The Bago is a great bag 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. Similarly, the REI Roadtripper is a close competitor. The REI is less expensive, has a better weight-to-volume ratio, and is more durable than the Bago. The REI takes our Top Pick award, but the Bago is a better choice for absolute weight savings.
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. The Top Pick REI Roadtripper has exactly the same carry options as the Bago.
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 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 most. The Top Pick REI bag has an even greater weight-to-volume ratio, but no others come close to these two. 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 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.
The Bago 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.
— Jediah Porter