This summer, I started testing a few new travel products – one for a problem I've always had, and another for a brand-new problem caused by traveling with a child stroller.
Getting the Most Out of Luggage Space: PRO Packing Cubes
The first problem is pretty obvious and familiar, even if you don't travel with a little person: I don't know a single frequent traveler who doesn't constantly tweak the way they pack. It's a constant cycle of stuff like giant, vacuum-sealed plastic bags, stuff sacks, dry sacks, you name it. The PRO Packing Cubes are zippered, vented pouches that aim to bring order to the chaos of your travel luggage of choice (in my case, that's either a Swiss Army carryon or a Kelty Coyote backpack).
They don't seal air out like the stuff/dry sacks I typically use. So I'm not trying to find exactly the right amount to stuff in them, which is kind of nice. They simply squish as needed as the luggage compresses.
So far, I've had the PRO Packing Cubes on several domestic trips and one mega-intercontinental journey to New Zealand. While packing for the New Zealand trip, I let my wife get in on the testing fun, and the PRO Packing Cubes quickly became a favorite (I'll have to make sure she's not constantly swiping them from me). Throughout testing, there were absolutely no quality issues: The zippers are still perfect, and there are no rips or tears in the fabric. Also on the New Zealand trip, I started off putting the packed PRO Packing Cubes into dry sacks and sealing them. The shapes didn't quite align with the dry sack being a cylinder rather than a rectangle. So from then on, I just kept the dry sack around just in case we ran into bad weather that would soak my gear. Otherwise, I just put the cubes straight into the backpack. They still fit with ample room left over.
The PRO Packing Cubes concept isn't exclusive, and I've seen similar products elsewhere. But I haven't tested them – so though they may be the same conceptually, I can't say that any brand will hold up as well. I'm inclined to pick up another set of PRO Packing Cubes just in case my wife gets any funny ideas.
Shielding Your Stroller: The Gate Check Pro XL
It took me awhile to put the Gate Check Pro XL through its paces – many of my trips since this summer have been of the business variety â€¦ so no little person to accompany me. The New Zealand trip meant we had to take our super-cool BOB Ironman stroller for its go-anywhere capability. And that also meant a golden opportunity for the Gate Check Pro XL – Â with flights from Phoenix to Honolulu to Auckland to Nelson to Auckland and back, there'd be plenty of legs to test.
On previous trips with the BOB Ironman, I’d fold it up and use any combination of cordage – from bungee cables to camping gear ties to even shoelaces – to prevent it from unfolding. I was more than willing to see what the Gate Check Pro XL could do.
I was skeptical: Could this big blue bag contain the mighty Ironman and stay sealed? Would I fumble with it while stuffing it into the bag at the gate. Yes, and no. Folding the Ironman and putting it into the Gate Check Pro XL went quickly and easily – and I never had to worry about it unfolding via the rough ministrations of a baggage handler. Oh, and it was so distinct that I could actually see it being loaded onto the plane from the boarding area (nice to know it will show up at the destination!). It also folds up small enough that I could stuff it into the lower cargo area of the BOB Ironman.
Love Pro Travel Gear provided these items for review. But rest assured that I’m always ready to give an honest review. The products in this test earned praise by actually being good!
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