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Published on July 26th, 2011 | by Greg


Bags of Summer: High Sierra and Jansport

Lug­gage has come a long way in the past thou­sand years or so. The ear­li­est wheeled bags we know about date back to the Cru­sades around 1153, and would have been es­sen­tial­ly trunks filled with weapon and ar­mor re­pair ma­te­ri­als. We didn’t haul out or chain­mail or longswords to test our lat­est batch of lug­gage- though that does sound like a fun re­view pro­cess for the fu­ture. In­stead, we sub­ject­ed them to the 21st cen­tu­ry’s own set of haz­ards- kicks, drops, over­full loads and un­even sur­faces, wet con­di­tions. Ac­tu­al­ly, those don’t sound so dif­fer­ent.

The High Sier­ra AT559 32-inch Ex­pand­able Wheeled Drop-Bot­tom Duf­fel is part of their fam­i­ly of duf­fel bags, in­clud­ing a va­ri­ety of 26- and 36-inch mod­els in dif­fer­ent col­ors. This was our first time test­ing their prod­ucts, and we were hap­py to see the hall­marks of se­ri­ous dura­bil­i­ty- a set of strong han­dles in­clud­ing a pull-up pri­ma­ry, de­cent zip­pers, and Du­ralite ma­te­ri­al. A foot al­lows the bag to stand up­right, though bal­ance can be an is­sue. But this is a se­ri­ous beast of a checked bag, as it of­fers al­most 8000 cu­bic inch­es of space be­tween sev­er­al com­part­ments. We es­pe­cial­ly liked the bot­tom com­part­ment, grow­ing com­mon in larg­er duf­fels, and per­fect for shoes- the hold-down straps are rel­a­tive­ly unique and pret­ty handy. The wheels weren’t amaz­ing- in­line skate style, these are mid­dle-of-the-pack and get the job done but could have been larg­er and more durable.

There are even in­clud­ed (and eas­i­ly se­cret­ed) back­pack straps- though we didn’t use them ex­cept when the bag was most­ly emp­ty. Even with noth­ing in­side, it weighs around 14 pounds, and we can’t imag­ine try­ing to man­age a full bag on our shoul­ders. But we ap­pre­ci­ate the in­clu­sion nonethe­less, just like the re­flec­tive touch­es and nice grip­py ma­te­ri­al on the han­dles. Ours was a fair­ly mild grey (called a bit dis­tress­ing­ly “none” on their web­site), though the bag is avail­able in three oth­er styles as well. For a short trip, this bag is overkill, but for se­ri­ous trav­el­ers a duf­fel like this one from High Sier­ra of­fers the best vol­ume to bag ra­tio. The sep­a­ra­tor can be re­moved turn­ing it in­to al­most one big com­part­ment, a nifty way to add some di­vis­i­bil­i­ty with­out much has­sle or weight. At $180 or so, it’s well-priced for it’s class.

For those who want a lot of car­ry­ing space but pre­fer a back­pack, the Jans­port Kla­math 68, mod­el TVU4 should fit the bill. Al­so avail­able in a small­er ver­sion (55) and larg­er (75), this mid­dle child of­fers 4200 cu­bic inch­es of car­ry­ing space and weighs on­ly about four pounds. With a bag of this size, you want to make sure that the straps are com­fort­able- you’ll be out hik­ing or walk­ing all day and bal­ance is es­sen­tial. Too of­ten, we’ve used bags that have poor­ly placed straps, or ones that are hard to ad­just. Luck­i­ly, Jans­port not on­ly of­fers com­fort­able straps (and hefty ones), they al­so fea­ture a neat Grid­Fit sys­tem. It’s a bit of a gim­mick, since most folks will prob­a­bly not need to ad­just the place­ment and there are on­ly three of each di­men­sion. But the idea is sound- in­di­vid­u­al­ly-ad­justable strap place­ment on a small grid, al­low­ing for dif­fer­ences in tor­so length and shoul­der width. We ex­per­i­ment­ed a bit, and found it fair­ly easy to ad­just, but on­ly a cou­ple of small­er folks felt the need to do so. The waist belt and ster­num straps were well-placed and cinched nice­ly.

The ful­ly padded foam back­pan­el is per­fo­rat­ed and ribbed to al­low your back to breathe, and over­all the bag is well-ven­ti­lat­ed. And like most bags in this class, com­pres­sion straps were pro­vid­ed, and a hy­dra­tion sleeve is built-in with pip­ing though no reser­voir was in­clud­ed. A life­time war­ran­ty is a nice touch, and there are sev­er­al pock­ets for gad­gets, giz­mos, maps, and such. For an in­ter­nal frame, alu­minum is a smart choice, and we def­i­nite­ly liked the light weight of this high-ca­pac­i­ty bag. It packs pret­ty eas­i­ly, and though it isn’t a full-on wa­ter­proof bag, the seams were well-sealed and we had no is­sues in a light rain. Those look­ing for tech­ni­cal gear or heavy use in in­clement con­di­tions might want to look else­where, but ev­ery­day hik­ers and week­end trav­el­ers should love the Jans­port Kla­math 68. Es­pe­cial­ly the price- around $112 avail­able on­line.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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