I'm interested in a new bag for adventure travel. Let me give you some background first. I'm a 44 year old male, about 5'4"-5'5", 160 lbs. I moved to Asia about 3 months ago from the US. Before, on my first trip to Hong Kong (1 week), I went with a big Atlantic upright roller, and a Ricardo of Beverly Hills overnighter. I was primarily in tourist mode the whole time, motels, and used a day pack for going out. Second trip was to the Philippines (1 month), and I was in Manila, along with staying in the rural province with a family. I used the same combination, and it was a BIG mistake! The apartment I was at in Manila didn't have an elevator/lift, only a flight of stairs! So I had to drag it up and down by hand, and Manila streets are uneven, full of trash, and potholes, so you can imagine trying to roll luggage down them. In the province, the mode of transportation is bus, and then jeepney, a tricyle, with my luggage on the top of the tricycle, exposed to inclement weather. Also,rurally, there's mud, trash, dirt, lack of pavement,etc.
After returning back to the US, I swore never again! I ended up purchasing a Macpac 70-90L, and a Dana Design Far Flung, 70-90L. I didn't use either, until moving to Asia. The Macpac sits in the Philippines, and I've used the Far Flung once! I moved from one place to another, using the Far Flung to move some of my stuff. Granted, it was not packed very well, but to me, it was definitely a chore in the hot sun, on small sidewalks, trying to dodge literally hundreds of people during the 6-7 city block trek. In a nutshell,they are too big, and overkill.
So, here I am. Now I plan on doing everything differently. I'm a FIRM believer in the " One Bag "approach to traveling. I'm hoping to find and purchase something in the 40-50L range, no more than 35-55L.
I've looked at:
Jalan 55-60+15 - The main site seems to be down (I can't access it anyway.) Seems like if i wanted/needed to contact them I'd be out of luck.
Global 50-70, Global Lite 50+15, Global Gapper 65+15, Global Hobo 65
En Route 60+10, Amazon Carry-on 40
All the packs look good, with the possible exception of the Karrimor...looks like it's unbalanced and awkward. Different to say the least. A lot of them are bigger than my criteria. Also, they are big companies, so I'm unsure of the communication. I like the idea of supporting a "cottage" industry, someone local, and made in the US. I dislike the idea of buying a pack/bag that was made/assembled in another country. There's also the quality control factor to think of.
Voyageur, Convertible, Silver Streak, Flying Scotsman I, II, Travel Master, Trekker I, II, China Clipper I, II, Eurail I, II, Executive Overniter (Towne & Country Traveler) - Company really does not have much in the way of a web site. Site and bags seem (to me) so '70's. I've read a review of someone experiencing fraying of the harness straps on his first trip out.
Classic Back Door Bag, Convertible Carry-On - Seems like it's made for the Gucci loafer, chino and sweater knotted around the shoulder set, comfortably touring Europe crowd, which I'm not. I sort of doubt the ruggedness and durability of the bags from looking at the pictures on the web, also. Too, the site is lacking about the specific fabric used. It looks like it would not hold up to abuse.
Sky Train, Air Boss - The bags look sturdy, almost too sturdy. They look boxy, and the Air Boss lacks a back pack harness, and the Sky Train's harness looks uncomfortable, and "chintzy". There's not a good selection of packable daypacks it looks like also. Plus, as an animal lover, I'm not to sure about supporting an outfit that does "trophy" hunting. There's also the matter of bulging in the middle of the Air Boss when it's packed full.
Aeronaut - I like most of the line. Seems like there would be a way to combine a need for a main bag and a daybag that can be packed along with it. Website and forum is full of information and reviews. Plus the ability of getting a smaller harness, the Breve. Also things like splash proof zippers, good reviews, the website has a forum so you can interact with the company and other customers. Also, the company seems to listen about product suggestions and input.
As far as ruggedness and dependability goes, the Red Oxx and Tom Bihn products are hard to find fault with, with pictures of round the world travelers and of soldiers and correspondents in Iraq being posted from customers.
I'm looking for ideally a carry on size, not something too big, with a daypack (ideally from the same manufacturer) that can be folded up and put with the main bag when not in use. I did a lot of my flying to Asia pre-9/11, so I was able to carry on items like a nail file, scissors, a swiss army knife, etc., so i really haven't come up with a solution to that problem. Plus, in Asia, everything is crowded, the apartments/flats, elevators are really small, and the streets are VERY crowded. The trams, buses, and subway are crowded, you have to really be careful when you're riding them. Plus, I'm only 5'4"-5'5' you have to remember! I'm not after a "gimmicky" product that is thoughtfully and sensibly designed, and ideally tested by someone in the company before it's produced. I'd like to be able to correspond with the company, and have some rapport about the products, able to communicate any questions/concerns I have. I'm not a business traveler, although I might use the bag for business. I also carry on occasionally a MacBook 13", too make it more confusing! Something which is, rugged, dependable, able to take ANY abuse, and looks good. Something that you can drag around the world with you, and can also be used in a 5 star hotel (I doubt very seriously that will happen to me, but hey, it might :-). I want to avoid anything questionable as far as quality of construction/materials goes, poorly designed, not "real world " tested (I like how the owners of Red Oxx and Tom Bihn really seem to test their products out), and anything "gimmicky"'
I've also looked at Eagle Creek, and they seem to be changing designs just to have new and different products every year, not what the customer really wants or needs. The quality is really questionable to my thinking...seems like it's being targeted to the 20's student crowd for a smaller duration trip.
Well, I'm interested in hearing any advice or experiences. Thanks for being patient and reading about my needs.