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My Red Oxx Air Boss Review

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series Red Oxx Air Boss

A few months ago American Airlines left me stranded in Texas after the plane I was on broke not once, but twice, and they couldn’t get me to Dallas to make any connections. In the end, they couldn’t even get me home … instead of returning to Boston on a Friday evening the closest they could get me was Bradley International in Hartford, CT on Saturday afternoon where I rented a car and drove home. My checked suitcase actually made it to Boston a full day before I did. Which means I spent the night in Dallas with nothing but the (increasingly smelly) clothes on my back.

Anyway, this event finally broke my will and I’ve decided to shift my air travel to a one bag strategy so I don’t have to deal with checked luggage again. I’ve flown a lot in my life … starting in the early 90s I traveled the US for over 10 years, then took a break after a career change. But now I find myself traveling more again. Last year work took me to Chicago (twice); Stanford; San Francisco; Washington DC (twice); and Brussels, Belgium. This year (and it’s only April) I’ve been to Austin, TX and am leaving for Jacksonville, FL tomorrow. Then I have California 3 times in May followed by Chicago and DC a couple of times later this year. Throw in my own personal travel and … that’s enough for me.

To make the switch to a one-bag operation, I searched the Internet for the perfect solution. I scoured sites like Onebag.com and read all of Doug Dyment’s advice. I read the forums on Flyertalk.com and on One Bag One World site. What I determined was that I needed to start with the right bag. I’ve always been a bit of a gear nut when it comes to packing and organization. I probably have seven different backpacks for every conceivable use, along with lumbar packs, various shoulder bags, and a couple of work bags for my laptop and office stuff. But for air travel I’ve usually used either a 21″ roll-aboard from Samsonite or a small overnight rolling laptop bag with enough room for a change of clothes. Neither has proven to be an optimal solution.

The 21″ roll-aboard fits into overhead bins on mainline aircraft, but I just hate being THAT asshole who carries too much stuff on board and forces others to have to gate-check their luggage. So I find myself checking that bag for almost every flight unless there is some real imperative that I have certain clothes for a meeting when I arrive. And even then I usually just wear those clothes. When I travel with it, I always end up carrying my Timbuk2 messenger bag with my laptop and other stuff as a carry-on (on a side note – the Timbuk2 Command Messenger bag with its TSA compliant laptop compartment absolutely rocks – best work bag I’ve ever owned). But for a one-bag strategy I need to find something that balances carrying ability with capacity and fits into overhead bins on all aircraft, including the smaller regional jets I sometimes find myself on.

Red Oxx Air Boss

Red Oxx Air Boss - photo from Redoxx.xom

I ultimately settled on the Air Boss by Red Oxx in all black. In addition to being an American-made product with a reputation for top quality and durability, the Air Boss seems like it is flexible enough to work for anything from overnight trips to two week marathons. Most of the trips I take are between one and four nights, with the occasional full week. But I often need to bring a couple of suits along, which are always a pain in the ass to pack.

My intention with this post is to begin a series of real-world reviews of my experience with the Air Boss. Between tomorrow and the end of May I will have made at least four trips with it: an overnight to Jacksonville, FL; 3 nights in San Jose, CA; 3 nights in Stanford, CA, and 4 nights in San Diego. Some will require suits every day, others will be more casual (a single sports jacket will do). I’ll try and post from the road when I can and follow a standard format.

First, though a bit about me so you can figure out if your experience will be similar.

I am 41 years old, 5′-11″, and about 200 lbs. My suit jackets are a 44 regular and my shirts have a 17 1/2″ neck (I point this out because my suits do not pack compactly). I routinely run 10 to 20 miles a week and have no back, shoulder neck, knee, or any other joint problems or pain. The idea of a wheel-less bag doesn’t scare me; my daily work commute involves carrying (walking) a Timbuk2 messenger bag 3.5 miles back and forth across Boston from South Station to Government Center and that bag weighs 20 lbs. easy. So a 30 lb. bag for a trip through an airport is no problem at all.

Red Oxx Warranty

Here is the bottom of the box Red Oxx ships in. I'm convinced they stand by their products.

My initial impressions of the Air Boss are positive. The build quality seems excellent and it does seem like it will hold plenty. In fact, I’m worried that the bag will be too big for one night trips, but that’s what I’ll be starting with tomorrow. I especially like the zippers; something I have had issues with recently. First, the side zippers blew out of a pair of North Face bib pants that I’ve had for years (they were repaired for free under the North Face’s lifetime warranty, but still), then I blew a zipper on the pocket of my normal winter jacket. I had the zipper fail on one of my running jackets, and I’ve been that person who has had the zipper fail on my suitcase while on a trip. So the fact that Red Oxx uses hefty, genuine YKK zippers matters to me.

Finally, I love the way the Air Boss looks. Some call it utilitarian and some even ugly. But I don’t but suitcases to be pretty. I buy them to carry my stuff from one place to another as long as it does that well I don’t care if it looks like a cardboard box.

Hopefully the details I uncover in my next trips will help you with your decision.

By now I’ve given 4 additional reviews after my recent trips. They’re listed below. If you’re impatient, jump to number 4, it contains my conclusion.

  1. Red Oxx Air Boss – First Review: Overnight to Jacksonville, FL
  2. Red Oxx Air Boss – Second Review: 3 Days, 2 Nights to California
  3. Red Oxx Air Boss – 3rd Review: 4 Days/3 Nights in California
  4. Red Oxx Air Boss – 4th Review: Another Trip to California (and conclusion)

Good luck and safe travels.

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Series NavigationRed Oxx Air Boss – First Review: Overnight to Jacksonville, FL

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  1. Bob
    April 4th, 2012 at 15:17 | #1

    I’ve been using my Air Boss for two years now. It’s initial run was a 10-day trip that included Las Vegas and China. I planned to do laundry along the way, so although packing was straightforward it’s never easy!. This bag has always held what I needed it to hold, and honestly, if it doesn’t fit then I probably didn’t need it anyway. Oh, and after two years it is still in amazing condition!

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