Bottom line: after rolling this baby through Illinois and Wisconsin, it's gonna be a darn sad day when I have to send it back.
First Looks at the 21-inch Roll-Aboard
When I took it out of its box, I was amazed at how light it was. Usually, rolling bags are quite heavy due to all the mechanics of wheels and handles and things they've tacked on to get it to roll properly. The literature says it's the lightest in its class, and I believe it. They've saved some weight by not making it "convertible." There are no straps because you people never strap convertible packs on your backs anyway. And why would you?
It's a fine smart looking bag. From the outside there are two pockets to access that you can see, and one that's sorta hidden. Martha couldn't find the hidden one at first.
"Keep looking, dear," I kept saying. I like being alone with my thoughts some times.
Along about dinner time she announced that she had found it. The opening was alongside another zipper that makes the bag two inches wider, just in case you buy some things and need some extra space. (Beware though, the extra two inches puts you out of the carry-on range.)
There are two padded handles, so you can carry the bag the old fashioned way, either vertically or horizontally.
Packing the Roll-Aboard
The bag has a hard lexan shell inside, so it keeps its shape when empty, making packing a breeze. There are 2500 square inches inside, plus the three pockets on the outside.
Open it up and you have a nice rectangular box to pack, with a bonus mesh compartment on the top. There are two compression straps to keep your stuff from shifting, and a clip-in security pouch. You can fit plenty of rolled up clothing in there. You do roll your clothes, don't you?
So, how does this baby handle?
Having seen a fellow journalist get frustrated and kick a fully loaded rolling bag down a long set of train station stairs while I walked casually by with my backpack is still a compelling scene for me. Yet this is a bag that probably could take such abuse and come out smelling like a three year old Merlot.
Rick Steves Roll-Aboard Carry On Bag - The Bottom Line
I could even learn to love Merlot.