Now that that’s out of way, GoLite’s TraveLite convertible bag is actually a pretty nice pack for those that want to, well, travel light.
The secret to traveling light is physics — bring a smaller bag. If there’s no room in your bag, you won’t be able to bring too much stuff. In that sense the TraveLite is ideal, it holds about 2200 cu in of gear, enough for a round the world trip, but not enough to tempt you into bringing too much stuff.
My only gripe about the size of the TraveLite is that the pack becomes somewhat awkward to carry if you really max it out. Any sharp corners or lumpy objects tend to dig into your back if you’re carrying it as a backpack.
Also, bear in mind that the TraveLite is technically a carry-on bag. It does have padded shoulder straps (which tuck away when you don’t need them), but it definitely isn’t as comfortable as a traditional backpack.
That said, in my experience, barring real backpacking and trekking, most of us don’t really lug our packs around all that much; between taxis, tuktuks, subways and porters you never really need to carry your pack for long. That said, if you are planning to strike out in the wilds or want a pack that’s comfortable on your back for days on end, look elsewhere.
The TraveLite is made of 50 percent recycled ripstop nylon and seems reasonably tough. However I didn’t have the opportunity to fully test it in the real world where bus drivers sometimes secure your bag by throwing a rope over it and then hang their entire body weight to cinch it down, effectively turning the rope into a cheese cutter that does your pack no favors.
Of course because the TraveLite is small, you can probably avoid that all-too-common scenario by just keeping it by your side you when you’re traveling.
One potential problem with the TraveLite is the D-ring system which holds the bottom of the shoulder straps to the bag — the D-rings are stitched into the pack, which means if you break the pastic d-ring you’re going to need a seamstress to fix it. It would be nice if the D-Ring threaded into the strap so you could easily slide on another if it breaks.
Where the TraveLite excels is organizing and accessing your stuff. The full zip-around design means you can open the bag and lay it flat — nothing is buried at the bottom because there effectively is no bottom.
The inside is divided into a number of compartments so you can organize your gear and even, if you’re into such things, keep your clothes flat and relatively wrinkle free.
There are also three quick-access front pockets for smaller items like passports, small water bottles or even a pair of sandals.
To be fair to GoLite, the TraveLite is not specifically intended for the use case I’ve outlined — your only pack on a round the world trip — it’s really intended to be a carry-on bag. However, it can certainly work as your main bag.
The biggest problem with the TraveLite is the price. At $125 it’s too expensive to be a second, around-town bag and there are other options for a main bag within that price range that offer a lot more than the TraveLite (like a real suspension system with hip belts).
However, if price is the only thing holding you back, I have good news for one lucky soul among you — we’re giving away our testing TraveLite.
Just leave a comment below telling us a little bit about your travel plans and I will randomly pick a winner. [note: this review was written some time ago, I'm currently on the road. I will contact the winner, but I won't be able to send it to you until mid-August, so keep that in mind if you're leaving soon.]