On a recent trip to Bonn for a fabric technology conference hosted by W.L. GORE and a visit to the test labs at the Institute for International Product Safety, I used a SNUGPAK Roller Kitmonster Carry-On 35L to tote my essential gear.
When on assignment I normally use a daysack to transport my essential gear required for hitting the ground running – i.e. cameras, lenses, netbook, tablet, batteries & peripherals etc. – and use a hold baggage bergen rucksack or roller case for clothing, spare boots and heavier kit. Occasionally, however, a MultiCam / MTP / Coyote Tan small rucksack is not really the appropriate carry-on luggage, particularly if the trip is to cover a civilian rather than military subject, so a roller case that fits the airlines’ carry-on gauges can be more appropriate.
The Roller Kitmonster Carry-On 35L G2 (i.e. Generation 2) from Snugpak falls squarely into this latter category, and although both covert Black and civilian Red/Black versions are also available I opted for the Olive/Black version to allow me to use it for future military trips. The smallest of the Roller Kitmonster family – the others are 65-litre and 120-litre – the 35L measures just 48x31x23cm and tips the scales at 2.5kg when empty; this is well within the height and width restrictions for cabin bags set by the majority of airlines (even low-cost) and as the outer is of soft construction it will squeeze into even the tightest of gauges (RyanAir and Flybe are just 20cm) so long as you do not overfill it.
Manufactured from 500D nylon with a double PVC coating, the small Roller Kitmonster covered here features a large main compartment with lockable double-action zip, a zipped pocket in each side, and a mesh organiser pocket under the lid. The interior of the green version is lined with bright orange nylon fabric and a bottom-to-top zip in the centre of the lining allows the user to separate a layer of clothing on the base and keep it apart from the rest of the contents. Incidentally, Size UK10 Service trainers will fit in the zipped side pockets if you want to use this as a roller sports kit bag rather than a travel case.
The Generation 2 version of the 35L model has an upgraded push button, height-adjustable (roughly 95cm and 105cm), aluminium telescopic handle which tucks away neatly into the top. For mobility there are two sturdy wheels at the foot of the rigid back and both top and bottom back corners are reinforced. A grab handle is affixed to the top as an alternative means of carry when the extending handle is stowed. One word of caution for those going to the extremes, the manufacturer states that while the outer fabric of the Kitmonster is waterproof, and I can verify this, the bag cannot be submerged as the zips are not waterproof and the seams are not tape sealed.
On my return trip from Bonn, via Cologne and Manchester airports to Exeter, the Beat from the East and Storm EMMA conspired to turn a planned 4hr35min two-flight journey into a 73 hour marathon. Fortunately I was carrying my netbook with charger in the Kitmonster, along with my cameras etc., and I had slipped a novel into one side pocket and a proof copy of the forthcoming autobiography NO WAY OUT into the other, so was able to keep myself amused for three days. Incidentally, one leg of my journey was aboard a Dash-8 Q400 turboprop, which has very small overhead lockers, but my Kitmonster squeezed in perfectly.
To read more about the Kitmonster range go to snugpak.com and to find your nearest stockist Search through snugpak.com/outdoor/retailer or snugpak.com/military/retailer. Our gear tester Mike Gormley is putting a red version of the Roller Kitmonster Carry-On 35L G2 through some longer term testing in different environments and will report on it for JF in due course.
Review and images © Bob Morrison