Getaway journos take many short trips, checking out the best lodgings in Southern Africa. We don’t all travel light, though.
The team tested four different weekend bags worth investing in for under R3000 each.
The perfect all-rounder: 24L Thule EnRoute Blur 2
Tested by: Tyson Jopson
Requirements: A large-volume, multifunctional backpack with accessible pockets and good compartmentalisation.
Best spec: A laptop compartment that doubles as storage for a hydration reservoir.
I’m always on the lookout for bags that can do double, or quadruple, duty. The Thule EnRoute Blur 2 does just this. I use it as a day-to-day office bag, adventure-biking backpack and as a weekend or camera bag. The main compartment can hold a pair of shoes and three-day’s clothing and has a laptop compartment with an easy- access zip (great for airport security checks). When I’m riding, this compartment turns into storage for a hydration pack with a built-in opening for the tube.
The external pouch is designed to take a bicycle helmet, but can otherwise be used to store anything wet or dirty. The main compartment has a pocket for keys or cables and SD cards, plus two pouches. On a shoot, I drop a padded camera-bag insert (with a DSLR and two lenses) into the main section, and still have space for a night away. Each side pocket holds a one-litre bottle, there’s a hard-shell outer pocket for sunglasses and a smartphone, loops (with reflective bands) for holding light objects on a carabiner and an adjustable sternum strap.
The classic holdall: 39L Addis Ababa Duffel
Tested by: Welcome Lishivha
Requirements: A classic, yet versatile, bag that I can sling over my shoulder, leaving my hands free.
Best spec: You can take this rugged brown leather bag virtually anywhere.
I’m not a big fan of many compartments in a bag; I find them confusing and not ideal for last-minute packing. So the classic simplicity of one major compartment with just three small pockets for essentials is something I appreciate about this duffel bag. The outside zip-pocket is perfect for house keys, a wallet, travel documents and other small items that you’ll want to put away but access with ease. In addition, the bag has two small inside side pockets, with a hemp lining, for your sunglasses case, cell-phone charger and a notebook. The main compartment offers plenty of space for clothes, shoes, a toiletry bag and a book to read on your trip all in one place, like a potjie! This makes both the process of unpacking and packing up again when it’s time to leave, that much easier.
At the risk of sounding as if I’ve embraced last-minute packing, I like that when running late, I can toss everything into this duffel, dash out and be guaranteed a stylish entrance. However jet-lagged or dressed-down you might feel, this number will score you a few nods from the fashionistas. It’s an on-the-go bag, perfect for a weekend getaway – there’s no space to take work along so you’ll have to take an additional laptop bag. It’s also great for an overnight trip or to take to the gym. The duffel is made in Cape Town by Rowdy, which you’ll find at the Old Biscuit Mill.
The perfect big bag: 72,5L Samsonite Rewind Duffel
Tested by: Ondela Mlandu
Requirements: A bag with wheels that won’t strain my back when I’m running to catch a ight, and with enough space to pack everything I need – and more.
Best spec: The compression straps compact the load for travel-size purposes.
I can’t think of anything worse than not having enough clothes to wear if there’s unpredictable weather, but fortunately, the Samsonite Rewind Duffel has enough capacity to pack a few extras in case the weather changes during your weekend away. It has a zip section dividing the bag into two compartments. I opted to put my shoes in one side and my clothes in the other, but the dual compartments are also useful for separating clean clothes from dirty laundry. Despite its large capacity, this bag is lightweight and easy to carry, and it navigates smoothly on two wheels.
Plus, it has handles on the side as well as at the top, for comfortable handling and lifting. The bag also has adjustable straps around it, so you can compress it to the size you require, which will allow you to skip the baggage check-in queue and take it on board your flight as hand luggage. I really like the handy pocket in the front of the bag, too, where you can keep a few things such as a notepad, book or bottle of water. Think about investing in a waterproof cover for better durability. The duffel is available in practical black, blue and taupe, and also comes with a two-year warranty.
The easy-to-carry bag: K-Way Carry-On 40 Travel Bag
R899 , capeunionmart.co.za
Tested by: Kati Auld
Requirements: Something that is comfortable to carry, packs easily into the car, doesn’t break the bank and has the magical ability to fit more than seems physically possible.
Best spec: Being able to double as both a backpack and as a carry-on bag.
This is a simple, lightweight travel bag. It’s soft enough to be squeezed into a small space, such as a crowded overhead locker, and it rolls into a relatively manageable bundle if you’d like to pack it as a spare. Despite being so light, it’s made from durable 600D fabric, and can be used either as a backpack or as a carry-on. I’m not a fan of compartmentalising my luggage – I like to keep my options open – but there is a handy laptop sleeve in the main compartment and two smaller pockets in the front. I found the diagonal zippers make them a little difficult to root around in so I used a K-Way Digital Bag (R199) packing cell that fits snugly into the top pocket.
It made it much easier to store and retrieve electronics, hard drives, notepads, pens etc. The bag also has compression straps for when packing doesn’t go as planned, and you need some help fitting it all in. It doesn’t have a sternum strap, though, which means it’s not very comfortable to carry as a backpack when it’s full of heavy items – but as a ‘throw- everything-in-and-go’ bag at a decent price, it’s perfect.
This story first appeared in the June 2017 issue of Getaway magazine.
Check into the most desirable places in South Africa with our featured winter deals; find cool images of the Antarctic and take a wild drive over the Namib dunes in our June issue!