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Shoulder Bags

The term "shoulder bag" can be used for many things, but in travel, usually conjures images of the standard shoulder-strapped carry-on bag. We've come a long way from the old Pan Am bag, though--those were little more than the previous duffel bag, shaped into a rectangle and sewn with faux leather (made from the hide of the elusive North American Nauga).

Some of the more common travel shoulder bags today come from companies such as Lands' End, which is famous for its soft-sided cotton briefcases.

Advantages: Since these are made with travel in mind, the construction is generally better than duffel bags. They usually also have exterior zippered pockets for things such as your plane tickets. They usually also have small handles in addition to shoulder straps, which are usually detatchable to stash out of the way.

Disadvantages: As is with all shoulder bags, you are limited to carrying your bag only on one shoulder at a time. If you have a particularly heavy load and are walking a distance, you might feel like you shrunk a couple of inches when you reach your destination. If you do not want to carry the weight, you would need a separate luggage cart.

Important features to look for:

  • Make sure the seams seem strong.
  • Make sure the zippers do not seem too flimsy (look for YKK zippers).
  • Look for a little loop at one end, through which you can install a little padlock (and lock it onto the end of your zipper).
  • Look for a separate set of short handles in case you need to pull your bag quickly.
  • Look for detachable shoulder straps.
  • Look to make sure the shoulder straps are adjustable.
  • Shoulder straps should have a pad on it to protect your shoulder.


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