Tools That Don’t Suck
As water feature installers, my sons and I are used to hard, dirty, sometimes dangerous work. We enjoy what we do, whether it’s digging ponds, plumbing pumps, rolling boulders or tweaking waterfalls, but we also value anything that helps make the work easier or more fun. We’re always looking for tools, apps or gadgets that save time & effort, eliminate stress, add to our comfort on the job or are just fun to use. Often a buddy will turn us on to one. I’d like to return the favor by passing our favorite Tools That Don’t Suck along to you.
I’m on the road a lot this time of year. It’s the only time we can get contractors and counterpeople together for training and demos. From January through March, I’m going somewhere almost every week. So far this year, I’ve been to Europe, back to Florida, up to South Carolina, over to Texas, out to Washington State, up to Vancouver BC, down to Oklahoma, with three trips to Ohio for a week each. As you would expect, that kind of schedule beats up luggage. After a great run of almost 8 years with my old TravelPro carryon, I decided this year to upgrade. I’m impressed enough with my new luggage system that I’m sharing it with you.
The bags I found are about the most versatile I’ve seen, and I looked at a lot of bags. My requirements were pretty stringent. I needed a small carry-on, the size that meets both American and European standards. I was going to Germany on a deeply discounted fare with an airline that really restricted both size and weight, but I also like to travel as light as possible. I prefer a rollerbag, but there were going to be cobblestone streets to contend with, so I wanted a bag that could convert if needed into a backpack. I usually carry a second bag for the business docs, presentation hardware, chargers, travel sundries, etc. so when I saw the Hypath bags, I got excited.
The Hypath bags I bought really fit the bill. The “big” bag fits into those tiny 21”x16”x9” boxes at the gates of the stingiest of air carriers. It’s made of a good grade of ripstop nylon, double stitched. compression straps inside to squeeze down enough clothing for a week to 10 days on the road.* Handles all the way around the outside make it easy to throw into the overhead storage on planes, or carry as a duffel. Wide set rollerblade wheels and a sturdy aluminum handle with positive locks allow for quiet, easy rolling. For those situations that require sprinting, there are wide padded straps hidden away under a padded backplate that convert the bag to a true backpack.
The smaller bag is also really versatile. For the ultimate in sleek travel, it zips onto the larger bag for easy rolling as a single unit. This frees up the handle for strapping on duty-free goodies. For casual travel, two horizontal straps across the back of the bag allow it to ride the rollerbag handle in typical piggyback fashion. It also has comfortable straps for backpacking. The front compartment has partitions for cables and equipment. The roomy center has a slot that fits my laptop in its padded sleeve, with a second slot for my tablet. Plus enough additional room for the charger, a windbreaker, folders and the obligatory one-quart plastic bag for toiletries. Two outer pouches are great for bottles, a brush, phone or meds. They look pretty good too. The black bags have an attractive hexagonal pattern to the fabric, and there are reflective patches for safety.
So far just this year, I figure the bags have logged about 20,000 miles without a hitch. I’m really hoping to get the same kind of durability as the TravelPro. Even if it doesn’t hold up as well, the Hypath system has already endeared itself to me.
On the plane/train/boat
Wool sports jacket, dress shirt, black belt, jeans, Merrells
In the bag, starting from the bottom:
Compression socks – 5pr short, 1 long, underwear
1 pair jeans, 1 pair chinos
Black cotton tee, 5 work tees
Rollup windbreaker/rain coat