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We’ve just put the Onli Travel Bag through it’s paces during a week of travel across the United States, on 4 planes, 2 rental cars, one hotel and a week full of office visits. Here’s our Onli Travel Bag Product Review.
What is the Onli Travel Bag?
The Onli Travel Bag has a simple mission: become the only piece of luggage you ever need. Often, business travelers like myself, carry two bags. Maybe a suitcase and a briefcase/backpack.
The Onli Travel Backpack was created by fellow business Traveler Dave Logan who notes:
“I founded Onli Travel after over 25 years of business, adventure, and vacation travel to over 40 countries in all kinds of travel environments. I’ve been an adventure traveler in all types of remote locations and have also travelled to hundreds of cities for business meetings. As airlines tightened requirements, baggage fees rose, planes became more crowded, I wanted to use technology and design to help people travel hassle free and easily adapt on the fly to whatever their journey throws at them. We want our Onli Travelers to be able to:
- Travel with only one bag, which has everything they need
- Never have to check a bag
- Have more freedom moving through airports, hotels, subways, and airplanes
- Travel for as long as they want, for business or pleasure, in the style they want.“
Never check a bag is my middle name and I travel almost every week for work so I was immediately interested in this bag.
The Onli Travel Bag has 3 major parts to it as noted in the diagram below:
The 3 different units are intended (I think) to be sea
- Rear Unit – holds your laptop (can be combined with the front unit)
- Center Unit – the main suitcase (holds your clothes)
- Front Unit – a day pack of sort (IDs, chargers, passport, etc)
The folks at Onli Travel Bag are still in the “building” phase of their business right now and are currently raising funds on Kickstarter right now (the campaign is set to end in 9 days and they’ve raised over 50k, thus far).
The folks at Onli reached out to me and were gracious enough to send me a bag to review – no strings attached.
How did I test it?
I took the Onli Travel Bag with me on a business trip to Nashville. This trip left my home airport of Ontario, CA, and because of some poor booking choices on my part (lol…) went through Oakland and Kansas City.
After spending 5 days and 4 nights in Nashville I returned home with a quick layover in Phoenix.
The bag was carried on to the plane, stowed in my rental car during transit and then a part of it was detached and taken into my office in Nashville.
The Onli Travel Bag was the ONLY (pardon the pun) bag I took with me on this trip. I normally travel with a TravelPro Crew 11 21″ Carry-on Suitcase and an Ogio Metro Backback, but wanted to test the claims of this bag being the only (pun intended here….) a business travel would need.
What I liked about the Onli Travel Bag
There was a lot to like about this bag including the following:
- I like the premise. The underlying premise of this bag intrigued me. One bag to rule them all!? Sign me up.
- Good quality material. The bag was well constructed, and while I didn’t take through a years worth of travel, it seemed durable and well made. I suspect it will last well.
- Zippers were excellent. Given all of the zipping and unzipping this bag requires, the zippers better be good – and they were. And while I don’t like all of the zipping and unzipping it wasn’t that hard to do when reattaching / detaching the various units). They are still zippers…so there’s a little bit of “zipper-irritation” you are going to get no matter what.
- Wheels were sturdy. While I prefer a spinner (see below), the wheels for this bag were excellent. You know how sometimes when you are rolling a piece of cheap luggage and you are waiting for a wheel to crack off? Not here. Sturdy and likely would last quite a while.
- Main storage unit held a week of clothes. It was a little tight (likely because I brought my own suiter), but I was able to get a week of clothes in here. The bag expands and I did have to use this feature.
- The internal pockets / storage containers in the front unit were perfectly designed. Like everything I wanted to put in them was perfectly suited for it – intentionally designed, if you will. You don’t always get that w/ a backpack.
- Although I was not on a small regional jet, I could easily see how the modular design of the bag would work nicely allowing you to skip the gate check process and squeeze your bag into the overhead bins.
What I didn’t like about the Onli Travel Bag
I attempted to be as thorough as possible when reviewing the Onli Travel Bag and that meant taking a critical eye too. Here’s what I didn’t like:
- When all 3 units are packed and zipped together it does no fit into an overhead bin. I tried. After boarding my flight out of ONT I gave it a good shove and the FA stepped into help too. It was one of those “embarrassing moments” you see other novice travelers have. Not to worry though, I just quickly unzipped the rear unit part of the suitcase and voila it worked. The FA was pretty amazed at that feature and it stowed ok (see pics at end of section). As part of the test, I stowed the rear unit under my seat and it was a bit tight (see pic)
- Too many zippers. Some of this was just naivete with the product as it was my first time using it, but because everything zips there are so many zippers. I had trouble figuring out with one was right one to get to what I wanted. Over time and more use of the bag, I am sure that would improve and in fact I became a little more versed in it as the week went on.
- Not a spinner. I’ve become a full-fledged spinner advocate. I used to not be, though. But once you make the switch, the spinner is the way to go and while the wheel quality and function of the Onli Travel Bag is solid and smooth (it really is), it just isn’t a spinner.
- Handle too short (at least 3 inches shorter than my TravelPro Crew 11). I am tall-ish, coming in at 6’1″. The handle on this bag was about 3 inches shorter than my TravelPro Crew 11 (I stood them next to each other). This meant that occasionally the bag bounced off my heel while pulling it behind me (also a consequence of not being a spinner).
- No Suiter. I travel for work so I bring dress shirts, suit jackets, etc. I usually leave all of that in my dry cleaning back and then throw it in a suiter. When I get where I am going the suiter can easily go straight into to closet with minor unpacking and minor dewrinkling. No suiter here so I brought the one from my TravelPro Crew 11. Which fit ok. Update: Onli offers a suiter – but it doesn’t come standard and is part of a $99.00 packing cube add-on package. IMO, the suiter should be included, or be a standalone add-on. I don’t need all the packing cubes, but I do need a suiter. And with the bag already costing 300.00 paying an extra hundo for a suiter seems steep. I can’t justify paying 400 bux for a piece of luggage.
- Annoying piece of velcro. There’s a small piece of velcro on the rear unit. I can’t figure out what it’s there for…except to annoy me when I place my bag into the trunk of my car. It repeatedly caught on the carpet coming in and out of the bag and drove me a little bonkers.
- I couldn’t figure out where to hook the straps for the rear unit when I pulled them out. Probably just user error (no instructions), but I struggled. Ultimately I hooked them to another strap, but it didn’t feel right.
- Front / Rear Unit Confusion. When I packed the bag I put most of my “backpack” items (pens, notepad, chargers, etc) into the front unit. Then I stuffed my laptop into the back unit. When I arrived at my destination I realized I didn’t have everything I needed to take with me to the office so I transferred my stuff from the front unit to back unit (which was tight). Then my aha moment...I realized AFTER I returned from my trip that the Rear and Front Unit’s zip together which makes sense and would allow me to have avoided doing what I did – swap stuff out. My bad on that one.
Note: I would also recommend that Onli includes some better instructions in the bag. I caught on ok-ish, but it was a little disorienting at first. A 1-2-3 guide would be helpful.
UPDATE: Since posting this, Onli reached back out to me and let me know that typically instructions ARE provided, but the advanced version I received did not have them. Good to know. 🙂
Overall Opinion of Onli Travel Bag (Mixed Feelings)
I have mixed feelings about this bag. While I love the premise, there were enough things here that didn’t work for me personally (and which may not be that big of a deal for others).
For me, having to take the bag apart and put it back together again during a business trip was not ideal. At least not in this business travelers humble opinion anyway.
That said, if two things were changed on this bag it might win me over:
- Switch to a Spinner style wheels
- Extend the handle 2-3 inches
I could live with the rest (although get rid of that little velco thingie…!!!!!) 🙂
In my opinion, this bag is probably better suited for a family / vacation / adventure traveler than a business traveler. I could easily see the value of a bag like this for vacations, the versatility being well suited to day trip to Disneyland versus gearing up to travel OUT to on a plane, etc. In fact, I will use it on my next family vacation.
The Onli Travel Bag was as advertised. It was convertible and mostly functional, well made and innovative. And I did not need anything else – just this bag. I do suspect it’s adoption will be based on personal preference though and tolerance for zippers.
But hey, these fellas are a startup and I do think they are on to something here. I gave them HIGH MARKS for innovation and creativity and quality. It’s just not for me (for business use, that is – and again that’s one traveler’s opinion), but I could see folks using this bag (especially leisure travelers). Let’s keep an eye on them for future products and see if this one evolves.
By the way, if you are interested in more travel tips and travel advice, you might like these great articles:
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- The Ultimate List of the Best Travel Blogs 2019 Edition
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