The Highs: Recycled materials; good looks; lightweight; 3 carry options

The Lows: Zipper rain flaps are a bit fussy; no compression straps in main compartment

The Verdict: A capable bag and a reasonable value; OPEC is still the price/value champ, however

GoLite’s entry into the lightweight convertible carry-on niche is the TraveLite, a bag that offers Patagonia good looks without the Paty sticker shock.   The similarity doesn’t end there:  the ripstop material used appears very similar to that used on some Patagonia bags, the polymer shoulder strap hardware is identical to that on the MLC,  the zippers are the same, and the off-center briefcase handle is eerily similar to that on the MLC.  It’s entirely possible this bag isn’t made in the same factory as are some of the Paty products, but if that turned out to be the case, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Where’s it fit in the market?  Think of it as a more attractive, more expensive alternative to the Outdoor Products Essential Carry-on.  But first, let’s take a look at its specs and key features…

Specifications & Features

  • 21′ x 14″ x ~7″
  • 2 lbs. / .91 kg
  • Capacity:  ~2200 cubic inches
  • Book-style main opening and internal divider zip panels make this bag easy to pack and organize
  • 3 quick-access front pockets compartmentalize shoes and smaller items; each measures ~6½” x 19″ x 1″
  • Secure body-side zip-pocket keeps your boarding pass handy
  • Meets carry-on standards for USA and International carriers
  • Comfortable, padded grab handles on top and side for easy overhead storage
  • Zip-away s-curved, padded shoulder straps quickly convert to backpack carry mode
  • 100% Tier 1 recycled nylon technical backpack materials taken straight from our backcountry packs provide exceptional strength at minimal weight
  • YKK zippers; rain flaps on all compartments but except body-side boarding pass or 3-1-1 compartment
  • Heavy-duty reinforcements at key abrasion points

A quick photo tour…

The TraveLite is made of the same type of ripstop used on the firm’s backpacks and adventure gear; its satin finish is attractive in person:

As is the norm with this type of bag, padded backpack straps deploy from a zippered pocket.  The straps are ergonomically shaped and are quite comfortable, and the padding in the rear panel is ~¼” thick, adding to your comfort when the bag is used in this mode.  The top attachment points are toward the center of the bag and as a result, the lack of a sternum strap didn’t seem to be a problem.  The D rings to which the straps attach can be stored in small pockets when not in use:

The bag sports two main compartments, both of which feature a zippered cover (solid panel on the LH compartment, mesh panel on the RH compartment).  Each of these compartments measures ~21″ x 13″ x 2½“; as is obvious from this shot, the zipper fully covers all 3 sides, enabling the bag to fold flat for easy packing:

The LH compartment panel unzipped; note that there are no tie down or compression straps in either of these compartments.  Bundle packing or the use of packing cubes might prevent items from sliding around or otherwise migrating:

There are three other pockets for storing smaller items or segregating shoes from your clothing.  You can see two of them below; the zipper for the 3rd such compartment is on the top front of the bag.  In the photo below, you can see the zipper pull for that compartment in the very upper RH corner of the image.  Although these pockets technically have a depth of just one inch, this is a soft sided bag and you can cram quite a bit into them as a result:

The only compartment without a rain flap (to ease access) faces your body (hence the “body-side” description above), and is great for boarding passes or your 3-1-1 liquids bag.

A few close-up details…

There’s a padded briefcase handle on top of the bag; it’s comfortable, but is offset, causing the bag to tilt at a peculiar angle when it’s used to carry a loaded bag.  Although the handle is well padded and comfortable, it doesn’t come close to matching the molded rubber handle used on the OPEC:

The (included) shoulder strap pad (below) is well padded and I found it comfortable in use, although it of course lacks the grippiness of higher end straps like the Claw and Absolute.  A plus?  Nifty GoLite logo is emblazoned on its top.

A close-up of the D ring and snap hook for the shoulder straps; this hardware is identical to that used on the current generation MLC:

A grab handle is located on one end, handy for retrieving the bag from overheads:

YKK zippers are used throughout; zipper pulls are quite similar to those used on many Patagonia bags.  Rain flaps provide protection from “zipper seepage,” should you get caught in a shower; they occasionally make operating the zippers a bit difficult, but are worth the minor hassle:

In any event, the material itself is water resistant; below, a close-up of water beading on its surface:

Wrapping up

I’ve mentioned the OPEC a couple of times in this post, and it might be useful to view these two bags side by side:

These bags are remarkably similar in terms of configuration and capacity.  The OPEC is a bit wider than the TraveLite, and its claimed capacity is appx. 2800 cubic inches; the TraveLite, ~2200 cu in.  Both have two main compartments, one with a mesh panel.  The OPEC has tie down straps in its main compartment, TraveLite, none.  The TraveLite’s shoulder strap is nicer and more comfortable; the OPEC’s briefcase handle, made of molded rubber, is as comfortable as your favorite pair of shoes:  it’s a gem.  Both bags have rain flaps on all main zippers.  Finally, let’s be frank:   the OPEC suffers mightily in a side by side visual comparison such as this:  it looks positively drab in contrast to the TraveLite.

As with many things in life however, there’s a catch.  The GoLite TraveLite sells for ~$125; the OPEC, $33.

Which makes sense for you depends upon your priorities and the degree to which you value appearance and brand.   The OPEC is the undisputed king of ‘bang for the buck’ when it comes to lightweight convertible carry-ons:  you simply will not find a greater value on the market today.   You could buy 3 OPEC’s and a bunch of packing cubes for the price of one TraveLite.

If you care about brand imagery and appearance, the TraveLite might be more to your liking.  It’s a handsome, capable bag, and its price is without a doubt partly the result of GoLite’s commitment to using 100% recycled material, a laudable approach and philosophy.

You can see the TraveLite at the GoLite site:  GoLite TraveLite Convertible Carry-on

The Fine Print:  I have no connection to GoLite; thanks to Michael W. & Watsana for loaning me their TraveLite

Similar Posts:

Share this article:

22 Comments on Quick Take: GoLite TraveLite Convertible Carry-on

  1. Buzz says:

    There is a difference between the bag you’re testing and the one shown on their website. It has to do with the zipper pulls. When I first saw this bag on their website, it looked as if there was no way to lock the zippers together. An email to the company confirmed this.

    Yet looking at your photos, it seems as if the zipper pulls have changed.

    So, I’m wondering, which bag is correct: the one you tested or the one pictured on their website?

    But then, after reading your reviews, I think I’ll stick with my OPEC when I need a very lightweight bag.

    [Reply]

  2. Kevin says:

    Buzz,

    Only the main compartment has double pulls; the other 3 compartments have single pulls, so they’re not lockable.

    I think this bag is the same as what’s shown on the GoLite site – or perhaps I’m misunderstanding you.

    Kevin

    [Reply]

  3. Buzz says:

    After posting my first comment, I looked closer at the photos on their website and saw that the zipper pulls had changed on the main compartment. Originally they weren’t lockable.

    This is the email I got from them in November:

    “The carry-on is 14x21x7 inches. The zippers are not lockable.”

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    Perhaps an explanation: technically, these are NOT lockable zippers. Lockable zipper sliders have tab-like extensions with openings which line up when the sliders are fully closed, so you can put a small lock through them. Look at the zipper pulls in this review of the eBags TLS Mini: http://is.gd/645qk

    These aren’t that type. But you can put the shackle of a small lock through the openings in the zipper pulls on the TraveLite, thereby enabling you to lock them.

    Probably just semantics.

    [Reply]

  4. Andy Mesa says:

    I’m surprised by how much they left out and still ended up at 2 lb.

    I’d rather go with the lighter, cheaper, albeit flimsier Paty LWTD, or the Rick Steves Classic for the same weight and more features.

    I guess this really is more of a form over function type of bag.

    [Reply]

  5. Michael W. says:

    How do the outside “tube” style panels work with shoes?

    Any chance of a photo of the interior with the PackIt 18 in it? (And the OPEC similarly fitted?) Just thinking about getting a PackIt 18 – sadly the 15 is too small and the 20 is too big. I feel like a character at an arcade shooting to the right and left of the moving jackrabbit and missing each time!

    Great pix as usual. Wasn’t it cold shooting outside?

    Have to admit it looks pretty high class.

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    Only the lowest profile of shoes will fit side by side in those compartments… best to put one shoe in each, and fill in the leftover spaces with small, compressible stuff.

    The 18 will fit just fine; I’ll see if I can take a quick shot this evening.

    The basement photo “studio”, however crude, is operational at this point…

    Thanks.

    [Reply]

  6. Katie says:

    …and the OPEC weighs less. Not a hard choice for me!

    [Reply]

    Michael W. Reply:

    Katie, if you see the GoLite in person, you’ll start plotting how to get it on discount, because it is a BEAUTIFUL piece. On the other hand I’m not exactly a hi-so traveler out to make an impression, and the OPEC is the one I’d through in the trunk of my car, a taxi, or a tuk-tuk without a second thought or first worry. Plus I worry about how to pack the GoLite since it lacks interior tie-downs. I have one, but haven’t used it yet for precisely that reason.

    [Reply]

  7. Cameron says:

    My husband and I both carried these on a recent trip to California (from North Carolina) and were thrilled. We take a only a carry-on whether going for 3 days or 3 weeks to Europe. I was using a GoLite backpack for years prior to these carry-on bags.

    I will also be writing a review for a travel forum website this month, and it’s nice to see that we’re in agreement! :-)

    Cameron
    PS I have no connection to GoLite and we bought our bags.

    [Reply]

    Michael W. Reply:

    Please link to your review, and fill me in on the mystery that has been bugging me – why no tie down straps in either compartment – doesn’t stuff shift around?

    [Reply]

  8. Michael W. says:

    OPEC vs. GoLite:

    “Finally, let’s be frank: the OPEC suffers mightily in a side by side visual comparison such as this: it looks positively drab in contrast to the TraveLite.”

    I have both and concur. The GoLite is positively upscale in appearance. The OPEC isn’t an embarrassment, but it looks like your typical travel pack (dull Cordura).

    The GoLite even looks better than the Patagonia MLC, but the MLC has tie downs and a heavily padded laptop slot, if you need one.

    [Reply]

  9. Dorothy says:

    I have had my eye on the Go-Lite foe a while, hoping to buy on sale. The lack of tie-downs doesn’t worry me — I’ve had my cobbler add tie downs in other bags. But I don’t want to pay full price for the Go-Lite and then pay someone else to correct this dificiency. Thanks for the info and pix on the Go-Lite – the lack fo detail at the Go-Lite website is rahter shocking!

    [Reply]

  10. Ann says:

    I can tell you that I am very impressed with the quality of Golite gear. Right now I own the Tumalo Pertex® 2.5-Layer Storm Jacket (which is about as lightweight as you can get), the Hooded Roan Down Jacket, the Adrenaline Down 3-Season Mummy Bag, and a few other pieces of Golite gear. I have no complaints, and I can tell you that when I add a silk liner to the Adrenaline Down 3-Season Mummy Bag, I can use it down to 10 degrees F.

    [Reply]

  11. […] pollici sono 21′ x 14″ x 7″ (53x35x18 cm). Sul sito PracticalHacks si trova una dettagliata recensione in inglese. Il prezzo su amazon.co.uk è di circa 80 […]

  12. Wesley T. says:

    I have been using this bag for 18 months and over 200,000 miles of business travel. My typical trip is 6-10 days in Europe or Moscow, with a few shorter trips across the US thrown in. I only carry this bag and my Tumi briefcase. I have been thrilled with the performance. I generally use the shoulder strap, but do resort to the backpack straps when the load demands it. The unstructured build of the bag allows it to go into small overhead bins that even smaller hard luggage will not fit into. Going without wheels allows me to walk up escalators and take steps faster which can result in being at the front of the customs line versus near the rear. This saves a lot of time! I can fit one pair of dress shoes in one of the front pockets and have crammed two pairs of shoes into the front, one pair in each pocket. The top “third” pocket easily carries my ziploc bag of liquids for easy access. The rear small pocket I use to carry sunglasses and do not worry about them getting crushed due to the unstructured, flexible build of the bag. The material is bulletproof, not one tear in all this travel. This travel is very rough on luggage, with bags being smashed into overhead bins, thrown into taxis, and hauled around on crowded trains.

    My only complaint is the large pad on the should strap is too slippery on my shoulder. I am soon changing it for the Claw shoulder strap.

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    Wesley,

    Thanks for your comment. The bag is definitely a steal. As for shoulder straps, I’d recommend the Absolute over the Claw, but YMMV. Check my review of shoulder straps on this site.

    [Reply]

  13. Judy Gunkler says:

    I’m very disappointed that your pack doesn’t have waist straps for carrying as a backpack. With 20 or more pounds, it’s too heavy to carry on your shoulders. Plus it’s not good for your back. Do you think you’ll be designing one that does??? Plus I’d like to see a good picture of the front of the pack.
    Judy

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    Wow!

    [Reply]

  14. Steve says:

    The Golite site has these bags on sale this week (until 8/14 or while supplies last) for 49.99 + shipping.

    I need another bag like I need another hole in the head, but couldn’t resist.

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    Steve: great find; thanks!

    [Reply]

  15. […] case anyone is interested in that GoLite bag, I found this detailed review of a previous model. Thanks for the link to those backpacks, […]

Leave a Reply