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Personal Item?

I've been using the same bag as my personal item for nearly three years and it may be time to change. (I'm currently using a Tom Bihn Pilot). I'd like to hear what others are using especially if they meet my basic needs:

1) No bigger than 40 cm x 30 cm x 15 cm. (15.75" x 11.8" x 5.9")

2) MUST Have a trolley strap to fit over the telescoping handles of a wheelie bag.

3) Not too heavy (this is subjective).

4) Zippers are somewhat lockable.

There is no need to mention any Rick Steves bags as I am familiar with them.

Posted by
2023 posts

I love my Filson "Rugged Twill Tote w/ Zipper" and actually took it to a leather shop to have a trolly strap added.

I dodn't think it's heavy, but definitely not a lightweight option.

Posted by
8056 posts

TIMBUK2 Commute Messenger bag might be to your liking.

A friend swears by his Nomadic messenger bag. Not cheap.

Posted by
630 posts

Are you open to a backpack option - how about Tom Bihn’s Synik 22?

Posted by
18864 posts

The best bags aren't made anymore.

PS: any significance to the fact that your "No bigger than" dimensions exactly match the dimensions of a KLM "accessory"?

Posted by
13837 posts

My "no bigger than" dimensions are the IATA reccomended dimensions used by many European airlines.

The Tom Bihn Synik is high on my list.

Posted by
18864 posts

It looks like those IATA personal item dimensions are also good for British Air and Air France, but not for Lufthansa and Swiss, which limit the thickness of PIs to 10 cm.

Posted by
848 posts

I'm curious as to why you are giving up the Pilot? My husband uses the TB CoPilot. I'll be curious as to what you decide on - please let us know.

With so many bags out there, do you have any favorite brands? You could search your favorite brands and see what a particular company has available. Budget?
RedOxx has the metro. The dimensions don’t quite align with the ones you listed. Do you have other criteria besides a trolley strap? The CPA is even bigger.
That Tom Bihn Pilot looks really nice. Hard to beat that if traveling with a computer.

Posted by
3090 posts

Frank, This is what I use to fit BA's PI measurements, which are the measurements you list. Sherpani markets to women, but frankly I don't see that this bag would bother any but the most insecure male. Discussed with my husband as well and he looked at me like I was a bit crazy "Why would it be a problem?" a man secure in his own skin. I digress. Here's the link. It has the pass through for luggage handle, is a backpack, crossbody and tote (if you ever go back to a two wheeled bag you can use the add a bag strap for balance with the tote handles). I fit an amazing amount in it, including a change of clothes, iPad and laptop (rarely both, but fits fine), and all the stuff I want with me always just in case. While I have not been flying, I have used it almost daily in my domestic life and weekly travels. I will add Sherpani bags look like new for many I had another over a decade that still looked like new but I was bored...

This bag would also fit your measurements, but I don't own one.

Posted by
139 posts

Frank II,
I’m intrigued by the Tom Bihn Synik 22 also. Just returned from a domestic flight. Took my trusty Pilot (which I love) and my spinner. Husband had a roller and my S19 (which I also love, but is just a bit too small for most travel.) I loved being able to put the backpack strap over my shoulder, rather than bag strap. Made me start hankering for a Synik, which I do Not need! If I were flying often, I think I’d spring for it.

Don’t love the full sleeve on the Synik. If the bag were stuffed full, it might be hard to secure on a bag handle? But the extra space over the almost-perfect S19 would be ideal. Love the organization of S19 and Pilot.

Posted by
32059 posts

Frank II,

While the dimensions don't exactly fit your criteria, I've been using this product for carry-on - . I've added a padded insert for my camera gear and it's worked well so far.

Regarding your other criteria.....

  1. Size is 19" x 9" x 9" (there are larger sizes available)
  2. It has a trolley strap of sorts, which is configured by opening the top & bottom zippers on one of the outside compartments.
  3. Not too heavy.... as you say this is subjective. The unit I'm using is heavier than normal as I had it custom made with brightly coloured lining.
  4. The zippers are somewhat lockable (which they show in some of the pictures). As the zippers on the main compartment open on both sides, two locks may be required.

Red Oxx has lots of other choices, so if that one doesn't work perhaps one of the others will -,specificationFilter_818 .

I assume they're still operating and filling orders, and haven't shut down because of Covid?

Posted by
18864 posts

First, Frank, does it bother you that the website does not mention the weight of the bag? Seems that is a pretty critical specification for any kind of pack. The fact that they don't include it in the specs makes me think they are not particularly proud of that feature. When a bag company does not include the weight of the bag, that is a huge red flag for me.

No bigger than 40 cm x 30 cm x 15 cm. (15.75" x 11.8" x 5.9")

Also, I notice that the length measurement (16.75") exceeds your (IATA) maximum length by an inch (the rest of the dimensions are slightly below your maximums). And when you figure the volume they say it displaces, L·W·H, it has an outside volume of 18 liters, yet they claim the capacity is 20L (good trick). For 20L, given the IATA LxW allowances, the height would have to be at least 6.6 inches, well beyond the maximum.

Posted by
13837 posts

No, the lack of listed weight didn't bother me since all I had to do was email them and they got back to me that day. (I also had some other questions that got answered.) Many bag companies don't necessarily list weight because their main customers are not ultralight packers traveling to Europe. They are people traveling domestically and who are not necessarily concerned with weight or those who may check a main bag and use the daypack as their carryon.

As for how much the bag holds, you have to remember, this is not hard material. It is cloth and cloth can expand. Not at the seams, but throughout the material. The way they get the volume of the bag is not via the measurements. The standard for the bag industry is to fill the bag with tiny pellets until full. Then the volume of the pellets is measured. (They are literally poured into a tall tube.) That's the real volume of the bag.

As for the one measurement that is more than 40 cm.....again, it is not a rigid bag and if not filled could fit in a sizer if necessary.

Posted by
8944 posts

Have you ended up purchasing the Herschel, Frank?

Posted by
13837 posts

Yes, Kim, I got it last week but haven't taken it on a trip yet.

I like it. It has decent organization and can hold quite a bit. It weighs 1 lb, 10 oz with comfortable backpack straps and back mesh panel. It fits easily over the telescoping handle of my carry on bag. I was previously using a Tom Bihn Pilot. The Herschel weighs about 5 ounces more but holds about 50% more. It took me two days to notice a third compartment in the front as the zippler was hidden.

I think it's going to work out well for me.