A couple of years ago a co-worker and I were discussing travel. I said, “I have to check baggage; I’ve got too much stuff to carry.” She said, “Look, if I can get away without checking baggage, so can you. I’m a girl.” She recommended the website: onebag.com. Since then my tune has changed to “it’s against my religion to check baggage.” One of the key components to my strategy is the best business travel bag: Air Boss from Red Oxx.
What makes it so great?
It fits in even the smallest overhead bins. Yes, it can be a tight squeeze but I’ve stuffed it into the smallest of overhead bins. Case in point: the small planes that US Airways uses that only have 3 seats on a row (ERJ-145). This is a great comfort to because one time I lost a bag that was “gate checked.”
It holds a ton. Because of its design, the Air Boss wastes no space. You’ve got three large zippered compartments to work with.
It’s lightweight. It weighs less than 3 ½ pounds.
It’s durable. The company offers a lifetime guarantee, and you can tell that they have over engineered the bag. I’ve been using mine more than two years and haven’t noticed any wear on the zippers or snaps.
Why don’t you see more of them?
No wheels. That’s it. And…some of you just quit reading. Admittedly the Air Boss is not for everyone because you will be carrying your bag. Packed for a week-long trip it will likely weigh over 20 pounds. On the flip side, whatever bag you choose, you will have to carry it at some point. This is especially true if you encounter lots of rain or snow.
Why doesn’t it have wheels?
Wheels take up space and add weight. So, here’s the deal: if you have wheels you have to have the frame and other hardware to support the wheels. This adds a significant amount of weight and reduces the amount of useable space.
How do you pack using the Air Boss?
Use the Bundle Wrapping Method. Oh course you can pack the Air Boss however you want but the bundle wrapping method works really well. It helps reduce wrinkles and unwanted creases. The idea is wrapping your clothes around a core object. For my core, I use a Pack-It Cube (specifically the Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Half Packing Cube) and put two pairs of underwear, two undershirts, and my pajamas in it. Then I wrap two shirts, two pairs of pants, and two undershirts around the core. For more on this see Packing Clothes [Post] or Packing Travel Gear by Bundle Wrapping [Video]. I put the “bundle” in one of the outside pockets along with a pair of shoes. This all the clothes I take for a typical, 6-day business trip. I wear one set of clothes on the plane, use the underwear that is made to wash in the sink, and wear everything twice.
Use Cubes and Accessories to Maximize Space. In the other outside pocket I pack miscellaneous stuff using three of the Pack-It cubes mentioned above. They are roughly the right size to cover the whole pocket.
In the middle pocket, I use two Nomad Shave Kits (one for toiletries and one for electronics). In addition, I pack The Grid Foam Roller (great for working out the kinks) and of course, the one quart bag for liquids.
What tips do you have?
Replace the metal hooks on the shoulder strap. The shoulder strap that comes with the bag is great but the metal hooks are heavy. Save a few ounces (4.2 to be exact) by replacing the metal hooks with strong nylon versions. I got mine from Duraflex and had the local shoe repair place put them in for me.
Measure your progress. One of the things I heard in business school was “measure what matters.” When traveling, weight is what matters. So I bought a luggage scale to help motivate me to travel as light as possible.
Is this bag for you?
Probably. If you travel regularly for business and you are able and willing to carry your luggage. In 2012, I was on the road over 190 nights and that is when I really saw the value of it. I truly love not having to check luggage, and when I see people at the baggage claim sometimes I have to fight the urge to yell “Freedom!”
Probably not. If you travel infrequently or if you have any health issues that would prevent you from being able to carry your luggage, this is likely not the bag for you.
Featured image: “Air Boss ” from Red Oxx.