Whenever 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
The 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?
I 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).
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!