Hi, some time ago, I posted a very detailed and rather poorly arranged video review of the Gate8 version 1
bag. I was an early adopter of their bag, and despite some shortcomings, find their bag to be my invaluable go-to carry on bag that can carry a week's worth ofl clothes and electronics for my business needs.
Since then Alistair (the founder of Gate 8, I think) has been in touch with me and I've provided several inputs based on practical experience using it over many travels.
I recently received version 2.0 of the bag from them.
They gave this to me free of charge and requested I review it. Our agreement was that Alistair will not get to see a 'private version' of a review first and nor will he be able to request me to change anything, should I dislike something - Gate8 stood by these conditions.
So here is the review, for everyone here and for Gate8 as well at the same time.
PART I: OUTSIDE
(NB: Should any links to images break, you can see them all HERE
Shipping and Unpacking
They are now shipping the bags directly from the US. Mine came from New Jersey and arrived within a day of my receiving a tracking number. Both great improvements over V1, where I paid a ridiculous amount to ship from the UK and then had tracking issues. Good job here.
The package arrived in good shape and nicely branded with their new "G" look
Taking out the bag, it reminds me that "Size matters". Well, Indeed.
External, side by side
Here is the V2 (left) vs V1 (right)
The new version has a more prominent branding and the zips are now yellow. The zips are HUGELY improved - no locking/getting stuck issues.
In case you think the new bag is a little bigger, I don't think it is - the new one leans forward a bit and the old one leans back a bit (more on this later, those in the know will probably guess why this is so...)
Now lets look at the depth of V2 (left) vs V1 (right)
You will notice that V2 is actually less deep than V1. The upper grips also have a leather like wrap on them compared to cloth in V1. Softer to the touch, obviously. Gate8 has also changed the type of nylon in V2. This is what Gate8 told me a few months ago when we exchanged notes:
The outer material is now also a 1680D NYLON - lighter than the original 1680D Polyester.
I liked the new material as much as the old so no complains.
Now let's compare the front (V1 left, V2 right)
You'll notice that the new laptop bag is much bigger. It now accommodates a laptop upto 17 inches. Now I don't use 17 inches. I have a 13 inch, but the extra space is welcome because I now have more place to keep stuff on the side, which was not possible earlier. They've pulled this off without adding to the overall size. Nice.
Now lets compare the telescopic handles
The new telescopic handle is likely around 3-4 inches taller than the old one (I did not measure it exactly). But I walked around with it a bit and my heel did not hit the bag like V1. This is a great improvement for me. I'm 5-8. If you are taller than that, YMMV - I have no idea.
The new handle is built more solidly as well compared to V1.
The old one had an incredibly irritating habit of leaning away from you - super irritating if you are in a train/escalator and let go off the bag and it leans away from you to the guy/gal in front. Well, V2 looks better balanced (NOTE: ITS EMPTY RIGHT NOW). V1 is at the back and V2 in the front in this image
But what happens when its all stuffed up? Patience, grasshopper.
V2 also has a name tag which you can slide out.
Here is the front of the V2. Sort of reminds me of the Iron man costume. Note however that they have reduced the capacity of the front pocket compared to the old one. It could still hold my toiletries and medicines, but I could make out the space is less here.
The V2 bottom (left in image) has a leather like padding that looks nice.
The V2 has a different wheel from V1. V1 was more rubber like, this one is more hard plastic like. Is it worse or better? I have no idea. Did not seem to rattle or shake - seemed solid - but time will tell - this is a road test issue that you can't figure out at home
Another side by side from the side(V2 left, V1 right)
You will notice that the zip that attaches the laptop to the main bag has now moved to the side instead of the bottom (as in V1). I think this may make it easier to zip the laptop bag back to the bag compared to V1, but I don't think its still a one hand zip back as you walk operation. I'll have to try it out when packed - if the relocation of the zip to the side makes the attaching/detaching process of the laptop bag any easier. I suspect it will be better than being at the bottom as it was in V1.
The laptop bag detached
They added a pouch presumably to keep your wires, now that it actually has space for them ;-) As I mentioned before, this new laptop bag is bigger and better