Airpocket: the review
‘What’s this?’ asked Mr Petman, picking up my Airpocket from the kitchen island where I sat, admiring my new purchase.
‘It’s Airpocket,’ I responded. ‘It’s a small bag designed to fit into the plane back-of-seat-pocket so that you have all your essentials at hand. What do you think?’
‘Nice,’ said Mr Petman. ‘Means I can find my passport quickly.’
‘My passport,’ I countered. ‘If you like it enough, you might have to get your own . . . I like what it looks like. See: a zip and partitions, and . . .’ I could see Mr Petman’s interest waning. ‘And it’s made of neoprene. I bet you don’t know what that is?’ I challenged.
‘You think I’m stupid! Of course I know what neoprene is: it’s the stuff they use to make wetsuits. Why would they want to make it out of neoprene?’ asked Mr Petman.
I put on my best teacher’s voice: ‘Neoprene is a synthetic rubber with properties suited to travel bags: it’s tough, yet soft. It expands easily; look, I can fit in a book in the side panel. It’s easy to clean and keeps it’s shape and structure. It’s innate frictional texture prevents contents from slipping and sliding . . .’
‘OK. I get the picture' responded Mr Petman. 'Now how about a nice cup of tea?’
And that was the start of my first trip with Airpocket. I was going to Melbourne for a long weekend: a bit of business and a bit of pleasure, visiting my sister and family. I decided to use Airpocket as a test for our visit to Japan in July.
While Airpocket is not a large bag - the intention is that it slips into the seat pocket in front of you - it’s quite capacious. There are dividers inside the bag - some open to the bottom of the bag and some don’t - to fit and subdivide your bag’s contents as you like. I pack my wallet and other essentials always in the same place so that I don’t have to think - I can just reach for things. Airpocket enables you to do that easily. I packed these with me: wallet; iPhone7, which is a little taller than the pocket/pouch; sunglasses; reading glasses; a pen; a small toiletry pouch; a small print book. These last two fitted neatly on either side of the dividers. I did not take my iPad Pro in the Airpocket as it is too big. But if you use a smaller iPad, it will fit without a problem.
I mentioned neoprene earlier, which for me has one downside: it smells strongly of rubber. I hung my bag on the wash line to air it before using it, but that whiff reminiscent of car yards hangs about. I hope over time, my bag will smell more like me!
I arrived a little early at Canberra airport so amused myself by taking photos of Airpocket slipped over the extended handle of my cabin bag. David Bailey, take that! I thought as I slid back in my seat, angling my camera and using the portrait mode for special effect. Too easy, I thought, I could run around the whole airport pulling my cabin bag and my Airpocket would stay firmly in place. Cancel the thought of running around; sitting and looking is good enough.
We were a little late in boarding, but I was excited to finally reach Seat 23D and slip my Airpocket into the back of seat pocket. I looked around at my fellow passengers, expecting a rousing hurrah, but there was no drum roll nor acknowledgement from anyone. You’re on your own, babe. Anyway. When I interviewed Trish and Tanya, the Airpocket owners, they said that Airpocket would fit into most airplane seat pockets other than small planes like Dash Eights. So I was expecting to be able to slot my Airpocket straight into the Tiger Air seat pocket. But sadly I could only fit in Airpocket turned on its side, which meant that every time I wanted to take something in or out of the bag, I had to pull the whole bag up and out. This was not the user experience I was hoping to have. Perhaps when I fly to Japan in July, the big Qantas bird will have a wider seat pocket - I’ll get back to you on that!
A slight inconvenience was the bulge of Airpocket against my knees - perhaps due to including that small print book. I couldn’t sit with my knees together; rather they were slightly spread to accommodate Airpocket in it’s seat pocket - but let’s blame that on Tiger Air’s seat ergonomics - or lack of.
I arrived in Melbourne, caught a taxi to my sister’s flat and dumping my bags in my room, I exclaimed, ‘Hey, I want to show you my new bag! What do you think?’
‘Very nice,’ said my sister. ‘Now, do you want some tea?’ (It runs in the family).
The following morning I had a dilemma: what to do with my iPad Pro? I needed it for my meeting, but it wouldn’t fit neatly into my Airpocket as it’s too big. I decided to make it a feature and caught the tram to the city showing off the gorgeous iPad Pro bag my friend Bridget had crocheted for me. This colourful cover looked good inserted into Airpocket and because the neoprene friction holds everything together, I wasn’t concerned that my possessions would fall out and roll all over the floor.
For the rest of the weekend, I used Airpocket as I would my regular cross-the-body bag. We went shopping, dining, the movies, coffee - just your regular Melbourne experiences - and Airpocket did it all with me.
If I have one niggle with the design, it was the zip that did it. Airpocket has one main zip on the top outer part of the bag. The bag is slim in width but you can pack much more due to the elasticity of the neoprene. Consequently, with my book pushing out the width, the additional bulk distorted the angle of the zip, which meant that I struggled to unzip and that’s a pain when rushing to reach stuff at the airport. Also the zip tended to slide open at the top, increasing a gap between the zip and the bag interior. If I’d had an object lying loose within the bag, there could be a danger that it might slip out at some stage. The zip occasionally crossed paths with the strap, twisting it’s way into the clasp, further slowing down my ability to unzip quickly. I’m sure that the designers don’t want to be told what to do, but I wonder whether they considered making this an interior zip - just over the internal pocket dividers - so that the expansion doesn’t place stress on the zip. But honestly, overall, the design is so good that this is just a small criticism.
When I mentioned the price to my sister and her friend, they both agreed it is reasonable. And I’m sure I’ll get many years’ wear and use from Airpocket. I felt so confident that I offered to lend it to Mr Petman for his long weekend away - even a rough and ready bloke won’t do much damage to this sturdy yet elegant bag.
‘Nah, I’m fine,’ he said. ‘I’ll just throw a few things onto the passenger seat.’ - that’s a bloke for you!
I have no reservations in recommending Airpocket to anyone considering this compact, sturdy, elegant and practical bag for their next trip. And if you have used Airpocket already, I'd enjoy to hear your comments: what do you think of this neat little bag?
Details: Airpocket website