Wenger Swiss Gear Patriot Rolling Case Review

by Reads (34,527)

Like the rest of Wenger’s SwissGear lineup, despite the licensed branding, the bag isn’t made in Switzerland–it is, in fact, a product of New Jersey. (State motto: "Connecticut’s Evil Twin.") The build quality doesn’t suffer for that, though–it’s not shoddy or cheap at all. The construction is a combination of a poly weave for the main body, along with leather trim and panels for looks, finished out by stainless steel hardware emblazoned with the SwissGear logo.


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Significantly bulkier than your average laptop bag, the Patriot is clearly designed for the traveler, right down to doubling as an overnight bag. Its intent is as a one-stop shop for the short-haul business traveler, or as a kind of "base station" for a more constantly mobile user.

The main bag is divided into five main compartments, plus a small sixth flap that serves to cover the extendable handle. Like many small roll able luggage items, the handle is a several-part telescoping affair, with small latches along the way to hold it together once deployed, until you press the release button. The only real issue is that the latches are less than 100% reliable. In several instances, one didn’t catch properly and when released the handle slid back down towards its niche. Upon checking other owners’ experiences, I determined that this is a not uncommon issue, but if it’s serious, you can have the bag replaced.

 


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The first actual storage compartment, moving from the outer part of the bag back, is subdivided into about a dozen small pockets and niches of various sizes, suitable for anything varying from a pocket knife, to a cell phone, to a personal CD player or data discs. It also includes a transparent slot for an identification card or baggage note, and a small safety latch on a strap, presumably for hanging keys from. Second is a small mini-pouch, nearly hidden in between the larger subsections.


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The third area is quite obviously a miniature filing cabinet. An internal spacer provides three separate slots for papers, with or without folders.


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Skipping the fourth compartment, which we’ll get to in more detail in a moment, the fifth section back is where an overnight traveler would tuck their clothes. While roomy, it’s also right up against the metal bars of the handle mechanism, separated only by a cloth partition, making it a bit dubious for holding anything that might break. It’s fitted out with a set of small straps and two netted pockets.


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And here, ladies and gentlemen, is how the Patriot gets away with being so relatively large: it ate another laptop case. In the third chamber of the bag, we find a swanky little slim matching notebook case, just large enough to fit your machine and a few essential accessories or discs. According to the specs, this secondary bag can only fit a laptop up to 15.4 inches, so those of you with behemoth 17-inchers shall have to find an alternate use for it. In my case, though, it neatly fit my 15 inch ThinkPad, extended battery and all, without being too tight.


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I must say that I really like the small internal notebook case. For carrying, you’re presented with the option of a handle, or an adjustable shoulder strap. While it doesn’t have a huge "stuff" capacity, it’s just right if you’re traveling light: say, a notebook, power adapter, and a limited number of peripherals like small headphones. For that matter, I’m not exactly known for traveling light, and I find that the small bag is quite sufficient in almost all instances. I can tuck away my laptop, cell phone, handheld, GPS receiver, and Bluetooth headphones, or eject a couple of the peripherals to make room for an AC adapter, all without grossly overloading the bag, or losing its style.


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The Patriot bag combo wouldn’t be ideal for someone who needs a carrying capacity larger than that with them at all times. The small bag wouldn’t accommodate it, and the large bag is considerable overkill as anything less than trip-class luggage. For those who are traveling, if the existing capacity of the main bag isn’t enough, you can take the laptop bag out of its niche, and slide the handle up through the grips, effectively stacking the two bags onto each other as a trolley. This affords you an extra compartment, augmenting the total carrying capacity by about 30-50%, depending on how you pack. Alternatively, if you do have one of those whopping 17-inch laptops, this compartment is suitably sized to take them, and the removable sub-bag becomes the "extra stuff" area.

Another usage model would be to treat the larger bag as a kind of carry-all, which can be left in a car or office, while being able to swap out only the things you immediately need into the small mobile bag, then put everything back together at the end of the day. Either way, the flexibility presented by the two-in-one bag design is considerable, and provides the would-be user with a lot of options in choosing how they want to travel.

Pros:

  • Large carrying capacity
  • Separate slim notebook case
  • Appealing style

Cons:

  • Handle lock is somewhat unreliable

Bottom Line:

  • A solid combination small notebook case and larger overnight bag.


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