Top positive review
3 people found this helpful
Made world travel easy
on December 20, 2013
My wife and I each purchased a Col 35 for our trip to Europe earlier this year. After exhaustive research into luggage, packing, how to pack, and what to bring, we decided on a backpack that would be small enough to carry on a plane, but large enough that we could fit everything we'd need throughout the course of our trip. We found that perfect bag with the Col 35. I got the bag in orange, she got pine (green.)
A little background: my wife and I spent 3.5 weeks traveling across Europe this past spring. It was the first time either of us had undertaken a trip like this and the first time either of us had even left the United States. We had read horror stories about people who overpacked for a long trip, who had simply brought too many bags and how much of a pain that made their trip overall. We wanted to avoid that particular pitfall of world travel, so we went with the Col 35.
We each packed 6 days of clothing in addition to the essentials (toiletries, shoes, coats, gloves, hats...we were traveling in early spring, it was cold.) The bag swallowed up all of these items with ease, I was amazed at how much room it actually had. I was able to fit a small camera bag with my DSLR and a couple of lenses in as well. Truly an amazing amount of space for such an unassuming bag. There is also a removable pouch on the top that carried smaller items we'd need access to frequently. It came in very handy. It tended to flop around a little bit, but if it was cinched down tight enough, this wasn't a problem. We also loved the mesh bottle holders on the side, this allowed us to carry our Nalgene bottles with ease. Never underestimate how great it is to have water available while traveling, it can be hard to find in many places.
Our trek carried us to 6 different cities in the 3.5 weeks we were traveling. We flew, took busses, and took trains and the Col 35 was great for all modes of transportation. Even fully packed it was easy to fit in to the overhead bins on planes and busses. The trains were even easier as the bag fit either overhead or under the seat. I can't overemphasize how great it was to only have carry on luggage. Not only did we save on checked bag fees, but we also got to simply grab our bags and deplane. Others had long waits at baggage claims. By the time others had their bags, we were already on our way to do something fun. Not only that, but we had no fears about lost or damaged luggage because we had everything we owned with us at all times.
The Col 35 is comfortable to wear for long periods, even fully loaded. The shoulder straps are well padded and adjustable making it easy for either me or my wife to wear our bags. She is 5'4", I am 6'1". The Col 35 also has a padded waist strap and a chest strap that allow you to take some of the weight off of your shoulders and rest it on your hips. Definitely a welcome feature when you've been wearing the fully-loaded bag all day.
As far as the security of the bag goes, I'm very happy and feel confident that nothing could get stolen out of it without me noticing. The top of the bag has 2 drawstrings each with a clasp. Not only does this securely close the bag, but makes it easier to pack things in there more tightly as you have more leverage to get the bag fully closed. Furthermore, if a thief were to try to reach into your bag, he would have to undo both drawstrings to get access to the contents. Not to mention, he'd have to get past the pouch on top that coverts the opening to the bag.
There is a nylon cover in the bottom of the Col 35 that is designed to cover the bag when deployed. The cover is water resistant so it's great for when you get caught in the occasional rainstorm. We didn't have the chance to use it as we avoided most of the rain during our travels. However, it was nice to know that it was there as we were both carrying electronic items in our bags.
My one gripe about the Col 35 was that the opening was on top. This means every time I wanted something from the bag, I had to dig through it to find it or basically unpack the whole thing to get what I needed. As I got smarter about what I'd need from the bag during our trip, this became less of an issue. It's a double-edged sword though. The annoyance of digging through the bag was trumped by the extra security I felt that the top-only opening offered.
Overall we simply loved the Col 35. After undertaking a long and difficult trip with it we both exclaimed that we couldn't imagine traveling without it in the future. If you're looking for the bag to make your travels easy, this is it. Buy without hesitation.