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Exploring the Ottoman Empire with the Red Oxx Luggage Line

Jean with her Red Oxx Market Tote

If Only Sultan Suleyman Had Been So Well Packed…

With a plan to explore the boundaries of the old Ottoman Empire, this diligent traveler amazed us with a thoroughness and attention to detail that, well, we demand of ourselves! What a fantastic selection of places to visit, and a challenge to navigate by plane, boat, bus, taxi and on foot. Our Red Oxx hats are off to this Free Gear Winner for sharing their story on how to pack a suitcase so thoughtfully and stage such an adventure. Want to come out of retirement, Henry, and join our design team?

Dear Red Oxx,
I planned to see a portion of Asia Minor with my wife, following the path of the Ottoman Empire around the Black Sea, down the western Turkey coast thru the World War I battlefields, and end up in some of the more relaxing Greek islands. This would be a long trip and we worried about luggage, airlines, and getting about the countries.

Red Oxx was selected early in the year as our outfitter, of sorts. We took test trips to Chicago, Wilmington Delaware and Philadelphia as shake down preliminaries to get a feel of bus, train and air problems that would have to be worked out with the luggage. Yes, we both are retired and wanted to find out real life experiences with our luggage.

Our first buys were the Safari Beano PR5 Duffel, the fabulous Air Boss, and the Mini Ruck Rucksack. We ordered a muted color, Bordeaux, because we wanted to be trendy, but not screaming, "Look at me!"

We found that a packing blend of rolling, folding and bundling was the answer for us. The Air Boss flew several times and its capacity is substantial. The Safari Beano PR5 is the king of utility duffels, especially when you need more room. The Mini-Ruck has earned it starter spot by being the day pack. More on these a little later.

We were now ready to refine our list of items that would make our trip more convenient. We ordered twoLil Roy’s (Mariner and Saffron colors), a small Bino Case (Red), a Tote Bag (Bordeaux), and an extra Claw Shoulder Strap.

Many customers have attested to the excellence of the Red Oxx bags and we wish add our voices to the choir of praise Red Oxx has earned.

The real story here is that flexibility in a travel strategy is the key.

We planned to use day trips to the maximum, relying on guidebooks or local tour operators, meaning buses, trams, boats and cruise ships. We mixed and matched to our budget. Our touch down city was Istanbul and we departed from Athens. In between we used the holy dickens out of the Red Oxx line. So here is how we used the luggage…


It held our guidebooks, novels and notepads. It fit a 500 cc Nalgene water bottle and lunch. On small buses, the Mini-Ruck, Tote Bag and Lil Roy fit all the overhead bins. Compare overhead bin space to that of a commuter regional jet overhead. The biggest surprise was that all museums now have maximum-security rules that require all backpacks to be checked. But Lil Roy sailed pass all the guards with our cameras, water and lunch.

Finally, the Lil Roy was used as an packing cube type organizer when packing the Safari-Beano’s PR5 Duffel. The bright colors worked well, though some Turkish guards wanted to see what was in the Lil Roy’s. The Athens Greece airport security double-checked my Safari Beano’s PR5 very closely, because stuffers are not known to be organizers. We used Lil Roy to organize small stuff. They were courteous enough to comment on the neat and durable design of the Red Oxx luggage.


What a gem this item turned out to be. We disciplined ourselves to use it religiously. We compared it directly with another travel basket design that we bought two years ago. The Red Oxx is taller in height and extremely well padded. The preference was for the Saffron Travel Basket: Easier to find, larger capacity, and wonderful padding that saved my watch as I tossed it in after a too long day.


It was the grocery bag, the extra day bag, even in the overly crowded city Bazaars, where pick pockets thrive,PR and the Museum store purchases bag. We took it everywhere, folded and rolled. The unique design fascinated many store owners. Since day trips were our basic strategy, it was very useful as an auxiliary luggage. Can also be used in Duty Free shops if you buy a bottle or two, as a carry-on.


Boy, did this save our trip. We could fit in this case our 10×40 Zeiss easily and the Zeiss 7×42, though it would do better in a slightly larger bino case. We took the Zeiss 10×40 and found that it was compact enough to place glass-cleaning gear also inside the bino case. The side pocket was perfect for a Sommeliers tool. The mini ruck carried the wine in the side pockets.

We went to two UNESCO World Heritage sites. The The Danube Delta is the main migratory flyway between Siberia and Africa. We entered the 4000 square kilometer area from Tulcea, Romania. We traversed the canals and floating reed areas by small boats and the red bino case was easy to keep track of.

Our extra Claw Shoulder Strap was used with the Bino Case and made carrying it around a pleasure.

On one flight we unexpectedly had to check the Safari Beano’s PR5 and I forgot to take the small bino case out to hand carry. Well, the Beano’s and Bino Case padding worked well and the Zeiss is still like new.


The backbone and king of the day trip scenario. Red Oxx CEO Jim Markel said that it would hold so much, that everyone would ask you to carry his or her purchases until we got back to the hotel. How prophetic these words were. I am a big guy, and this is the most comfortable way to carry a load. Especially those velvet lined straps.

I have five backpacks, and the Mini Ruck has won my heart. It is rugged and capable for any assignment. The hidden pockets inside and in the top flap were bonus areas for pilfer-able items. The side pockets were useful for water — a one-liter Nalgene and water purifier kit.

In the areas we visited, a ruck was very common, so we went unnoticed. …Except for the occasional "Hey mate, where did you get that bag?" — clearly attracting Aussie’s or Kiwi’s.

Sometimes in the bazaars, I used the front carry technique much like a front baby carrier. This was common. The front pocket then became my camera holder. A bonus was the 4-inch top extension for oversized items. A tip from your staff was to run the side pocket zippers around to be closest to your body. This way, in normal back carry position, you can reach into the large side pockets without dismounting the Mini Ruck.

Beano PR5 with the Sea of Marmora and Bosporus in the background.
Beano PR5 with the Sea of Marmora and Bosporus in the background.
Sea of Marmora and Bosporus in the background.


The multi-purpose carry-on bag. On one air leg, I unexpectedly had to check the Safari Beano’s Duffel and it was returned unscathed. I learned to use the two Lil Roy’s as packing cube organizers for the Beano’s. Some airline security people in Athens were fascinated with this organization; stuffing bags are expected to be unorganized. The extra pockets on the ends were useful for last minute items. The main compartment is large and little packing skill is needed to have a pleasant journey. The ruggedness of the construction is a special pleasure for the technical minded and the zippers will never fail.

The compressibility when in a hotel should be noted. Many of the rooms we had were tiny by USA standards. We did seek out the Bed and Breakfast types, which of course had small rooms in the historical context we enjoyed. The ability to fold and collapse the Red Oxx products we used made the rooms more livable.

Mini Ruck on small boat traveling main canal south from Tulcea Romania into the Danube delta.
Mini Ruck on small boat traveling main canal south from Tulcea Romania into the Danube delta.
Traveling main canal south from Tulcea Romania into the Danube delta.


Had more fun learning to pack this item than any of the others. The Doug Dyment design concept is really refined. We used a bundle technique and did really well with minimizing wrinkles. I treasure this luggage, because sometimes you need a nice jacket and trousers, and this definitely is the way to go.

Beano PR5 with the Blue Mosque in background. Shot from rooftop of 18th century Ottoman mansion.
Beano PR5 with the Blue Mosque in background. Shot from rooftop of 18th century Ottoman mansion.
The Blue Mosque in background .

The Tri-fold design with internal straps on the outside sections and fold flat capability make loading and unloading very easy. The internal structure helps keep the shape even if you have to stuff the bag onto a shelf. The capacity is surprising, almost always allowing one more item inside. The external pockets keep tickets and magazines readily available. It is surprisingly light. The zippers are very strong and we experienced no problems.

Henry Sobieski

P.S. Amanda in Customer Service at Red Oxx was great! She has traveled to a lot of places and has a unique philosophy that was genuinely fun to listen to. Our phone calls to Jim and Amanda Markel as we made our final decisions were both immensely helpful in selecting which bags to buy.

Henry and Jean, thank you for your commitment to Red Oxx gear, and sharing this story. Congratulations on your excellent trip.
Cheers, Jim Markel CEO