For a long time I’ve struggled to look past the SwissGear and the Wenger kit for my choice of bag. From laptop bags to backpacks and on to rollaboards I’ve found them to be robust, well build and very capable of fulfilling my needs – except for one – carrying suits. Discussing (debating really) with John one evening he suggested I try the Gate8 Trifold Cabin Bag to see if it would work for my needs.
Once I got it I could see immediately that the key plus with this bag is its ability to fit my clothes for an entire week including spare suits and all while fitting in main cabin storage on every domestic flight. I travel to a number of remote regional airports and frequently find myself on puddle jumpers where anything bigger than a back-pack ends up valet checked at the gate (adding 10-15 mins to your wait at the destination gate).
The Gate8 Trifold is perfect for these scenarios and I’ve not had a single gate-check since I started using it.
Packing the Gate8 Trifold Cabin Bag
Packing this thing wasn’t easy the first few times and perhaps I was missing some key instruction cards that John forgot to pass on but in the end I figured it out and wow was I impressed. Take next week as an example, I’ll fit 3 x suits, 5 shirts, spare shoes and various other small bits into the bag which kit me out perfectly for a week at TechEd 2016. All told I can fit all the clothes I would need for 5 days at a customer site with very little problem. It takes a few tries to get used to but now that I have my system worked out I am incredibly comfortable packing for a week including spare suits, evening-ware and of course gym kit.
The Laptop Case
The Gate8 Trifold gets two negative marks from me, some issues around the handles as you’ll see later and the laptop bag. The accompanying laptop bag is a big let down in a lot of ways. Firstly it is designed to zip onto the front of the bag to create one unit. Since I got the bag I have NEVER used this feature for a number of reasons:
- I normally use my laptop and charger etc. in-flight so having it attached to the bag in the overhead bin is not necessary. I prefer to place it at my feet as it takes up little/no space and can be placed upright between the floor and seat leaving ample legroom.
- When full with a spare suit, shirts, spare shoes etc. the main bag becomes a bit bulky with the front becoming slightly bow shaped so that getting the laptop bag onto the main bag is nearly impossible to do easily. I prefer to carry the laptop bag on top of the main bag latched onto the telescopic handle.
Secondly I have found the laptop bag to be a disappointment for me in general. Don’t get me wrong, it works and I have been using it but you could change a little to make it a LOT better. Take for example the front area for smaller items. What I look for in a bag is smaller individual compartments to hold items such as:
- Business Cards
- USB storage keys
I’m probably a bit picky on this but if a laptop bag is going to carry my day’s worth of kit (laptop, charger, notebook and other smaller bits) I need it to have a bit more structure and have something similar to the Wenger laptop briefcases. The search for a combined laptop bag and main tri-fold has very clearly led to trade-offs in the laptop bag and creating an underwhelming experience.
For the most part I can’t fault the build quality of the Gate8 TriFold with a single exception. Unfortunately the leather-like handles of both the bag itself and the accompanying laptop bag began to flake and fall apart after using the bag for just 5 weeks straight and now, almost 3 months later, there is no coating left on the handles.
This isn’t the end of the world as the bag itself is so good in other ways however its very annoying to be carrying the bag and then look down to find pieces of the handle covering your hands – not good and easily fixed I would think. Otherwise it is well build and I haven’t seen any other problems.
As John mentioned in his post, the bag comes with a number of accessories such as the 3-1-1 bag which is excellent as well as triangle zip holders which fit excellently into the main area of the bag for carrying socks and other things. I haven’t got the shirt holder yet but I’m certain an investment in that area will be happening in the future.
In all honesty, the only thing I can say about the main bag is that I love it – I only have the two negatives I mentioned above as my bug-bears. For the laptop bag I can see myself replacing it with another of my laptop bags in the near future. I’ve forced myself to use the one that came with it until now but realistically it’s just not for me. On the handle front, I’ll have to look at my options to get those replaced if I’m going to continue to use the bag.
The Gate8 Trifold is perhaps the best bag I’ve used to date when it comes to traveling for work for 3-5 days. Its size, functionality and overall design make it my go-to bag for weekly travel and I can’t see that changing. A big thumbs up to the guys at Gate8 for creating this well thought out bag.
My parting suggestion for the future though – don’t try to be all things to all people. I would give up the laptop bag aspect of the design and concentrate on it being an awesome consultants dream-bag for living away from home for 3-5 days a week.