I've had the serious matter of deciding which bag to use (out of the many!) for my trip back to UK this coming weekend. Normally I wouldn't agonise over such a thing, I have done the journey so many times.
However, this time it is with a bit of a twist, we are driving back to UK, then leaving our lease car in UK and then flying back. So for once we are being very disciplined about our packing. Or let me rephrase that... I'm having to be a little more disciplined about what I take, there's no... 'Right we can go now the car is full' type behaviour... What ever we take has to fit with the luggage allowance for the budget airline coming back again.
Checked in luggage isn't causing me a problem that will be a Samsonite case with my clothes and one or two other things in it. Hand baggage though is limited to 10 kg and a size restriction that is tighter than the normal international hand baggage size (56 cm x 45cm x 25 cm). Ryanair insist that your hand baggage can't be bigger than 55 cm x 40 cm x 20 cm.
This got a bit serious when I started measuring up bags and then realised how difficult it is to measure a soft-sided bag. So I made a size gauge out of some wood, a simple frame with sides with the internal dimensions as above. A bit OTT I realise, but it proved the point that my usual LowePro Orion AW camera bag because of it's curved shape, to fit your back makes it too deep to fit the 20 cm dimension. It would fit the 25cm dimension but that's not an option for me on this trip.
So sadly all the camera gear came out of that bag, I laid it out on the bed and selected the absolute minimum set up to carry to reduce the weight and space requirement. This means leaving behind, two lens, one film body and numerous small accessories that I don't use that often. They have gone in to a padded box for safe storage.
I also want to carry my netbook computer so I needed to consider that in my bag selection. I have a selection of different computer bags from small, through medium to large, shoulder ones, rucksack types... yes I know a little excessive! Whilst they all take the netbook fine, there wasn't enough room for my DSLR camera as well.
So my other choice is my older LowePro Mini Trekker camera rucksack. So I emptied it of a few odds and ends and set about taking out all of the padded divisions. Then I started to play around with different layouts for my bits of kit until I found a layout that would work. I then put back in some of the padded dividers so the camera was held in place along with various accessories (mains leads, USB leads etc). After about 30 minutes of messing about I think I've found the optimum layout for this trip.
Netbook in the bottom of the bag, padded dividers in the corners hold it safely in place, then a large divider across the middle with the camera at the top of the bag which makes if easier to get out.
I did a quick size check... loads of space, then I did a quick weigh in and it's just a shade over 5 kg. Now you will have noticed possibly that there is a lot of space above the netbook.... remember I'm going to London half way through my trip to a certain shop in Neal Street.... enough said I think!
I'm quite pleased with the outcome, the bag was never originally designed for use with a netbook (they didn't exist!) but it works well and above all it's comfortable to carry as well.