TikTok or Not: Is This Really the Best Travel Bag Ever?

We took it to Europe to find out

August 31, 2023 12:08 pm
According to TikTok, this $46 Amazon backpack is the best travel bag, period.
According to TikTok, this $46 Amazon backpack is the best travel bag, period.

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Welcome to TikTok or Not, a new series dedicated to testing products that go viral on TikTok. We find out whether these “life-changing” items are useful, quality products worth your money or just junk peddled by influencers to get you to buy from their Amazon storefronts. 

According to @morgankeen, a travel and “holistic living” TikToker, a $46 backpack from Amazon is “the best travel bag in the entire world.”

Per a video that now has 2.1 million views and over 100,000 likes on the app, the multi-pocket backpack in question looks to be chock-full of enticing features. It has an independent zippered shoe storage pocket on the bottom that can fit two to three pairs of shoes. The pack’s main compartment opens flat and can be packed like a suitcase, while the smaller compartment in front has a waterproof lining and functions as a separation pocket for toiletries, wet towels and sweaty clothing. There’s also a secret anti-theft pocket on the back to keep valuables secure while in use, a charging port for your phone, a 15-inch padded laptop sleeve, a water bottle holder and a trolley sleeve so you can easily attach the bag to your carry-on suitcase. Most importantly, it fits under the airplane seat.

With some airlines charging an arm and a leg these days for checked and carry-on bags, a personal item that can hold multiple pairs of shoes, clothes and other essentials sounds like an ingenious, cost-effective solution. But if you’ve spent enough time on TikTok, you know that every product is marketed as the solution to your problems, and somehow every bag is the best bag ever. 

I conveniently stumbled across this glowing TikTok review right before I was scheduled to fly to Europe, and as a chronic over-packer, I’ll admit I was intrigued by this backpack and its purported abilities, namely its large capacity and various organizational compartments. So I one day Amazon Prime’d it and took it on a plane to Europe. Here’s what I found:

Item: VGCUB Carry On Backpack

What Works:

  • This bag does indeed provide ample storage space. While I did bring a large checked suitcase with me, I used the VGCUB Carry On Backpack for an overnight trip to Paris and was able to fit two outfits, one pair of shoes, a purse, a Dopp kit and a makeup bag, plus a few other miscellaneous items. And I probably could have fit more if I neatly organized my things instead of haphazardly throwing them into this bag at 5 AM. Regardless, the backpack got the job done, and it was nice to only lug one bag on the Eurostar. 
  • All backpacks should pack flat! I typically don’t like traveling with a backpack because the main compartment tends to become a bottomless pit and I wind up spending an embarrassingly long time rummaging through it in search of my Chapstick. But thanks to the full-length zipper, packing, unpacking and locating exactly what you need is a straightforward, non-humiliating venture. 
  • Perhaps the most important discovery, even filled to the brim this backpack fit comfortably under the plane seat, and I still had some room for my legs.
  • The amount of compartments and secret pockets this pack has is almost overwhelming. I didn’t even come close to using all of them, but if you need everything to have a place, this bag has got you covered, tenfold. 
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What Doesn’t Work:

  • While I appreciate a separate shoe compartment, I have a hard time believing that you can fit up to three pairs of shoes in it, that is, if you are also utilizing the main compartment. The shoe storage pocket is connected to the main pouch, so your pair of shoes, while enclosed in a separate bag, is technically packed in with your other belongings and takes up considerable space. 
  • You’re going to look and feel like a turtle wearing this backpack. This is my biggest complaint. It’s bulky even when you’re not overpacking. As I was boarding the plane with it strapped to my back a flight attendant asked if I was “going backpacking?” Humiliating. 

What We Recommend: 

If you are actually going backpacking I think the VGCUB Carry On Backpack is a solid, cost-effective choice. It’s durable, can hold a significant amount and conveniently fits under an airplane seat with no issue. However, I am a checked-bag girlie through and through, and I will prioritize my convenience and comfort over cost. I’ve also managed to fit a pair of shoes, my Dyson Airwrap and various other essentials comfortably in more stylish, less cumbersome personal item bags, so I don’t see a serious need for this backpack. But depending on your own travel preferences (if you don’t like parting with your luggage, for example) and your feelings about looking like an airport turtle, the VGCUB Carry On Backpack might just be the best travel bag for you.

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