This week’s Back to Work program (embedded below) covered a lot of travel tips and tricks, the vast majority of which I found myself nodding along with.

See, I’ve traveled more in the past year than I had previously in my life (at least by air). Most have been for work, but the time you throw in a 10th anniversary trip, it starts to add up.

One thing I wanted to quickly add to the bag discussion bit of the podcast is what I’m carrying around these days … Which has the bonus of being my everyday carry as well.

The 5.11 Rush 24 Back Pack

That’s right, it’s a backpack. I generally prefer a backpack for my carryon for a couple of reasons:

  • Agility: For one of my typical work flights, I have a very short layover to get from one end of the Minneapolis airport to the other. It’s not quite a sprint, but it’s close. Having a backpack instead of a rollerbag lets me move a lot quicker.
  • Keeping it with me: When traveling alone, where do you put your bag when you head to the bathroom? With a rollerbag, you’re putting that sucker on an airport bathroom floor. With the backpack, it stays right there with you, high above the grime (something Dan and Merlin talk about a lot).
  • In-flight flexibility: Assuming you haven’t loaded it to the gills, this particular backpack will also fit under the seat. So if the overheads are full of sideways rollerbags, or you just don’t feel like screwing with it, you can just stuff it under the seat and be done with it.
  • Everyday use: I’ll touch more on this in a bit, but I don’t really travel enough to have a bag specialized just for the airport and plane. I needed a bag that can pull double duty.

5.11, the maker of this particular backpack, is better known for a) tactical internet pants and b) survivalist gear (just read the Amazon reviews on that sucker).

This bag in particular has been great for my purposes, however.

The sleeve in the back, which is intended to hold a CamelBak water system, is a nicely padded space to hold a laptop (or two … I occasionally have both my work MacBook Pro and my home MacBook Air in there).

It has pockets galore, so I can keep all my on-the-plane stuff (Kindle, notebook, pens, pencils, etc.) right in the front pocket area.

There are also interior pockets/pouches for an extra set of shoes, and nice, deep side pockets that can hold a collapsible umbrella.

The biggest thing has been the sheer capacity. It’s listed as a one-day pack, but I’ve been able to get up to four out of it by packing appropriately (and wearing the bulky stuff on the plane).

And no matter how heavily I pack it, the wide shoulder straps distribute that load such that I barely notice it being there.

As I mentioned previously, this bag is not only my travel bag, but it’s also the bag I take to and from work everyday.

I’ve been using it that way since spring of this year and there’s no wear and tear on it at all.

It’s fantastic.

Some other quick travel tips:

  • I have a fairly casual brown corduroy jacket in the closet at home. Assuming it’s not the dead of summer, I tend to wear that on the plane (typically with jeans). Why? Two nice, deep interior breast pockets that make it easy to access whatever you think you’ll need while in flight. And besides, it feels kinda nice to be a little dressy on a flight, you know?
  • Flitemate Pressure Reducing Ear Plugs. Here’s the thing: Flying is pure hell on my ears. I land and find myself mostly deaf for up to two days afterward in some cases. In that regard, these ear plugs have been a godsend. The only problem: they come in a tiny, tiny case that I have successfully lost twice now — once on a plane and once in a hotel room.