The Best Travel Bag in the World

People planning their own trips always want to know what gear we recommend. Over the next few weeks, as part of our post-trip roundup, we’ll be sharing some of our stories with critical gear–I wouldn’t exactly call them ‘reviews,’ just thoughts and experiences, since everyone has such personal and distinct needs on the road.

The first thing I’m going to tell you about is my indispensable bag, which I have carried every day, everywhere for the past three years. I give you The Best Travel Bag in the World: The Hideo Wakamatsu Body III Messenger bag.



Totally organized, and with dual zippers so you can zip whichever way you want

Where do I start with this bag? It is canvas with just a few leather accents–meaning it is lightweight and easy to wash. You can wear it across your body, messenger-style, or as a shoulder bag, and fits comfortably with a wide, single strap. I am the kind of person who goes out for the day and carries everything I need with me, which means at all times, I need a bag where I can easily organize my wallet, phone, keys, camera, water bottle, reusable shopping bag, chapstick, doggie bags, kleenex, and a light jacket.


Button-pockets on either end, perfect for quick access to doggie bags on one side, a packet of tissues or a notepad on the other

When I go grocery shopping, I sometimes don’t even have to use my shopping bag. This bag can fit two bottles of wine and still be zipped. It can fit my Macbook Air when I get on a plane. While traveling, I carried my wallet in the interior zipped pocket, and when I was pickpocketed in Panama City, they didn’t get it (just my change purse, which was in an outer pocket). I also carried both of our passports with me at all times in the rear body-side zipped pocket. This bag really helped me to keep everything together!

The bag had to be mended after two years of continuous use, mostly fully loaded. I patched it up pretty easily–another benefit of having a canvas bag. Anyhow, you know you’ve got something good when you just wish that you could have another one just like it. Well, when we got back I was happy to find out that the same bag is still being produced, and I could order another one with FREE SHIPPING!


Three years of sunny living will do this to a bag

I was shocked when I pulled my new-old bag out of the box. It was a completely different color! The sun had faded the canvas from charcoal to light grey. It seemed so unbelievable to me that I made Juan look for photos of the bag when it was newer. It wasn’t very difficult, since I really do take this thing everywhere.


Taking a sunny beating on the pyramids of Teotihuacán, outside of Mexico City


Doing duty as an evening bag while out in the town in Ho Chi Minh City, a year later


Ready to be stuffed with bargains at the San Jose flea market. (Whoa, what kind of popsicle am I eating?)


Working as a hiking pack in Michoacán


In Quito…basically every photo of me has the bag in it


Milo used the bag as a cuddle-buddy whenever it wasn’t attached to me.

So yes, if there is one thing I would say made my life a lot easier while living in a van (and in the city of San Francisco), it is this excellent, dependable bag. It is going on my very short list of Best Things I Have Ever Owned, right along with my Calvin Klein Thigh-high boots (which slouch down into ankle boots!) and a pair of Diesel jeans that lasted me 14 years, and are also, conveniently, pictured in two of the above photos. I finally had to get rid of them in Patagonia when I feared that they would just disintegrate unexpectedly.

So, for me–the first thing I would recommend is to invest in a bag that makes your life easier and helps to keep you organized. For a great roundup of people’s favorite gear (as polled at the popular Quinta Lala in Cusco, Peru) visit Landcruising Adventure.


Navigating the Sea of Cortés