Combined Bags for Flying?
I'm looking for a single travel solution for carrying both my laptop (and its stuff) and a conjoined but separable bag for clothes & toiletries.
Ideally, one "thing" at the airport, through security and on the plane. Once at my destination, two bags. Only need space for 5-6 days of clothes at a time. And I don't need to take my extra clothes to work, so a separate/normal setup for the computer and its bits & pieces.
My instincts want a soft sided, over-the-shoulder bag, but an acceptable alternative is a single hard & secure case (for two separate bags inside) that I can check - then I can fly with a little bag with a change of clothes, audio player, book, etc.
Look at Eagle Creek bags, like this one: http://www.eaglecreek.com/bags_luggage/wheeled_luggage/Switchback-Max-22-20296/
I have an old version of this bag and it has served me well.
Just keep in mind that you do not want to check a bag that has your laptop in it. If you do and your laptop gets damaged, destroyed, or stolen, the airline will not cover it.
I'm a fan of the Patagonia MLC, which I think I first saw recommended on Cool Tools. That said: I pack light -- that back goes with me for a long weekend or a two week trip -- and the laptop is light too. I have an 11" MacBook Air that I have a minimal neoprene sleeve for. That, the charger, various cables and accessories for my phone and camera all fit in the slimmer of the two main compartments on the bag.
The problem with this is that when you get stuck a commuter plane (say smaller than an MD80) you may have to check the bag at the door... and then you won't have your stuff with you on the plane and your risk getting your laptop broken in the soft backpack style bag. What I have settled on is the (awesome) spinner style carry on bag: http://www.amazon.com/Victorinox-Unisex-Avolve-Expandable-Wheeled/dp/B0050314UW/ref=pd_sim_sbs_misc_2 It moves along with you effortlessly and you stack your laptop bag on top. I use a velcro strap to attach it. Seriously, I love this luggage. Even the flight attendants comment on how cool it is that it just rolls along with you without dragging it. It's almost like having R2-D2 follow you carrying your stuff :)
If you don't need a lot of stuff with your laptop, you can get something like an Incase nylon sling sleeve (which comes in different sizes and has room for power adapter, pens, and a (very) few other small things) and then stuff that inside a nice carryon bag like the RedOxx Airboss.
I usually carry enough clothes for a three-day business trip and just do laundry while on the road if I have to make a week-long trip. But the Airboss is BIG and can accommodate more if you need it to.
The Air Boss will fit in most regional jet overhead bins and even if you overstuff it and it won't fit, you can easily remove the laptop bag so you don't have to worry about your laptop getting damaged.
For the laptop, you might look at the WaterField Designs sleevecase It's designed to work standalone or inside another bag you can customize it to be pretty minimal while providing excellent protection. The 'piggyback' concept for carrying awkward shaped things like chargers makes it great for packing inside a larger carry-on bag.
I have now owned 3 of them and use them to put my laptop inside a standard carry-on on a regular basis. The workmanship is superb and they still look great after years of use. I don't have a recommendation for a great carry on, but I'd say one of these would enable you to pick whatever carry on you liked.
I'm also an AirBoss user - fairly frequent journeys to and from the UK and Channel Islands.
There are lots of places that will explain the pros and cons of soft-sided bags vs wheelies, so I won't rehash any of them. But I've never regretted going down that route (even if when you add in delivery and import duty it was eye-wateringly expensive)
I combine it with a very cheap thin supermarket bought 17" laptop bag (£8 iirc) that sits neatly in the centre section and keep an IPad / ereader etc in that.
My question is: why a single solution? Is there something about this that you need/want? Because otherwise I'd recommend something similar to everyone else's answer: a minimal laptop bag (I use one from BuiltNY) and put that inside the carry-on of your choice.
I have a BBP Hamptons XL case. http://www.bbpbags.com/hamptons.html But they have a bigger one, the Hauler. I carry the BBP bag on the plane with a change of clothes and gate-check a cheap but good quality bag with clothes and stuff.
There's only one answer to this: The Tom Binh TriStar
3 way carry (handle, shoulder, backpack), no wheels. I've traveled with it for 3 days to 18 days. It fits any overhead in any plane including the EU discount carriers.
I use both the AirBoss and Tom Bihn's Aeronaut bags depending upon where I'm going and the range of weather to be encountered.
The AirBoss's center section is padded well enough that you don't need much around your laptop…especially if you've packed the two sandwiching side sections with this in mind. That said, Bihn's "Brain Bag" laptop sleeves are great for putting your computer into a soft sided luggage bag that might get poked, shoved, or squeezed into various overhead or underseat storage areas. Bihn also makes a nice set of interior packing bags and one of these fits the center (main) section of the Aeronaut…and also doubles as an impromptu backpack in the event that you acquire somethings along the way or want a light duty day pack before or on your return flight. I have to fly out of an airport that sees mostly small commuter planes with horrid overhead bins and only underseat storage on the two-seater side of the plane, and then only on the aisle seat, if that. If it looks like I will have to gatecheck my carryon (some airlines get downright tight about this), then the Bihn emergency back pack interior bag can hold my camera gear for the duration of the flight.
5-6 days is a good fit for these bags if you are smart about what you pack and what you wear.
One expensive-ish fix is the Traveller's Vest made by Filson. It has a vast number of zippered interior pockets and front sleeve pockets that easily carry my iPad (in a bluetooth keyboard case), my iPod, my phone, a small camera, my Kindle, a moleskin-like note book, my passport and all documents, etc. So when going through TSA, all I have to do is put it in a bin. If you own one of their lighter weight waxed-canvas (and less stiff) jackets, it can be zipped in and thus hide an entire layer of pockets from anyone looking to pick yours…they'd have to go through three zippers.
That should be "Tom Bihn Brain Cell" as a laptop sleeve….the Brain Bag is a backpack.
Having had to run a good quarter of a mile from Southwest to American due to a cancellation I can't say enough about having a spinner bag. Even though it was inexpensive, ( $50, from Ross)the Olympia roll aboard is one of the best bags I've ever used. The big advantage of 4 wheels is that you can push it beside you. It has an external pocket that would fit a moderate size laptop in a sleeve so that it could easily be removed to go through security.
I really like the eBags Weekender eTech Convertible, a backpack-style laptop bag with a lot of room for clothes and gear. Overhead compartment is no problem, and I have often fit it under my seat.
This is best for 2-4 days; however, I did do 6 days in China, packing tightly using packing cubes, though that's about the limit without rewashing. eBags's own-brand gear is really well-made and thoughtfully designed; my only desire is a similar bag in a wheeled version.
I've had good luck stowing a small laptop case inside this bag: http://www.rei.com/product/803307/osprey-porter-46-travel-pack
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