Luggage

An overview of the luggage that I’ve been using over the past years on my travels as a digital nomad around the world.

Luggage

Carry-on

2018 Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45L

2018 Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45L

My carry-on bag is a 2018 Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45L / 2,746cu.in., in the colors Navy Blue/Paintbrush Red, that is made from 13-ounce, 900-denier 100% post-consumer recycled ripstop polyester, 200-denier 100% recycled polyester lining, with polyurethane coating and a durable water repellent finish. The Patagonia meets carry-on size restrictions for most airline, with its size not exceeding 45 linear inches when adding length, width and height.

It has a rear sleeve that is designed to slide over the telescoping handle of wheeled luggage, and it features zip-away shoulder straps that convert the bag into a backpack. I almost always use it as a backpack though and barely ever make use of the additional padded shoulder strap.

Its clamshell-opening main zippered compartment features two separate chambers, and the bag also has two exterior easy-access pockets. One additional pocket is on the padded backside, which allows storing up to a 17" laptop. The placement of the zippers allow me to use TSA luggage locks to lock them together, so that I don’t need to worry of anyone trying to open them and reach into the bag while carrying it on my back.

The Patagonia has two rows of loops on the front side, allowing me to attach additional pouches and other items using carabiners. Its shoulder straps feature an additional chest strap which also allows for adding further smaller pouches to the backpack.

I usually put all my liquids into the front pocket and my laptop into the back sleeve for fast access during airport security checks. In case I exceed the sometimes ridiculously low weight limit for carry-ons and I’m being asked to check the bag in – looking at you, Jetstar! – the Patagonia allows me to neatly tuck away the absurdly uncomfortable shoulder straps and transform it to basically a rectangle with two carrying handles. However, everything inside the bag that might break will break, since the Black Hole doesn’t have any protective hard shell.

2018 Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45L

The interior is a nice neon-ish orange in color, making it easy to find even small things like USB sticks – unless they’re bright orange as well, of course. It consists of two main compartments: The large main compartment, as well as an additional in-lid compartment that has two pockets facing the main compartment, for smaller items. Both compartments are separated by a net that provides additional compression when fully packed.

I’ve been traveling around the world with solely this bag and it worked out. It’s far from being a comfortable or in any way well thought out bad. However, it fits a crazy amount of things when needed and doesn’t lose its form to become basically a ball of stuff as badly as some other backpacks might. While I wish that Patagonia would have had the Black Hole in a Black / Paintbrush Red or maybe even a Black Camo colorway, the Navy Blue color isn’t that bad and has held up quite nicely. On longer walks with the Patagonia in backpack mode and loaded with around 10kg it can become somewhat tiring to carry around, mainly due to how it distributes its weight across one’s back. The backpack feature is clearly not its intended primary mode of use, hence the shoulder straps offer little possibilities to adjust. With loads beyond 10kg even short walks can feel endless and painful. It definitely helps to attach additional pouches in the front and thereby redistribute the weight.

Tl;dr: It’s a terrible backpack but it’s spacious af. If you need the capacity and don’t have to carry it for more than an hour across an airport, the Patagonia works. The shoulder straps will disintegrate eventually, making it even more painful to lug around.

Aer Duffelpack & Aer Travel Pack

I had the Aer Duffelpack as my daily driver, as well as the Travel Pack for shorter trips.

Unfortunately both backpacks got stolen.

Aer Travel Sling 2 X-Pac

My “personal item” for longer trips is the black Travel Sling 2 X-Pac by Aer. It is made of VX-42 X-Pac sailcloth, features a Duraflex fastener, YKK AquaGuard zippers and offers 12L in volume. It stores my EDC items, portable computers, liquids, as well as all other travel related things (passports, tickets, pens, notebooks, maps, a physical book). It has three individual compartments, with the main one featuring eight interior compartments.

I have added an ALPAKA pouch to the strap of the Aer Travel Sling, which allows me to comfortably store small items like my earphones and my wallet.

Aer City Sling 2

Aer City Sling 2

My “personal item” for shorter trips is the black City Sling 2 by Aer. It is made of 1680-denier Cordura ballistic nylon, features a Fidlock magnetic fastener and offers 2.5L in volume. It stores my EDC items, as well as all travel related things (passports, tickets, pens, notebooks, maps, a physical book). It has an internally attached strap for keys and contains of three individual compartments, with the main one featuring six interior compartments.

Check-in

Billabong 110L Booster Travel

Billabong 110L Booster Travel

For check-in luggage I own the all-black Billabong 110L Booster Travel bag. It’s a mix of a hard shell suitcase and a bag, featuring a molded EVA base with rolls and a 600-denier polyester top. This way it’s lighter (~3kg) than most 110L hard shell suitcases (~5kg), yet still allows me to pack fragile things without fear of them breaking.

The Billabong has relatively large and soft rolls and offers four compression straps for the upper bag part. When packed lightly it’s relatively thin, but it can extend a significant amount to fit more/larger things. Obviously one can easily exceed check-in weight limits with this suitcase. However, being a rather tall human being, the additional size helps with fitting shoes and jackets without needing to squeeze them too much. With regular suitcases I usually run out of space rather than weight.

The bag has three external pockets, which however do not offer a streightforward locking solution. Hence I usually don’t put valuable things in these pockets and rather keep them for things like quickdry towels and MREs.

Billabong 110L Booster Travel

On the interior the Booster offers multiple compartments with plenty of room. I’ve flewn around with the Billabong and the only thing that was a con was the fact that unless the bag is filled properly it would not stand up right on its own, requiring to always stand next to something it can be leaned against or laid flat on the floor. I had fragile things transported in it and only a single time a portable 15" display took a hard hit on one corner, which was probably more of a packing fault than an actual issue with the bag. As long as everything that’s fragile is placed in the lower hard shell area of the bag nothing bad should happen.

Unfortunately I had to give away the Billabong and haven’t been able to find it for purchase anymore, hence I don’t have it anymore. I do however still highly recommend it and would get it again if I would find it for sale somewhere.


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