Sunday, July 25, 2010

Awesome Urban Travel Bag - Mountainsmith + Discount

I call myself an itinerant writer because, unlike many independent journalists, I don't work out of my home nor do I write in an office. I much prefer a more natural environment, preferably sitting outside on the waterfront in lower Manhattan or in one of the city's many hidden green spaces or, if it's inclement, in a cafe or atrium bathed in natural light. As a result of my wanderings, I carry around a load of stuff including my laptop, extra batteries, power cord, portable printer (I don't always carry this, though), iPod, an e-reader, files, books, notebooks, and more. It can really weight me down. So when Mountainsmith -- a company whose products I have long used and have blogged about extensively -- asked me to test out one of their urban backpacks, the Cruiser, I jumped at the opportunity. Here's what I found:

The pack easily fits my laptop (max size is 15") in a protective neoprene sleeve in one of the two main zippered compartments. This rest of this main compartment is further divided so that I slipped my bulky files and large notebooks including legal pads in one part and in the other section I placed my batteries, power cord, e-reader and printer. The middle zippered compartment -- where I keep my books, magazines and tape recorder -- contains several small pockets for my pens, cell phone, iPod, camera as well as a fleece-lined sunglass case and a mini zippered pocket where I put my business card case. On the front of the pack is a diagonal zippered compartment where I put things I need to grab immediately, such as my house keys, sunscreen, tiny first aid kit, and small memo pad.

Because I'm only 5'2" I'm thrilled that the Cruiser fits my compact torso. Most times a heavy-loaded pack will hang down to my butt making it very uncomfortable to tote a heavy load. That's not the case with the Cruiser which has very comfy foam shoulder straps, a sternum strap which also helps distribute the load, and foam backpanels that provides some pretty good airflow on my back. In fact, I've been testing out this pack for the past month in New York City where the temperatures have been sweltering and I found the pack as comfortable as possible under these conditions. This weekend I walked three miles briskly both on Saturday and Sunday carrying a full load in the humid temperatures and my back wasn't a sweaty mess as might've happened with backpacks that press against your torso. Nor did I suffer any back strain as often happens with a pack that doesn't carry a heavy load well.

The Cruiser has two water bottle pockets on each side and I use one to store a little umbrella because the weather this summer in NYC included unexpected thunderstorms almost daily. Another nice feature is a little rubber haul handle on the top of the pack which I use regularly when yanking my bag off the floor of buses and subways, instead of pulling on the shoulder straps as I normally would. And below the diagonal zipper is another rubber loop where I could attach my keys if I needed to.

The only thing I'm not thrilled about is that the pack is a little too snug to additionally pack clothes and toiletries for my multi-day trips. (I tried it out on a four-day trip to Cedar Key, Florida but I had to severely trim what I brought along in order to fit everything.) Though the pack has two compression straps that keep everything snug, I opened them all the way but still couldn't fit the slim number of clothes I needed for the trip in addition to my work gear. So my recommendation is that the Cruiser is perfect for the urban road warrior. It looks and feel good, and fits everything you need if you want your backpack to double as your desk.

And, if you are interested in purchasing this bag or any other cool Mountainsmith gear, they generously are offering my readers 20% on all purchases from today until August 6 if you use this discount code: JTTA20 on the Mountainsmith website. My Mountainsmith backpack and fanny pack have long been the only bags I travel with and the reason I never check luggage, even when I'm on a 6+ week journey.

20 comments:

jessiev said...

this looks fantastic - and GREAT to have a discount!

JTravel said...

Hi Jessie, Yes, the discount makes it all the more cool.

Christine said...

Very nice bag, and a thorough review! I really appreciated it. I love that you are able to do your writing outside on the go. I'm totally the opposite but if I had a bag like this, I might change my mind......

JTravel said...

Hi Christine, Glad you enjoyed the product review. I know not every writer finds working outside appealing but it works for me.

Susan Johnston said...

Sounds like a cool bag! Doesn't it weigh down on your shoulders to have all that tech gear in your bag, though? That's one of the reasons I often work from home.

JTravel said...

Hi Susan, Actually, because of the thick and wide shoulder straps and the sternal strap (which I find a must-have on a backpack)my shoulders don't suffer at all with this bag. Other bags that had thin straps were problematic, for sure.

Donna Hull said...

Sounds like this bag is easy on your back, which would be great for a baby boomer traveler like me. I'll have to try it out, especially with the discount. Thanks.

Kristen said...

Looks like the perfect travel writer's bag. I must admit the best travel bag I've found is cool diaper bag. My laptop goes where the changing pad used to. You'd never guess that it's a diaper bag but it's harder on my back than what you're describing here.

JTravel said...

Hi Kristen, It's funny you mention using a diaper bag because I have a friend that also uses one to carry all her gear. Some of them are great with tons of pockets and dividers to organize things. Great idea!

JTravel said...

Hi Donna, Thanks for your comment. And I hope the bag works for you if you decide to buy it.

sarah henry said...

I like your style -- have laptop will travel, and work -- wish I did more of this. Sometimes, though, I get too distracted or stimulated by environments other than my office for the quiet solitude I seem to need to focus on writing.

Stephanie - Wasabimon.com said...

Great bag! I'm such a bag addict. Not purses, but carryalls like backpacks, messenger bags, etc.

JTravel said...

Hey Stephanie, I'm just like you -- I much prefer bags to purses. Hope you enjoy this one if you decide to buy it.

Name Tags said...

Looks like a great little bag. I am always in the market for a new bag, that looks decent that fits a ton and is smaller than normal!

Anonymous said...

I would like to exchange links with your site www.jthetravelauthority.com
Is this possible?

JTravel said...

Hi Name Tags, It really does fit loads of stuff and it feels super comfortable on your back too.

JTravel said...

Hi anonymous, since you didn't sign in other than with anonymous, i have no idea who you are or what blog you operate.

Source Outdoor said...

Fantastic. Its really a nice bag and also discount is being offered. I would like to buy one.

canvas prints said...

Hi, are these bags suitable for taking on-board aeroplanes? I do a lot of travelling and always like to have a sturdy backpack with me.

JTravel said...

Hi canvas print, yes, this bag will absolutely fit as a carry-on.