The best lightweight cabin bags for travelling
I am not a light packer. Never have been, never will be. No matter how many articles I read on how and why I should pack lightly, I simply am one of those people who prefer to have everything I need with me. I’ve never back packed and never had to limit what I take anywhere. Going against what seems to be a trend for travelling light, I’m standing up and saying I’m happy to be a non-conformist in this regard.
However, it is important for me to have the best lightweight cabin bags for travelling that I can find. I like lightweight luggage because it means I can take more with me. The lighter the actual suitcase or bag, the more those extra grams help me include all my other bits and pieces.
I am also not a backpack kind of person. I have rarely used them when travelling, preferring the hard cases for both cabin and checked in luggage.
With my hard wired notions of luggage preferences, I didn’t hold out great hope for the newly released Cabin Zero cabin bag.
To prove you can teach an old dog new tricks, I’ve now found a new friend. But, don’t worry……it hasn’t converted me to packing lightly. It’s simply identified a few other advantages, meaning I can still pack what I like, but in a slightly different way.
For others, however, it has proven to be a satisfactory replacement of a handbag.
Made from a waterproof polyester, the bag is incredibly light. Weighing a meagre 760g, it’s one of the lightest backpacks I’ve seen. Being waterproof also has its obvious advantages. It’s fully lined, with a main internal, mesh pocket which is great for storing your laptop and other devices. There’s also a smaller zipped pocket as well.
The zippers are robust and allow for locking with your own combination or key lock. Double straps on each side mean the backpack can be compressed to save further space, or to just keep your contents from moving around too much.
In a slight twist to the usual daypacks and backpacks, this bag may be carried as a backpack via two strong, padded over-shoulder straps.
Alternatively, a side handle allows the bag to be carried in a more traditional way.
The bags carry a standard 10 year warranty, but with a simple click of a button on the Cabin Zero facebook page, you can upgrade this to 25 years.
All Cabin Zero bags come with an added piece of protection, with a built in luggage tracker. A unique code is entered into a website, along with your details, which will assist with being reunited with your bag in the event you lose it.
Measuring 55 x 40 x 20 cm, and with a 44 litre internal capacity, this is the important part for me. Without unnecessary internal pockets taking up valuable room, the cavity of this bag is very large. On a recent trip I could fit all of my equipment (macbook, camera, cables, ipad etc) along with some shoes and clothes for both myself and my husband.
Making the most of the space
Whilst I am outing myself as a heavy packer, I will also reveal that I sometimes think I am the only person who hasn’t used packing cubes. Not only am I a heavy packer, but I like everything to be packed properly so that when I get to the other end my clothes are crease free. I know, I’m sounding like a prima donna aren’t I. In actuality, it’s more my obsessive need for perfection. (and yes, I do travel with a travel iron)
Cabin Cubes, as they are called by this company, can be purchased specifically with the 44-litre cabin bag in mind. With one large 11 litre cube, measuring 25cm x 35cm x8cm and two medium, 5.5-litre cubes (25cm x 17.5cm x 8cm), they fit perfectly alongside one another in this bag.
I was surprised at how they made finding our items easier, especially when I had combined both of our clothes in there. I was able to keep categories of clothes together, meaning we didn’t have to dig to the bottom of the bag looking for that elusive pair of socks.
The bag also allowed me to fit a lot more in them than I had expected. I know people who swear by these cubes and I have definitely started to see how they can be really useful. They become even more handy if, unlike me, you are happy to have your clothes come out a little less than perfect on the other end.
I’m not completely sold on them, simply because I don’t really want to fold larger items over and over again. However for tshirts, underwear, socks, scarves, activewear, belts etc, they are perfect, even for me.
All Cabin Cubes are zippered, have a side handle and can also be traced via the integrated tracking system.
It’s the perfect size for aircraft
One of my pet peeves is travellers with oversized cabin bags, or more than their allowance. The dimensions have been specifically designed to ensure that it meets the cabin baggage requirements of the majority of airlines. Even packed to capacity, it fits easily in the overhead lockers. It also fits underneath the seat in front without too much effort.
There are plenty of style options
Cabin Zero bags come in five different styles. Ranging from the classic style (which I have reviewed), to the vintage, urban and military, the differences are minimal and a purchase decision will largely come down to aesthetics. There is also a smaller 28 litre bag on offer as well.
Why I liked it
With so many variations of cabin bags on the market, it’s easy to get overwhelmed or simply confused. I personally believe that it’s difficult to singularly advocate for one piece of luggage to be overtly superior over another. Everyone has different tastes, needs and concerns, making it virtually impossible to ever find the perfect bag, let alone recommend it as such. From my perspective I liked it for these reasons.
- The lightweight nature of the bag gets the biggest tick from me. At only 760g, it beats my existing (empty) cabin bag by 1.5 kg.
- It is perfectly suited as a cabin bag as it meets the sizing requirements for airlines, including notoriously stringent airlines such as easyJET and Ryanair.
- The options of using it as a backpack or carry bag improve its versatility.
- The outer zippered pocket is perfect for putting your laptop in when passing through airport security. The external aperture saves time and hassle reaching inside your bag.
- It appears to be strong. I packed this bag to the maximum weight limit for carry on bags of 7kg. At no point did the stitching or handles appear to be under any duress.
- The side compression straps mean that you can squeeze the bag in further and keep your contents compacted.
- The Cabin Cubes fit perfectly inside and I still had room for additional items to be packed around them. Being a rectangular shape with deep sides means that items fit in here much easier without being squashed.
- The front flap opens right up, once again making it very easy to place your items in without having to shove and squash them in.
- As much as I love wheeled cases, being able to carry this as a backpack frees up our hands for our other luggage, getting passports out etc.
- It’s great even when you’re not flying. I’ve used it already several times for weekend breaks
What I didn’t get excited about
Whilst the tracing system sounds like a great idea, it relies completely on an honesty system. I’d love to think that anyone who found my bag would take the time and effort to hand it in, or to enter the unique number off the tag into the website and try and track me down. In reality, there’s a high probability I won’t. So, great feature in theory, but not a reason to buy in my opinion.
This one is my fault, and is easily fixed. I love my luggage to be black or silver, so of course, I ordered a black Cabin Zero bag. From the moment I opened it up, I had colour envy. The bright pinks and greens seemed like a much better option, or even the camouflage ones.
Testing it on a long haul trip
I have to say that I am now quite fond of this bag, so much so that I am willing to give it a real test on an upcoming trip. With a long haul flight, six shorter international flights and a camper trip part of the itinerary, I will be interested to see how it fares. I will also be travelling on five different airlines, two of them are budget, further testing the capacity and size requirements. I’ll be sure to report back if any of my views change.
Update: This lightweight cabin bag really does work. We flew on RyanAir and EasyJet from Italy to Malta and onto London and there were zero issues with weight and size. We have also recently returned from France, using this bag again. I think the feature I love the most about this now is it’s strength and capacity. We pack this bag so full and it just carries everything so well. It’s easy to have on your back, or to carry with the side handle. Can’t recommend it highly enough for a soft bag.
Cabin Zero provided me with this cabin bag and Cabin Cubes for reasons of a trial. As always, all opinions are my own and I will continue to test this product and provide updates where appropriate.
Kerri now travels regularly with her husband, Stirling, where eating great food, drinking quality beer and wine, and cooking international foods are integral to their adventures.