Living on the Road

Ampac Tote Bag


Affordable, durable, versatile carry-on

This bag is always my carry-on bag when I fly and has been for more than five years. There are 12 very useful pockets which vary in size and can be used to hold snugly almost anything: PDA, cell phone, etc. Two of the pockets have mesh fronts so you can see what’s inside, and there’s also a key holder that keeps keys or other items handy yet out of sight. The side pockets on each end are sized for a water bottle (many bags offer one pocket, but two is even better). I find the bottle(s) really stay put, but are easy to remove and go back into the pocket without much fuss. Also, the bag has big, rugged zippers that never jam. The openings in the zipper pulls are 5/16″ x 3/16″ and rectangular in shape, useful for attaching things like bungee cords, what-have-you.

The versatility of the bag is a big plus. My daughter uses hers (actually, she stole mine so I bought another) for her daily transport to and from law school (laptop, books, materials, lunch, water bottle, etc.). Sure IKEA’s tote bag is only $0.99, but it only has one pocket versus the Ampac’s 12 of assorted sizes. And the IKEA can’t be closed, so it’s placement under an airline seat or in an overhead bin would be a potential mess/disaster.

I find $30 pretty sweet for something this useful and very tough and well built. After 5+ years of travel, it still looks brand new. Ampac offers the bag in eight colors: Black, Green, Blue, Khaki, Yellow, Red, Purple and Lime Green. I opted for red, which makes it easy to find and keep track of while traveling, but I’d buy another in a heartbeat if mine did get lost.

— Joseph Stirt

Ampac Tote Bag
Available from Ampac Travelware, Inc.