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Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Gadget Bag: Rolling, Rolling, Rolling...


When you're traveling and you have lots of gear to move through airports, along sidewalks and anywhere else in the urban jungle, a roller bag is a welcome companion

 

Gadget Bag: Rolling, Rolling, Rolling...


A rolling bag won't help you much if you're pulling your camera pack through a South American rain forest, but if you're sprinting to make a flight connection at LAX (or just sauntering along the sidewalks of New York), having wheels can save the day—and your back. When you're tired of toting that heavy load of gear, do what the flight crews do—pull it along behind you. There's a tremendous assortment of rolling photo bags available these days from nearly every manufacturer. There are a few things to keep in mind when shopping, but most of all remember—it's a bag first and roller second. Make sure it satisfies all of your camera bag requirements; otherwise, you might end up with a heavy refrigerator on roller blades.

Size
If you're a frequent flyer, you already know that the size limit for carry-on baggage is 45 linear inches, generally configured as 22x14x9. Those dimensions will get the bag through TSA security and into the overhead storage compartment and, properly packed, will hold a surprisingly large load of gear. If your travel plans don't involve airports, you have more options.

Construction
The wheels are the defining feature of these bags. The distance between the wheels (wheelbase) is as important as the wheel type. A wide bag with a short wheelbase is hard to steer without wobbling—a definite negative when you're negotiating your way down the aisle of a crowded jet. In-line skate wheels, such as those found on Tamrac's line of rollers, are the best type, but any solidly made wheel that uses ball bearings to reduce friction will generally perform well. The other elements of construction you should examine are the same as with conventional bags. Look for heavy-duty zippers with metal pulls, sealed seams and a durable outer fabric. Also check the extendable tow handle. Inferior construction is usually easy to spot.


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