. Travel gear review: Guerrilla Packs Airporter backpack : Budget Travel Adventures

Travel gear review: Guerrilla Packs Airporter backpack

Guerrilla Packs Airporter Review Travel gearWhenever I travel, I don’t like to check luggage.  Even before the days of airline baggage fees, I considered myself a backpacker.  I always brought my bags on the plane as carry on luggage because I hate waiting for my bags at the airport.

These days, packing light is a lot tougher with kids.  However, I am a budget traveler.  When I travel solo, I do lots of research to to try and find the cheapest flight.  However, one of the biggest advantages to backpacking is saving time when you travel.  I get out of the airport quicker than most people and get to my destination faster.

For years, I have loved my Rick Steves backpack – lots of pockets, durable, expandable, and easy to carry everything I need.  However, when Guerrilla Packs contacted me and offered to let me try out a free backpack, I jumped at the chance to try something different.

Guerrilla Packs: affordable backpacks for young travelers

In checking out Guerrilla Packs, there were some things that really stood out to me.  The idea was to make them affordable, high quality quality backpacks for a variety of travelers.

Guerrilla Packs partners with college bookstores to market these to students.  So with schools like Texas, Oregon, Wisconsin, and others on board, I figured this would be the perfect backpack to try on my College Football Travel Tour as I hit the road for Annapolis and the US Naval Academy.

Airporter backpack review

My initial impression of the Guerrilla Packs backpacks was good.  It was lightweight, comfortable, and was ideal for backpackers and solo travelers.

While I had a pick of any of the backpacks they offered, I chose the Airporter backpack for its size as well as the daypack and computer bag that came with it.

Features of the Airporter backpack

Guerrilla Packs Airporter Daypack reviewThe Airporter backpack is one of the smaller backpacks that Guerrilla Packs offers.  The dimensions are 22″ (H) X 12″ (W) X 9″ (L) and include a detachable daypack and a padded internal computer pouch that attaches to the Airporter.  It is also the lightest of the backpacks at 4.5 lbs.

Volume wise, it is 50 + 10 liters (10 L for the daypack) or 3,965 cubic inches and has a total of 3 compartments.  The bag comes with a rain cover which can be tucked away when it’s not in use.  It also has 3 straps to help you carry the bag – shoulder, chest, and hip.

The backpack is heavily padded which makes it very comfortable when carrying when it’s on your shoulders.  However, the straps can also be covered and zipped so you can also carry it like a duffel bag or small suitcase with the hand straps.

Wearing a new backpack after using the same one for many years felt a little off at first. However, I quickly got used to carrying it around.  On my trip to Annapolis, I used it in airplanes, on the road, around town, and in two different hotels.  After a few days, I got more familiar with the features of the bag and discovered that there were some things I liked and things I didn’t.

Pros of the Airporter backpack

Lightweight and comfortable - One of the best things about the bag is how light and comfortable it is.  Sure, any backpack can get heavy when you pack a lot of stuff.  However, the material and straps aren’t bulky and heavy like my Rick Steves backpack which cuts down on the weight.  It’s one of the lightest backpacks I’ve worn.

Backpack padding - The padding for the backpack also makes it very soft and comfortable yet firm.  There aren’t any poles against your back and the material isn’t so thin that you feel what’s inside.  The way the bag is designed with the padding makes it sturdy without being firm or uncomfortable.

Cadet detachable daypack - This is probably one of my favorite features of the Airporter and other Guerrilla Packs.  The bag holds up to 10 Liters and is lightweight and small so it’s easy to grab and go.  It also has a zipper which expands the bag (up to 17 L) to carry more stuff.  Yet it never felt like a big backpack at all.  I used this every day while I was in Annapolis and forgot I even had it on unless I needed to get something out it.

Padded laptop pouch - When I was first looking into Guerrilla Packs, this was one thing that really attracted me.  The bag is big enough to accommodate most laptops (13 1/2 inches X 10 1/2 inches) and it even has a pouch for smartphones.    While the laptop pouch is designed to attach to the Airporter, I was also able to fit it and my netbook in the daypack as well – a huge bonus when I am on the airplane.

Cons of the Airporter backpack

Not enough compartments - One thing I wanted in the Airporter is more places to store things.  The bag does have three compartments, or zipped pockets, but the spaces are small (both in size and access).  One thing I liked about my Rick Steves bag was that the compartments were big and could hold small notebooks, adapters, or papers that I needed to access.  Without the daypack, I would have had to pack nearly everything inside of the Airporter bag itself.

Airporter backpack doesn’t expand - While I loved that the daypack was expandable, I hated that the Airporter backpack didn’t expand.  Since I was traveling during cold weather, my clothes were bulkier and heavier so I needed more room.  Being able to expand the bag when things got a little tight is necessary at times and something I loved about my Rick Steves bag.  Expanding it would still allow the bag to conform to airport standards for carry on luggage.

Straps, straps, and more straps - While having straps for your waist, shoulders, chest, and detachable daypack are great, I couldn’t figure out what to do with them when I didn’t need them.  It was all or nothing – use them all and let the straps hang out or store them all.  The most annoying one was the one for the hips as I could attach them together but not store them somewhere when just using the shoulder straps.  I would have loved to zip them up and out of the way (what you do when using as a duffel bag) but you can’t zip them all the way and still use the shoulder straps as a backpack.

Inside of the bag ripped - I am not sure how it happened.  I didn’t transport the Airporter bag that often but somehow the inside lining at the top of the Airporter bag ripped (and I have no idea how it happened).  Unfortunately, it ripped where the top outside pocket was located so everything stored in there would fall inside of the bag.  All backpacks do have a 6 month limited warranty so I will see if I can get this replaced.

UPDATE:  I contacted Guerrilla Packs and let them know what happened.  They immediately sent me a new bag at no charge.  They are committed to a quality product and customer service to make sure you have the best experiences with their bags.  They even requested my old bag be shipped back to them (at no charge) to do a quality control inspection to see what went wrong.

Guerrilla Packs recommendation?

Guerrilla Packs Airporter backpack Jeremy BranhamI liked using the Guerrilla Packs Airporter backpack despite the fact that it ripped and that it needs a little improvement.  It is definitely a comfortable, affordable backpack for travelers but I really want to put this backpack to the test to see how it does long term (once I get the bag fixed or replaced).

Guerrilla Packs offers three other backpacks for travelers – the Voltij, Furia, and Asalto.

The Voltij is a slightly larger version of the Airporter at 55 L with a detachable daypack.  It is larger, offers a more supportive frame, comes with a rain cover and sleeping bag/wet clothes pocket, and supports H2O hydration system.

The Asalto and Furia backpacks are for hikers and backpackers who take longer trips.  The Furia is slightly smaller at 65 L while the Asalto is 70 L.  Neither of these version comes with a detachable daypack (although the daypack and computer pouch can be purchased separately).

There are two versions of these bags with Asalto 2.0 and Furia 2.0 offering SBS zippers, laptop pouch, shatter proof waist buckle, and ultra strength lightweight material.

Do I recommend them? 

Guerrilla Packs offer a low budget, affordable backpack which is a good quality, comfortable, and lightweight.  While I would love to see these backpacks add a few a more features and improvements, I like the backpack and the potential they have in the backpacking market.

Next week, I will be giving away a Furia backpack from Guerrilla Packs!  Stay tuned and join in this giveaway starting December 27!

Guerrilla Packs Furia backpack

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  1. Nice unbiased report. Many reviews might want to exclude the fact that it ripped, but you told it how it was. Will be interesting to see if they replace it. I am sure they will.
    Traveling Ted recently posted..Native American pictographs in Quetico Provincial ParkMy Profile

    • I told them that I would be completely fair with the review. I like the idea of the backpacks but think they could use a little improvements. There were things I liked and things I didn’t but I love the market they are trying to reach. It definitely has some positives but I owe it to people to be honest.

  2. Jerry says:

    This bag needs a designer! Someone with a bit of fashion sense cos this is ugly :(

    • I don’t think the bag looks that bad. They come in different colors but to each his own! After all, there are trends in fashion these days I think are hideous but for some reason, people think they look good and are popular! :)

  3. Harrison says:

    It looks really small. When you mentioned that it ripped inside, when you felt the fabric material, did it feel cheap? That’s pretty bad if a backpack rips in less than 6 months. I have this Dakine backpack that has lasted me for a year, and still holds up to the heavy weight I put in it.

    Anyways, great and honest review!
    Harrison recently posted..On Defining Your Paradise, And What You Want From ItMy Profile

    • Honestly, I don’t think the material is cheap at all. I am surprised that it ripped. Not sure when it happened but maybe it was just faulty stitching because it wasn’t the material that ripped but it was the stitch holding them together.

      Like you, I have a backpack that I’ve had over 20 years. The shoulder strapped ripped many years ago but just a little. Still works great!

      Thanks for your comments Harrison! I did my best to be fair and honest!

  4. Are those college mascots in your pack? Awesome!
    adventureswithben recently posted..2011 Winners and Losers in Travel & TourismMy Profile

  5. Shannon says:

    I really appreciate your review on these packs. I am looking for a very durable pack for a year long trip that requires a tent, sleeping bag, laptop, and most of my belongings. I know this is a stretch, but do you know of a bag that is durable, about 65L, and has a detachable day bag? I was trying to find one with wheels to roll while walking in airports and train stations, but but any good ideas would be appreciated~ Thanks

    • Shannon, thanks for your comment and email. Currently, I only use the Guerilla Packs bag which has all of the things you want except a tent. I can ask a friend of mine who camps a lot and is an avid outdoors guy what his recommendation is. The Guerilla Packs bag selection (and they have a number of options including a 65L and 70L I believe) does all of those but not sure about the tent.

  6. Matthew Hylton says:

    Hey, thanks for the review it was pretty fair. I was wondering… I am about to go on a backpacking trip around the world, will be travelling for a number of months by various modes i am sure, bus, train, plane, walking. I have never bought a backpack before and was wondering if you could suggest a good backpack. I too dont like checking on luggage, so something that will hold enough for me to live out of for a while. I like what guerilla packs offer and am interested in the voltij because i like what it offers, is it too big for a carry on bag? let me know what your thoughts are for a good bag. Thank again.

    • I’ve never done a RTW trip so I would hesitate to recommend one. There are LOTS of travelers I know out there who are doing this so I would be happy to point them to you if you are interested. The longest I’ve traveled is a month and I used a backpack I bought from Rick Steves. It’s a good size and has served me well but you might want something a little bigger than what I used.

      Where are you doing on your around the world trip?

      • Matthew Hylton says:

        Yes i am interested that would be great. I have not ironed out an itinerary yet, but i plan on climbing machu pichu with a friend, then i plan to head to China for the Chinese new year… figured its a must do type of thing. I might hang out in south east asia alot because it is cheaper and I am going on a real budget. Maybe your friends can give me some pointers for travelling cheap… I would also like to check out parts of Europe… but once again the budget, and europe is quite pricey. I still have some time to iron it out… i wont start until January 2013.

        Thank for the response, i really appreciate it.

  7. Brandy Bell says:

    Hello all!

    Just wanted to let everyone who is considering getting this backpack for an extended travel trip, that they might want to think twice.
    My bag also ripped within TWO weeks of use. I am not an extreme backpacker, was only making a 3 week journey from Europe to USA.
    The main handle which is used to carry the bag (when it’s being used as a carry on) ripped, leaving a hole in the side of my bag.
    The metal ring on the daypack which is meant to secure both zippers (so that they can be locked) fell off, and left a big, open, hole in my backpack.

    When the first occurances happened, I wrote to Patrick in March, to let him know I was about to embark on a 3 month journey, and that i was feeling anxious about the quality.

    I wrote to Patrick again in May reminding him of the previous upsets and letting him know that more parts of the backpack have fallen apart. I’ve not heard one word form him in response.

    In short, the idea and concept of the backpack is stellar. The reality is that it’s a poorly crafted product, or at least in my case, and since the owner has given me the option to see otherwise, i want to prevent fellow travelers from having the same troubles.

    Wishing I hadn’t given away my Kelty… even if it was a toploader!

    • I still love my Rick Steves backpack. It’s big and very durable. I haven’t used it in a while and I will give my Guerrilla pack a few more trips this year. However, I do agree with you on the quality of the material. It doesn’t seem as durable. I am hoping that the ripped backpack was just a bad one. However, it seems others have had this experience as well. I think they could invest a little more in the material. I think they could make them a little bigger too. If it means paying a little more, it’s worth it to have a product that lasts longer and is very durable.

      However, I will see how it does over the next few months before I make a final judgment on the backpack.

  8. Sarah says:

    I was wondering if you had used the backpack any more and if the pack had any more problems. I am looking for a pack to travel across Europe for a few weeks this summer. The Airporter seemed like a great option until I saw all of the comments about it ripping. Has your backpack ripped?

    • The last time I used it on a big trip was back in December 2011. In my post, I noted that my bag did rip and they sent me a new one. There are things I like about the bad. To this day, I still use the computer bag that comes with it. That’s one of the best things about that bag and something I’m glad that I have. I actually have it with me right now.

      However, my two criticisms are that the backpack is a little too small and the quality of the materials needs to be a little better. I don’t think it is as sturdy as it could be. However, that is just my opinion based on what I thought of the material. I have another backpack that is similar to this one from Rick Steve’s and it’s very sturdy and strong. No way that would ever rip.

      Would I recommend it? That depends on your budget and where you are going. I still use the same backpack for traveling that I bought 9 years ago. However, I don’t travel full time just some short trips and a few longer ones. The bag would be fine for shorter trips and it’s a good bag for a budget. It’s not the top of the line and I would like to see the improvements that I recommend.

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