bag system for travel – one 40L bag, one small; for EDC – one 40L bag, or one small

airline bag sizes

ryan air carry on size is 20 liters
delta carry on size is 45 liters and one personal item like a laptop briefcase
spirit airlines personal item is 33 liters
spirit airlines carry on is 64 liters
sun country under seat item is 32 liters
sun country over head is 64 liters

28" L x 15" W x 14" H
Personal item (e.g., purse, small backpack, etc.): Dimensions must not exceed 18 x 14 x 8 inches (45 x 35 x 20 cm) including handles and wheels.

Carry-on bag: Maximum of 22 x 18 x10 inches (56 x 46 x 25 cm) including handles and wheels. We may require that a carry-on bag travel as a checked bag if it cannot be safely stowed on a particular flight.

current bag

current bag is a patagonia black hole duffle at 40L
this is about the right size for me, given the stuff that i carry for the gym.
when i was carrying the backpack, it was getting tight

additionally, i like the design of a duffle bag. it is easier for me to access the stuff in there compared to a roll top.
i have a full zip open bag, and while i like it for onebag travel, for day to day, it is nicer to have the duffle.
the design of a duffle allows access to all the gear.
the problem with the full zips is that the gear spills out.
if i am sitting on a train, with my bag on my lap, i can open a duffle, dig around, and then get what i want to out. if i had a roll top i have to take stuff out or dig around to get to the stuff on the bottom. if i had a full zip bag, then basically the stuff all spills out.

i would like a leather carry all bag, that would be nice too.
i would want one with straps that were shorter. that way, i could use the straps as backpack straps occasionally.


40 liters for large things, everday carry
40 liters for one bag travel, especially to have stuff with extra room to bring back

15-20 liters for daily carry without gym equipment
maybe 18 liters.


there are actually only a few designs
you should distinguish between carry design and opening design. few people discuss this difference.

carry designs

  • strap over the shoulder - briefcase, small weights, stylish
  • messenger style - quick access, some like them in the city, i do not
  • backpack - i like this for the city, less stylish, but for biking and moving around, it can't be beat
  • duffle straps - hard during the winter because you need a hand out, more hands on, can carry, looks good to carry

these can obviously be combined, for example, some duffle bags can be worn on the shoulders, and also have a strap.

my preferred carry design is backpack or duffle. the strap over the shoulder seems weird to me because i can never get the bag to sit properly. messenger style would be appealing for quick access, for sure, but i do not like the distribution of weight. i solve -> mitigate the quick access issue of backpack with front pockets or jacket pockets.

use cases:
travel, day to day carry, large loads, biking - backpack
larger day to day carry, casual use - duffle

open designs

zip top backpack - think jansport
roll top backpack - open bucket that rolls down
duffle - u shaped zipper is more user friendly than the straight across zip
full zip - think GR1

my favorite is actually not on this list. it is the roll top, except instead of a roll, you just flap the top down and have cinch straps. that allows a lot of carry. you see so few of them made in a good size. i guess you could use a roll top in a similar way.

zip top - usually found on backpacks, i do not prefer these
roll top - i like the roll top for weather proofness (rain and snow), expandability, and security
duffle - u shaped openings allow access to everything without much movement
full zip - great for packing and unpacking because you can access everything quickly when you open it. however, it is more difficult to access discretely compared to other types, because you pretty much have to open the whole bag

day to day - roll top, duffle, avoid the full zip. roll top bags are fun because they are expandable, they are usually backpacks, and they are secure. they are not that quick to access, which you can mitigate with a jacket or other pockets. however, a messenger is fastest for quick access. then again, i rarely need quick access to everything large, mostly it is my phone, so i can put it in a pocket, jacket, or even bum bag.

travel - full zip, duffle, roll top in that order. the advantage of full zip is when you are constantly packing and unpacking. with a full zip you can access and put away the entire contents quickly. the disadvantage is that doing this discretely is difficult. if you are in a sketchy area, you pretty much have to open the entire contents for everyone to see.
a u shape duffle is a next best option. you have to dig around, but otherwise, they are nice.
i would use the roll top if it was, say, a biking focused trip because most of the roll tops are backpacks, or if i had a size limit that i could not get a larger bag in. that said, i have had no problem with getting an underpacked large backpack in.

bags i want

a leather or waxed canvas duffle - to be used for daily carry when i want to carry something with style. 40L is a great size for stuff. it is on the larger size for stylish carry, but great compromise. examples would be filson or frost river. -> specific is the filson 48 hr duffle or the medium carry on frost river, but the filson is better for me.

a nice roll top backpack - frost river arrowhead is the only option. there are two sizes, and i'd have to measure to see which one. however, after getting the duffle backpack, i am starting to see that i might not need it. there is something nice about the accessibility of the duffle for day to day. -> could also make one.

duffle backpack - patagonia black hole 40l is about perfect for this job. i have a bright green one. if it was black or more discreet that would be cool. but then again, bright green is fun. -> i have one, but black would be nicer

a smaller day bag - there are days when the 40l just seems too big. like if i am just running out to get a few groceries. a smaller roll top could be the answer there. 18-20l. -> i have a smaller backpack, the chrome delta or the patagonia sling

daily carry best types of bags

ironically, for small carry, i seem to prefer the backpack over a small duffle or briefcase. i like being able to wear a backpack and be hands free.

i have two nice briefcases, a filson and a duluth pack. the duluth pack one i actually bring to interviews, but it is too small for my daily carry needs. the filson, well, if it did not have so many dividers, i would probably be happier using it. ironically, it is easier to store papers, books, and notebooks vertically in an upright backpack. when i use the briefcase, everything kind of floats around.

use cases for myself

i have small daily carry days
i have large daily carry days
i have travel days

small carry - a smaller expandable rolltop or a smaller sized duffle. basically a smaller rolltop or a larger briefcase / smaller duffle. 18 liters. i have a briefcase. could get the frost river arrowhead. now i am leaning towards the filson 48 hr duffle.
large carry - just go with 40L duffle, if you can get it. i have the patagonia. i might stick with it. for biking during the summer, it just can't be beat. a stylish duffle, i actually already have one, but the straps are too long, and, well, whatever.
travel days - an entire category, but basically, two bags, a main bag and a packable day bag.
the backpack, i already have it. 40l full zip backpack.
packable day bag, i am working on. either the cinch backpack or a packable messenger. i would like a black briefcase style one or a black packable messenger. but not a canvas messenger bag...not packable enough. maybe a canvas messenger bag, dark color, with a cross strap? or a tote bag -> daylight briefcase, basically something that is packable and a black briefcase. i have the blue and black one and that gets called up most often during travel 🙂

frost river arrowhead
tom bihn briefcase
leather clutch folio - not enough space because has to be long, that is buying into a lifestyle of having important documents

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