When you read this I’ll be on my way home from a 5 day trip to Las Vegas with my wife and our two adult sons. Pat and the boys had never been to Vegas before, and we thought it’d be fun to see Hoover Dam, Valley of Fire State Park, Zion National Park and of course the hotels and casinos.

In addition to doing some outdoor activities like the parks and Hoover, we planned on having dinner at a couple of nice restaurants – Ferraro’s and the Capital Grille. Plus of course we need to bring shorts, bathing suits, and the like.

Can one bag handle a trip like this??

As always, my intent is to travel with minimal luggage:  one bag and no checked luggage. For this trip I chose my Red Oxx Air Boss – a nearly indestructible brute manufactured in Montanta by the Red Oxx folks, specifically designed for a “one bag” approach to business and leisure travel.

But given the nature of the trip – casual day stuff plus dining at some really nice restaurants – the requirements from a clothing standpoint varied quite a bit.

As I began packing, – working from my checklist – I found myself packing a fair amount of clothing. I packed one pair of dressy chinos, two dress oxford shirts, 3 golf shirts, a pair of Columbia lightweight convertible pants, a pair of semi-dressy shoes, and of course underwear and socks. Additionally, I was bringing along my GPS and its power adapter, the power adapter for my Blackberry, two pair of shorts, a couple of tee shirts, and my good camera, a Nikon D80 and the small bag I use for it and its battery charger. Plus… toiletries, etc.  I had decided to leave the laptop home, instead opting for my BlackBerry to check messages and the hotel computer to make any necessary adjustments on Practical Hacks.

On the way out to Vegas I’d decided to wear jeans, running shoes, golf shirt, and a sports jacket (or at least I’d carry the jacket if necessary) – so I’d have a jacket for the nicer restaurants we’d dine at.

Here are a few pics of my packing of the Air Boss (click on any of these photos for a much larger image):

I chose to pack the large bundle (click here or here for photos of the “bundle” method of packingif you haven’t tried it, you really ought to) in the center compartment of the bag, as opposed to the section which would be closest to my body when carrying the bag, simply because the main section is wider. The “core” of my bundle was all of the underwear wrapped in a couple of tee shirts; the blue shirt on the left is the top of the bundle:

Red Oxx Air Boss - bundle in main section

Here’s a shot of shoes (electronic devices packed inside them, and the shoes in a plastic bag) toiletries/meds, and my TSA liquids bag – all of which are packed in the outer compartment of the Air Boss to keep them from banging into my hip or side:

Packing Red Oxx Air Boss - outer section

One of the nice things about these 3 compartments is that their zippers run across 3 sides of the bag, enabling you to fully open the bag and lay it flat for putting items into it. This is especially helpful with your main bundle.

An additional advantage of the 3 compartments is that they make keeping all the liquids and electronic stuff completely separate from your clothing.

Finally, socks, shorts, and a pair of running shorts went into the 3rd section – which is closest to your body as you carry the bag:

Air Boss inner compartment

Putting items like this helps provide a little cushion as the bag rubs/bumps up against you. Our itineraries went into the ticket/passport pocket which is also located on that side of the bag:

Red Oxx Air Boss passport / ticket pocket

When the bag was fully packed it looked like this and weighed 18 lbs. and had a little “give” – always handy for placing the bag into overhead compartments:

Fully packed Red Oxx Air Boss

A final note – the camera bag was destined to be my “personal item” on the trip – I couldn’t fit it into the Air Boss along with all the other stuff.

Will I be able to carry-on the Air Boss?

We traveled on Allegiant Airlines. Their size restriction for carry-on baggage is that it be no larger than 9″ x 14″ x 22″; I just measured the packed Air Boss and it measures 10″ x 13″ x 21″. I am assuming I’ll be ok – particularly if the bag is slung over my shoulder when I approach the gate. (The bottom width of the bag is exactly 9″; packed, however, it’s bulging a bit.)

Upon arrival in Vegas I’ll take a picture of two of how everything survived the trip – that is, how unwrinkled or wrinkled my clothing is – and of course will take some photos at Hoover and the parks.

I’ll provide an update and report on the Air Boss – and maybe include a few pictures from the parks – on Friday the 5th.

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7 Comments on One bag adventure: 5 days/4 nights in Vegas – casual plus dressy – no checked luggage…

  1. Michael W. says:

    YEAH!

    REAL packing. Keep us posted!

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  2. Matt M says:

    I’m interested to hear what you packed the camera in. I tried the Air Boss a while back and it ended up being to bulky and heavy for my comfort when put on the shoulder. Not packing it full is almost a must unless you are a giant or made of iron (looking back I probably over packed mine). But I do think it’s best for the bundle method and I regret giving it back at times.

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  3. Kevin says:

    Matt –

    I packed it in an inexpensive camera bag. You can see it in the background in the 1st picture above – click on it for a larger view. (It’s branded Samsonite,- but don’t let the name fool you – it’s a cheap offshore import, but it works for casual travel.)

    The bag is large enough for a D80 equipped with an 18-55mm lens and my Garmin GPS and a few other odds and ends.

    I’ll post tomorrow about the trip and the Air Boss. At 18lbs. I was at the limit of what I want / am able to lug around.

    Thanks for commenting.

    Kevin

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  4. Matt M says:

    Kevin – I see the bag you mean now. If you have a birthday coming up you might want to look at the Red Oxx Gator bag. I use this for my DSLR and my personal carry on item. The padding works great for carrying the camera around and not having to worry about it getting damaged as you pick it up or put it away. It’s much smaller than what the airline will let you carry but it works nicely if you want to take it with you as you sight see or go out to dinner.

    Looking forward to hearing more about the Air Boss.

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  5. Michael W. says:

    The comments on weight are telling.

    They remind me that weight (of water and books) was the principal reason I abandoned soft-sided luggage in the first place and used a wheelie in the ’90’s.

    The 45″ sum of three dimensions limit on carry-on bags is actually quite workable if you are packing clothing and not heavy items – although denim pants can add up. Even with clothing there are variations in density, for example fluffy winter clothing (like a synthetic fill jacket) will fill out an AirBoss or similar bag without overweighting it, while (most) shoes and denim pants are heavy.

    On my upcoming trip to Thailand, my plan is to carry a medium duffel with clothing in it (bulky but light items), plus a small “personal sized” back pack (the 17 liter Flash ultralite from REI) carrying my post-security re-filled 64 oz collapsible water bottle. Thus the heavy item (1 kg per liter for water) goes in the smaller bag, which also carries easiest due to the back pack straps.

    Although the “one bag” principle is great, the minute you add heavy, dense items to the equation – be it water, books, laptop, or camera gear – you’ve either got to have that extra strength and patience to haul the “one bag” around, or you’ve got to convert to a wheelie OR distribute some of that weight into your permitted “personal” bag. I find it a lot easier to carry one shoulder bag on each shoulder, each medium in weight, than a single heavy bag on one shoulder (or even cross body). The best for me (short of a wheelie) is heaviest, densest items in a small backpack (backpacks carry GREAT) and just using the luggage handles for the other bag, switching carry sides periodically (I’m not that fond of shoulder straps, they slip, plus I’ve been exercising – seriously – and carrying stuff in my hand isn’t the burden it once was).

    I can really sympathize with Debbie for using a very compact wheelie for her books and laptop.

    Wheelies are actually great for solitary travel, point to point via taxi – the problem is that airlines are cracking down on their size, they waste a lot of space and its impossible to fit a whole “family” of wheelies into the trunk of most cars (soft-sided luggage somehow manages to squeeze in), and if you watch the weight, a non-wheelie is just SO much more versatile.

    It would be useful to hear more from Matt M on the Gator bag. I looked at that and it looks good (and it has a great price!) if you need to haul a laptop and some books around. The Lightwire Brief from Patagonia (26 L (1600 cu in) 15.5″ x 12.5″ x 7″ Computer Sleeve: 15″ x 10.5″) also looks interesting, although I believe it is QUITE a bit bigger than the Gator, more of a “mini one-bag” than briefcase:

    http://www.patagonia.com/web/u.....0&ws=

    [Reply]

  6. Matt M says:

    Michael W – I’m not sure I’d recommend the Red Oxx Gator for books and laptop, unless it’s a really small laptop. I think something like the ASUS EEPC would fit. It’s listed as 12x6x9 which is pretty small. If you look at the images you can see where the 6″ wide works really well for DSLR cameras though.

    When I fly it’s almost always large domestic flights and the Gator fit so easily underneath the seat in front that I could put my feet on both sides. It was tiny compared to the bags I stuff under there before. What worked out well was the pockets on the sides where I put a paperback on one side and some water on the other.

    Regarding the one bag approach, I admit there are times I envy those pulling a bag on wheels because when it works those bags are so much easier. I do regret giving up on the Air Boss now but my Tom Bihn Aeronaut is very comfortable and works well (but the bundle method is nearly impossible with it). My latest strategy is to go Aeronaut on my back and Gator using the handles. I may try to get a small mobile internet device like the iPod Touch with Wi-Fi to complete my travel gadget needs (and keep the load light).

    Back to the Gator, I think if you needed to carry a laptop you’d need to go to the Metro or even the CPA which has the extra width.

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  7. Michael W. says:

    I’m wavering on whether to get an Ipod touch to do online banking etc. while out of the country…it’s a very appealing idea. I can use the computers provided by an internet cafe to read the NY Times, but don’t like to use their computers for online banking and email reading (too much risk of losing a password).

    [Reply]

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