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:
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