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  1. #1
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    NF Duffel or Synapse for cabin bag?

    After a busy few years of leisure travel opportunities with my family and much lurking on this forum and those of other frequent travelers, I have pared down to a single rolling bag and a cabin bag for almost all of my trips. This summer and fall I will be making two trips to Europe of 12 and 16 days each. What works for me is to use a rolling bag for most of my clothes, etc. and to take a cabin bag which contains a single change of clothes, travel docs and devices (iPad & kindle), a small travel book, toiletries, a pashmina, tissues, gum, etc. I have been using a B & R tote for my cabin bag but it is 33liters huge and I find that I stuff it too full and it is hard on my shoulder. When I slide it over the handle of my roller, then the weight is uncomfortable on my wrist. I am considering a new cabin bag to hold my stuff (I take a small, lightweight purse for use when I arrive at my destination).

    My first thought was that the Synapse 25 or 19 might be a good option because of the ease of carrying a backpacking airports and train stations and spreading the weight on both shoulders. I have a Synapse 25 in the house which I absolutely love (it was purloined by my daughter for a schoolbag) and I love the features of the bag. On second thought, however, I am not sure that a backpack will provide easy access to my travel documents and the bits and bobs that I carry with me. I will need to be able to find things readily on trains, planes and automobiles and in hotel lobbies. I have been eyeing the Night Flight Duffel and thinking about how easy it would be to organize my items and to access them in that bag. Of course, I would probably have to carry it cross body in order to distribute the weight but I could also attach it through the short handles with a bag strap which lessens the impact on my wrist.

    My focus is on organization and accessibility as well as portability. Any advice from those of you who have experience with these bags?

  2. #2
    Forum Member tuskegee7294's Avatar
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    The NFTD would be a better fit in my opinion for organization and access to your belongings. You could sit it on top of your roller when walking through the airport and not worry about the juggling. I'm a big fan of NF Duffel or Synapse for cabin bag? but for flying my choice would be the Synapse 25 and the NFTD or your roller along with the NFTD. The S25 could go in the overhead as a carry on and the NFTD could go under the seat in front of you.


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  3. #3
    Forum Member bchaplin's Avatar
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    I recently traveled with the NFTD and a roller, pretty much as you described. I'd say that it was great overall, but it CAN get a little heavy depending on the balance of tech items vs. clothes. There are side pockets for boarding passes. At one point I had to unzip a pocket and pull out a card that was inside my wallet, inside of another small bag, though, while boarding a bus, and it was a little slow and awkward despite it being a shoulder bag, because of its dimensions. If I'd thought ahead and had that card more readily accessible, though, it would have been smoother. But overall I loved this bag and plan on using it for my next trip as well.

    You've probably already seen this if you've looked through some NFTD threads, but an iPad Mini fits well, where a larger iPad has to slot in diagonally. If I had a larger iPad I'd go for the Synapse instead.

    A Synapse would be a great option too. It definitely distributes the weight better to have it as a backpack. One way to access travel documents is to stash them in a smaller bag, such as a Side Effect, Side Kick, or some other kind of travel wallet, and pull it out when you think you'll need it.
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  4. #4
    Volunteer Moderator aedifica's Avatar
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    If you didn't need the 19-20 liters of a Synapse 19 or NTFD, I'd be putting in a word for the Pilot--I love mine, and it's got good organization plus it has the pass-through strap on the back for the handle of a rolling bag.

    But no matter what bag you use, I have a suggestion about how you carry it with your rolling bag: if your rolling bag has a way of attaching other bags to the front (and if it's B&R it probably does), I've found it's easier on my wrist if I hang my second bag there instead of sliding it over the handle. It changes the center of gravity relative to the wheels, so that it isn't pulling down as much. I admit it makes it more likely to topple over when it's standing up, but when I'm pulling it it's much easier. In case I didn't describe it clearly, here's a picture I found that shows it.
    I have a bunch of great bags. Favorite color combos include Aubergine/Island, Navy/Solar, Forest/UV, Original Halcyon/Wasabi, Cloud/Viridian.

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  5. #5
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    Lost in the Midwest
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    I love my NFTD for a cabin bag and a "front seat of my car" bag, it works great for both! I did try a Synapse and returned it. For the situation you are describing, I think you would be very happy with the NFTD and it sounds like you would not even need the shoulder strap because you would be rolling it around on top of your rolling luggage, so you have your PORTABILITY concerns taken care of. (By the way, using the shoulder strap and carrying the NFTD on my back is very comfy for me and I like how quickly I can flip it around to reach my stuff)

    ORGANIZATION: Synapse has 6 zipper pockets in a variety of dimensions. The NFTD has only 3 zippered pockets, and they are squared off and visible when you open the bag. They are also all accessible from the TOP of the bag. In addition, they are somewhat mathematically sized, so you are only dealing with the width change in dimension, not the height or depth.

    ACCESSIBILITY: This is 5 star bag when it comes to getting to your stuff. The bag reminds me of a luggage toolbox in a way because it is short and solid, and it does not flop over like a backpack sometimes will. You set it down and it holds its own while you open the very visible, top zippers. For me, it is easier to remember where I put things when I am dealing with fewer pockets. Picture going to the service desk and needing to access the Synapse vs the NFTD. Synapse you must remove it from your back, flip it around the right way, remember what pockets your stuff is in, all the time making sure the bag does not fall over.

    Just some thoughts I had when I was making my decision. Let us know what you decide!

  6. #6
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    Thanks to you all for the information and opinions. You have confirmed what I suspected about the NFTD. One more question: which part of the bag is large enough to hold a letter size folder/notebook? Just thinking about where I put my documents.

  7. #7
    Forum Member TavaPeak's Avatar
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    I took a small roller and S19 for Rome/Paris. Needed the extra space of S19, and it doubled as a day bag. I used a Side Effect clipped to the plane pocket for gum, Nexus, earphones, etc. and then stashed it in S19 otherwise. I liked to option to wear the S19 and pull the roller, if my shoulder got sore....or when the tour bus driver didn't want to drop us at the Ostia train station, so we walked a 1/2 mile with our bags.

    When I don't need an S19, I love the Pilot. The organization works well for me (a 3D clear organizer with my 311 toiletries in one front pocket and Side Effect for plane in other front pocket.) I use an OP strap on the Pilot (less bulky than Absolute strap, but same idea), and that makes it easy to carry. Slips easily over a roller.

    Haven't gotten to try it yet, but the Side Kick/Pilot may be the perfect combo for me. SK is big enough to double as small purse en route and plane pocket in flight. I wear it crossbody until I slip it in the Pilot back pocket for boarding.

  8. #8
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    Can you fold the letter size documents in half or bend them in the main compartment of the NFTD? If you want to keep it flat, it will fit in the Synapse but not the NFTD.

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