The Packing Puzzle

As I mentioned in my last post, I purchased my own BCD and regulators due to frustration with rental gear on our last dive trip. So now I have to figure out how I am going to pack this extra stuff and still travel carry on.

We are flying United Airlines and their website says that each passenger is allowed one bag and one personal item. The dimensions allowed are 14 inches x 9 inches x 22 inches (23 x 35 x 56 cm) or 45 linear inches (114 cm). I cannot find a limitation on weight of the bags. I guess they figure if they restrict the size of bag, a bag of that size can only weigh so much.

I consulted our friends in Syracuse, New York as they have gone diving with carry on only. They did it by each of them carrying a bag made by Akona and a knapsack. The Akona bag is the “<7 lb bag” which is a roller duffel type bag. They indicated that they left their fins at home and with careful packing were able to get a BCD, shorty wetsuit, regs etc in the roller duffel. The knapsack had a few clothes and the rest of their stuff in it. Okay, sounds reasonable.

I checked out the Akona bag and it is airline regulation size. I went to see one and my fins would not fit in the bag. Now I know why our friends left their fins at home. I am not willing to leave mine at home. The bag was quite small and a BCD took up most of the room in the bag. I am not convinced this bag is the right solution for me.

I did not have a knapsack big enough to carry a decent amount of stuff so I have purchased a Talon 22 by Osprey from Campers Village. I have a Talon 11 and it is too small – I bought it to wear cross country skiing to carry extra mitts, extra warm layer, bars and water. The Talon 22 is larger and will carry more, and will hopefully pass as my airline “personal item” or “purse”.

Now I figure I have two options. Option One is to pack everything into my current carry on bag plus the Talon 22.  Option Two is to buy a roller suitcase that is airline cabin regulation size (and that my fins fit into) plus the Talon 22.

Option One – Murray helped me do a test pack today of my current bag and the Talon 22. All I can say is OUCH! Both bags were stuff to their max and I am not sure the larger bag fit the 14 x 9 x 22 dimensions once packed. The bag weighed only 22 lbs and the knapsack weighed 15 lbs. The idea of carrying the bag on my back as a backpack and carrying the knapsack in my arms like a sack of potatoes does not appeal to me – 37 lbs total on my little frame running through an airport.

Option Two – My buddy, A, showed me a roller bag made by Rossignol that measures exactly 22 inches in length and has a nice open cavity to pack stuff in. I borrowed one and did a test pack. All I can say is OUCH! I cannot get fins and BCD, plus the rest of my dive gear into the Rossi bag. The fins won’t fit into my Talon 22. If I left my fins at home, I might be able to make this work.

Now what????

Option Three – Murray suggested that he take my fins and pack both set of fins into his bag and I take some of his other stuff. We will test this tonight.

Option Four – I went out this afternoon and purchased a 25 ” tall, 4 wheel roller suitcase made by Swissgear. Yes, I may succumb to checking a bag! GULP! That would be a big step for me. We will test pack this monster tonight also.

Stay tuned for the results!

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