Red OXX Carry-Ons

Last week, en route to Vail, Colo., via a cab ride, a jet plane and a shuttle bus through the Rocky Mountains, I tested out some new luggage. I was on my way to participate in a 12-hour adventure race at the Teva Mountain Games. By default, and quite as usual, I was overloaded with gear.

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United Airlines allowed me to bring two pieces of luggage — each with a max weight of 50 pounds — plus two carry-on bags. After packing in snowshoes, helmets, a wetsuit, climbing gear and ropes, a paddle, shoes, inline skates, trekking poles, and a few other mandatory adventure items, I was nearing the airline’s prescribed stowaway limit.

Thus, I turned to Red Oxx Manufacturing Inc. (www.redoxx.com) to help maximize my carry-on capacity. The company, which is based in Billings, Mont., prides itself on helping customers take as much baggage as legally possible into the airplane.

The Safari-Beanos Bag model PR5, a square-ish duffle that measures about 10 × 10 × 24 inches, is, according to Red Oxx marketing literature, “as big a bag as you can legally go for carry-on items, both domestically and internationally.”

With six pockets and a large main compartment, the PR5 has about 2,400 cubic inches of capacity, meaning you can fit in shoes, clothing, a computer, a few books, your toiletries and other travel essentials. I packed all my outdoors gear in two large suitcases stowed away in the hull of the plane; the PR5, locked in the overhead compartment above my seat, held a week’s worth of clothes, my camera, a pair of shoes, and other basic travel articles.

The PR5 is a well made product, though a bit old school in design. It has large zipper teeth, snap closures, heavy buckles, and beefy straps. It comes in a dozen colors (as well as three other sizes). Logo patches, shiny metal and tasseled zipper pulls give it a traditional look.

Toting a loaded and heavy PR5 through the airport was not an effortless task. An absence of wheels or backpack straps made carrying the duffle a bit of a lug. However, a cool grippy rubber shoulder pad kept it steady and in one place hanging off my body.

The PR5 costs $175, which seemed expensive to me. However, the bag, as I said, is sturdy and nice. It is made to last.

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Further capitalizing on the airline’s carry-on policy — which allows a bag plus a “personal” briefcase or purse — I employed Red Oxx’s tidy Gator Bag, which measures 9 × 6 × 12 inches. It has about 650 cubic inches of capacity and fits neatly under an airline seat, which always seems to make the flight attendants happy.

I kept a book, snacks, my phone, a magazine and a couple water bottles in the Gator. A small laptop will squeeze in, too.

The Gator, which costs $95, has the same classy and traditional look as the Safari-Beanos line, with big zippers and buckles and many pockets. It’s of the same quality, too, and is made to last for years of on-the-road and through-the-friendly-skies travel abuse.

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