Growing up, on every family trip we took, I watched my dad bring a massive backpack crammed full of books, a computer, work documents, and other stuff he never ended up using. His bag never fit under the seat in front of him. As an adult, I’ve decided not to follow in his footsteps. Which is why, when it comes to my personal item, nothing beats the simplicity of Gregory’s Border 25 (from $120).
Two years ago, I became fed up with switching between complex daypacks, specialty camera bags, and satchels for my personal item, so I began looking for an all-purpose case that was simple enough to suit most of my needs. I decided to give the Border 25 a try. Since then, I’ve used it on every road trip and flight I’ve taken.
The gear industry is full of gadgets and suitcases that promise to revolutionize the way you travel. In reality, they are typically jammed full of features you don’t really need. (I would know, I’ve tested a lot of them.) In contrast, the Border 25 is refreshingly simple. It has two main compartments: one with an organizer and a standard zippered pocket for things like keys, and one containing a padded laptop sleeve with an extra spot for an e-reader or a tablet. The pack also has a padded front exterior pocket and a top pocket with soft lining that’s perfect for a phone or sunglasses. Beyond that, the only other fancy component is a sleeve on the back panel for a rolling-suitcase handle to pass through.
Without a lot of extras to take up space, the Border’s 25 liters are spacious enough to fit flight necessities like headphones, books, snacks, toiletries, and a jacket without becoming unwieldy—I’ve never had a problem sliding it under the seat in front of me. Plus, the high-density nylon exterior is both durable and sleek; the bag won’t get caught on a footrest under a seat or a latch in the overhead bin. My favorite feature, though, is the clamshell-style opening, which makes it easy to access your laptop or tablet when going through security.
If you’re looking for the bag that will change the travel industry forever, this probably isn’t it. But for a simple bag that is a joy to carry and gets the job done, you won’t do much better than the Border 25.