The Best Backpack for Backpacking

The Alpine Lowe Carry-On TT-40 Backpack

Now, to put aside my writing life, I’m going to talk a bit about my favorite backpack as part of my “Wandering” component of my blog title (Wine, Writing, and Wandering, in case you forgot). 

Traveling is more than museums and monuments.  Unless you have servants and a baggage train staffed by footmen and royal guards, you are going to need to carry your own clothes, electronics, toiletries, books, and souvenirs.  Perhaps one of your books will be The Holy Diamond (sorry, couldn’t resist the plug-in).

My bag is the Lowe Alpine TT Carry-on 40.  It is an AMAZING bag for my personal needs.  Why?  Well of course I’m about to tell you…

I HATE checking bags.  HATE HATE HATE.  Say what you wish: Haters gonna hate.  I’m a bag-checkophobe (though I have nothing against Czechs).  Hate leads to the Dark Side.  Hate is Evil.  I don’t care.  I HATE CHECKING MY BAG ON THE PLANE.  Why?

First, there is nothing worse than landing after a long, all-day or all-night flight, standing at the baggage pick-up belt, watching it monotonously moan and mumble as you stare at bags pass by you, and then hearing the silence strike when the conveyer belt as it stops.  It’s empty – or nearly.  And your bag is not there.  And it’s not coming.  You’ve just lost 30 minutes of your life –if you’re lucky – for nothing.  Now you have to wait in line to file a missing bag form, and figure out where to have it delivered.  Just hope for your sake that you know where you will be for the next 48 hours.  And you probably won’t be able to go anywhere else.

Second, even in a world where you get your bag without any problems, you are still likely to wait around for it.  Yeah, it’s a great victory when you get yours first or within the first ten, but statistically you are as likely as not to wait for a while.  This isn’t my favorite way to start or end a trip.

So what about this bag?  Well, it’s the biggest bag I could find that didn’t have wheels (which take up more space within the bag) and that I could carry-on (thus the name, of course).  The “40” in the name is derived from the fact that it is a 40-liter capacity bag; or 2600 cubic inches.  This bag crunches well and is able to fit into most overhead luggage compartments.  It’s almost never refused as carry-on (unless you have an especially difficult airline bag check boarding-pass issuer, or the plane is actual tiny).  And it holds a good amount.  I can carry a suit and dress shoes and about 5 days of casual clothes, or some 10 plus days of only casual-travel clothes (business attire takes up way too much luggage room).

An additional bonus – and for me selection criteria – is that this is a backpack.  One hundred percent.  It’s not a duffle bag, it’s not a rolling bag, and it’s definitely not a self-propelled bag.  It’s a backpack.  That means I can, by definition, carry it on my back, which frees my hands for map reading and photo taking, and makes it a lot easier for me to sprint at high speeds to catch planes, trains, and automobiles.  I can even wear it while riding a bike!

One thing I like about this bag is that it opens nearly all the way.  That is, it does NOT open only at the top, but more like a suitcase.  This makes it much better for me to access all of my clothes without taking them out to get to the bottom; and it’s easier to put in my work clothes – suit and dress shirts – into the bag in such a way that they remain flat.  I don’t need to stuff them in from the top and crush them downwards as other bits and pieces pile up.

Alpine Lowe TT-40 side

This bag has padlock joints on the zippers, a side and top cushioned handle, and is a nice, neutral gray color.  I don’t look like I’m leading a color parade, and I don’t look like I’m a SWAT team member.  I like colorful parades and being on the SWAT team as much as the next person – but not while traveling (editorial note: while The Holy Diamond doesn’t have any parades, it does have a SWAT team or two.  Sorry for the second, irresistible novel pitch).

The attached photos show the bag’s relative size (Kindle put on the bag for size reference); and I folded a suit jacket and put it in the bag so you may see how it fits.


I love this bag so much that when it was stolen on a train ride in Belgium, I immediately ordered another of the same model within a day.  I should even give it a girl’s name!  Any ideas???

Alpine Lowe TT-40 outside full

Here are a few web links for the TT Carry-On 40:

Lowe Alpine

About Liam H Dooley

Liam H. Dooley is an Irish-American author living in Asia and Europe. He has a passion for history and traveling. Most of his time is spent touring the world, visiting museums, iconic buildings, monuments, and grand squares in search of knowledge and inspiration. As a child and university student he played the cello while studying international relations, and when he is not researching and writing novels or planning trips he immerses himself in current events and international affairs. You may learn more about Liam H. Dooley at his official web site:
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