If you are planning to fly with carry-on only on a low-cost carrier like Ryan Air, easyjet or AirAsia, you will not only face a size limit for your carry-on, but also a weight limit! To keep your carry-on as light as possible and safe time and money by avoiding to check-in luggage, I recommend the CabinMax Metz backpack, designed just for this very mission!
Luggage Facts: The CabinMax Metz is designed as a carry-on item and its measurements of 55x40x20cm fit the requirements of most airlines. Even if it is slightly larger, the soft materials allow you to “squeeze it” into a luggage sizer if packed well! And all of that volume is in the main compartment, maximizing the space for your clothes!
Many airlines, including most low-cost carriers, but even some full-service carriers like Lufthansa, enforce a carry-on weight limit of 7-8kg and will check overweighed items for a fee. The CabinMax’ low-weight of only 0.66kg/1.5lbs makes it perfect for those airlines – it’s less than half of my other favorite carry-on, the eBags TLS Weekender and a fraction of most wheeled carry-on that can be 4-5kg!
With a price of only $45, it’s very inexpensive and avoiding the checked bag fees on a single trip will pay for it!
Design & Features: The CabinMax is very well designed for a single-bag traveler, keeping it as simple and light as possible! It has a large main compartment and opens clamshell like a suitcase, making it easy to pack and access everything – much better than the typical top-loading backpack! The main compartment takes almost all the space of the bag, so you’ll have to be pretty organized to find your things in the one compartment. There are no dividers, internal straps, pockets or lining adding weight to the compartment – so check out my packing light tips to stay organized!
The front organizer covers the full size of the bag, but is very slim. It has a few pockets for pens, cards and small stuff, but only has one zipper, making it difficult to keep things in place. There’s also a narrow front pocket with a zipper for small items.
The Metz has two handles, one on the top and one on the side of the bag. You’ll also get two thin backpack carrying straps. They are comfortable enough to carry from the plane to the taxi/bus/train or from a boat to the hotel, but I wouldn’t recommend hiking with this bag. There is very little padding, so you want to make sure it’s comfortable before you leave home!
The Metz doesn’t have a specific laptop pocket. While you could put it in the organizer, there is no padding and it’s exposed on the front. The Timbuk2 JetPack or eBags TLS Weekender are better for single-bag travel with an expensive laptop!
Materials & Quality: The CabinMax is a very light bag and it shows in the quality. The cloth-like material is much thinner than the eBags Weekender and the handles, carry-straps and zippers are much lighter as well. I was worried about how it would hold up – and have been positively surprised. It has served me well on many trips around Asia (for example the ASEAN Explorer) and so far no broken handles or zippers! I would not want to check this backpack without extra wrapping or protection though, so make sure it does meet the weight limits!
Bottomline: The CabinMax Metz is purposefully designed to be as light as possible and that brings some compromises. At $45, this is an inexpensive bag – it will pay for itself after the first round-trip without paying for checked luggage. On my ASEAN Explorer trip, it saved me over $160 in baggage fees alone (more here)! If you are determined to avoid baggage fees on discount carrier by traveling with a carry-on only, this is your best bet. It’s available in different versions and colors, so you should be able to find one you like! It’s as good quality as you can expect at this weight and price and it has served me well on many trips!