The Cabin Max Equator
The Cabin Max Equator. Purpose built to be the perfect backpackers companion whilst being compatible with the carry-on dimensions of most Asian budget airlines – The perfect bag for a few nights in tropical Belfast then!
It might seem like a strange bag to take to the wilds of Northern Ireland, but part of the Equator’s appeal is its versatility, and this means it should be able to cope just as well in Castlereagh as it would in Cambodia.
Part of our decision in taking the Equator was based on it having waist and chest straps. My other half is a teacher, and had a huge amount of students’ work to take home for marking over the half-term period – 3kg to be precise! As such the Equator’s wealth of supporting straps ensured that our eventual 8kg of contents was well distributed over the body. We also used the padded laptop compartment great for carrying all this marking and keeping it all together and in order – those who don’t have to take several classes worth of marking with them will be able to easily fit a Macbook, small laptop or iPad into this pocket instead.
Flybe Hand Luggage Restrictions
Into the airport, and despite its commodious 39 litre capacity the Equator cruised through Flybe’s bag dimensions check. Admittedly, at 54x36x23cm, it was never likely to be troubled by Flybe’s 55x35x20 dimensions stipulation, but nonetheless, it sailed through with no trouble despite being fully loaded. Similarly, it managed to fit under the seat in front onboard the flight itself with relative ease despite the aircraft being a tiny Q-400 dash – One of the advantages of it being a soft bag.
We found the large, deep front flap pocket is great for storing your toiletries bag, making for easy removal when you go through security. Another good feature that should be mentioned is the rain-cover. This can fold out to cover the bag during heavy downpours, but has other uses too. On busy flights, you might be asked to put your carry-on luggage in the hold, even if it fits the required dimensions. In this case folding the rain cover out around the rear of the bag to cover the backpack and waist strap means they are protected and unlikely to snag when on the airport conveyer loading system – a simple feature that means your Equator should last longer.
Pleasantly Surprised by Flybe
I’d never travelled on Flybe before I was pleasantly surprised with the experience. You can’t check in more than 36 hours before your flight, which is a little frustrating, but this is offset by being able to print off your boarding pass free of charge at the airport – a feature unavailable with most budget airlines. Flybe operates small turbo-prop planes on their shorter routes hop over the Irish Sea to Belfast was an exciting (and turbulent) one, and you really appreciate the skill it must take to fly an aircraft like that on such a wind-swept route. Overall I was left with a good impression of them, but I do think they need to bring their website into the 21st century – it simply isn’t as slick and useable as rivals’ sites.
The Cabin Max Equator backpack on the streets of Belfast
The Equator itself accompanied us as we walked around Belfast for 3 days. It has been designed with an eye on security, which came in handy in a big, crowded city.
There is a secret pocket inside of the netted flap pocket that is ideal for important travel documents.
The main compartment is also lockable, with zips that can be hidden behind the front buckle flap meaning they are less likely to be vulnerable to prying hands. We found this feature gave us a little more confidence in tackling St George’s Market in which was very, very busy.
Belfast itself is a fascinating city with an incredible story to tell.
Beautiful old buildings like those around City Hall, Queens University and in the Cathedral Quarter contrast with former industrialised areas that have been revitalized and regenerated into modern bars and restaurants and be-decked in incredible murals. This is a city that is proud of its shipbuilding heritage with roads and monuments named to reflect his. A visit to the newly created Titanic Belfast Museum is a must. At £15.50, an adult ticket is reasonably priced and there is more than enough to keep even the most avid museum-goers occupied for hours. It is worth remembering that there are still significant divides between some groups in Belfast, and within a relatively short walk from the city centre you can find yourself in neighbourhoods where you might not necessarily be welcome. By no means let this put you off the city – it has far too much to offer – but like most major cities it is worthwhile to check where it is safe to roam before you go.
Back to the Equator and several other thoughtful little touches that made it easy to live with – the handle on the base of the bag made it easy to put the bag in the boot of taxis or into the left-luggage lockers in Titanic Belfast. It also has 2 bottle holders instead of the usual 1 that you get on these types of bags, meaning you can easily stock up for long trips. We also found the bungee cords on the front ideal for holding a rolled-up coat on the occasions when the sun made an appearance, and the keyclip to be a useful addition too.
It may be designed as a backpackers’ bag, but the Equator performed exceptionally well in the role of a city break bag. This bag is ideal for those who want a stylish, practical workhorse with lots of features. It really is incredibly versatile, with a pocket for everything, and lots of attention paid to elements of practicality and security. Other bags may be stand out more, but the Equator has so many thoughtful little touches built into it that take the stress out of travelling and make it easy for you to simply enjoy your holiday. I’d recommend it to unpretentious people who want to think less about the hassles of travelling and just want to get out and see the world.