With an upcoming 12 total flight trip to Malaysia, we decided to use our camping/travel backpacks instead of a typical roller bag. When we arrived at Perhentian Kecil, we were glad we had backpacks as we had to walk almost 800 meters across a sandy beach to get to ur accommodation.
We wanted to protect our backpacks while in transit so we decided to get two duffle bags. We found these for ~$17 on Amazon. The reviews on Amazon aren’t too positive but the price and size seemed right. The fabric is light weight yet seems quite strong. The zipper pull felt very flimsy and very thin. The overall design seemed quite good with a large zipper opening that goes half way down the side. One of our smaller backpacks (Gregory Jade 50) fit right in but the larger 70 liter one had a hard time getting in. There was a little bit of vertical compression needed on the backpack to get it inside the duffle bag, but once in, it actually fit quite nicely.
We had originally tested the fit of the backpacks in the duffles without too much in the backpacks. The night before we were set to depart, we did another fit test with more in the backpacks. The smaller backpack fit just fine again but the larger one split the stitching near the zipper and caused the zipper to fall off. We were glad this happened at home rather than on our travels. Our first flight was scheduled at 5:40am and it was about 10pm. Luckily we have a sewing machine so we spent the next hour reinforcing both bags. Originally we just ran a new stitch near the zipper but this didn’t seem like it would be enough.
The 70 liter backpack weighed in at 21kg while the 50 liter backpack was around 17kg.
Realizing that more stitching was needed. It looks terrible but should do the trick.
After a few flights, the stitching for the handle came undone. This was an initial oversight on the sewing reinforcement that we did as grabbing this bag by only one handle and pulling puts a lot os stress where the handle meets the bag.
After the seventh flight, the first major issue. The zipper ended up coming apart. The zipper was able to be reset after this and worked fine.
After the ninth flight arriving in Bangkok, the bag ended up failing pretty badly. This luckily was our last flight where we needed access to this bag so…
We ended up getting it wrapped in Bangkok for the remaining three flights. We felt so gross that all this plastic was used just to get this bag home without more damage happening.
Finally back in Minneapolis after twelve flights.
Overall, we wouldn’t rate these bags very highly unless they were to be used lightly and stuffed with things like pillows, sleeping bags or something around that density. Using both handles will also extend the life of the bag but that is not always controllable with the way bags are handled for flights. The bag that had the lighter and smaller backpack held up just fine and that bag was also reinforced by us before we left.
The recommendation would be to reinforce the areas around the zipper and where the handles meet the bag. Obviously, not everyone has a sewing machine, has the time or feels like they should have to put extra effort into making a product usable. We feel that the further reinforcement that can be done to the bags after the trip will make the bags last quite a bit longer.