Rated 3 out of 5
by Bec215 Good size & ultralight, but miss last year's model
I'm a traveler and I know my review is long, but I wanted to write what I'd like to read. Hope it helps!
This year's guide bag is great if you take it at face value, and especially on sale for $25 - but compromises were made in quality to cut the price in 1/2 from last year, and it may no longer work for some travelers/commuters as a result.
The Good Stuff:
The bag is ultralight, and well-tailored. In the darker colors it is not obviously a 'travel' bag, so good for city excursions. The size is enough for maps, e-reader, snapshot camera, sunglasses and other small necessities. The adjustable shoulder strap is sufficiently flexible to wear cross-body or one shoulder. There is a clip on the front flap, providing extra security. Zippers can be tied or locked together with a travel lock for extra security against pick-pockets in crowded spaces/markets.
Issues/Considerations for Purchase:
- The front velcro pocket is too small for anything but an old-style flip phone - I'm not sure what else is supposed to go in there?
- The 'card pockets' are totally insecure and useless and I'd only put business cards in there - wasted space.
- There is no inside pocket on this model if you want to keep a camera or phone extra-safe/inaccessible inside
- The back slash pocket doesn't have a velcro closure, so it's easy for someone to reach in and steal out of it but also prone to things slipping out, if you put the bag on the floor for example on a plane, bus, or sitting at a restaurant. You can add your own velcro, but... why should I have to?
- The strap is woven nylon, but feels cheap compared to last year's and lacks a shoulder pad. I worry it's not very slash-proof either, as it is thinner and the D-ring is cheaper/thinner plastic.
- The size of the bag is very small - while it will hold an e-reader or half-tablet, it's not going to be sufficient for more than guidebook, e-reader, and phone, wallet, and snapshot camera. However, I get that for many people, that will be enough.
- The mesh pocket on the old model fit a standard (1/4 liter) water bottle - the new bag, I have no idea what this would fit - maybe a pill bottle? My smartphone juuust fits, but I'd never put it in such a visible, exposed pocket!
Comparison with Tablet Bag:
The tablet bag lacks a secure clip closure on the front or back, making that style a poor choice in terms of security - it's easy to pop the velcro flap and get into the bag. Also, the top open style is harder to get in and out of than the all-around zip on the guidebag. That is why I'm so frustrated - last year's model had the best of both of these bags!
As evidenced by the four-star overall rating, people like this bag - and I have to say,there's nothing fundamentally wrong with it, which is why I give it 3 stars. It's perfectly serviceable. BUT...
Bean, you had a real winner on your hands last year in bag style 272014. That bag is AMAZING. It was ultralight, but fit everything we needed for daily hiking excursions from camp in Mongolia, including room for a bottle of water, guidebook, GPS, phone, sunglasses, cotton scarf, and still could take more. AND it had velcro PLUS clip closures on the front, and a wide, sturdy piece of velcro on the back pocket flap.
PHOTO NOTES: In the picture, I have a pair of ballet flats (tucked in an interior slash pocket), a novel, a guidebook, a camera, aviator sunglasses case, wallet, and a bottle of beer (I didn't have any water :). In the current bag, I have a Nook - which is the tallest thing that will fit - plus guidebook, smaller sunglasses case, and bottle - a thin wallet would still fit, as would a coolpix-size camera.
I think Bean wanted a $30 travel bag, and this is what the design team could do to deliver that. An admirable job, and a good value - but why did you have to discontinue the old model?
December 5, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by Tiga Love colour, size, and compartments
I ordered the plum colour, on sale, and used it as my shoulder bag, while overseas on a trip to see friends and family. I now use it in my home town when I need all those personal items that women put in their bags. It is plenty big enough and very light in weight.
November 4, 2014
Rated 1 out of 5
by ecoday The quality is ok, but bad design for travel.
As a long time LL Bean customer who always praises LL Bean products, I am very disappointed in this one. While the overall quality of the bag is fine I find the design terrible. The main compartment zipper is offset so you can not access it fully from the top and the opening is smaller than the width of the bag. You actually have to lay the bag down to put something inside or to access it fully. The handle that should be at the top of the bag is offset to the back. The long shoulder strap can not be removed because it is sewn on one side. The main compartment does not fit a tablet and the phone compartment does not fit a smart phone, the outside side compartments are too small to hold anything. How could a bag, advertised as a guide/travel bag NOT hold these essential things? As someone who travels internationally 5 or 6 times a year I feel I have wasted my money on this bag. A little thought would have made this a great bag. Sorry LL Bean, not a happy customer with this one.
August 25, 2014
Rated 4 out of 5 by worldtraveler50 Needs updated
I have used and loved this bag for travel and everyday use for many years. But now it needs updating to reflect the larger phones we use. The whole bag could be a tad larger, but not too large that it becomes impractical for everyday use.
August 19, 2014
Rated 4 out of 5 by wordly1 Approaches perfection
I love this little bag -- with a few tiny tweaks it would be perfect. As it is, I find it highly functional as a lightweight, secure purse. It easily holds my essential bank cards and DL, a couple of pens, change, my iPhone and my other cell phone. My DHs vehicle keys go in the zipped pocket. I use a carabiner clip to clip my keys to the strap ring.
In the zippered inner pocket I have 2 small zipper bags containing a zip drive, earphones, laser pointer, and bluetooth headset and in the second bag some small cosmetic items. This leaves plenty of room for other items (granola bar, apple, lip balm, etc.).
My iPad mini can go in the inner zippered pocket for security or in the deep rear pocket, keeping it handy. It is lightweight, sheds dog & cat hair, and I can carry it by the handle, or hook the strap across my body or over one shoulder.
The only changes I would make would be to size the pocket for newer smart phones and add a key minder strap. I am SO glad I found this!
July 2, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by dozzie good for travel
This will hold all you stuff when you travel--lots of zippered and closed pockets and slots for your boarding pass, passport, wallets and other stuff. The central pocket is big enough for your e-reader or paperback along with your snack and other necessities. And the strap is secure. A good choice as a travel purse.
June 15, 2014
Rated 4 out of 5 by vviolet shoulder strap need improvent
I've been looking in vain for a smallish leather backpack. I just feel better knowing that at least a crook can't lift my purse off my shoulder and run off with it.
Cross-body bag are a step in the right direction, but they smoosh up my clothes.
With the Carrall guide Bag, I thought I might could redesign the shoulder straps and morph it into a back pack. The edges of the straps are weirdly sharp. Please you guys, design a reasonably stylish, inexpensive back pack for me. Back packs are much more secure for urban wear and crowded places
June 7, 2014
Rated 2 out of 5 by RAC167 Way too Small
I like the quality of construction and style of this bag, but the bag is just too small. While the height and width dimensions are OK, the depth is very thin, about 2 inches. I think it's a child-size purse. But if you want something really small, this might work for you. But the water bottle pouch on the side will not accommodate even the smallest water bottle and the phone holder pocket will not hold even a small old-fashioned flip phone. What you can fit in this bag will probably fit in your pockets, so why bother with the bag?
May 29, 2014
Rated 2 out of 5 by MMDW Not as described
Don't be fooled by the description. While there are numerous pockets and zippered compartments, none of them actually fit the items for which they were intended. It's almost as if this was made for the kids toy versions of the items you would need to carry while travelling. Good idea very poorly executed. I will be returning this.
May 28, 2014
Rated 3 out of 5 by Jochicago Needs redesign
This bag needs to be redesigned. None of the pockets can hold a cell phone the size that most people use today. They are too small. All the pockets are too small. A pen cannot even fit in any of them. The strap is not removable. Good bag with poor features.
May 22, 2014