Almost two years ago the G-Ro travel bag kickstarter did the rounds and all of us travelers pricked up our ears. It sounded revolutionary and a really cool bag that is a mix of carry-on and laptop bag. It’s unique physics and large wheels promise easy travel and the in-built charger for mobiles and laptops seems excellent.
As with many kickstarters, this took ages to, well, kick in and by the time mine arrived my address had already changed. They dealt with this easily though and this last trip I took the cool bag for its first spin.
Now, a caveat: if you use the bag the way it is intended, I am sure it performs amiably. The problem I find is that the use case shown in the videos isn’t really one that exists for an international traveler.
Let’s start with the great things about the G-Ro:
- It looks awesome. Proper Star Trek stuff going on there.
- It does feel a lot lighter when you roll it compared to other two wheeled rollers. The larger wheels and the higher axle point makes physically sense.
- It comes with a lot of bags for the interior to fold shirts and jackets and lots of clever features.
- Once you spend the time to go through the instructions on the kickstarter page you’ll find more and more clever bits in it.
- The handle is sturdy and the right length to pull. It is less of a danger to other travelers, as all in all the angle you use it on is steeper. You use less space walking. However, it still is worse than a four-wheeled bag you push on your side. People still manage to run into the G-Ro at airports.
Now, for a weekend trip with a few meetings an a conference, this thing surely is cool and does the job. However, on my 4 day trip with two laptops and a camera it turns out to be just not big enough and the laptop bag is measured only for one laptop and not even a sensible space for the chargers.
Here are the things that miffed me about the G-Ro:
- Whilst advertising that it is the correct size for every airline to be a carry-on, the G-Ro is big and there are no straps to make it thinner. This is what I like about my The North Face Overhead Carry on Bag
- This means that on an Airbus in Business Class, the G-Ro is a tight fit, both in height and length.
- As most airlines ask you to put your coats on your bag, this is a no-go.
- The easy access bag on the front for your liquids and gels is flat and big, but the problem with liquids and deodorant/perfume bottles is that they are bulkier and less wide than that. This easy-access bag would be much better as another laptop/tablet holder. With your liquids in that bag, the G-Ro looks bulky and you’re sure to bump against the top of the overhead compartment with your liquids. Basically there is a good chance for accidental spillage. A bag on the side or a wider one on the back would make more sense.
- The bag in the back in between the handle bars is supposed to be for your wallet and passport, and thus works as an advertisement for pick-pockets. I used it for the chargers of my laptops instead, and that’s actually pretty convenient.
- The G-Ro is very clever in the way you can put a lot of cables and hardware into a very tight space. This is convenient, but also ensures that every time the bag is X-Rayed at the airport, it is taken out and officers ask you to remove things. Instead of keeping cables, iPods and chargers in the bags they should go, it would be better to have a removable pouch for them. I will use a Cable Organiser to avoid this now.
- One thing that is not really a problem but freaked me out is that the G-Ro is always slightly tilted and I am always wondering if it will fall over. It won’t, and what is pretty cool is that you can fully open the front bag without it falling over. But it is something to get used to.
- Now, I might have put too much in for a four day trip, but here is the main issue with the G-Ro. For its size it is ridiculously heavy — you know, like the first two Black Sabbath albums heavy. With its big wheels it feels great to pull the bag, but once you get to some stairs, you get a rude awakening. No, you can’t roll it down most stairs, as it would bounce and as with all two-wheel bags you have the issue of a slight angle going down a step making the bag fishtail. The heaviness of the bag is exacerbated by the uselessness of the handle on the side, which doesn’t pull out at all and thus for my fat fingers is a trap and great to remove fingernails rather than a way to carry the bag or pull it out of the overhead compartment.
All in all, I am not punishing myself for backing this product, but it is only useful for a certain use case. In essence, it is a glorified backpack or laptop bag, but not a full travel companion. I’m looking forward to using it for weekend business trips that last two days, as it will force me not to buy things. But with all the hype and the plethora of useful features that the web site and the videos promise us, I found it underwhelming, especially for this price.