For my safari adventure in Africa, I left my North Face Basecamp Duffel behind and replaced it with the Victorinox VX Touring Wheeled 2-in-1 carry-on as my main luggage. I am a firm believer in only bringing what you can carry and vice versa. Since my trip to Southeast Asia back in 2015, I have not checked in luggage and have packed carry-on only. I wanted to test the waters with this hybrid bag for this trip.
The Victorinox VX Touring Wheeled 2-in-1 carry-on is a structured carry-on luggage with a durable fabric and zippers that have a watertight seal. There are 4 compression straps and an expansive zipper. The front of the bag features a padded laptop compartment and the main portion of the bag unzips and rolls down like a backpacker’s backpack revealing the full space. There are 2 mesh storage pockets inside and a strap inside.
This has 2 wheels and a mono handle if you wanted to tow the luggage around however if one wants to carry it like a backpack, you can. Unzipping the back of the luggage, there are detachable backpack straps and the zipper flap must be rolled down and tucked into before you can use it. There is also a zipper below that houses a wheel cover so the wheels won’t make contact with your clothing as you carry it.
I would say I am an avid traveller and pack as minimal as possible. My first impressions while trying to pack the Victorinox bag, I compared to my usual carry-on bag – The North Face – Basecamp Duffel – Small.
The Victorinox bag has more structure than the duffel with the ability to roll the bag around instead of just carrying it. Both bags have handles around the bag so you can carry it in multiple ways. Both are water repellant with sturdy zippers and compression straps. The Victorinox features a large mesh pocket on the roll down side and an inside side mesh pocket. The North Face only has a mesh pocket on the flap. The North Face bag is much more malleable and able to pack more in ensuring all the space is utilized. The Victorinox has more structure and features a large roll down cover that opens to show the entire compartment to help pack.
Initially looking at the Victorinox I noticed it has less capacity due to the fact that the luggage has a stowaway handle, which retracts, into the bag leaving a large portion in the middle of the storage compartment obsolete for actual packing space. Trying to tetris style pack the Victorinox I found was more difficult depending on how you position say a compartment bag or a sleeping bag because you would need to layer them in around the monopole section and also so it doesn’t become lumpy once closed. What I did find very helpful is that the flap opens all the way revealing the packing space and when done packing, it folds back over and the zippers zip very smoothly. The plus from this bag is that there is an expansion zipper if you need to carry more. There are compression straps to minimize the size but once again, if things are not packed properly, the section that the compressions straps are not present look really bulky.
The Victorinox is built as part roll luggage, part backpack, the back of the luggage is a firm structure that is quite wide and even if the main compartment is not full, there is no way to squish it any further. A Victorinox TSA combination lock is also included. The 2 wheels of the bag are solid with curb caps to protect the bag when rolling. With the 2 large wheels built in the way it is, it allows the bag to be longer to carry more than a 4 wheeler luggage but also stay compliant with carry-on size. While carrying the Victorinox bag with another backpack, the size becomes prominent. The bag features adjustable sternum straps nonetheless with the large dimension of the bag without a waist strap; it becomes cumbersome to carry for long periods of time.
As a normal roll luggage, it is perfectly fine for general use. As a backpack, it has a lot to learn from a more dedicated duffel backpack.
Travelling to Africa, my friends and myself decided to check in our luggage because we had many layovers and didn’t want to deal with our bags every step of our trip. The Victorinox proved to be a good bag to be used for this type of travel. We did On The Go Tours, which is a budget overland tour meaning we would be packing our luggage into the truck at every campsite, but easily enough can take it to our tents if we wanted.
Having the 2 wheels and monopod handle proved to be smooth sailing through the airports and wherever we needed to go with it. The size of the bag is considered carry on so it was lightweight and very easy to zip through. The truck we used had a luggage compartment that was about chest level and with the 2 wheels, I was able to put the bag in and pull it out no problem. Top handle and side handle made this even easier.
Some people would keep their luggage in the truck luggage compartment and prep for the next day. I took my luggage into my tent every night because it easy to handle and small enough that I had adequate space in my tent to do so. The plus of this bag compared to my North Face duffel is the way the bag opens. The bag zips all the way to the bottom where the flap can fold over and reveal all the inner contents of the bag that the duffel would need to remove the inner contents to do so. Having compartment bags inside definitely helped with the daily organization.
Even after the duration of my trip, I had no problem zipping the bag back up without using the expansion zipper. The only downside I personally didn’t like from a aesthetic prospective is that when it is packed and compression straps used, the area where the compression straps are not, the bag looks really frumpy making it look larger than it actually is. The actual pattern of the bag and the orange compression hooks made the bag very easy to recognize when picking up my luggage from the carousel. Overall, the bag proved to be very useful and convenient for this trip. If you need to live out of a suitcase/luggage for a trip, this will do just fine. I think my travel style is slightly more agile and streamline that being able to carry everything on my body is key.