Suitcases come in all shapes and sized, and while some may be better than others, just remember that it should suit you, your style and your personally. If you like the pliability of a duffel bag and don’t mind slinging it over your shoulder then go with that. Prefer four wheels and an upright easy push? Then go with that. Don’t worry about what works for others, do what works for you, cause that’s how to choose a suitcase.
In saying that, I’ll now talk about what works for me and why… and yes, I get the irony here…
I tend to go with a 20″ soft-case carry on. I’ve got a larger 24″ bag too but after a few tours with just a carry-on I find that a larger bag is excessive now. Even on a 4-6 week tour I find that I’ve got enough room in my carry on for all my needs… minus perhaps a warm coat if entering a colder country (but I’d wear it on travel days so no need to pack it)… and granted I am a guy and it’s easier for us; a few jeans, a few shirts and we’re good to go!
I’ve tried various brands, shapes and sizes and there are great features and pros to each but to me, portability is the key! I try to keep the size and weight down, keeping my ability to toss my bag from here to there while maintaining it’s shape and keeping my clothes in order is a plus.
Duffel bags are excellent for this, extremely light and super pliable, jam it into any ‘ol space, but it’s harder to keep it’s insides looking neat, therefore I don’t get the joy of opening my bag and looking at a solved game of tetris. A 4-wheeled easy-push is nice for smooth surface pushing, like in an airport, but outside even a rough sidewalk can cause these small shopping cart like wheels to tremor. They open nicely and keep your clothes protected with a nice rigid case, but struggles with it’s weight and pliability. Sounds like I’m talking about a body builder from muscle beach… weighs a lot, not too flexible and has trouble keeping their balance (shaped like a triangle, tiny legs, add other jokes here)…
Ok before I get off topic, let me repeat my entire point here… in order to find the best suitcase for you, try borrowing a few suitcases from friends and test out a few different styles. And whatever you do, find out what works best for you!
on a side note, this Fall I will be testing out a couple of bags from Arc’teryx, ones with no wheels and kind of a duffel bag slash soft case hybrid… anyway, more about that in an upcoming post!
I spoke about using a rider a little in my BOOK but while I was at a gig yesterday I was reminded of how nice a fresh pair of socks on the rider* can be. In this festival’s trailer (our greenroom for the day) was an assortment of things for our comfort and pleasure; a few sticks of deodorant, some hair spray, packs of gum, hand towels AND a few pairs of socks! Now even though I’m pretty picky with my socks (I tend to only wear sports socks that just cover my ankles) it was nice to be able to change in to new socks after a hot and sweaty outdoors show. So even though I’m always happy to see a pack of gum on there, it’s less common rider items that I tend to get more excited about these days. Again, personally I don’t do big long tube socks because they take up twice the room in your suitcase as ankle socks, BUT in mosquito country, and when you are wearing shorts, and you didn’t pack them yourself, they come in pretty handy, ha!
Eon Sinclair, of the band Bedouin Soundclash, suggested to me that I add it to the rider all the time. Not a bad option at all. Actually he suggested putting socks and underwear on there… I think that might be a bit much as the only two people I allow to buy me underwear is my wife and my grandma! Something to think about at least.
If you are just traveling and don’t have a rider to pull from, maybe just plan to find a nice cheap pair at a local night market or something along those lines? Especially if you’ve been backpacking a while through Europe, try rewarding yourself with fresh new socks… it may sound ridiculous but they can be a real treat!
*A a rider is a set of requests or demands that a performer sets as criteria for performance, and in this case I am referring to the hospitality side of the rider, so a list of requests for the comfort of the artist on the day of the show. If you want to read about some really great and ridiculous requests by super Huge Rock Stars, check out this great site full of actual band rider requests, THE SMOKING GUN.
I just got back from a little getaway to Cannon Beach, Oregon, with my wife and I was reminded of the many things you can actually bring with you when you are driving instead of flying! I pride myself in being pretty efficient when it comes to my suitcase but apparently driving to the beach means, “Load it up with all I got!” Also, I want to take this opportunity to apologize to anyone I may have laughed at in the last ten years or so for packing too much… I ended up bringing a surf board, a skim board, a soccer ball, a football, baseball and glove, tennis racquets and a Frisbee. Oh and a kite. This is of course on top on my regular luggage. BUT, I had the room in my car so…
I needed some good ‘ol motivation to force myself to work harder and faster (insert DAFT PUNK song here) on my new website. I found that the best motivation is to just put it up 80% finished, then hustle your butt off to get it done! Anyway, all this to say that I hope you enjoy the new page, there’s a lot more to check out, AND there’s room for your involvement too!
Please have a look around, add a comment, ask a question, send me a picture, pass the site along to your friends, really whatever you feel like and let’s get the suitcase packing conversation out there!
Ok so here it goes. The launch of my new site and a better place for you and I to share road stories, suitcase picture and new packing ideas… so we can eventually take over the world. Obviously. How many of you already have the book or have at least seen a bunch of the photo’s out there? I really want to create a huge archive of peoples suitcases, especially a before and after series! For more info on how to submit photo’s…
Click on the CONTACT tab on the main menu above and you can send in all your packing pictures! I’m looking forward to saying hi to all of you so don’t be shy.
Alright, eventually I’ll have a bunch of pages full of advice, but for now, have a look at this picture and tell me what you see? I see a your bed as a perfect place to start organizing, the perfect packing pallet. After this, separate them into piles of similar items, like pants, shirts, etc so you can see the proportions of what you are bringing and hopefully also what you are lacking…
A large part of the reason I in which I started writing this book is because of the people around me… Tegan and Sara where some of the very first people who commented (in a truly positive way, haha) on my style of packing and before long, they too were packing in a similar fashion. Here’s a shot we did of Sara Quin as part of the very first photo shoots designed for the book.