Key to better packing? It’s in the bag
From packable shelving systems to collapsible garment racks and multicolor transparent cubes, new luggage and accessories come with an inventive choice of packing and unpacking options.
A step beyond
We’re big fans of packable multitier cloth shelves you load at home, stash in a suitcase, then pull out and hang from a closet rod. Solgaard has taken this concept a step beyond with the Carry-on Closet 2.0, a lightweight polycarbonate wheel-aboard bag with an integrated six-tier shelving unit that collapses and compresses into the suitcase.
Lift out and pull up on the 29½-by-10-by-6½-inch shelving unit and hook to the top of the bag’s extended telescoping pull handle. The suitcase cover acts as a steadying kickstand.
The nylon and mesh shelves vary in height to hold toiletries, socks, shirts, pants and whatever. The shelving unit is removable and can be hung from a closet rod, leaving the empty bag available for other duties.
The 21-inch wheel-aboard rolls on four sets of spinner wheels and has a built-in TSA-compliant three-digit lock. The bag has a built-in external USB port that connects to an internal USB cable you can plug into your own battery power bank. An internal pocket holds the power pack in place.
Hang it all
EcoGear’s 28-inch wheeled duffel has a big extendable garment rack that lets you hang suits, dresses or anything with a hanger hook wherever you stay, no need for a closet. To set up, just unzip the U-shaped top of the black rip-stop polyester duffel and remove the three collapsed (21-inch) lightweight hollow aluminum cylinders.
Two vertical poles slide into sturdy brackets mounted against the interior ends of the bag. Extend the poles up to 50 inches tall using their button/slot expansion system. The clothing rod section expands to 27½ inches wide and attaches snugly to the two pole tops. Maximum weight capacity is 20 pounds.
The duffel acts as a base, steadied by a molded plastic 4½-inch-tall drop-bottom compartment, which zips open to provide more storage space. The duffel’s big zippered external pockets hold more gear. When packed (rack collapsed), the telescoping duffel handle and two corner-mounted skate wheels make for smooth transit. The duffel is 28½ by 15 by 14½ inches and, when empty, collapses to just 8 inches.
For years I used 2½-gallon self-sealing plastic bags to sort the contents of my suitcase. EzPacking Cubes provide a classier and more efficient organizing option. The transparent flexible-vinyl zippered bags come in multisize sets of four or 12, or can be bought individually.
Each cube (or rectangle) is trimmed with Cordura nylon in a choice of seven colors, with matching sewn-in handles. Pick one color per four-cube set or choose a mix of two colors for the 12-piece bundle. The contents of each sturdy bag are clearly visible, and everything stacks together neatly.
The Stow-N-Go Hanging Travel Shelves from Grand Fusion Housewares are my new favorites. The three-tier nylon and mesh shelving unit collapses atop its own integrated zippered packing cube (well, rectangle), compresses with a push, then latches shut with built-in plastic clip buckles.
Stash the parcel in a carry-on or check-through bag. At your destination, unlatch, lift and hang the organized system from a closet or shower rod or over a door using its two steel hanger hooks.
The zippered bottom compartment is great for holding shoes and then can be used for dirty laundry after hanging. The unit comes in two sizes, both 11.8 inches deep and 25.2 inches high when expanded. The large model is 17.7 inches wide and fits in a standard wheel-aboard bag or any suitcase 20 inches or larger. The small is 11.8 inches wide and pops into a tote.
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