I'm headed to Las Vegas today for 4 days and have decided to do only carry-on, and not just that, but try to minimize the amount of stuff I'm bringing so that I can carry the beauty that is the Coach Bleeker; I have been waiting about 3 years to take her on a plane.
I've used her for other weekend trips but I would say that this is her first major test. Just to give you a better idea of what she will be carrying and how I packed her, here's a brief run-down of my trip: I arrive on Tuesday afternoon and leave Friday afternoon; we plan to have one day of randomness until the rest of our team arrives the next day, plan to go to the shooting range, have a nice team dinner, a gambling competition, spend some time at lounges, and a full working day. I have packed a heavy cardigan, pair of black jeans, toiletries, PJs, clutch for going out, under garments, belt, a top, and left room to comfortably fit a puffer jacket that can be bunched into a pouch. I could fit another pair of shoes and a few more tops, but I gaged our activities there and with what I packed, and my outfit to the airport, have enough to mix and match. If it were summer and I didn't have to pack for cooler weather, I'd have even more space!
From my previous trips, I can tell you some of the pros and cons of the Bleeker:
Pros <3 -
- Spacious - I am always able to pack at least 3 days worth of outfits and that usually includes at least 2 pairs of shoes, 5 outfit changes, PJs, toiletries, curling iron, and my laptop and ipad. My previous trips, the bag would be stuffed to the brim but since I'm flying, don't want to over-do it.
- Organization - it has 2 large inner, slip pockets, 1 large zipped compartment, and one outer slip pocket. The inner pockets are very useful for electronic cords and chargers, and I keep important documents in the inner zip pocket; I don't use the outer slip pocket except as an emergency place holder for papers, before I move them to another spot. I like the openness of the bag because it lets me pack that much more stuff in it.
- Large opening - the zipper extends well beyond the opening of the bag so I have easy access to my stuff and it also has a little more give if it gets over packed.
- Color and profile - what can I say? I love the color, and I love its very minimal look.
- Leather - its leather is super sturdy and I really like that it holds itself up so I can easily organize my things.
- Feet - I like that it prevents the bag from touching the ground, and with a bag that size, gives it a bit of detailing.
Cons </3 -
- Heavy - it's VERY heavy. I don't recommend this if you have to move around a lot from place to place. Ideally, you should be carrying her from: car -> airport -> car -> hotel; also, don't carry more things than you need to, outside of this bag, or else it will be very difficult for you juggle. For this Vegas trip, I'm designated all my electronics, and travel documents to my handbag, and leaving my liquids on the top of the Bleeker for easy access at security.
- Handles - most of my complaints are with the handles. They are very stiff and short. If they were slightly longer, and able to fit over my shoulders, I think I would have an easier time dealing with its weight, but as it stands, the short handles mean that I have to use this as a hand-held, and it does get cumbersome. Also, if I am carrying a lot of things, the stiff handles do not make it easy to juggle a few things at one time as they give no amount of flexibility and sometimes you just need things to twist and turn a bit to manage - don't try with this, it will hurt your hand.
Changes I would make -
- Nylon with leather trimming to lighten it up, while keeping its sleek look and maintaining some of its structure; I think there's a heavy canvas version which would probably fare well, but have not had a chance to see it in person.
- Lengthen the straps, or give it a detachable shoulder strap (although given the weight, the shoulder strap would probably hurt, but it's still nice to have the option so it can free up your hands from time to time in the event you need to have your hands free for a moment)