A Packable Solution When Traveling With One Bag

I only take one small pack when traveling to other places for work (or for fun). Traveling light is safer, but one of the issues I run into when I go light is the ability to bring an extra backpack that is small and lightweight enough to fit into my main pack. This additional pack would be the one I take with me when I’m out and about, carrying the bare essentials: if it’s work then a laptop and a few other items; if it’s fun, then a small camera, a water bottle, and a small trauma kit.

I’ve tried a few things, but so far I've found nothing that fits all the needs. I have one of the original GORUCK Bullet 10s, the one that is fully unstructured, and that sort of works, but it still doesn’t pack well, especially when I’m traveling with a 21 liter backpack as my main pack, and also doesn’t handle 13+ inches laptops well. I’ve also tried the packable Patagonia packs, but again, they don’t handle a laptop well, and in an urban environment the bright colors make you a target.

In short, most of the time I end up unpacking at the hotel and using my main pack for everything. It’s not bad, but I wonder if there is anything out there I can use. A small, packable backpack (but I can also settle for a small, thin messenger bag like this one built by Spartan9). Something simple with a few features:

  • Lightweight and packable: the smaller pack should not add any significant weight to my main pack and be able to be packed small inside the main backpack.
  • Blends in the city: it needs to be black, with little to no shiny metal pieces.
  • Hardwearing and presentable: the pack needs to be made of a material that will not fray or deteriorate too fast from wear. It also needs to look slick, simple, and presentable, i.e. not a monstrosity with poor design and shiny buckles.
  • Small: able to carry a Mac 13” or an iPad, and a few other essentials.

I’m on a search now. But if you know of one (with the right balance of simplicity, weight and utility), or you are willing to work with me on a design and build one, please contact me.