Published on February 1st, 2009 | by Greg0
Zuca: Funny Name, Great Bag
Figuring out what you want from a carry-on piece of luggage is pretty easy: durability, plenty of storage space, decent handles and sturdy zippers. And you’re either going to go all-out and aim for a rolling bag, in which case you’ll want to pay extra attention to the wheels; or you’ll go for a backpack or briefcase-style bag (like our the recently reviewed Tom Bihn).
If you opt for the former, we suggest looking into the Zuca Pro. It not only meets all of the basic requirements listed above, but also can serve as a decent seat- a good idea for those long check-in lines or taxi queues. The Zuca Pro also is quite large, about the maximum allowed size for a carry-on, and offers several neat pockets for easy access to you cellphone, reading material, or important documents. It also handles stairs pretty easily, and balances quite well.
Of course, the odd style and shape of the bag mean that it will take some getting used to. The wheels, the zippers, the handle- all excellent. But the inside of the bag is the issue, and you’ll either love it… or long for your other bags. You see, the Zuca Pro includes 5 color-coded pouches that stack atop one another and open individually for item storage. For some things, like electronics, it’s pretty easy and convenient. Clothing doesn’t work quite so well- you’ll need finesse as you have to roll everything up, and you may need to make some odd decisions about how to split the bags. And for books, the system broke down pretty badly- books are super-heavy, but you want them near the top for easy access, and that doesn’t work so well with the Zuca.
The included TSA Compliant Toiletry Bag was a cute addition, though we used it for our slightly damp swimsuits. And the color-coding might have been nice, but wasn’t obvious enough for the color-blind or vision-impaired travelers we checked with. Weight-wise, the bag was quite good considering the strength of the frame; we were indeed able to sit down without worry on the bag… though it wasn’t particularly comfortable.
All in all, the Zuca is a great bag- photographers especially might enjoy the durability and packing style. It won’t quite replace a large checked bag, and doesn’t work well with laptops, but is perfect for the weekend warrior or business traveler. And the Zuca gets plenty of attention- in airport runs, multiple folks would ask about it. For $285, it’s available online, and available in several styles.