Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Travel&Dining > Travel Products
Reload this Page >

A. Saks 21" Expandable tote - First impressions (review upcoming)

A. Saks 21" Expandable tote - First impressions (review upcoming)

Old Feb 1, 10, 5:12 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Berlin and Buggenhagen, Germany
Posts: 3,509
A. Saks 21" Expandable tote - First impressions (review upcoming)

I just took receipt of the A. Saks 21" tote. First impression: That is a light bag. Second impression: Or is it?

I have seen the weight advertised as between 545 and 595 grams. I put it on my very exact kitchen scale. 920g is more like it. I hate wrong advertising. Still I will not return it. Got it for $40 plus shipping.

One of the questions is if the Opec (Outdoor Products Essential Carry-on by Campmor) really weighs what it does. Can anybody please weigh theirs for me? That would be most helpful in establishing a ranking. If this bag without even a real shoulder strap weighs 900g I wonder how the Opec can pull of backpack straps at less than 800g. So it would be good to verify the Opec claims.

Second disappointment. It has a coil zipper not a tooth/chain zipper. The photo on ebags clearly shows a chain not a coil:
http://www.ebags.com/a_saks/expandab...?modelid=86269

The Lucas Luggage model (same bag, different brand) has coil zippers. I was hoping for the A Saks to have chain as those are regarded as sturdier.

Now the good things.

- The bag actually looks and feels well made. Not too flimsy.
- The shoulder/handle conversion is a nice trick. The shoulder strap is not adjustable but hangs at the right length when I wear it on my slim 6' frame. It is not long enough really for cross-body wearing. The handles stick together with velcro. That is good but if you don't want the velcro to rub against your clothes you have to twist the shoulder strap to turn the velcro side outwards. I have heard people suggest to get a handle wrap. That might be useful but the handle material is really soft, so I don't think I want to complicate it anymore.
- There are tie down straps on one side of the interior. That's great. This will work very well with the way I intend to pack the bag, i.e. EC18 then TB backpack cube with pants rapped around it, then cinch down, then add computer in Incase 13" sleeve. Basically clothes sandwiched between two harder layers.
- There are two outer pockets. One big one with zip. Quite roomy. And a ticket slip pocket on the back between the handle attachments. What you cannot see from the pictures is that there IS a strap to fix it over telescoping handles of any rolling luggage you might have. That is a huge plus!
- It really folds very flat. This will not take much room when you use it as an overflow bag and when both expansions are used it is a huge bag. I would not be afraid to check it, either.

Unfortunately, the TB cube hasn't come in yet although the tracking info said it should be delivered today. So no test packing.

Summary: Very spacious, good attention to detail, practical design, good (not excellent) material and construction BUT not as lightweight as I'd hoped.

Till
tfar is offline  
Old Feb 1, 10, 7:07 pm
  #2  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: west of DFW airport
Programs: AA LT Gold 1.9 MM flying my way to LT PLAT
Posts: 11,073
Till, for really light in weight bags look at LeSportsSac especially if some one can lend you one from the good old days when they were all Made In USA. Now they are made in China and seem to be made of heavier material and straps.

I've had LeSportSac bags since at least 1980 and have never worn one out even with daily use.

I'm thinking of going back to using a LeSportsSac duffle for a carry on bag as I am still shopping for my Ultimate Checkable Suitcase.
oldpenny16 is offline  
Old Feb 1, 10, 8:46 pm
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: alexandria, Virginia usa
Posts: 1,091
The Lucas bag looks very similar- but its weight is 3 lbs-- how do you think it may compare? My old Lucas duffels have lasted decades.

http://www.ebags.com/lucas/lucas_21_...modelid=146547


Lucas 21" Exp Soft Carry On conveniently stores all your personal items

Size: 21" x 14" x 9"
Weight: 3 lbs
Material: 420 Nylon
Warranty: 5 Years
Linear inches: 44"
naxos is offline  
Old Feb 1, 10, 9:57 pm
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Berlin and Buggenhagen, Germany
Posts: 3,509
Thanks, oldpenny, I will keep LeSportSac in mind. I am not so fond of the scripted straps they are using. The design is pretty terrible but I bet they are light and practical. You know me, I always try to be (or at least appear) stylish.

Naxos, if you ask me, I'd say the Lucas is the exact same product with different zipper pulls and a 5 year warranty instead of a 3 year warranty. That's it.

I was actually hoping that the Saks would have the zippers in its photo. But it has the zippers like the one in the Lucas photo. Both labels are pretty terrible and I will cut mine off. Then the bag will look good.

Some more notes. The front pocket is big enough to hold the Samsonite Micromover cart. That is a huge feature if you use that cart. At this point it is still lighter by one pound than the very lightweight Landor & Hawa Sub-0-G case, which is smaller and not expandable.

It comes with TWO little key locks. Not TSA and tiny. Quite the joke really but maybe something to give to your kids to close their diary with.

It also has four plastic feet on the bottom but no bottom panel. The stitching where the straps are attached has a transparent vinyl patch on the inside reinforcing the box stitch. Low cost but effective I bet.

Just out of curiosity I am going to throw some clothes in it and see. This is not going to be a full test pack but just a quick tryout.

Till
tfar is offline  
Old Feb 1, 10, 10:24 pm
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Berlin and Buggenhagen, Germany
Posts: 3,509
Alright. Here is what I threw in the bag:

1 suit
1 EC packing cube (full size) filled with a bulky sweatshirt and a bulky winter wool pullover
1 pair of jeans wrapped around the EC cube
1 pair of really bulky dress shoes (one shoe on each short side of the bag)
2 polo shirts
1 tshirt
1 very bulky Brookstone Dopp kit (I hardly use that when I want to travel light so this was just to check the volume. If it fits that thing it will fit anybody's toiletries.)
1 inflight baggie (EC pac-it sac with ear plugs, pillow, eyemask and such)
1 Incase 13" Macbook bag (this actually fits vertically and then leaves room for more stuff on the other side)
1 EC18 shirt folder (I left that empty but there was so much room still left in the bag it could have been filled with at least four shirts)

I pick up the bag and it is far from being filled. I would say 80% of capacity. Mind you, I put nothing at all in the front pocket and I didn't expand the bag. The front pocket fits easily another pair of men's shoes and a rain jacket for example.

The drop of the handles is long enough that I can put the handles over my shoulder without hooking them together. This results in a very tight package close to the body that I can carry under the arm on the hip. I'd have to double check but I think that is not possible with my beloved 235x.

The shape is very rectangular and it opens up completely. The cinch strap are attached in the deeper half or the case which is the backside. The straps also have really nice quick locks so you don't need to thread anything.

The material is quite shiny.

The bag holds its shape rather wel when packed like this. The packing accessories do help and I'd say they are necessary unless you only carry jeans, t's and sweatshirts for a casual trip. If you carry dress shirt or a suit, get some folders and cubes. If not, go "sans" and lighten your load.

Till
tfar is offline  
Old Mar 24, 10, 2:44 am
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Berlin and Buggenhagen, Germany
Posts: 3,509
Small update:

The TB convertible cube came in and I like it. Very nice design. The yellow complements the design of the Saks very well.

It is also just the right size as I had supposed. The TB cube in Aeronaut size is really roomy. It's literally its own bag. I was able to fit all the clothes from the above packing list in there. This did fill it out good and thus made the cube compact and hard which in turn gives more structure to the A. Saks.

Using the shirt folder and the Incase computer sleeve turned this combo into a perfectly viable, well organized and not too slouchy bag.

Packing cube fiends can really go overboard with this one if they want to because it offers a ton of open square volume. But I'd advise to only use as many cubes as you really need.

The accessibility is excellent.

I'm only a bit disappointed that it doesn't have the nice tooth zippers. But not enough to send it back because of that.

Till
tfar is offline  
Old Oct 11, 10, 3:06 pm
  #7  
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 13
Question about A. Saks Expandable

Thanks for the info, Till. I've read your comments about this bag with great interest. I have a follow-up question, though (if you still have the bag).

I have been using the following combo:
Rick Steves Convertible Bag
Travelite luggage cart (fits into front pocket on RS bag)

It's a very usable combination, but certainly is prone to bulging. I noted that you've been able to slide the Samsonite micromover cart into the pocket of the A. Saks, and I'm hoping that the travelite would also fit.

Relative dimensions according to specs:
Samsonite Micromover 15" x 7" x 2.75"
Travelite Folding 16" x 10.5" x 3.00"

Do you think that the Travelite cart might fit? If not, then the A Saks might be out of the running. I got too accustomed to the wheels to give them up.

Thanks in advance,
Mike
bonmot is offline  
Old Oct 11, 10, 3:35 pm
  #8  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: NY Metro Area
Programs: AA 2MM Yay!, UA MM, Costco General Member
Posts: 46,945
Originally Posted by bonmot View Post
Thanks for the info, Till. I've read your comments about this bag with great interest. I have a follow-up question, though (if you still have the bag).

I have been using the following combo:
Rick Steves Convertible Bag
Travelite luggage cart (fits into front pocket on RS bag)

It's a very usable combination, but certainly is prone to bulging. I noted that you've been able to slide the Samsonite micromover cart into the pocket of the A. Saks, and I'm hoping that the travelite would also fit.

Relative dimensions according to specs:
Samsonite Micromover 15" x 7" x 2.75"
Travelite Folding 16" x 10.5" x 3.00"

Do you think that the Travelite cart might fit? If not, then the A Saks might be out of the running. I got too accustomed to the wheels to give them up.

Thanks in advance,
Mike
Welcome to Flyertalk!
GadgetFreak is offline  
Old Oct 13, 10, 1:33 pm
  #9  
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 13
Question

A quick update: I contacted A Saks via email and the representative said that the Travelite cart would fit, but the only dimension he provided was height (11"). I remain a little skeptical as a result. Anyone with an A Saks bag feel like getting a tape measure out? I would really appreciate it.

In addition, I tried to contact customer service at a major online luggage reseller (ends in bags.com). I could have sworn that they had both the A Saks 21" expandable and the Lucas 21", but as of yesterday only the Lucas was available. Anyway, it has been postulated here that these two items are most likely the same bag, down to the color scheme. When I told the customer service rep this, he said that they were different because they had "different feature sets." He didn't elaborate on what that meant. I'm still thinking that they may be the same, but now I'm not 100% sure.

So another question is: will the Travelite fit into the pocket of the Lucas? Does anyone with the Lucas have a tape measure to get the dimensions of the front pocket? That would be swell.

Thanks!
bonmot is offline  
Old Oct 16, 10, 2:43 am
  #10  
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: NYC
Posts: 5
I have the 21" Lucas bag that looks exactly like this A. Saks bag except, of course, for the logo: http://www.ebags.com/product/a-saks/...carry-on/86269. I've had this bag for over 20 years.

The side pocket zipper is 18", but the actual pocket extends about 1" beyond that on each end.

The height of the pocket measures about 9 1/2" from the bottom inside of the pocket to the zipper, and it extends about another 3" above the zipper.

I hope this information helps.
ilaj is offline  
Old Oct 20, 10, 2:38 pm
  #11  
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 13
Originally Posted by ilaj View Post
I have the 21" Lucas bag that looks exactly like this A. Saks bag except, of course, for the logo:

The side pocket zipper is 18", but the actual pocket extends about 1" beyond that on each end.

The height of the pocket measures about 9 1/2" from the bottom inside of the pocket to the zipper, and it extends about another 3" above the zipper.

I hope this information helps.
Thanks for the info ilaj! I actually took the plunge and ordered the Lucas from eBags a day before your reply.

Sadly, the front compartment (as your measurements suggest) do not quite allow the cart to stow inside. The wheeled portion of the cart is just too wide and deep to allow it to fit.

On the plus side, I put the bag on my postage scale, and was pleased to see that it weighs 1 lb. 1 oz., much less than the stated specs of 3 lbs for the Lucas, and pretty much in line with the claims of the A Saks (a company whose weight specs have been questioned at times by consumers on the Internet). I also like its large inner compartment, and the fact that it appears that it may be able to hold my extra large Victorinox folder that I use for my tall shirts.

I like the bag a lot, but to keep it, I'll need to do one of the following:
1) get a different folding cart that will fit in the front pocket
2) leave room in the main compartment for my current cart
3) adapt the bag to accept a Tom Bihn Absolute Shoulder Strap and ditch the wheels altogether

Decisions...decisions
bonmot is offline  
Old Oct 20, 10, 4:02 pm
  #12  
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Posts: 484
Looking forward to your update. I also need a light bag with wheels, attached or with cart.
lavedder is offline  
Old Oct 22, 10, 1:05 am
  #13  
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: NYC
Posts: 5
You're welcome, bonmot. Sorry I couldn't get you the details before you bought the bag.
ilaj is offline  
Old Oct 29, 10, 8:19 am
  #14  
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 13
Quick update: I've decided to keep the Lucas 21" Expandable (A Saks clone)

My solution is to adapt the bag to accept a standard strap (in this case the Tom Bihn or the Op Tech SOS) and ditch the cart.

Rather than permanently modify the bag, I'm going to attach removable hardware on the bag to add two D-Rings; this will give the needed connection points for any aftermarket strap. This technique will likely work on other bags, so even if you don't have an A Saks or Lucas, it could be helpful to you.

The product I'm going to use is similar to a locking carabiner (used in rock climbing), but in a different shape. Specifically, I was looking for a D- or triangle-shaped ring with a screw gate.

I found what I was looking for in this product: the Maillon Rapide Delta Quick Link. It's not sold at too many places online; I bought mine from Green Boat Stuff. The pieces I bought were $7.50 per unit (I'll use two on this bag), which was pricey. If they are made to be used as marine hardware, I figure they will last forever. I like the idea that I can remove them someday if a warranty issue comes up, or if I move to another bag.

I'll post pics on the bag when the hardware arrives.
bonmot is offline  
Old Nov 1, 10, 10:15 am
  #15  
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 13
Originally Posted by bonmot View Post
I'll post pics on the bag when the hardware arrives.
As promised:





This setup works pretty well, as it permits the original functionality of the bag and adds 3rd party strap compatibility.
bonmot is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread