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Our Best Bags, Bags, Bags...

Evelyn Hannon

Women love bags -- big, small or in between. We're constantly on the lookout for the perfect suitcase, backpack and purse. This article is an ongoing discussion of the styles and brands our readers recommend. Do you have a product to add? Send your email to: and put the words, ''Bag Lady' in the subject line.

My best travel bag...

The best travel bag that I own is my LeSportsac. It is my carry on case for airline travel. At 16 inches in length (approx 41cm) it is smaller than the maximum size allowed. Extremely light, my bright red bag holds water, toiletries, books, some clothes and shoes. It doesn't contain everything for long trips but for very brief travels, it works. Having a light and small carry on forces you to think about what you really need to take. I also use their small handbags for travel. Everything is washable. I put them all in the washing machine after trips. Website:
Cyrel, Toronto, Canada


My best carry-on...

For a three week trip to China and Micronesia a few years ago, I picked up a Healthy Back Bag made by Ameribag. With several plane changes during the trip, this was to be my second carry-on, the first being the only suitcase I was taking. As I raced around the different airports, this bag left no pain or strain on my shoulder. I continue to take it on all trips, as well as to work everyday. It lasts, even though I have often filled it beyond capacity. The zipper is inc redibly strong and the most reliable I've ever had on any bag. As a bonus, it can also serve as a purse, shopping bag or day pack when at your destination. You can find these at luggage stores and various online retailers.
Barbara, Port Orange, Florida


My favorite travel purse...

I am a lover of containers of all types and purses, packs, luggage are all a part of that. I think the best travel bag for me are the Mountain Equipment Co-op medium purses. They are big enough for a magazine, book, travel info, camera, sunglasses, medications and it doesn't look huge. And there are lots of compartments. It comes in a couple of colours and has a nice long strap so that one can carry it over the shoulder and across the chest. I have had it for many years, it still looks good and only cost 15 dollars. My mom travels with the smaller version and adores it. Website:
Christy, Sudbury, Canada


MEC is my favorite, too...

My absolute piece of travel gear is not actually a piece of clothing but a travel purse, lightweight, the ideal size with several zippered compartments for 'stuff' plus a latch closure. It can be worn across the chest for added security. It's available from MEC (Mountain Co-Op Equipment), it's called MEC Small Carry All Shoulder Bag, Product Number: 4004-126. Website:
Katrina, Burlington, Canada


A purse made in Canada...

I'm an American but I think the world's best travel purses are made by Derek Alexander of Calgary, Alberta. I have never seen them in the U.S., so the last time I was in Canada I bought three of them. They have long shoulder straps wide enough to be comfortable, the right number of pockets in the right places, and are made of beautiful black leather with brown leather accents. But the best thing is, the place where your money and credit cards go is easy to manipulate without opening the whole compartment and exposing your valuables, and passports and tickets are easy to slip in and out of the front pockets when you are moving through security lines.
Jennifer, Tacoma, Washington, USA


My Aussie Chopper Bag is best...

I think that the best travel bag is my Australian 'Chopper Bag' by Dominant Leathergoods. Canvas and leather, it blends in in 5-star hotels as well as camping trips. In two sizes and a myriad of colours (my blue is best) they withstand airline baggage handlers with ease. With a strong lockable zip, and strap closure that protects the handles my bags have been in solid use for five years. The small bag is wonderful for a few nights away, and the large one I struggle to fill for a month overseas. They also do custom bags - I have one for my fencing gear, and the quality is wonderful. These bags are made from 12 oz waterproof canvas with chrome leather base and handles. They are fully lined with a 9 oz waterproof canvas and have a large top opening area and strap closure to protect the zip. Website:
Zelda, Hobart, Tazmania


My best bags are French...

My favorite traveling bags, both as a purse and a larger carryon/weekend bag, are by Herve Chapelier and Longchamp. There are Chapelier stores in Paris in many neighborhoods (Rue St. Sulpice in the 6th arrondissement) and the larger department stores carry Longchamp in major cities in Europe and the States. In Paris watch for sales in January and June/July of colors from the past season. I bought a Chapelier small bag (mostly black with blue trim) and a travel bag (dark green-on sale) in the Rue St. Sulpice store. At Gatwick or Heathrow one summer I bought a Longchamp travel bag also on sale (dusty pink). They are a strong nylon or some other man-made material and are washable. They fold up so I pack the travel bag in my suitcase and take it with me. I also bought a Longchamp not-too-large, green backpack at a summer sale (also on the Rue St. Sulpice). When I am returning home, I take the dark green bag with me to carry magazines and for dutyfree purchases. Chapelier has a web site and you can mix and match the colors to see what your bag would look like like. Website:
Barbara, Walnut Creek, USA


Protect jewelry when travelling...

I have found a great little accessory to use for your jewelry when traveling (and trendy too!). Coach Factory Stores often have small leather pill box containers on sale and they come in all the fashion colors. They are about 2 inches high and 3 inches wide with a zipper and include three plastic pill bottles. I put my jewelry in the pill bottles which keeps it sorted and untangled. The box fits nicely into my purse when traveling by air, so no worries about losing my jewelry if my luggage goes missing. P.S. These boxes are often marked down and then have an added 20% off so quite reasonable for a very durable and attractive case. Website:
Tammy, British Colombia, Canada


I use my grocery bag...

You know those reusable, recyclable bags that grocery stores are selling so we avoid using plastic ones? I especially like the ones offered by Whole Foods ($1.99). It's extremely light, nicely designed and folds easily to fit into your carry-on or your suitcase. I use mine to carry extras when I'm doing a lot of train travel -- my snacks, water, newspaper, etc. When I'm flying home I stuff it with all the goodies I've picked up along the way and it works very well. I think if it was designed to carry groceries it's a lot stronger than the department store bags I often have to resort to. Of course, the top of the bag doesn't have a zipper so I tie the handles together to be sure the contents don't fall out in the plane's overhead bin.
Evelyn, Toronto, Canada





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