Compact travel duffel

This blog is going to be more about experiences than products. That said, I’ve been pretty focused on efficient packing the past few years so I’m going to highlight some products and approaches that have worked especially well for me.

One of these is luggage. Another is accessories for compartmentalizing. I’ll get to both of these. But another is baggage for expanding when you’ve got some conference schwag or some London tea that just doesn’t fit in your carefully-packed carry-on.

Let me say that way too little attention gets paid to improvements in textiles over the past decade or more. I’m a hiker and backpacker and I’m pretty amazed at the advances in clothing and gear materials. I’ve transitioned from being something of a natural fibers snob to synthetics (and admittedly back again in some cases such as merino wool).

In this case, the winner is the TravelingLight Duffel Bag from Sea-to-Summit made out of Ultra-Sil fabric. This company has really stepped up the game for a lot of outdoor and travel gear but my particular fave at the moment is their duffel bag.

Here’s the thing with carrying a spare duffel. No one wants to devote a big chunk of their carryon to a spare bag that they may never use. But the Ultra-Sil Duffel Bag isn’t like that. It’s TINY.


Think fist sized. Yet it expands into a very respectable 40 liter or so sized bag.


It’s a great way to tuck some additional capacity in your carry-on. I’ve used other collapsible duffel bags in the past but this seems like a better trade-off for the sometime get extra stuff home. Sea-to-Summit also makes a variety of day packs and shopping bags of this material that may be a better fit depending upon you needs.

The design isn’t perfect. I’d have either included a minimalist shoulder strap/clips to attach one or at least made the handles a bit longer so that I could comfortably throw them over my shoulder; they’re not really long enough to do this easily as it stands. But, given size and weight tradeoffs it’s pretty darned good otherwise.

Sea-to-Summit also makes similar travel luggage in other formats such as a day-pack. Depending upon your needs, you may find one of their other products more useful. But, in any case, they make useful luggage for when you might want something in reserve.

(They also make some nice products for compartmentalizing things but I’ll cover those in a future post.)

Travels, Bistros, and More

I had certain ambitions when I started this site. I wanted to focus more on food and travel and various personal stuff than I could on my professional Connections site. It’s not that I ever felt the need to rigidly separate personal and professional content but I wanted more flexibility to write about mostly things that weren’t related to IT topics. And I wanted to put more focus on it.

But things got a bit complicated.

I have a new contract for a book about open source. In addition, a lot of my professional writing is ending up on other sites these days:, The Enterprisers Project, TechTarget, and more. As a result, this site will probably be more occasional for now than I had intended. But I’ll do my best.