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Need suggestions for a personal item bag

Hi all,

I've been working at traveling light. Lately I've been traveling with just a personal under-seat item. I've been using the Patagonia lightweight travel tote. The main compartment is 16L, though the bag is advertised as 22L. It only weighs 14 oz. I really like the bag, but it isn't quite the perfect bag for me. I've been looking around for a better bag, but haven't found it yet. That's where I need your help. Maybe you've seen my perfect bag?

Non-negotiable features

  • Size must be between 16L to 22L. Up to 25L considered, if it fits airline under seat specs
  • Weight must be under 2 lb
  • Single main compartment
  • Clamshell or book opening
  • Must be rectilinear - no curved packs, please
  • Must fit under the airline aisle seat so that limits it to 19x14x8 in.

Strongly desired features

  • Stowable straps
  • Lightweight hip strap and sternum strap
  • lockable zippers
  • internal storage pocket for valuable items
  • an external pocket I can use for liquids etc.
  • internal tie down straps

Bonus Points

  • Small pocket for pens and wallet
  • lightweight storage area in lid of clamshell/lbook opening - similar to the rick steves lid pocket.

In case you've noticed, I'm basically looking for something similar to my Patagonia pack but slightly larger and with a clamshell opening. Ideally, both the main opening and outer pocket opening would be clamshell for easy access. I do not want a computer pocket because a) I rarely bring a laptop - I can do most things from my phone and b) when I bring a notebook I use a separate laptop sleeve for protection and c) I think computer pockets add weight to the bag.

If you've seen my perfect bag, could you let me know?


Update: added bag dimensions

Posted by
1194 posts

Thanks Sarah, but I'm holding firm at the under 2 lb limit. I want my weight allowance to be for the contents, not the bag. My non-negotiables really are non-negotiables.

BTW, I realize the Appenzell is a contender. I'm just wondering what else is out there. And I would be thrilled at packable straps. I'd like more of a business appearance Vs a backpacker appearance.

Dear Cindy,
I share your quest for the perfect bag. I have two backpacks that I wish I could meld the best features into one. Perhaps, we could start a custom bag company together.
My requirements are not as stringent as yours. I'm really liking the Ebags etech 2.0 Junior bag right now. It's my go-to bag now.
Good Luck.
My daughter uses the Appenzell as her bag. It's not a clam shell opening though. We also use it as a family tribe daypack.

Posted by
19151 posts

As usual, the best bag is no longer made. I have a Travelwell bag that I originally got from Goodhope, although they no longer seem to sell it. It's 18" by 13" by 6". It does weigh slightly over 2 lb, because it is very well made. It is rectilinear, has hideaway straps, and opens like a book for easy packing. It holds 1400 holds cu in, everything I normally take to Europe, but I would like a little spare room for European trips (I would use it as my only carry-on), so I have only used it domestically.

I haven't seen it on the Internet for some time. Does anyone know if it is still available.

Posted by
5258 posts


My son just recently got this bag. Check it out!

Please let us know which bag you end up with, okay?

Posted by
1194 posts

@Priscilla, The Rush 12 weighs 2.6 pounds so is way, way, too heavy. Thanks for the consideration though.

I want to emphasize that I really won't consider a bag over 2 lb. A bag this size shouldn't weigh more than this unless the manufacturer has added too many pockets and zippers. In fact, I don't think a bag this size should weigh more than 1.5 lb.

@Lee - Is this the bag? Goodhope Convertible Bag

Posted by
15564 posts

Cindy, I have the Goodhope Bag. It's fairly well made for the low price. Don't expect Tom Bihn or Red Oxx quality but it does the job fairly well. It is at your weight limit if not a couple of ounces over.

How about the new version of the Campmor Essential Carry On? It's 19 x 13 x 7 and weighs 1 lb 12 oz. Only $30. (Yes, they made the bag smaller to keep the price.)

It meets your non-negotiable items but not many of your desired ones.