I bought a custom-built VeloTransit back-pack based on their Chinatown 30 Messenger bag a week or so back. I met the owners and lovely married couple, Paul and Bobbie, back when I was at INSCAPE. Both Paul and Bobbie have lived and travelled extensively throughout Europe and so they are both intimately knowledgable about the kind of traveling I prefer to do: minimalist packing regardless of duration.
When I laid eyes on their messenger bag I knew it was the pack I had been searching for for many, many moons. To say I was giddy with excitement may be one of the biggest understatements in the year of 2010 regarding myself. I believe I squealed out-loud like the little girl that I am not when I saw it. While I already own a rigid-frame pack that I used the last time I was in Europe for four weeks and then in Japan for two weeks, I came away from those two trips with the distinct impression that I was carrying too much. Where there is room there is stuff I found myself trying to fill. So I decided I needed to go on a diet and VeloTransit had a solution.
The modifications to the pack include increasing the depth by 1-inch to accommodate my camera gear. We also removed the reflectors that most cyclists will sanely never be with out. I also asked Paul to include a zipper flap that goes over the shoulder straps in the cases where I need to check-in the back-pack; this is to reduce the likelihood of the pack getting stuck and subsequently devoured by nefarious airport luggage machinery.
I am packing a MacBook Pro 15″, Nikon D90 with 2 lens, a GPS unit, tripod, clothing, toiletry, a few sketchbooks, and various electronics such as iPod and iPhone. The laptop is secured to the back-bottom portion of the pack with its own neoprene sleeve to keep it safe and secure. It all fits in a size that allows me to carry-on to both domestic and international flights. At present I am weighing in at around 35 pounds. Everything in the pack can be removed and re-packed fairly quickly so even security at the airports should not pose (too much of) a problem. And naturally, given the fact that Paul and Bobbie make packs for the cyclists in Seattle, the entire thing is water-proof so I am good to go even when traveling in Europe in the middle of November.