Everyone has to have a hobby, and one of mine is bags: I’ve got a cupboard-full of different bags for different travel occasions. So when the Chief Bag Carrier from GATE8, Alaister, got in touch and offered me up a bag in exchange for a review, I happily accepted.
Yes – for full disclosure, this bag was provided free of charge, and GATE8 didn’t pay me anything for my review, or indeed ask for editorial rights.
I’ve immediately got a soft spot for GATE8, because they are a small UK-based company, and their story on their website reads “Gate8 began when a British IT consultant got tired of wasting time in airport queues and spending money on excess baggage fees on business trips”. By the way, they seem to interchangeably use GATE8 and Gate8. They do have a distribution center in the USA, and they offer free 5-day Group Shipping.
Shipping and Unpacking
The bag got a tracking number and arrived 24h later from their distribution center in New Jersey. It was very well packed in a cardboard box, and I’m not much of an amateur photographer so here’s a photo of what it looks like from their website:
The thing you don’t get from the photos on the website: this is a big bag! You can easily pack a week’s worth of clothes in the bag, including an extra suit and dress shoes.
If you want lots of photos, and a great detailed review, head over to arjunrc’s review on FlyerTalk. It’s a great read.
The use case for the Gate8 TriFold is quite straightforward: you travel for business, want/need to carry a suit or jacket, don’t much like a separate laptop bag (maybe you’re worried about losing it), and hate to check luggage.
What sets this bag aside is that it will fit in ANY plane. Not just the regular Boeing 737s and Airbus A321s, but all the less pleasant options. Even the hated Canadair CRJ-200, which we affectionately call Flying Sewage Barges or FSBs. You might need to unzip the laptop bag when you get in, if you overpacked the TriFold, but it will fit in.
What’s more, if you’re traveling in Europe/Asia, this bag not only fits the hand luggage requirements on size, but since the laptop bag is zipped on, fits the requirements of only having a single bag. Then you can get to your hotel, hang your suit, unzip the bag and go to your meetings.
This bag serves a very specific use case, and if you fit this, you will probably love it.
This is really only something you can figure as a factor of time, but the build looks pretty good. This is the second generation bag, and they have clearly taken into account the feedback from the first generation. The nylon is good quality and looks durable, and the telescopic pole looks nice and solid. I’m sure this bag will last well, and Gate8 are well known for having great customer service if you have any issues.
The laptop bag is pretty big, taking a 17″ laptop and swallowing my 15″ MacBook Pro whole. It’s a bigger bag than I’d choose, but then it spends much of its time zipped on, which is very convenient.
This bag comes fully loaded, which is pretty convenient. It comes with a suit carrier including a hanging system which means you can pull the suit out, and hang it immediately. It’s not as elegant as Lat56’s Suit Protection System, but it’s nice enough.
It also includes some little bags, including a neat clear 3-1-1 bag that you can use for your toiletries. Since it comes with a laptop bag, this is really a neat bag for all your flying needs.
On a Sunday night, I typically look at the week ahead, and decide what bag I’m going to carry. If I’m spending 3 days at one customer, I will need 2 suits and 3 shirts, whilst if I’m going to California, I might just need a spare pair of jeans and a few T-shirts. Different trips require different luggage.
That’s where I found out that the Gate8 TriFold isn’t for me. I tried packing it a few times on a Sunday, and I found it was just too much bag for my needs. Many of my trips are 1-2 nights, and this is a 3-4 night trip bag. I’ve had the bag for 4 weeks and haven’t found the right trip for it yet.
I’d strongly encourage you don’t take this as indicative, because I’m a super-light packer who takes the bare minimum and who is most often only away for 2 nights at a time.
I work for a global consultancy, and I have a lot of consultants who travel with 22″ carry-ons and a big laptop bag. Quite often, I tease them as I slide through the airport with my much lighter luggage. They tease me for my bag habit. That’s just how it goes.
Truth be told, a full-size 22″ carry-on is too much luggage. I can pack for 2 weeks in my Tumi International Carry-On. I actually usually check it, since I’m traveling with family when I’m going for that long. Yet many consultants and road warriors continue to fill up planes with oversized carry-ons.
And so I spoke to one of my consulting leads, Brenton, last week when he was in Philly. We were out to dinner, and I said hey Brenton I’ve got a gift for you, the gift of a new bag. I’m not sure he was thrilled that he was now carrying a full-size carry-on, a laptop bag AND the Gate8 TriFold back to Boston at 6am the next morning, but I’m sure he’ll survive.
So this is where this review ends… for now. The Trifold has left my care and Brenton will be seeing how it suits his needs (no pun intended). I’m pretty certain he’s going to love it, because he predominately travels to a single customer for 3-4 nights, and this is the perfect bag for this use case.
One thing we both struggled with was how to fit both a spare pair of dress shoes, and gym shoes. If you’ve done this in the Trifold, do share how it’s possible!
In short, the Trifold isn’t the right bag for an ultra-light traveler, but if you leave home every Monday morning and land home on a Thursday night, and need an extra suit, jacket and laptop, I’m pretty certain you’ll find this bag is perfect for you. Just imagine if everyone did this, how much space there would be left in the planes, and how much faster we’d board!
Let’s give Brenton a few weeks… he has his own blog, but I’m planning to convince him to write a guest post here… Part 2.