I’ve been conducting travel bag reviews here and at Practical Travel Gear since 2009 and 2011 respectively. That’s a lot of reviews! I’ve tried crossover bags, messenger bags, backpacks, totes, and roller bags. Finally, I think I’ve nailed it. I think I’ve found the best day pack for international travel, especially with kids in tow. That’s right…
The Eagle Creek Catch All Courier Pack RFID
What is it: The Catch-All Courier is a courier bag (with shoulder strap) that converts to a backpack with the ease for just two clips. It weight just over one pound, and the capacity is 12L. It’s made of tough poly ripstop, and has several compartments, or zones. The first zone is the outside zippered pocket, which is pretty straightforward. The next is a zone under the flap. This zone is the main organizational section, with several sleeves, a key fob, and slots, plus a passport-sized RFID paneled pocket. The zipper on this compartment is lockable in two ways (more on that below). The largest zone is the central interior of the bag, which is roomy enough for some layers, a large camera, snacks, and a 13″ laptop (in padded sleeve). To convert the bag to a backpack, unzip the backpack straps from the back panel (they’re zippered in when not in use), and snap them by a simple clip to each side of the bag. You’re done.
What makes it great: It’s exactly the right size (and no bigger) for day use while city touring, with just the right amount of pockets and organization panels. We appreciate the security of the RFID panel when we’re traveling with important documents and credit cards, and I love the way the zippers lock. In addition to being lock-ready (with your own small padlock) like most bags, they also have a built in toggle which you can slip into a slot, ensuring the zippers cannot be pulled by anyone around you while you’re wearing the pack. The front panel additionally locks with two snap closures. You can access the ‘zone 2’ panel really easily without opening the main section of the pack, which is nice when you need to get out a wallet or cell phone. There’s a water bottle sleeve, too (though I wish there were two!). There’s a nice handle at the top for easy grabbing, and the bag fits under airplane seats nicely, and isn’t too heavy to wear around a city.
Fjallraven Tote 2: This tote is really pretty, and functional, too. You can read a full review on Practical Travel Gear, but essentially, the selling points are the waxy, weather-proof material, the classy canvas look, and the ease of converting between tote and backpack. The downside: the backpack straps are not comfortable enough, leading to a sore neck if the pack is pretty full.
Osprey FlapJill: I really love Osprey packs, and the FlapJill delivers with a nice grab handle, a secure flap opening, and a roomy interior. The best thing about Osprey packs…the comfort of wearing them. The shoulder straps are the best of any of these picks, by far. The only reason the FlapJill is an honorable mention: it’s just a bit bulkier than the Catch-All, lacks RFID, and is more expensive.