Carry-on Luggage

So there’s this great thread on how to pack your grids, with lots of great suggestions on smaller bags/cases, and this one on backpacks, but since my existing carry-on bag is on its last legs, I’m curious about what people are using for their luggage.

The last bag I bought (UDG Creator) seemed ideal, was pricey, but unfortunately didn’t live up to expectation. I’ve had it for a good 4 or 5 years now, but after a couple years of not very heavy travel/use, the zippers were getting fucked, stitching going, wheels jacked up etc…

I was eyeballing that crazy G-RO bag when the kickstarter first came out, but after getting burned on an expensive bag, I want to go the opposite way with it.

Anyone have any recommendations for cheap (i.e. replaceable) carry-on bags that allow you to take the maximum amount of shit on to a plane. (55x40x20cm)? Or what are you ‘actively touring’ folk using as your carry-on bags? Padded? Compartmentalized? Hard case?

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i’ve opted for a backpack because my big fear is that if my carry-on looks too rugged i’m an easy target for being asked to “gate check” my bag on crowded flights.


Hehe, I know the feeling exactly!

I fly Ryanair a ton, and they are notorious for this, but I’ve gotten quite good at managing that with some early arrivals and social engineering.

Backpacks are handy, and I would prefer going that route, but I’m often taking metal/cymbal/percussion stuff, which weighs more than is comfortable for the “far as fuck” terminals that budget airlines always dump you at.

I was into the idea of a hybrid one that does backpack AND rolling (the UDG bag), but in the end it was too big to comfortably backpack anyways, so it was just a rolly-bag…

totally agree here. big advantage to the backpack is that airline attendants don’t seem to notice them even if they’re huge - I tour with an ancient Chrome “Ivan” backpack and while it is routinely full to a much larger size than the roll-ons of my traveling companions, they often get asked to gate check while I never have. just looked around for a link to the Ivan pack and apparently they don’t make it anymore, but it’s essentially a large rolltop waterproof messenger-style backpack.

may get gate checked and not exactly cheap at $135, but for traveling with gear I highly recommend the pelican 1510. lots of insert options from rigid or padded dividers to pick/pluck foam.


I bought a Tortuga Outbreaker last Winter before I went to Moogfest and I’ve used it a few times since then. I’m really liking it still. Lots of organizational pockets inside, it’s pretty comfortable to wear (even when stuffed), and I like the style. It doesn’t really call attention to itself, which is a good thing. It’s not especially cheap, but it seems pretty well made. I saw some people kind of complain about their marketing trending towards putting down their competition, but it just met my needs the best. I got the 35L one, but I tend to travel pretty lightly. I also keep a big canvas tote bag in there in case I buy stuff that won’t fit anymore or something (like the Beatstep Pro I bought at Moogfest).

For the Moogfest trip I brought my laptop, OP-1, some studio headphones, clothes/toiletries for 5 days plus my usual daily carry stuff (Kindle, notebook, etc).

The other advantage of backpacks is not needing to worry about the surface you’re going to be travelling across. Eg: cobbled streets in Europe don’t play well with roller bags. AND, depending on which one you choose, you don’t scream “tourist”. :slight_smile:

Not super cheap, but I love Topo bags and they have a carry on size soft bag that looks amazing.


I love Topo’s stuff, but I crossed that one off my list. But now I can’t remember why. :confounded:

Checkout mono. I have the Flyby and love it. I carry my whole rig in there, and the is surprisingly comfortable. I humped it all the way to and around Berlin last year just full of stuff. I use it every week to haul my stuff to gigs and sessions. It is built like a tank, and very well designed. Small things, like: stands upright even while unzipped for loading, that just make it really nice to use.

They used to make an even bigger bag, but alas, I see now that it is discontinued.

Thanks for the Topo link.
It’s a beautiful bag, esp. the Navy version.
Ticks pretty much all the boxes for me.

The Ortlieb courier bags/backpacks have no partitions/organisers and I’ve found that I can get loads of gear in one without having it taken off me at the gate. I do miss little pockets/organisers but the simplicity is nice and it surprised me how big a pack is when all that crap is removed.


…plus the Ortlieb messenger backpack I have is 100% waterproof (tried it many times).

reviving this thread while traveling today.

i’ve had much different tsa experiences between my school-home airport in boston, and my home-home in kansas city.

my last few times traveling out of boston have been simple: take the laptop and ziploc of misc., scary looking cables out of the bag and go through the metal detector (no full body scan, probably a result of early morning flight time, even the day before thanksgiving and the week of christmas)

on the contrary, today while heading out of KC, i take out my laptop and cable bag per usual, but my backpack and carry on suitcase were stopped and had everything electronic taken out. grid, arc, organelle, hard drive, ultralite, etc… thankfully i always arrive very early to avoid missing my flight in the event of these things.

my usual load of electronic instruments isnt this heavy, but as tsa protocols for electronics change, how are you all efficiently packing your things for a simpler, smoother time going theough security?

It’s a real crapshoot. Granted, I don’t fly in/through the US much these days, but in flying out of Miami last week I was surprised that the security just had people put their bags through the machine without taking anything out… at all. Laptop, liquids, everything. “Just leave everything in the bags”.

Hand’t ever encountered that before.

But a more on-topic response is that I tend to pull out electronics from a separate pocket and lay them in one of those trays (still in their pouches). I never bother with cables, batteries, etc… Just things that “look like computers” on xray. I also have a weird time with percussion stuff too, as both metal sticks (sewing needles) and crotales (metal plates) scan weird as shit, and often trigger their ‘let’s take a closer look’ process.

Like you, though, I always arrive plenty early so this isn’t a problem.

And lastly, based on a bunch of the discussions in this thread from last year, I have been trying to pack as light as possible for non-gig related travel. Just a backpack with minimal stuff in it. Makes security, and more importantly, shit airline travel much smoother/easier.

Recently, here in the US, more airports (for me, JFK/LGA, DEN) have been using K9 units to sniff out suspicious stuff. When they do that (at least for domestic flights), I haven’t had to take anything out of my bag, nor have I needed the full-body scan. But different airports have different approaches, which is why whenever I fly, I sub-pack anything electronic into its own separate sack but leave cables alone. Then I take the electronics stuff out of my bag and put it in its own bin as though it were a laptop. This usually makes it easier for the scanners to see what’s in there (coming from a TSA officer who told me this) so they are much less likely to pull the whole bag aside to take a closer look. Of course, this depends on how much you’re taking with you. I’ve also heard that packing electronics between layers of clothing helps them to see each item individually in the scanner.

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Not sure if this is the right grid-carry solution for anyone, but w/r/t travel cases folks might be interested to know that Harbor Freight is making cheap knockoffs of Pelican-style cases now. Definitely not the same quality of moisture control tech, but maybe the right tool for some jobs.


so i’m flying to France and the later to Iceland this February. i want to bring my rig, housed in an 84 hp Doepfer flight case. anyone have experience carrying on an 84 hp case? would i have to check it? is it just a terrible idea in general? how does customs handle modular synths?

I didn’t do it yet, but one common advice I see is to have the case open when you go through customs. This way it show you’re not hiding things. Also, having the patch cables unplugged would help I guess :slight_smile:


In my experience customs doesn’t really care about modular synths any more than any other electronics. I’ve never had any specific searches done whether flying to / within the US or Europe. In one case they asked me to open the bag the case was in but then didn’t even take the case out or open it, they just wanted to do the typical swab test that they randomly seem to do. In most other cases they’ve just waved me through. I was travelling with a full 104hp 7U case + bag.


did you cary on or check your case?

highly recommend carrying it on