By Jason Heaton
on 1.27.10

golite-travelite-wheeled-carry-on-gear-patrol

Airline travel isn’t what it used to be. As if the security hassles, bad food, and cramped seats weren’t enough, most airlines are now charging for baggage. This has made a battlefield of the overhead compartments, with vigilant gate agents eagle-eying oversized bags and intra-passenger fights for overhead space that can make a UFC cage match seem tame. For this battle, you need to choose your weapon well, and the TraveLite Wheeled Carry-on from GoLite is a masterfully-crafted samurai sword.

We’ve seen a lot of innovative luggage, but this piece checks all the boxes for what the modern traveler requires. GoLite has managed to create a 38-liter bag that conforms to just about all the international airlines’ carry-on dimension restrictions. And these are 38 very clever liters. The main compartment zips open clamshell-style and has internal divider panels for separating your work clothes from your play clothes from your dirty clothes. On the outside, two half-moon zipped pockets hold smaller items like a book, a passport, or your electronic gadgets. The bag has firm sides, so loading is easy and the bag doesn’t collapse when it’s half-full. Still, the TraveLite invites you to load it up. Because after all, it’s a GoLite, which means that, at only five pounds empty, it’s a third lighter than any other comparable carry-on bag.

travelite_frontAll that space and those organizational features are great, but what impressed me was the versatility of this bag. I got it the day before a three-week trip to Sri Lanka with an overnight layover in London along my route. It was a mix of paved and unpaved, developed and developing world, all making for the perfect torture test for a piece of luggage. The TraveLite easily held a change of clothes, an extra pair of shoes, my reading and listening materials, travel documents, and other items that I didn’t want to submit to the netherworld of checked baggage. And for side trips to a beach hut and to the tea country, it was the perfect grab and go piece for a couple days on the road.

With rugged, easy-rolling wheels and a long telescoping handle, the TraveLite zipped through busy airports with ease, while the quick-deploy, comfortable shoulder straps made the bag off-road ready in a snap. I’ve tried wheeled backpacks before and they usually do only one thing or the other well; most can’t roll and schlep with aplomb. This one works on wheels just as well as it does on the shoulders. The zippers are high-quality and the 210-denier double-ripstop nylon is straight off of GoLite’s backcountry packs. Oh, and it’s made from recycled material, so your carbon footprint is slightly smaller as you jet off on your next one-day business meeting.

Cost: $175

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