Bag Review – Victorinox VX Touring Wheeled 2-in-1 carry-on

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.

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Initial Impressions

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.

Field Testing

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.

Overview – On The Go Tours – 12 Days – Vic Falls to Joburg

Overall of On The Go Tours

I booked the 12 days Victoria falls to Joburg with 3 of my friends when we spotted the 2-for-1 tour special deal come up back in November. On the Go Tours happens to have a 2-for-1 tour sale a few times a year for a week or two (Mid- January, end of March/beginning of April & end of October/ beginning of November).

We booked through Flight Centre but found it difficult to communicate with our travel agent in regards to more information about our tour that our tour guide could answer. In order for us to fully book our trip, we had to go back and forth in terms of emailing to find out information such as the end destination in which we would finish in Johannesburg to book accommodations and timing of arrival to plan further travels.

Airport transfer from VGA to the first accommodation is provided with the tour cost. We stayed at Shearwater Explorer Village. It is here that you can get your bearings and meet your tour group before starting the tour. On the Go Tours is represented by ATC (African Tour Company) who locally run the tours. The Trip notes come in very handy. Our guide Will went over the excursions list and updated us with prices and what was and wasn’t included in the tour price. This timeframe in Vic Falls seemed to also be the only time you can freely explore markets for souvenirs that we found on our trip during the tour.

This is a budget tour where there are shared duties that rotate such as helping prep meals, washing dishes and sweeping the bus. There are also ice-purchasing responsibilities that rotate. Accommodations during the tour are tents (shared by 2 people) that are the responsibility of said pair and designated for the entire duration of the tour. It is a decent paced tour where you stay at each destination for at most 2 nights thus the tents must be put up and taken down almost everyday and packed back into the truck. All the accommodations are on camping sites with majority of them having wifi (not in Delta), swimming pools, shower and toilet facilities. A few even have volleyball courts (3 of them!) There is also a chance to upgrade into lodges (for a small price) if you want a break from setting up and sleeping in a tent.

The truck is large and can hold up to 30 people. The main seating area requires climbing a few steps (with help of a step ladder) to get on and off the truck. There is an 8 person seating area in the front sitting sideways with a table to play games. There is also a second area with a table (4 seater) and the rest are 2 seaters. The truck also has a communal cooler that people are able to keep their drinks cold. The truck does not have A/C but many windows and no wifi or toilets. The truck features 2 locked safety boxes and large luggage storage below amongst other compartments. During the evenings at each campsite, a charging station is created in the truck to recharge phones and cameras.

On this tour, we had Frans as our driver, Clive as our cook and Will da Beast as our guide. All the staff was very friendly and treated everyone with respect and courtesy never being impatient with any of the guests. They all had a fun humour about them too. Frans drove us safely to all our destinations on time and avoided as many potholes to make our ride smooth. Clive provided us with meals (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner) however, some meals could have more thought put into them for the price we paid. Breakfast was always yogurt, cereal and burnt toast (majority of the time), options for fruit were scarce and lunch/packed lunches could have been better (rice, spam with peas and cheese and DIY sandwiches are lacklustre). Will was a fountain of knowledge answering all questions thrown his way and made the whole experience that much better.

I wish we had more days where our stops weren’t in malls but I completely understand that those stops were also time for the staff to go grocery shopping for us and for our safety sake. There were a few days (long drive days and early arrivals) where I wish we had options to leave the campsite to explore the local areas.

I found the only time we had to do souvenir shopping at markets was only at the beginning in Vic falls. I wish we had more opportunities to interact with locals or stop at locations that give back to the community for our pitstops. I would definitely recommend this tour to my friends. I hopefully will return to Africa one day.