The Bago is the best bag we've assessed for what we'll call "secondary" use. It is intended that you carry it, collapsed and zipped, inside your main luggage (or vehicle) for later and occasional use. When you collect more stuff than your main luggage capacity can hold, the Bago is the ticket. The Patagonia Lightweight Black Hole has similar intentions, with different advantages and limitations. The Bago is larger, lighter for the volume, and much less expensive. The Patagonia is more water resistant and can be backpack carried. In the end, we liked the Bago a little more than the Patagonia, and granted it our Top Pick Award.
Bago Packable Review
Cons: No backpack straps, limited durability and water resistance
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
We don't expect a specialized, lightweight, compact product like this to compete favorably with the beefier and larger bags we assessed. And it meets these low expectations. Overall, this bag is nothing special. It shouldn't be the first thing you look for. But if you need what it can do, none will do better.
Ease of Transport
Ease of transport is a function of carry options and comfort. Bags can be wheeled, dragged, briefcase-carried, backpacked, or carried over one shoulder. Of these, the Bago Travel can be briefcase carried and carried over one shoulder. None of the others are possible or reasonable. Bags with more options, and great comfort and mobility in each of the options score better; and, if you really load this thing up, it maxes out reasonable briefcase carry or one-shoulder carry. With more normal loads (say, under 30 pounds) either option is serviceable for short distances.
Almost all the other bags we tested have more carry options. The Patagonia Lightweight Black Hole is the closest competitor in many ways, including ease of transport. Both these can be carried briefcase style. Patagonia can be backpacked (with limited comfort and padding) while the Bago has a long strap for one shoulder carry. If you really prefer backpack style carry (and can stomach the smaller volume) you might prefer the Patagonia. Otherwise, the carry options of these two "come out in the wash". All the other bags we tested have better carry options and every other bag we tested has either wheels or padded backpack straps.
Ease of Packing
The Bago gets high marks for organizational options and for the wide-opening main compartment. The straight "I-shaped" zipper is less than ideal, but the soft, flexible fabric still allows a wide opening. The four different accessory pockets are great, and we especially liked the segregated, variable-volume "shoe section" of the bag. One end of the Bago is a wide-opening, zippered, externally accessed pocket. This pocket shares volume with the main compartment and can hold wet gear, dirty clothes, or stinky shoes separate from the remaining contents. When there is nothing in this pocket, the main pouch benefits from greater volume.
No other bag we reviewed has more accessory pockets, and none have the clever shoe/wet storage. A few other bags have four pockets, and most have fewer. The other Top Pick Yeti Panga also has a straight zipper opening, but it is harder to use; packing the Bago is easier than packing the Yeti. . The super stiff fabric of the Yeti doesn't open as wide as the softer, more flexible textile used in the Bago.
Compact and lightweight construction comes at the expense of durability. The "normal" pack cloth of the Bago will contain your items for gentle and short use, but for life-long and rough treatment, you may experience issues with zippers and wear holes. This bag is for occasional, "supervised" use. We would think twice before handing it off to the airlines or donkey drivers.
You do not choose this product for durability. You choose it for what proves to be the exact opposite. Durability and compact, lightweight portability are almost always at odds. This product is no exception. While we never had a failure with either one, the close competitor Patagonia Lightweight Black Hole will last a little better than the Bago. Neither of these, though, will last a fraction the time of something like the Editors' Choice The North Face Basecamp Duffel or the Top Pick Yeti Panga.
The Bago is a big winner in this category. At just over a pound for the 60-liter version we tested, its weight per volume is light years ahead of the masses. Note that Bago claims its weight to be .9 pounds, while our scale found it to weigh 1.38 pounds. We expect differences in what we observe and what is claimed, but this difference is significant.
The only other product that comes close to the Bago is the Patagonia Lightweight Black Hole. In absolute terms, the Black Hole is a quarter pound lighter. However, when we correct for volume (we tested the 45L Lightweight Black Hole, -the largest one available- and the mid-sized 60L Bago Travel) we find that the Bago is .0173 pounds per liter while the Patagonia is .0249 pounds per liter. The Bago is much lighter for what you get. At the far end of the spectrum is the hefty The North Face Rolling Thunder 36". With this, you burn through 20% of your airline baggage allowance in the 10 pounds of empty bag.
The fabric of the Bago is waterproof. We tested it under pressure and had no water seep in. The seams and zippers, though, are not sealed at all. In minor splashes, your stuff will stay dry. Moisture will sneak in during any robust, long-term weather exposure. For occasional and short-term use, especially as long as you keep the Bago "supervised", the sacrifice in weather resistance shouldn't be a big deal.
If you need your secondary luggage to be waterproof, check out the Patagonia Lightweight Black Hole. The Bago's close competitor is waterproof, even under our pressurized hose test. Only when submersed (or damaged) will the Black Hole leak. The Top Pick Yeti Panga is super durable and fully waterproof. The Panga is made to be submersible (and it is; we tested it).
This is the duffel you keep in the trunk of your car for carting unexpected thrift store purchases up to your apartment. Or it is what you take on an expedition to carry the food from the local grocery store to destination. Or, maybe you use it for dirty laundry around your tiny house or to carry back gifts from vacation. We can think of hundreds of uses; just be aware of the limitations (carrying options, durability, weather resistance).
For what you get, this is a great deal. It is a third the price of the close competitor Patagonia Black Hole. For intended, occasional use, you don't want to spend a ton on your luggage, and this is a great deal.
We grant Top Pick awards to niche products that excel. The Bago is squarely in this category. It goes neck and neck through much of the assessment with the Patagonia Lightweight Black Hole, though in many applications, the Patagonia model may be preferable. For use as a secondary bag, the value, size, weight, and organizational options of the Bago Travel Bag edges it ahead of the Patagonia and takes home the Top Pick award.
— Jediah Porter