1 compartment bag vs. 3 compartments?

Hi, I'm shopping for a new carry on bag. I'm comparing the RS convertable with the Air Boss or Tri Zip style bags. They are all convertable backpack/suitcase style bags. The difference is in the compartments. The RS bag has one large compartment, the others are divided into 3, full length, compartments. I wanted to ask if any of you have ever used both styles, and what you thought of them. Or more correctly, what are the advantages and disadvantages of each?

I will use this bag for both leisure and some business trips.

I need to make a decision soon, and I am hoping that you very kind helpful people will be willing to offer some insights.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10883 posts

I prefer the single, large compartment. Use to have a three compartment, carryon Hartman bag. You could pack each compartment separately but it was always confusion where I had packed which item. i used a folding envelope and a bunch of gal zip lock bags and everything packs nearly in the large compartment. The bag is quick to pack and quick to unpack.

Posted by Sylvia
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
331 posts

I would Definately suggest the RS Convertable, just buy the "packing cubes" as well. The problem with a bag that is already in 3 separate compartments is that you are stuck with the layout, whether you like it or not. With the RS , you can use it as a "single compartment" pack, or use the packing cubes and separate it however you like. I hope this helps.

Posted by Frank II
USA
4377 posts

The Air Boss is not a covertible bag. Redoxx's Sky Train is.

The most populur convertible bags are:

1 compartment--RS bag, Ebags Weekender, Outdoor Products Essentials Carryon, MEI Voyageur

2 compartments--Sky Train

3 compartments--Tri-Zip, Air Boss (no backpack straps)

A few things to think about...the more compartments, the less actual packing space. Two and three compartment bags weigh more empty.

I have an ebags weekender that I like. It has one compartment for major packing, one smaller outside one for misc. stuff, and a third for magazines, papers, etc. The total packing area of it is just over 3000 cu in....while the 2 compartment Skytrain has only 2340 inches. (The skytrain is slightly smaller but being softsided, the weekender can be scrunched down to fit into airport sizers. The weekender costs $50 and the Skytrain costs $255. The quality of both is similar.

Posted by Skip
Dallas, Texas, USA
82 posts

Do 3 compartment bags really weigh that much more? I would think the only difference would be the material in each divider. That shouldn't be more then a few ounces, should it?

The real difference is the ability to pack. A 3 compartment bag can offer more organization, but when you pickup a souvenir that's 6" square....will it fit the 3 compartment bag? More often then not, the answer is no. That same souvenir can be made to fit a 1 compartment bag quite easily.

So my thought is:

3 compartment bag=more organization

1 compartmet bag=easier to pack

Posted by Gregorio
Medford, OR
14 posts

Back in 2004 we were preparing for our first European trip and our luggage at the time just wasn't going to cut it, particularly since we wanted to travel light and not have to check our bags...

We looked at Rick's offerings and a few alternatives but fortunately we stumbled upon the predecessor to the Switchback Max 22. During three trips to Europe the bags have served us very well indeed and the main features that we appreciate are the extendable handle and wheels; we have yet to use the comfortable, hideaway pack straps (but it is nice to know that they are there.)

The bag comes with a detachable daypack that my wife likes to use; I leave it at home and take a larger Marmot Talus because I carry extra camera gear, etc. We use Eagle Creek cubes inside the large main compartment.

A bell hop at a large hotel once commented on how sturdy and well-constructed the bags are; we consider that to be a nice endorsement coming from someone who handles dozens of different bags every day...

Posted by Skip
Dallas, Texas, USA
82 posts

Gregorio,

Is the bag you're recommending a 3 compartment bag, or a single compartment?

Posted by Gregorio
Medford, OR
14 posts

The bag has one main compartment which I think is more useful than a design where there are smaller compartments that cannot be altered.

We use Eagle Creek packing cubes to arrange items and keep clothes relatively wrinkle-free. I typically use a single PackIt Folder for my shirts and pants; the PackIt folders come in different sizes. I use 1-2 cubes for shorts, socks, etc. I top it off with an Eagle Creek toiletries bag. I can fit a pair of flip-flops into the remaining space; I'm going to see if a pair of running shoes can replace the flip-flops for my next trip. There is enough room for a small PacSafe if I want to take it along.

The packing folders/cubes become the equivalent of separate compartments... but they are more versatile than compartments. Going through TSA at the airport is a breeze because they can see inside the containers and they usually leave them intact. And when we get to our destination all it takes to unpack is to move the cubes to a dresser.

Posted by Frank II
USA
4377 posts

Those bags are very heavy so I'm guessing you haven't been able to carry them on European airlines.

Posted by Skip
Dallas, Texas, USA
82 posts

You beat me to that comment, Frank...it sure seems it would be WAY over the carryon limit.

Posted by Gregorio
Medford, OR
14 posts

I haven't traveled on regional carriers in Europe; what is the weight limit? And are there different size limitations compared to U.S. airlines? (We tend to travel by train in Europe.)

I'm going back a few years but when we weighed the bags I think that they were around 20-22 pounds fully loaded...