Best backpack for backpacking Archives - Frequent Flyer University

Introducing The Jetpack 20L – Pre-Order On Kickstarter + TravelMore Giveaway

What I’ve Been Doing For The Last Year

As many of you have probably noticed in the last year or so, FFU hasn’t been very active!

While I wish I had more time to blog on here because I have a ton of great content and travel tips in my head, all my time has been occupied running TravelMore!

If any of you regular readers remember, last year on April, 14, 2015, I wrote a post on FFU launching my new travel gear company TravelMore.co.

The goal of TravelMore was (and still is) to encourage and inspire people to travel more.

If you ask most people what they really want to do in life, 99% of people will give some variation of the answer that “they want to travel more”, so the goal of the company is to convince as many people as possible to go from wanting to travel more to actually doing it!

TravelMore started off with a few products but over the last 12 months, we have slowly started expanding and started creating our own line of TravelMore products.

I’m happy to say now, TravelMore has a full line of travel products and we sell in 22 countries around the world!

Needless to say, the last 12 months have been a wild ride. If you follow me on Instagram, you also know I have fully embraced the “digital nomad” lifestyle and now spend time traveling around the world trying to avoid the cold Chicago winters.

Much of my time in the last year has also been spent developing and refining a new TravelMore product that launched on Kickstarter last week.

We had a modest goal to raise $7,500 but broke that in about 36 hours with no publicity and unexpectedly became the fastest funded daypack in Kickstarter history.

Introducing The TravelMore Jetpack 20L – The Perfect Daypack


In the miles & points community, only a couple of us cover the lowly world of backpacking, staying in hostels, and flying economy class to maximize miles. Therefore no one really talks about travel gear or anything like that unless it starts with Tumi or Rimowa.

I know there are some young people interested in backpacking gear, so as I wrote about last year, I’ve been using the Standard Luggage 40L Carry On Backpack on my backpacking adventures around the world. Even after 20 countries & 30,000+ miles, it has held up extremely well and is great because I can carry all my stuff in it but have no issues carrying it on the plane.

While there are good large travel backpacks like Standard Luggage, one thing I noticed is that there aren’t really any good travel daypacks and most lack basic functionality like being able to hold a water bottle, being water resistant, having enough pockets, or having a laptop sleeve for digital nomads.

In the end it was such a hassle trying to find an acceptable daypack, that I decided maybe TravelMore should try and build the perfect daypack from scratch.

For the design of the Jetpack 20L, we actually started by interviewing hundreds of backpackers / travelers around the world to understand what features they actually needed in a daypack.

Early Jetpack 20L Sketches

Early Jetpack 20L Sketches

After we had a pretty good list of features that travelers actually needed, I had the “pleasure” of going to China for 1 month to try and turn the Jetpack vision into reality.

Once the prototypes were created, we had multiple international backpackers spend over 8 months testing the Jetpack 20L on the road.

The Jetpacks were severely abused and tested traveling over 50,000 miles across Australia, China, Thailand, Nepal, India, United States, Iceland, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

Finally after 8 months of extensive R&D and testing, we finally arrived at a final product that we can confidently say is the perfect daypack.

What Makes The Jetpack 20L Different?


The full list of features can be found on the Kickstarter but here are the highlights:

  • Built For Travelers, By Travelers – Unlike traditional daypacks, the Jetpack 20L was actually designed by people who travel for a living. Every single feature of the Jetpack 20L has been purposefully designed thanks to the input of hundreds of travelers who were interviewed before the bag was designed.


  • 3 Awesome Colors – To combat boring daypacks, we created 3 colors for the Jetpack including blue, black, and purple.




  • 100% Collapsible – When not being used, the Jetpack 20L packs down into itself for easy transport. When collapsed, the Jetpack 20L measures just 8 x 6 x 2 inches and weighs only 12 oz.




  • Designed For 2016 – Almost everyone travels with a laptop, tablet, or kindle these days, so the Jetpack 20L has a dedicated electronics sleeve that can hold electronic devices up to 15 inches.



  • Secure & Water Resistant – The Jetpack 20L is designed with ultra strong ripstop nylon that is water resistant. In addition, the Jetpack 20L also has built in YKK zippers that can be locked.



  • Lots of Pockets – This seems like a no brainer but you would be amazed by how many daypacks only have 1 or 2 pockets. The Jetpack 20L has at 6 separate pockets to hold all your stuff.



  • 365 Year Warranty – All TravelMore products come with the world’s first 365 year warranty. Yes, you read that right, 365 years. We 1000% stand behind our products, so if they break for any reason, customers can exchange them for a new one, no questions asked!

Thank You For Your Support Over The Years + TravelMore Giveaway!

Writing a blog on the internet can be a weird thing because you know there are people reading this but you rarely get to meet readers in real life or interact with them offline.

With FFU, TravelMore, and all the other crazy travel projects I have worked on over the years, I have been extremely fortunate to have been supported by all the awesome people who started reading this blog way back in 2012.

None of these projects would have gotten anywhere if it wasn’t for the amazing FFU community of readers who have supported me over the years, so I just want to say thanks!

To show my appreciation, I am giving away a full TravelMore swag package including basically everything we make.

Total value of this package is over $200.

Winner will get 1 of everything below plus of course a TravelMore Jetpack 20L.




To enter the contest, just leave a comment saying where you would take your Jetpack (or where you are traveling to next). Please be sure you leave your real email, so I can contact you. I will pick a winner next week.


Standard Luggage Carry On Travel Backpack Review

If you haven’t recently been following me on Instagram or Facebook, I have once again been on the road backpacking around the world (hence the lack of new posts).

After my 3 month trek around Asia in January, I headed back to Chicago for a few months but felt the travel bug biting again, so I decided to spend the summer living in Amsterdam. Using Amsterdam as a home base, I burned 14 free Club Carlson nights touring Copenhagen, Bergen, Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki, Tallinn, Riga, and for good measure Vilnius.

As a “backpacker” spending around 6 months this year living out of a backpack, I get a lot of questions from readers asking what type of backpack is best for backpacking?

A couple years ago, I wrote a post about the luggage I used while traveling which at the time were a Samsonite hardshell luggage set and a 40L REI Vagabond backpack.

I still use both sets of bags and have taken both sets all over Asia, Europe, Africa, Middle East, Australia, India, etc without having any real issues.

While my Samsonite hardshell luggage set is doing great and still considered “top of the line”, since 2012 there have been significant innovations in the travel carry on backpack space with many new companies jumping in including MinaalTortuga, and Standard Luggage.

Basically over the last few years, minimalist traveling has now hit the mainstream and is considered “hip”. On Reddit, an entire community dedicated to minimalist traveling has popped up.

While I love my REI backpack, the one thing that annoys me is that there is no dedicated laptop sleeve so I have to manually unzip my entire bag to take my laptop out at security. As someone who works from their computer and travels all around the world with it, that feature is kind of a big deal for me.

So after much deliberation I decided it was time to get a new carry on backpack and donated my old REI backpack to a fellow traveler.

Narrowing Down The Options

There are quite a few options in the carry on backpack space, so it was a bit difficult narrowing down which travel backpack to get. Below is a quick run down of the available options:

Minaal: $299 + $19 U.S Shipping

Minaal is probably the “coolest” and “sleekest” looking travel bag out there but it is also the most expensive…


I almost bought the bag until I dug a little deeper and found out that the bag is only 35L capacity. Minaal makes a huge deal saying “size” doesn’t matter but I beg to differ.

I also came across this in-depth review by Carryology that made me think twice about buying a Minaal backpack.

Tortuga – $199 (Free Shipping in U.S)

Tortuga is probably the most well known carry on travel backpack company and they have done a great job helping to make carry on travel backpacks popular.


My friend had their bag so I was able to try it on and use it. While the Tortuga bag is highly reviewed and there isn’t anything wrong with it, there were a few features below that I thought were missing from their bag like it not being able to expand.

Standard Luggage – $175 (Free Worldwide Shipping)

I came across Standard Luggage by accident, as they were running a Kickstarter for their product, the SOLO bag.


If you supported their Kickstarter, you were able to get the SOLO bag for $115.

As it was a brand new un-reviewed product, I had a ton of questions for the company about the bag so I emailed the company and the CEO was nice enough to call me on Skype and answer all my questions. Talk about customer service!

While to the untrained eye, the Tortuga backpack and Standard Luggage backpack look very similar, the thing that stood out to me about Standard Luggage’s SOLO bag was the versatility.

The Standard Luggage backpack can also be used as a professional looking shoulder bag with the backpack straps hidden away, which makes it great if you travel for work and have to go straight from the airport to the office.

While the small details like that really attracted me to the bag, the feature that really sold me was the expandable capacity.

While the normal capacity is 40L, the Standard Luggage SOLO bag also has a zipper that allows it to expand to 50L!

Now the expandable 50L probably doesn’t “technically” qualify as a carry on but it is definitely nice to have an extra 10L available to you if you are traveling by bus or train where there are no carry on size limitations.

So with all that in mind, I went ahead and took a leap of faith and ordered the Standard Luggage SOLO bag.

Standard Luggage Solo Bag Review


Maximum Allowable Carry On Size

My first impression of the bag was that it really looks like a carry on roll-aboard without the wheels, then I quickly realized that was intentional.


When filled to 40L, the suitcase is designed to fit the exact dimensions of the dreaded metal cage at the airport, so you should technically never have to check a bag because your bag dimensions are too big.

Front Loading / Clamshell Design

If you are going to buy a travel backpack, make sure you get a front loading one!

It is literally the most important feature to have and it amazes me that people travel with hiking backpack that are top loading because it is so difficult to get stuff out from the bottom of your bag


With the clamshell design, it is really easy to pack (especially if you have packing cubes).

Laptop Sleeve

As I said earlier, this was one of the features that I really wanted in a backpack and Standard Luggage has delivered.

Not only does the bag fit my 15 inch laptop but I can also store my power cords and other electronics things in there.


When I go through airport security, it is now extremely easy to pull my laptop out.

Built In Organization / Tons of Pockets

One thing that most carry on luggage (rollaboard & backpacks) lacks are pockets.

Most travelers these days now have phones, wallets, boarding passes, headphones, etc in their pants pockets.

This bag does a great job of having over 10 different pockets (inside & outside) where you can easily stash stuff.

Also the bag has a few zippered pouches where you can store small items that can easily get lost like paperclips to open SIM cards slots, locks, or SD cards.


I actually didn’t know this when I bought the bag but it does come with a free rain cover which is a nice touch.

Changeable Colors

On the Standard Luggage website, the bag is shown to have orange accents but the bag actually comes with 2 colors set, orange and teal.

A great feature is that all the accents are 100% removable and interchangeable so you can swap out the colors or take them all off and have a solid black bag if you want.

Lifetime Warranty

When I bought my REI bag, it was a huge selling point knowing that it came with a lifetime warranty. Thankfully I never had to use but it was good to have just in case.

The SOLO bag also has a lifetime warranty.


This list of cons is really more a wish list because I do love the SOLO bag. If Standard Luggage is reading this, please consider adding these features in the next round.

Water Bottle Side Pocket

Outside of the US, water fountains and free tap water can be rare so I always travel with water bottle. In a perfect world, the SOLO bag would have a expandable side pocket to fit a water bottle because right now I have to carry it by hand.

Central Point To Lock All The Zippers

This is really being knit picky but the laptop compartment and main zipper compartment are separated by a few inches but they require 2 locks to secure the bag. If there was a way to use 1 lock to secure both zippers, that would be amazing!

Final Thoughts

As I got this product from the Kickstarter, I really had no idea what to expect.

The product could have been an absolute flop but I am extremely happy that I took the chance and ordered the SOLO bag.

I have been using the bag now for over 3 months and absolutely love it.


I literally can’t imagine that I used to travel with a backpack that didn’t have a laptop sleeve!

Not only is the bag extremely functional and well designed but you can really tell by the small details that the creators of the bag are travelers and are really passionate about building a high quality bag.

As this was only the first round of the bag, I am really excited to see what Standard Luggage has to offer in the next round of bags they design.

Overall after using the bag on the road, I would 150% order the SOLO bag again and recommend it to anyone out there that is thinking about backpacking.

If you are interested in purchasing the bag, as of right now you can get the bag for $175 including free worldwide shipping.

If you have any questions for me about the bag, please leave them below and I can answer them based on my experience using it.


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