Carryon, photo from Shorpy.com

Travel Happy: Win the Carryon Game

I am not picky about the type of bag I bring on the plane. As long as it is small enough to bring aboard and not be checked, I am a happy traveler. That is how I win the carryon game, by never checking bags. I do look for bags that are comfortable, easy to carry, and versatile.

Last Spring, two different companies offered backpacks to me to review. Over the past six months, I subjected the bags to the rigorous McCool Travel testing process, extensively using the three backpacks during trips and everyday commutes.

Here are my reviews of the products.

Win the Carryon Game

Outdoor Products Power Pack 3.0

Power Pack 3.0 from Outdoor Products has massive capacity, many zippered and formatted compartments, and security features. Total storage capacity is 24.1 liters (1,473 cubic inches) and dimensions are 13.8 x 7 x 19.5.

Five small zippered compartments on the outside are convenient for sunglasses and things like lip balm and hand sanitizer. An additional outside zippered compartment is within the padding on the back of the bag and is great for documents.

One inside padded compartment can hold and protect a laptop computer, up to 17″. The main inside storage area has a zippered mesh bag on one side and on open pouch on the other. I easily fit my size 13 shoes in this main compartment. Another compartment is specifically designed to holds pens, digital gear (hopefully I will not lose any more chargers), and more; it is like a portable office.

Win the Airfare Game

Outdoor Products PowerPack 3.0

When going on a trip, the several compartments allow you to store things you do not need for a few days—like your keys, parking pass, and garage door opener—and they will be out of the way of things you want earlier access to.

The Power Pack has more than adequate padding, on the shoulder blades and lumbar areas. The straps are heavy duty and the stitching is solid. In fact, this is a very well made and sturdy product. I love that there are two pouches on the outside for water bottles.

The straps or the material on the back scratched my arms a bit. I tend to flip the bag around a lot, from shoulder to shoulder, when walking through airports or on my regular commute. I often wear short sleeve shirts and my forearms were irritated and scratched by something. Of course, wearing long sleeves eliminates this issue.

Summary: This bag is ideal for multi-day trips. For commuting, it is too large, unless you are toting a larger laptop (15-17″) and/or shoes. The Outdoor Products Power Pack 3.0 is sold exclusively by REI, which has a great refund or exchange program.

Favorite aspects:

  • multiple compartments
  • space
  • comfort
  • sold by REI

Wish list:

  • less scratchy material on inside of straps
  • a smaller version

Thank you MM Brand Agency and Outdoor Products for sending me a Power Pack 3.0.

Mobile Pro by LiteGear [LiteGearBags.com]

I was initially attracted to this product—after being contacted by the company President—through the superb YouTube promo video. Perhaps I am easily impressed but I was especially impressed where they show all of the items that can fit into the Mobile Pro. I absolutely LOVE that the canvas is made from recycled plastic.

The Mobile Pro qualifies as “airline personal item” size and can accompany a larger carryon bag. Surprisingly, it holds more stuff than the Power Pack (above) even though it looks smaller. The Mobile Pro is 17 x 10 x 9 and expands to 17 x 10 x 12; total storage capacity is 1,530 cubic inches capacity (2,014 when expanded).

LiteGear Mobile Pro

LiteGear Mobile Pro

My shoes fit better in the Power Pack but I did manage to squeeze them in the Mobile Pro. The computer compartment can accommodate a laptop up to 15″. It comes with a strap to give you different options for carrying, than simply as a backpack.

A cool feature is its “apps”:

  • card manager
  • accessory pouch (mesh)
  • thermal food container
  • document holder
  • mini flashlight (with batteries)

I am so impressed that batteries were shipped with the flashlight AND that the batteries were turned around so that they were not active. The flashlight, however, is not detachable.

There is one water bottle pocket on the side. I would love for there to be two water bottle pockets.

Love the front organizer pocket. It includes a business card holder, two pen slots, and one elastic net pocket; I put sunblock tube, lip balm, and other small items in it. The RFID pocket is tight and too narrow for my fingers.

As with the Power Pack, the Mobile Pro straps scratched my arms.

Summary: The LiteGear Mobile Pro conforms to existing carryon policies. It is a nice bag for commuters, students, or travelers. The Mobile Pro can be purchased directly from the company.

Favorite aspects:

  • multiple compartments
  • size
  • space
  • comfort
  • versatility

Wish list:

  • two water bottle holders
  • removable light pen (attach to strap/hook in the accessory pouch)
  • less scratchy material on inside of straps
  • smoother zippers (perhaps a breaking in period with new bag)

Thank you LiteGear for sending me a Mobile Pro.

Outdoor Products Mist 8.0

The smallest of the three bags, the Mist 8.0 is the bag I use the most for everyday commutes. It is a solid, durable backpack with enough storage to carry most items I need every day. It comes with a 2 liter hydration reservoir, which I removed but might use on future long flights.

The Mist has two main zippered compartments, one with an open pouch—where the 2 liter reservoir would go. In addition, there is a generous outside pouch and two water bottle holders (yes!). The supporting straps have too much material so I am constantly folding them up and trying to keep them out of the way.

Outdoor Products Mist 8.0

Outdoor Products Mist 8.0

Summary: Outdoor Products Mist 8.0 is an excellent backpack for day hikes or everyday commutes; if you do not have too much stuff. Like most Outdoor Products (the Mobile Pro is an exception), Mist can be purchased at their website and many other places.

Favorite aspects:

  • multiple compartments
  • size
  • space
  • comfort
  • versatility

Wish list:

  • straps are too long
  • less scratchy material on inside of straps

Thank you MM Brand Agency and Outdoor Products for sending me a Mist 8.0.

Do you have a favorite day pack, backpack, or carryon bag?

See also:

8 Great Inflight Products

3 Habits of Happy Travelers


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Travel Happy: Win the Carryon Game was first published on 19 November 2015.

10 Responses to “Travel Happy: Win the Carryon Game”

  1. StreetTrotter September 25, 2016 at 12:28 pm #

    This is good info! owning a good backpack is so important and all the little features matter a ton when you are on the road. Thanks! Will save this post for my next buy!

    • McCool Travel September 25, 2016 at 10:13 pm #

      Great to hear. Happy shopping and travel happy!

  2. Adventuring The Great Wide Somewhere September 18, 2016 at 3:17 pm #

    Seems like all three backpacks have great features! I’d probably choose the third one for visual appeal combined with tons of useful compartments, but I also really like that the second one is convertible, so I don’t have to wear it on my back and make myself vulnerable in crowded spaces.

    • McCool Travel September 19, 2016 at 2:20 pm #

      Great insight. Good to make sure the straps are stitched to the main compartment so that it cannot just be ripped away from you.

  3. Carol from Wayfaring Views September 17, 2016 at 1:25 pm #

    My husband also has huge feet and his shoes take up the whole bag!. He likes the eBags weekender travel backpack. It expandos to a rather large (but still carry-on) size. We recently used it for a 3-week trip to the UK.

    • McCool Travel September 19, 2016 at 2:19 pm #

      Excellent tip. I usually only bring one extra pair of shoes (or flip flops) for my size 13 waterski feet. Totally understand.

  4. traveldifferentmedia September 17, 2016 at 12:58 pm #

    Love the look of the Mist 8.0. Always in search of the perfect pack. Thanks for this!

    • McCool Travel September 19, 2016 at 2:17 pm #

      Thank you for visiting and the note. Travel happy.

  5. Adelina // PackMeTo September 17, 2016 at 12:08 pm #

    I like the sound of the Mobile Pro. Sounds really versatile and sleeker looking than what I’m currently using. For my day to day commute I’ve been using a bad from MEC (Canada’s equivalent to REI) but I don’t love the way it looks.

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