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In Search of the Perfect Bag – A Professional Travel Guide’s Choice

Kasey Austin surveys the Grand Canyon with her trusty Sky Train

It seems like every time you turn around some website has a new bag they are "shilling" about. But the problem is most of those sites don’t actually review a bag or even test one. everydaycommentary.com is not one of those sites. Indeed, everydaycommentary won’t even keep anything sent for review.

His policy is that if he decides to keep a product, he’ll pay the full price, just like the purchasing customer. So even though he didn’t have a huge blog with a gazillion followers, that and a few other cool reasons, are why we sent him a Metro Laptop Briefcase to review. We don’t just send gear to 'anybody' to review.

Everyday Commentary works by day as an Attorney, and Attorneys have to carry important papers. Papers that need protection. So how did he come to find Red Oxx and the Metro Briefcase?

One of my very favorite bag and pack sites is One Bag. Not only does it offer good advice on HOW to travel, it also offers wisdom on WHAT to take with you. Reading One Bag is where I was first introduced to Red Oxx… My aunt and uncle in law were true world travelers… They would pack very light and both were thrifty (which is how they afforded such awesome vacations), both had an Air Boss… I checked out their paired Air Bosses in silent reverence. I knew I was in the presence of great design.

Once the Metro arrived, everydaycommentarys first impression was:

The buckles and snaps look like they could be used to moor aircraft carriers and the zippers bear faint visual similarities to a chainsaw blade.

He rates his bags with this system, 0-2 points each. Here’s how we scored:

  • Design: 2 – "The black accents, the thick straps, the rugged zippers, and the buckles all tell you this is a bag built to take a beating. This not a fancy leather number. It will not be mistaken for a ritzy "attache" but it will be around long after … those types have been sent to the junkyard."
  • Fit and finish: 2 – "No

    World Class Adventure Travel Tour Company Pairs up with World Class Luggage Company.

    One wouldn’t think a town in Montana would have a world-renowned travel tour booking agency. Austin Adventures has garnered accolades and respect from all over the globe. Featured in National Geographic Traveler magazine’s 50 Tours of a Lifetime, the company grew up side by side with Red Oxx but never made a full connection until recently.

    We invited Dan and Kasey, CEO father and Vice President daughter, to our new digs after reading up on Kasey being selected in the local 40 under 40 Business News.

    Outstanding travel agency hooks up with quality local bag manufacturer? Truly a marriage made in Heaven! We hit it off immediately. Same goals, same ambitions. What better way to get our gear seriously tested by a world-trekking Travel Professional who will take it to all corners of the globe?

    No blogger here sitting at home admiring a new bag in a box, Kasey is on the go all year long. Here’s her first impressions of our Sky Train in her search for the perfect bag.

    Who is Kasey Austin?

    I have a pretty neat job. One that involves adventure, travel, vacation planning, and guiding others through our country’s wide open spaces. I’m the Vice President of Operations for an adventure travel company based out of Billings, Montana called Austin Adventures.

    Alright, so my job isn’t ALL fun – a lot of it involves sitting behind a computer screen – answering emails, making phone calls, planning, planning, planning. All things that lead up to the fun part – getting out in the field, making connections with people from all walks of life, LIVING life to the absolute fullest. Having been recently voted as Outside Magazine’s "Family Guide of the Year" this past month, it seems that others have realized how truly passionate I am about my job. Great, the more I can get out guiding and scouting out future destinations, the better!

    As I write this gear review, I’m sitting on an airplane en-route to Montana, having just built two new multi-sport trips for 2015 – one at the Grand Canyon’s South Rim and one in Death Valley. Someone who’s out on the road as much as I am needs a solid and versatile travel bag, something that can travel as hard and fast as I do. That’s where the Sky Train, Red Oxx’s solution for an easy carry-on, has come in handy.

    The Sky Train, on its first voyage out of its Billings home, has proven its usefulness as an all-around convenient piece of luggage. Packing for a one week business trip, I easily placed catalogs and trip building materials in the lower section and all of my clothes for the week in the upper section. Remembering last minute items, it seemed that I could just keep stuffing in a hat here or pair of shorts there – the space in this seemingly small bag (on the outside at least) kept surprising me as I crammed more and more into every nook and cranny I could find. The best part – the heavy duty zippers that never threaten to bust apart and make closing a cram-packed carry-on an absolute breeze.

    Bag Versatility is this Bag’s Name of the Game.

    Perhaps my favorite quality of this bag was its versatility in traveling. In the airport, I sported the Sky Train as a backpack, easily dodging rolling suitcases, families with crying babies, and all the classic airport people in a hurry to somewhere or nowhere, pushing and shoving their way to the front of a line. The Sky Train served as an extension of me and with some evasive maneuvering in Salt Lake City on a tight connection, I made it from one section of the airport to the opposite end with time to spare.

    Sky Train as Road Trip Bag.

    On the road, I converted my Sky Train to a duffel bag for short and easy portages to and from my small rented truck. The compartments of this hybrid bag kept me organized throughout the duration of my trip and eventually served to separate my clean and dirty clothes after I’d given all my Austin Adventures propaganda away. Never has a carry-on bag served me so well.

    All in all, I was delighted to take the Sky Train on a whirlwind tour of the Southwest. If anyone can put a durable travel bag to the test, it’s someone who’s constantly on the road. You know you can trust your bag when you’re already making future plans for where it will travel with you and what you’ll carry where. I can hardly wait for the summer season to roll around to put the robust Sky Train to the test during guiding season!

    More reviews to come!

    Your friendly travel expert and guide,
    Kasey Austin, Vice President of Operations | Austin Adventures
    Request your FREE award-winning Catalog from Austin Adventures today!

    Kasey Austin poses with her new mariner Sky Train

    e of the horde of … junk bags at Staples even comes close."

  • Carry: 2 – "An arm full of folders and a fist of pens didn’t even make the Metro’s perch on my shoulder precarious. The Claw Shoulder strap is largely why. This may be the best strap on the market."
  • Materials: 2 – "Every piece of fabric seems built for the dirtiest trench warfare and the straps seem like mountain climbing cordage."
    Accessibility: 1 – "Effusive praise abruptly ended. Sorry. Very, very few things are perfect. … I really don’t like the fact that the pen pocket is accessible ONLY from inside the main compartment … In the end, everything is accessible, except for the pen and small object compartment, something I use everyday, hence the 1."
  • Ease of Packing: 2 – "The compartments are large, the openings massive, and the layout, other than the pen organizer, is top notch."
  • Pockets/Organization: 2 – "Everything is well laid out and just the right size. I even like the front pockets, despite the fact that they are as discrete as a traffic cone. One thing missing, which I am not quite ready to penalize briefcases for, is the lack of a dedicated cellphone pocket."
  • Snaps/buckles/zippers: 2 – "This is where the Metro starts to pull away from the field. Everything here is insanely solid, overbuilt, and easy to use. … something that comes to your attention only after prolonged use–all of this metal hardware can be loud and clangy as you walk around. As I said, I don’t mind the rugged look, but I could do without the "walking around in chainmail" sound that accompanies your hurried arrival."
  • Straps and belts: 2 – "The shoulder strap is called The Claw. It could also be called the Tongan Death Grip … the Metro is the most secure briefcase I have ever carried on my shoulder."
  • Modularity/expansion: 2 – "There are a few accessories available through Red Oxx, like the cellphone holster, but the (Nomad) packing cube idea is a good one and gives this bag some flexibility."

The Metro will probably outlast a dozen suits, but it may not look perfect being paired with one. I am more concerned with how it works rather than how it looks (and I like the looks), but again, keep this in mind.

A pretty thorough review if there ever was one on the Metro. 19 outta 20 is also a pretty impressive score, considering the massive competition out there. We love our Metro, and we’re pretty sure you will to. Read the entire review here.