Topo Designs Travel Bag and Trip Pack

Pack it up, pack it in with this two-in-one system from Denver-based Topo Designs

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Price: $229 (Travel Bag)/$89 (Trip Pack)

Materials: 1000d Cordura fabric outer with Nylon Pack Cloth liner.

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I do not pack lightly, especially for ski trips. But a heavy bag stuffed full is a ball and chain in a crowded airport or foreign cobbled street. Inevitably, no matter how many times I pack and re-pack and take out that extra sweater at the last minute, my stuff explodes all over the hotel room as soon as I unzip my suitcase. Or at least it used to, before I found Topo Designs’ packs.

The Travel Bag carries 30.3 liters. I fit all my clothes for a 10-day European ski trip into the main compartment (I stuffed the bulkier ski layers with my gear in a ski bag), and still used it as a carry-on.

Topo packs come with a place for everything. Inside the main compartment, a mesh pocket helps separate smaller items, like socks, from the rest of your clothes. An accessories pocket on the outside is the perfect size for a MacBook, some magazines, and even more small zippered pockets for pens and other knick-knacks. The bag is made with sturdy Cordura to withstand the many benches and shelves and back seats you’ll surely throw it onto. Best of all, there is no single way to carry it. The Travel Bag can be a backpack, a duffel, or, if you’re on the run, grab the handle and go.

Say you’re going on a slightly longer trip and the Travel Bag is just not quite enough space to fit everything. Or you only want to bring one pack, but you also need something to take on a hike or to the coffee shop. Enter the Trip Pack, a small backpack to carry all your essentials—passport, books, wallet, pens, a layer—that can be hooked onto the webbing on the Travel Bag. And voilà, two bags become one—a smart and functional detail, although sometimes a little awkward in the weight distribution while carrying it.

Together, the Trip Pack and Travel Bag are a solid two-in-one system to take with you anywhere. Sling it on your back and you still have your arms free to carry a ski bag. They pack down light, look bold with bright primary colors, and are made in the U.S.A.

Skiing Hot: A perfect packing system for a week-long trip.

Skiing Not: It did not come with a shoulder strap, even though there are clips to do so. I’d recommend finding a strap to use, so you can carry it like a duffel or a backpack.

(Marquee Photo: David Reddick)