Since I began traveling with any regularity, I have been on a quest: A quest to find the perfect suitcase to carry my stuff on my travels around the world.
My luggage criteria is simple. I want a bag that isn't too big, but also not too small, and will let me bring multiple days worth of clothing easily in all seasons (that means sweaters and/or shorts). Because most of my flights and other travels are for longish weekends, I also want a bag that is easy to carry, and will fit (for the most part) either underneath the seat in front of me, or easily in the overhead of all the types of planes I fly on. This is important because for the most part, my travels are on Regional Jets (like those pictured below) where luggage storage can be limited. Another consideration is that in many cases, I will be traveling from work to go on these trips, so I need a bag that I can easily take with me on public transit, and not be a jerk.
I also want this bag the be THE bag I take with me, which means it has to also be able to carry a laptop and/or at the very least my iPad and camera gear. And not be too heavy.
I've been through garment bags, duffels, expanding bags, backpacks, totes, and many, many, many roller bags, but have only recently found a bag that I truly can say is the perfect bag for me!
The bag that currently has become "THE Bag", the Water Repellant Polyester Boston Bag Large: $79.95 (available online at muji.us), (no idea why it is named after a New England city, maybe its flexibility lets you cheat at football??) is the most versatile travel bag I've ever owned. I found this bag by chance on a trip to New York City a year or so ago while exploring the newly opened New York location of the Japanese Department Store Muji. This store, known for its low cost, high quality homegoods (and amazing socks, I love their socks) also sells some amazing travel goods, including a variety of kinds of luggage (including those European sized (so tiny) wheely bags).
The Boston bag's main appeal is its flexibility (it can fit lots of things) and built in organization. This includes six pockets, including two inner pockets great for use in segregating dirty clothing from those that are clean. The pockets are also great for quickly putting my keys, wallet, watch, and iPhone away when going through security, and then finding them again! The build quality is excellent, and the zippers are well constructed. The material, while synthetic is is very durable, and has taken some beatings without quitting while traveling. It also has a very durable shoulder strap, which allows me to carry it easily, no matter the load. Since the bag's material is waterproof it has been great for winter travel, keeping my stuff dry especially when I have to deal with the Thunderdome that is Gate 35A at Washington National Airport and go outside to board a plane.
On board planes, it fits really well underneath the seat in front of you on all tiny planes including the two pictured on the right. Since it is carry-on sized and has an open pocket at the back you could also bring it with you on longer trips as a second bag and attach it to the handle of a wheely bag easily while maneuvering through the airport. The pockets also are helpful here since you can reach things like headphones or other wires easily without digging through the bag for them (and accidentally dropping your underoos in the middle of the aisle.
I find that for all but the longest of trips (more than one week) I can get away with it. Of course, this requires strategic packing, but then again all travel does! Also the simple, clean design of the bag makes it look very professional in a way that I would recommend this bag as the bag for business travel.
Of course, the Boston Bag would not be a great bag to use if you're bringing a suit jacket (and don't want to wear it on the plane) nor if you have to bring a briefcase with you while traveling. In those cases, you may want to look elsewhere. I have traveled with this bag and my work bag, and it can be awkward to have two different bags on your shoulders.
Muji also supplied me with my travel toiletry bag, the Paraglider Cloth Hanging Travel Case, Large: $20.00 (available online at muji.us) (again, I only buy them, I don't name them) which coupled with the Boston Bag are the best travel gear I've owned. This little bag carries so many different things I may need under 3.3 fluid ounces (or 100 milliliters, for those of us who understand SI units) without being bulky or taking up too much room in my bag. It is much better than using a Ziploc bag or the like, and the built in hanger makes keeping things organized and dry when counter space is in short supply in hotel bathrooms. It too is made of a strong but light nylon which can be washed easily if there's spills.
The bottom line is that this bag is great for my needs as it helps me carry my stuff during leisure travel on weekends easily. It's durability and flexibility, coupled with a very affordable price makes the Boston Bag a no nonsense, easy to use travel bag. When I do however have longer travel, I do regress to using a wheeled bag. The quest though for a bag for longer travel though continues...that's a whole other post!