No more backpacks, long live the bag with wheels!

  Indonesia: Pulau Weh [Sumatra] - March 2010

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and correct text: 

Am I still a backpacketeer? Serious question. I have just put away my good old backpack, which has faithfully accompanied me for more than twelve years. And to invest in a luggage with wheels. That's right...

A rolling bag

I totally revised my logistics. The fault of the heavy and cumbersome "box+flash" kit for my brand new Canon Eos 7D. These little things are fragile, so I prefer to keep them in a "cabin" bag.

So, in addition to this cabin bag became very heavy, I could not see myself stealing, as before, my dive bag AND my backpack. The solution: pack your diving gear and clothes together in one bag.

I found one, not too expensive, discreet, well made, with two parts that fold on each other, in a big chain of sport stores: the Newfeel 90 liters from Decathlon.

Everything fits in it, I can't believe it! And instead of carrying it, I roll it.

Tested in Malaysia!

And... I tested it for real, yesterday and today, from Paris to Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia). Verdict: like on wheels!


My bag with wheels. Well, yes. I haven't found the time to talk about it here yet... In fact, I just left for Asia!

This Sunday evening, I spend the night in Kuala Lumpur. This Monday, I still have to take a morning flight to Banda Aceh, in the north of Sumatra island, Indonesia.

Then, transportation to the jetty, then ferry to Pulau Weh Island (my goal), and finally, transportation again to Gabang Beach, where I will land at the dive center Lumba Lumba.

Let's see if this gentrified backpacker bag holds up on the Indonesian road and tide... hey, hey! I'll be right back to tell you more about this new trip.


  Indonesia: Pulau Weh [Sumatra] - March 2010

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  1. Oh là là ! You're getting carried away !!! Pulau Weh looks great for diving, lucky you !!! In Provence, we have about twenty centimeters of snow.... And it's still falling, so for me diving is in the bathtub !!!! Good bubbles and enjoy the sun !!!

  2. Hello Corinne!
    I have my big backpack, but also a suitcase with wheels. I'm not sure what to bring... (note that I don't have any diving equipment myself! but many lenses for the camera).
    Have a good trip anyway 😉

  3. Indeed, it looks good this new bag, I like the two distinct parts, and it doesn't look very heavy. How many kilos?

    Here the night is falling... And for you, the day will not be long before getting up, with a small flight to take, a ferry (and some transfers) and soon the first pictures of the beach 😉.

  4. Hi Corinne, backpacketeer bag or not, the journey itself that leads you to your final destination is enough to answer YES to the first sentence of your article. You still have the spirit!
    ... And it's great this bag ... me who is eyeing a new, I'm inspired.
    have a nice trip


  5. What a publicity - justified by the way - for this bag on wheels! I have seen it in real life, I confirm, it is very good, and beautiful, as shown in the pictures!
    Bravo for the choice too, good quality - storage - aesthetic!

    Come on, it was a little wink in memory of the day we made the rounds... of the bags!


  6. Wheels are fine if you have to stay in the city or in places that are more or less carossable. As soon as you go off the beaten track, it can be a pain. After testing both, I'm keeping the wheels!
    Have a nice trip !!

  7. Hello,

    Yes, how much does it weigh ? I'm still brainstorming for my version of the perfect diver's bag (for the WE) and I'm still weighing the pros and cons of the different options: the backpack is very, well backpackeur, but it leaves the hands free to carry the essential jacket for the air conditioning and the water bottle or the snacks for the trip 🙂

    He's holding your bag in your cabin? Can you tell us what model / store or find it? And finally, if you can share some information about the dive gear you take with you, BCD model, fins etc., the stuff that takes up space, to get me an idea of what the bag can hold.

    Thank you and have a nice dive in Pulau Weh!

  8. @Nani: Snow? Argh. Well, tonight I could chat a little with other divers in Pulau Weh... it looks indeed top, in the area, for diving. The house reef at Gabang Beach looks very promising.
    @Bizut: Arrived just now with it, in Pulau Weh. It is perfect, this bag!!! I don't regret one minute to have switched to wheels, it changes the life. And when it's time to lift it to transfer it to a vehicle or a boat, there's always a guy who does it for me...

    @Corinne: Me, my camera equipment does not leave me, it is in my "cabin" backpack, with the sub-case. With the wheels, we save a lot of sweat, I must say. Now that I've arrived at my destination, I realize that it is perfectly adapted for this little trip to Indonesia. I'm becoming a fan of the wheels! And in the places where the wheels don't fit, there was always someone to help me (there are sturdy handles on all sides, useful when you have to carry it with two people, for example).

    @Malene: The bag itself is not heavy (in the 2-3 kg range, I would say, for a capacity of 90 liters... only, I weighed it down with heavy things. In addition to the clothes, toiletries, etc. (9-10 kg) and the diving stuff (in the 11-12 kg with the regulator, from now on, because before I kept it with me in the cabin to save 2kg in the hold), I slipped in the housing plate which weighs a little, the arm for the flash, the charger and cord for the flash, the charger for the 7D and various accessories related to this new equipment. As a result, instead of fitting in the usual 22-23 kg of the clothes bag + dive bag, I find myself at... 27 kg!
    But the two separate parts are well made, expandable in thickness if needed, thanks to a zip system that goes all around... (And I didn't even need it, I reziped without any problem with everything inside, so I even have a little extra space to bring back some stuff if I want). I put my diving stuff in a thin net bag so that it stays together. The other part that I dedicated to clothes (top part, once the bag is closed), already has its zipped flap, so everything stays well in place. Two big straps allow, to finish, once closed, to tighten the whole thing.
    Anyway, I arrived at Pulau Weh without any problem. But quite late at my destination. Slight delay of the ferry at 3:30 pm, plus another hour of driving to Gabang Beach, then the time to fill in the paperwork for the check-in, to put my diving stuff in my tank, etc... no time yet for pictures of the beach!!! But it will come.

    @PhilippeB: Thank you! It starts very well, anyway. The muggy heat, the gecko's cry and a strong "mie Aceh" made me feel "at home"...

    @Pac': You're right, it's more a question of mindset than of bag... I've known backpackers who only looked like backpackers. And I confirm: this bag is great.

    @O'Ren: Go read a bit above for the weight thing, which I already answered to Malene. This bag doesn't have the dimensions of a "cabin" luggage, so don't think about it. But it has a little brother of 60 liters, which might fit. Check it out at that big chain of sports stores that encourages us to be "All in shape!" 😉 (Its little name, to the bag in question, is Newfeel, and I even saw it on special when I last dropped by the store in question).
    Otherwise, as far as diving gear is concerned, I pack in a net bag, which fits in one of the "halves" of the famous bag: a Legend with its octopus and its mano, a SeacSub Pro Lady stab, a pair of basic Mares fins, a pair of botillons, a 5mm long suit, a mask in its box, a parachute, then accessories (stick, lamp, knife, carabiners, soft snorkel, and various odds and ends like spare straps for fins, etc.)
    The rolling bag also leaves your hands free, well at least one, to carry other odds and ends. There's an extra strap with a clip on top, perfect for hanging an item of clothing. And then you still have the shoulders for a little extra backpack.
    For this first trip, I am very satisfied. Now, I have to check if all the seams and zippers will hold in the long term... But I'll only know that after use!
    (Your questions make me think that I should refresh the page of this blog devoted to my luggage ...)

  9. Hello,
    Thank you for your answer ultra detailed, you rock! I am impressed by the amount of gear you can pack. Another question from a beginner to veteran diving: when you embark your gear on the boat that takes you to the dive sites, you put everything in the net bag or you have another bag like mesh duffle bag that you use? Or does the dive center lend you a bag on the spot?
    Anyway this solution seems to work well for you, I confirm that having the right bag and the right luggage solution is an essential part of the trip... I've been carrying around more or less different shapes of bags and it's true that when you finally find the right option, the same trip suddenly becomes even more enjoyable 🙂

  10. I'm always impressed with how you manage to fit everything into a very small space. I also need to change my suitcase and buy something light, I don't know yet if it has wheels or not. My old bag weighed 6 Kg by itself! On the other hand, I'm not too convinced of the quality of the Decathlon bags. I had a Decathlon backpack that gave up the ghost after one year of use, the new one, same brand, it still works after three seasons....

    You really make us dream with your trips in Asia. For me, three more months before I fly to the Komodo Islands...

    I don't know if I'm the only one to notice, but I see that the woodwork in your apartment is pretty rough 😡 A flying white thread, poorly hidden in your floor, in all your pictures, what is it?? 😀 I'm disappointed 8) to see that your books are all very very white, very nerdy Gallimard editions...?? 😯 On the other hand, you have some color in your kitchen, a nice red chair....

    Ok, to surprise you we'll propose you a complete renovation of your apartment in "all together" of TF1 and M6 D&CO. Imagine what a disaster you'll find when you get back .....


  11. @Lydie: Yes, I'm very happy with it, really. It remains to be seen, as Max says, if the manufacturing will be up to the ergonomics of the bag...

    @Rolk: For this trip, I only had to cross "carossable" places so it was fine. And when I had to lift it, there was always someone to give me a hand. I think I'm going to be a pro-roller too!

    @Max: Yes, that's what I'm wondering too, if this bag will withstand multiple trips. We'll see...
    Otherwise, I can see you're very observant, Max... 😆
    You can see here only a small part of my shelves, I have a lot of books on the walls, in two rooms. Here are the "big" books. But I probably have more paperbacks than Gallimard first editions. For the white wire, it's my internet connection, the ADSL only working on one phone plug for some mysterious reason, I had to run this wire in a groove of the floor. But please, no TV style decorating!!! I love it au naturel, my place!!!
    (PS. Oh dear, I didn't need to send 15 messages... I only kept one, then. I don't know what's going on with the moderation filter, but it sometimes arbitrarily withholds some posts. Anyway, there's no need to start again. The comments are not lost, they are just put aside, and I have to manually validate them before they appear online... So just be patient :)

    @O'Ren: It depends on the outings (half-day, day, several days) and the size of the boat. Most of the time, the gear (stab + det) is already mounted on the block that we carry on the boat. You go on board already "equipped" with your wetsuit halfway on (or separately), so that you only have to take your fins and your mask. If you have to equip yourself on the boat, the net bag will do the trick, otherwise you can pack everything in the middle of the stab (then you tighten the straps, no need for a bag or a case). Finally, for the little things that are not related to diving and that I want to take on the boat (sunscreen, sunglasses, change, phone, logbook, etc.) I have a small extra waterproof bag (unfortunately, I just realized that I forgot it at home this time... grrr).

  12. If I understand correctly, this means that you are no longer a "backpacker"... One carry-on bag + one checked bag = 2 bags. According to my definition of backpacker, it's only one bag. Also, are wheels approved these days in terms of backpacker?...


    Anyway, no matter what the definition is, we might as well focus on the use. And a traveler who carries underwater photography equipment can no longer be considered as a backpacker, it is normal since the volume to be carried becomes inevitably untransportable in a single baggage.

    Don't worry too much about the definition, backpacker or not, you remain a traveler and that's the main thing.

    Tell us rather how long you are going to spend underwater there in this part of Indonesia where the French must be few ?...

  13. @A World Elsewhere: Yes, as Pac' said above, it's the spirit of the trip that counts more than the bag... That said, with my new configuration, I carry more kilos, but less bags than before. Until then, it was: backpack + duffel bag + cabin bag.
    I stay two weeks on the spot, in Pulau Weh, without going on a dive this time. I want to rest, to relax, to be calm, to recharge my batteries... And then I want to get used to my underwater housing, to familiarize myself with this new reflex without stress. The house-reef, I was promised, will be perfect. I'll check it tomorrow.
    Finally, even if I am at the end of the world, I already count two French divers among the divers of Lumba Lumba (the center where I am based, see in the following post), both instructors, and two other French speakers, my bungalow neighbors (one has a slight accent, I didn't have the opportunity to ask them where they were from). As in Derawan, last summer, I can't believe to meet so many French people in this kind of place, which is rather far from the classical tourist circuits!

  14. The French are everywhere my lady!...

    Go gently with the underwater box, they are fragile these little things ...

    And photo or not photo, wifi or not, enjoy your stay above all: Indonesia helps to make you smile, but you still have to take the time to appreciate it by knowing how to disconnect a little from the reality that makes your daily life elsewhere. Advice from web-accro!


    PS: I heard a lot of good things about the Andaman Islands, especially for diving...

  15. @A World Elsewhere: I'm going very quietly, with this monster of a chamber... I have to get familiar with it and learn how to handle the flash properly. I'm doing this while diving from the shore, in a few meters. I have a lot of room for improvement, enough to keep me busy during my stay.
    For the rest, it's hard to get off the web when you have the connection "like at home", of course. But it won't prevent me from enjoying my stay... As for the Andaman, it will be for a future travel project, for sure!

  16. Hello,
    The world is small ... we had to miss the plane because I was on the Dubai-KL on March 7th around 2-3am ...
    I have just returned from a week on Tioman and Thailand, Tioman still magical.
    For the seat on the plane, I'm going to be jealous. When I left Nice, the plane was full in eco and so, I was outclassed with my travel buddy in business ! Isn't life beautiful ? 😉
    Have a nice stay in Indonesia and see you soon!

  17. @Rod: Yes, we were in the same plane ...
    Another lucky guy who got upgraded... Pfff... Why doesn't this ever happen to me? Huh, why???

  18. So we can say that we crossed each other 🙂
    If you remember the flight, I'm tall (more than 1.90m), very short hair and I was dragging my fins in hand luggage (+ 0.70m), with a red fleece (the air conditioning...)! But there are so many people on these planes 😉
    Bring us some beautiful pictures of Pulau Weh!
    Next destination for me: certainly Irian Jaya with boat cruise to Pulau Raja. It's great as it seems...

  19. @Arnaud: My wheeled bag withstood this first 15 days trip to Indonesia. It's perfect and very easy to carry. We'll see if it holds up to the next trips... Anyway, I've been carrying my backpack (a Millet) for almost 15 years, and it's still in excellent condition (and I'm terribly attached to it, yes!)