to the station with the bag on wheels, I immediately appreciated the lack of weight on my back. It coped well over an uneven path and didn't tip or fall like some cases can do. The handle was a comfortable height to pull (though admittedly I'm not tall).
Whilst changing trains and negotiating station platforms the backpack option was definitely easier – I saw several people with wheeled cases who found them awkward to lift and carry up flights of steps. A late arrival into London meant I only had minutes to make my connection – including a long walk across Kings Cross. With the backpack on I was able to walk quickly and even break into a jog(!), catching my next train with seconds to spare.
The bag is quite weighty when full, and personally I wouldn't want to carry it too far at once. But I'm not particularly fit or strong, and I'm unlikely to take it on the kind of holidays where I would need to. If you choose a trekking type holiday then presumably carrying your stuff is part of the deal! It was fine to carry for short bursts and using the wheeled option in between gives your back a rest. I found you can zip one of the rucksack straps inside the protective flap, but keep the other one out so you can quickly convert between wheels or backpack as required.
The extra space inside was very welcome after an impromptu shopping trip – I was able to indulge in some bulky purchases, knowing I could fit them in for the return journey. The front pockets also came in handy, giving easy access to my magazine and iPad without disturbing my clothes – especially when the bag was full.
So overall, really pleased with how the bag performed. I look forward to testing it further on its next trip!