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I am steadfast in my commitment to bringing only a carry-on when I travel, regardless of where or for how long I’m traveling. That said, I recently found myself packing for a week away, for a trip that would start in Miami and end in Rome. More specifically, I was headed to a bachelorette in Miami and then, later, to Rome for a work trip that would involve, among other things, a private tour of the Vatican.
Now, if you’ve never had to pack for both the SLS pool party and the Sistine Chapel in one go — and while using just one carry-on — I envy you. It is truly no small task. But as I’ve previously mentioned, I am resolute in my convictions when it comes to not checking a bag, if for no other reason than it’s been a banner year for mishandled luggage, and some airlines are suddenly refusing to check bags at all.
So for the occasion, I settled instead on a carry-on: the new F.A.R Convertible Backpack 45L from Away. For the uninitiated, F.A.R is the brand’s first-ever outdoor-focused collection, which comprises a series of design-forward duffles, backpacks, totes and other manner of travel accessories, in a handful of new colors. That last part is worth noting because, at least historically, I haven’t always been the biggest proponent of Away luggage. I can confidently F.A.R, however, flips that notion on its head.
Made from recycled water- and abrasion-resistant materials, the F.A.R Convertible Backpack 45L is loaded with features. First, thanks to a ton of pockets of both the internal and external variety, there is no shortage of storage nor organizational opportunity. The front external pocket is perfect for storing anything you might need in a pinch (think AirPods, chargers, etc.), while just behind it is a discreet smaller pocket, perfect for storing valuables or important travel documents (think passport, wallet, etc.). Further, the main compartment is massive and boasts two separate mesh compartments, which allows you to see what’s inside without having to unpack them.
The biggest selling point for me, though, is its versatility. It’s outdoor-focused, sure, but it was also the perfect companion for a short, very much not outdoorsy jaunt to Europe. Obviously, as its name would suggest, the F.A.R Convertible Backpack transforms into a backpack, but it also has a trolley sleeve (one of my all-time favorite features), so you can slide it over your carry-on handle and not have to worry about carrying it at all.
Most importantly, at least when it came time for me to pack for Miami and Rome, it’s got compression straps on both sides and, being that it’s a soft-body bag, you can get things pretty tight. I say most importantly because I had every intention of bringing the F.A.R Convertible Backpack 45L on the plane with me as my “personal item.” Now, I was admittedly a little nervous about this initially, as some airlines can be particularly stingy where personal items are involved. Fortunately, thanks to the compression straps, it appeared to be holding a mere fraction of what I’d actually managed to stuff inside.
On all of my flights — from Newark to Miami, Miami to Zurich, Zurich to Rome and then, later, Rome to Newark — I was not only able to carry it on with me, I was successfully able to stash the F.A.R Convertible Backpack under the seat in front of me, and not at the expense of my leg room either (though, for the sake of transparency, I don’t require much). I used it to store all of the items I typically reach for inflight, including my neck pillow, travel blanket and laptop, and had no problem getting to them — even from the middle seat.
My only qualm, albeit a minor one, is that if it’s overpacked, the main compartment starts to unzip itself. Of course, the obvious solution there is to not overpack but, being that I was packing for E11even and Saint Peter’s Basilica, I’m not going to beat myself up.
What I can say for sure is that it’s not the last time I’ll be dipping my toes into the F.A.R product pool. In fact, I already got my hands on the F.A.R Duffle 55L, and I can’t wait to see what sort of travel-related abuse I might throw its way. I suspect it’ll be up for the challenge.
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