Traveling light with my wheeled backpack: first impressions

It has been quite a long time since I last travelled abroad for business purposes. In the meantime, I made quite an extensive research on backpacks that can be used for short trips and I also did my research on how to pack (more) efficiently.

For a recent 2,5 days trip from Athens to Berlin (flying from Athens on Sunday afternoon and getting back home on Tuesday midnight), I decided to skip my typical cabin luggage and I instead opted for a more compact and wheeled backpack. It was a backpack that I “inherited” from my sister – I am still not sure how and when. On top of that, I am not sure about its brand and model, as it seems to be a “Turnip“-branded backpack (Highlander Continental 30), probably meant for company employees or as a gift to customers; who knows? I could not find any information on the Web about it.

Main features

The specific backpack is not the most spacious cabin luggage available on the market, nor a really practical one: It has a main compartment with a padded pocket for laptops and a small, shallow zippered pocket in front of it, suitable for securely storing your wallet, passport/ID or anything valuable but small. In addition, it has three pretty small & shallow (apart from one) external pockets on its front (e.g. for cables, chargers and stationary), along with two side mesh pockets for e.g. a water bottle and an umbrella.

Due to its design, the backpack hardly stands on its own when fully packed, as it tends to lean in the front and fall. Its strong point though are its wheels; it is the only wheeled backpack I have, so I went for it, even though my aging Trust laptop backpack seems to be able to hold much more volume.


All in all, I managed to pack my essentials for this business trip, which were:

1. An 11.6-inch tablet with a detachable keyboard
2. A pair of trousers
3. Two shirts, really carefully folded
4. 3 pairs of socks & underwear
5. My pajamas
6. The typical transparent plastic bag with all my liquids (toothpaste, perfume, foot balm, hand sanitizer) as this was a cabin luggage, and my electric toothbrush
7. Packs of gum, medicine, refreshing tissues
8. 2 chargers (for the tablet & the smartphone)
9. 10 x company leaflets of 10 pages each, about 20 pages of A4 sheets with printed material, as well as my thick paper notebook with pens, markers etc.
10. An external hard disk & a powerbank with their cables
11. A pair of gloves and my wooly cap (Berlin was expected to be chilly, -5 to 5 Celsius during my stay)

There was still some space to fit e.g. my slippers or a small bag, but since the backpack was already heavy enough (about 8 Kg, as weighted at the airport counter), I opted to keep it light. There is also the possibility of having to carry some additional stuff on the trip back home, so this space could prove valuable.

As soon as I reached my hotel room, I removed anything not related to the meeting, so that I would look professional enough 🙂 In any case, it was great being able to walk around without having to carry all this weight on my back & shoulders.


What I liked:

  • Wheels: Grateful for being able to push and pull my luggage instead of having to carry it on my shoulders;
  • Enough capacity for a two-days business trip; if this was a casual weekend, I could squeeze even more stuff (or have more free space)
  • Various organizational options – not the best ones for organizing stuff my way, but still I appreciated the pockets available.
  • The main compartment opens quite wide, so I could easily organize my stuff inside (not exactly 180 degrees, but I could do the work)
  • Shoulder straps are well-padded and totally invisible when stored in their pocket at the back of the backpack.
  • The storage pocket of the straps can be used for storing thin items, too; I used this space mostly for storing the leaflets and my notepad.

What I did not like:

  • Hard to keep the backpack standing straight; it usually tends to lean to the front.
  • I would like a different layout; e.g. a way to keep things more organized in the main pocket and probably to keep personal items in a different compartment than the work/professional ones;
  • It is rather narrow at the top, missing some extra storage space that could be used if needed;
  • When using the shoulder straps, their storage pocket stays open – which doesn’t look good;
  • It looks bulky and rather ugly, due to its external pockets which extend.


To sum up, it was a great way to put the weight down to the ground and pull it instead of carrying on my shoulders; at the same time, I would appreciate some more storage and a better organization of the available space. It may be more sporty than I would like so I would not want to be unfair – maybe I was not exactly using it the way it was meant to be used (i.e. not for business trips or for thorough organization of items)

I would definitely use the backpack again in the future, for similar short trips but I would also keep my eye on any alternatives I have.


Tech Air backpack: Getting along with it

I started using my Tech Air TAN-3711 backpack daily since January, after I realized that I should store my XD Design Bobby Compact for future use, when it would become more essential. I decided to give the Tech Air another try, in order to better understand its features and see if I could live with it – and if so, for how long. In these two months, including a 4-days business trip, during which it was my daily gear for a 12-hour per day schedule, I admit that I started finding it closer to my needs and more practical than I initially thought:


Air Tech backpack full
The Tech Air backpack has more storage space than I initially thought.


Positive points

  • The internal organization of stuff is convenient; I found good use for the 5 pockets of the main compartment (picture with pockets), and since I do not always carry a laptop with me, I use the padded pocket (the backpack’s strong selling point) for storing my external hard disk, chargers and cereal bars while the last compartment is used for A4 papers and other printed material;
  • Depending on the use, its main compartment may be expanded to fit a water bottle and even a change of clothes (not too much though) or even a small-to-medium-size lunch box on the top (close to the zippers);
  • The backpack features a waterproof, durable material at its bottom (externally), so there is no way to get this soaked if left on wet surface;
  • The zippers work flawlessly, even though they do not seem to be the typical high-quality YKK;
  • Shoulder straps are comfortable and well-padded;
  • The backpack has an almost square form and it had pretty large dimensions (especially width) but it is still lean, thanks to lack of external pockets for water bottles and umbrellas. Two sets of compression straps minimize the width of the backpack when needed;
  • Overall it is a well-built backpack with sturdy material; it keeps its shape even when empty and looks like it is built to last.


I initially underestimated the internal organization options of the backpack; found these pockets really useful now.


Negative points

  • As mentioned in my review, there are no small zippered pockets for smaller items like USB sticks, memory cards, paperclips etc. I still find this annoying and a big drawback
  • The back side is comfortable but does not feature a breathable design; haven’t used the backpack during a typical Greek hot summer yet, but I would expect an unpleasant experience (and lots of sweat stains) on the back;
  • Lack of side water bottles: A leak-proof water bottle could be stored in the main compartment, but this would minimize available space;
  • The backpack seems to be a bit on the heavy side; this is due to its relatively thick material and padding. However, taking into consideration the materials used, it is lighter than I would expect by looking at it.

The more I use the Airtech backpack, the more I understand that in contrast with the current all-purpose backpacks, it was made for business / professional use. Not for commuters (e.g. lack of water bottle pocket), nor for school (no way to fit all these school books or organize your stationary), or for casual weekends away from home (e.g. hardly fits a couple of t-shirts). It is a streamlined business backpack, with interesting (but not always practical) organization options.

A small experiment – going back to my Sentio?

I did an experiment the other day: I tried migrating all the stuff I have in my Tech Air to my old favorite Sentio Sporty. There were many items accumulated in the backpack since then, so this was a challenge. Since the Sentio has all its pockets in the front side (thus the unbalancing issue), I tried to put several heavy items (e.g. hard disk, powerbank, documents etc.) in the internal laptop sleeve and some others in the large main compartment. However, when I finished loading it with all my stuff, it still looked like a sack of potatoes, having a hard time balancing the weight… I had no other choice but to transfer all my stuff back to the Tech Air, which seems to be a champion in holding its shape despite the load; and this is something I really love.

To sum up: Even though I planned to start using my (lighter) Sentio backpack, I will have to stick with the Air Tech for the time being. I may switch to the Bobby Compact in the future, which is a great alternative, too, thanks to its excellent weight balance.

XD Design Bobby Compact review

(This review came later that I planned to, as I was struggling to find enough free time to put my thoughts in line. I planned a number of posts in the meantime but never had the time to complete them…)

To make a long story short, some time before Christmas 2017, I was among the lucky winners of one of the online competitions/contests. I was informed by email that I should expect my Bobby backpack (no other details in the email) in the following weeks. I was in search of a new backpack (and in fact I was about to get one), so this was great news! The backpack finally arrived, brand new and well-packed, some time before Christmas, so it was early Christmas for me. As far as I remember it was the first time I ever won something in any of the numerous contests that I have taken part in, so I cordially thank Vice for that 🙂

The model I received was the Bobby Compact, so the smaller one of the two available backpacks, (and the more expensive one, to my surprise) fitting a 14-inch laptop among others. I am currently using a 10-inch tablet with a detachable keyboard as my travel and out-of-office work companion, so I didn’t mind that. It came in pastel blue color, which was less vibrant than the rest of the series (and I also didn’t mind, as I was to use it for commuting to work and back).

Both Bobby backpacks have been extensively reviewed by various experienced reviewers on the Web, so it wouldn’t make sense for me to replicate standard things. To make things more useful for everyone, I will focus on my personal experience and how my setup fit (or did not) the specific backpack.

Design & Quality

Not much to say about the design; it has been copied by so many different companies that it speaks for itself. Design focuses on two aspects (i) Anti-theft, so no external zippers exposed to others and (ii) comfort, so that all weight is balanced rather better than in other backpacks – indeed, the backpack embraces the back of the body and make it easy to carry loads of stuff.

Quality of the backpack is outstanding, in every detail. Water resistant and cut-proof material, no loose threads, no bad stiches. Perfect zippers, sturdy straps, everything is top notch. Looks like a backpack made to last.


The backpack is practical, for sure. Nice internal organization for both a laptop (14-inch) and a smaller tablet or A4-sized documents, elastic band pockets for e.g. hard disks, water bottles (no external pocket for that) etc, a small zippered pocket for memory cards, adapters and other (really) small items, an open pocket on top of it for quick access items, an internal side pocket for a small power bank (however, most will not fit there) etc. There are also two really useful (but small) side zippered pockets for quick access items like smart phone and charger, cards etc. and another interesting safe zippered pocket at the center of the back of the backpack, for e.g. wallet, keys and other valuables – no one will be able to access this one, too.

Another practical detail is the rain cover, available at the hidden pocket at the bottom of the backpack, which looks well-thought and designed.

It is also useful, especially for the larger model, that the backpack can open flat when a couple of internal buttons are opened; this allows a suitcase-like layout that can help in arranging stuff inside the bag even more easily.

Overall, it is a practical backpack, with some interesting organization options.


The backpack is smaller than its brother, but due to its design (e.g. side flaps) it looks bigger. Internally, things to be pretty packed since most of the pockets are internal and occupy the limited internal space.

I personally managed to fit my 10-inch tablet & Bluetooth keyboard, a pack of paper documents (A4 size), my external hard disk & a small paper notebook at the two band-pockets, a couple of USB sticks and other tiny stuff in the zippered pocket, some markers and my 10.000 mAh powerbank on the open pocket above it (it wouldn’t fit in the dedicated side pocket). In the remaining internal space I could fit a medium-sized lunch box (on its side), a couple of cereal bars, a small flashlight and a medium water bottle. Nothing more.

I used the two external side pockets for one smartphone and its charger, and my (pretty large) keyring with lanyard, along with a pack of tissues. The central safe zippered pocket was occupied by my small magic wallet, another smartphone (backup one) etc.

I never got to use the Bobby Mini, a foldable tote bag packed with the Bobby Compact only. It is really, really practical and of course can be used individually.

My personal point of view

I am not carrying much stuff around (ok, maybe slightly more than the average) but I found the Bobby Compact a tad smaller than I would like to. Since I am not currently using public means of transportation for commuting to work (I plan to do so in the future though), I am not making use of its anti-theft features.

The backpack was really comfortable to carry on my shoulders and extremely practical, as I could access my most frequently used stuff (e.g. wallet, smartphone and charger) without having to open the main compartment. I never got to use the external USB port for charging my phone, but it would also come handy when wandering around the city or an airport. At the same time, I missed some more zippered pockets for my numerous USB sticks, microSD cards and other tiny stuff I have with me. I found a workaround for that with a small organizer that could hold a couple of short cables and adapters, memory cards etc.

In the few weeks that I used the backpack on a daily basis, I started seeing some smudges in the front, leather-like panel which I could not quickly remove with a wet towel (and we are talking about taking the backpack from house to the car and from the car to the office (and back). I do not mind some minor cosmetic issues so I didn’t bother trying more to clean it.

For the time being, I replaced the Bobby Backpack Compact with my Tech Air backpack, to which I gave a second chance after taking some more time to check out its features and allocate my stuff inside. However, I plan to use the Bobby in the near future, especially if I go back to commuting by metro; it could also help me reduce the stuff I carry around with me to the minimum required 🙂

XD Design Bobby Compact – Πρώτες εντυπώσεις

Εδώ και ένα περίπου μήνα είμαι κάτοχος ενός XD Design Bobby Compact (το γνωστό anti-theft backpack), το οποίο μου ήρθε σαν δώρο από έναν online διαγωνισμό του, στον οποίο είχα λάβει μέρος. Μου φάνηκε παράξενο, καθώς είναι ίσως η μοναδική φορά που κέρδισα κάτι σε διαγωνισμό, αλλά φαίνεται πως άξιζε η αναμονή!


Ακόμη δοκιμάζω το πόσο με βολεύει για καθημερινή χρήση (σπίτι-γραφείο) σε σχέση με τα άλλα σακίδια που έχω, γιατί έχω μάλλον κάποιες παραξενιές όσον αφορά στο τι μεταφέρω καθημερινά και στο τι περιμένω από ένα σακίδιο. Επίσης το σακίδιο ήρθε σε ένα μάλλον φωτεινό χρώμα, το οποίο δεν ταιριάζει ακριβώς με το στυλ μου, αλλά αυτό είναι κάτι που μπορώ να παραβλέψω 🙂

Οι πρώτες μου εντυπώσεις από το σακίδιο είναι οι εξής:

– Πραγματικά αντικλεπτική σχεδίαση (όλα τα φερμουάρ και οι τσέπες είναι προστατευμένα στην πλάτη μου)
– Αρκετός χώρος διαθέσιμος για ογκώδη αντικείμενα (π.χ. βιβλία, αδιάβροχο, κλπ).
– Πρακτική υποδοχή USB για φόρτιση του κινητού (με τη χρήση του δικού μου powerbank – δεν περιλαμβάνεται)
– Πρακτικές θήκες στην πλάτη (π.χ. για πορτοφόλι) και στα δύο πλαϊνά (σχετικά μικρές, π.χ. για κινητά, κλειδιά και άλλα που χρειάζεσαι άμεση πρόσβαση). Επιπλέον “σχισμές” χωρίς κλείσιμο στους ιμάντες για κάρτες, εισιτήρια κλπ. που θέλετε να χρησιμοποιήσετε άμεσα.
– Πραγματική διαφορά στην αίσθηση βάρους που μεταφέρει το σακίδιο (το βάρος πέφτει κυρίως στην πλάτη και φαίνεται λιγότερο σε σχέση με τα άλλα σακίδιά μου)
– Καλή ποιότητα κατασκευής και πρωτότυπος σχεδιασμός, διαφορετικός από τα υπόλοιπα που κυκλοφορούν. Κρατάει το σχήμα του ακόμη και άδειο και αντέχει στη βροχή (δεν το έχω δοκιμάσει στην πράξη, αλλά το υλικό φαίνεται όντως υδρόφοβο).
– Σε σχέση με το κλασικό, μεγαλύτερο Bobby, συνοδεύεται από αδιάβροχο κάλυμμα (στη βάση του σακιδίου) και το πολύ πρακτικό Bobby mini (μια τσάντα για ψώνια που δικπλώνει και αποθηκεύεται σε θήκη-πορτοφόλι – έρχεται στο ίδιο χρώμα με το σακίδιο).


– Δύσκολο άνοιγμα και κλείσιμο του φερμουάρ του σακίδιου – θέλει λίγη εξάσκηση και σίγουρα να “γυρίσεις” το κάλυμμα του φερμουάρ.
– Έλλειψη αριθμού εσωτερικών θηκών: Υπάρχει μία μικρή θήκη με φερμουάρ (π.χ. για USB sticks, SD cards και άλλα μικροαντικείμενα), μια “τσέπη” για μεγαλύτερα αντικείμενα (αλλά όχι μεγάλη και μάλλον εύκολο να αδειάσει) και δύο μεγάλα λάστιχα για π.χ. σκληρό δίσκο, παγούρι, ομπρέλα κλπ. Μαζί με τις δύο θήκες για laptop (μέχρι 14”) και tablet στην πλάτη στου σακιδίου και την υποδοχή για το powerbank είναι όλες οι θήκες. Αυτό σημαίνει ότι άλλα αντικείμενα όπως φορτιστές, καλώδια, γραφική ύλη, post-it, χαρτομάντηλα κλπ. είναι όλα χύμα στον κυρίως χώρο. Προσωπικά θα ήθελα περισσότερες θήκες με φερμουάρ εσωτερικά.
– Η “τσέπη” που είναι πάνω από τη θήκη με το φερμουάρ έχει ελαστικές θηλιές για στυλό (3-4) και νομίζω πως έχει ήδη αρχίσει να ξεχειλώνει από το βάρος (αν και δεν είναι πολύ σημαντικό).
– Θα ήθελα και ένα κρίκο για τα κλειδιά, που έχω συνηθίσει από άλλα σακίδια.


Πρόκειται για συμπαθητικό σακίδιο, με ορισμένα πολύ ιδιαίτερα και πρακτικά χαρακτηριστικά αλλά και περιορισμούς. Πιστεύω πως όσο το χρησιμοποιώ θα προσαρμοστώ στις δυνατότητές του και θα τις εκμεταλλευτώ καλύτερα. Αν ξέρει κανείς το τι να περιμένει από αυτό και έχει διάθεση να ασχοληθεί (η έλλειψη περισσότερων εσωτερικών θηκών αντιμετωπίζεται με τη χρήση π.χ. κασετίνας για τη γραφική ύλη, κουτιών για μικροαντικείμενα κλπ.), τότε αξίζει τα λεφτά του.

Σίγουρα είναι ένα σακίδιο που θα συνεχίσω να χρησιμοποιώ καθημερινά και φαίνεται ότι θα αντέξει άνετα την καθημερινή χρήση, λόγω ποιοτικής κατασκευής. Ίσως τελικά με καταφέρει να περιορίσω το τι μεταφέρω μαζί μου καθημερινά, να κάνω δηλαδή πιο minimal τον εξοπλισμό μου.

Tech Air TAN3711 15.6-inch backpack review

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was in the hunt for yet another backpack, as I got bored/tired of the one I’ve been using almost exclusively for the last years, during my daily commutes to work and back. And when I was about to get a brand new one for me, I recalled a backpack I was given several months ago, now resting at my storage room. And I decided to give it a try.

The backpack is a Tech Air 15.6 Inch Backpack TAN3711, with the following dimensions:

Width 34.5 cm
Height 13.5 cm
Depth 46.5 cm
Weight 1.1 kg

I have been using the backpack for a couple of weeks now and here are my impressions:

What I like:

  • The bottom is rugged, with heavy duty rubber/plastic. This means that even if it sits on water, water will not soak the internal of the backpack.
  • The laptop compartment is reinforced, in a way patented by the company; it’s like having a sleeve for it, which is securely integrated in the bag.
  • There is a dedicated pocket for documents, folders etc. behind the laptop sleeve; this ensures that documents will not wrinkle etc.
  • There are 4-5 internal small pockets, open top, which allow the storage of e.g. a mouse, a phone charger, a wallet, a pocket notepad, wrapped cables etc. Keep in mind that all of them are open (see later on)

What I don’t like:

  • Both external pockets are badly designed: They only have one zipper (not the typical couple available nowadays) and it starts from pretty low point; this means that if you put small items inside they will likely fall when you try to open the pocket. For example, I have plenty of USB sticks with me and some of them were always about to fall when I opened the top pocket for storing my keys.
  • There are not internal zipped pockets: This means that all these small things that may end up in your backpack (and in case you decide to avoid using the external pockets for the aforementioned reasons) will spread inside the bag if it turns around. Securely storing coins, paperclips, rubber bands, USB sticks etc. is not possible with this bag.
  • There is no external side pocket/mesh for water bottles, umbrellas etc. This makes the backpack look less wide (it is already significantly wide) but I miss this feature. After all, I wouldn’t put my wet umbrella inside the backpack.
  • A deep and wide mesh pocket exists in the main compartment, which can be used for various items but with no organization. This also occupies space from the main compartment.
  • The main compartment will not fit a typical lunch box, as it is narrow and on top of that blocked by the internal pockets, all of which face inwards.
  • The material doesn’t look waterproof – let alone weatherproof.

All in all, it seems like a backpack aiming at professionals and not the typical city commuters, who carry their water bottles, umbrellas etc. with them, along with lots of small things that need to be securely stored in zipped pockets. I like its shape and it seems to hold its weight well-balanced (not carrying a laptop with me, though) but I really miss some features that I consider essential.

Despite that, I plan to keep using the backpack and will try to adapt to its features and limitations for the next weeks, too, but I will keep my eyes open for any alternatives.

In search for a new backpack

In search for a new backpack

I have been using my Sentio Sporty backpack almost daily since I got it, two years ago; I never expected it to last that long. I even used it as my main backpack during business trips lately, as I tried to travel light – lighter than in the past. In the meantime, I had some short breaks, using my Swiss messenger bag and even an old Trust backpack, trying to break this daily routine of using the same bag to and from work. After using it so intensively I can be a pretty subjective reviewer of it.


What I like:

  • It is really light;
  • It is compact: a 15.6-inch laptop hardly fits in its main compartment (no way to fit it in the laptop sleeve). I don’t have to carry my laptop so my tablet fits fine there when needed and I can easily store the bag virtually anywhere;
  • It is spacious: Its main compartment can fit my lunch box, along with chargers, cables, a hard disk, etc. – the main compartment expands a lot compared to the bag’s total volume;
  • It is practical: it has two external side mesh pockets for my water bottle and umbrella. It also has a three zippered pockets in the front, one of which with some basic organizational options (for pens, business cards and a small zippered part for coins and other small items. All zippers have their own loops, and are double, which makes them easy to use;
  • It is easy to carry around: It has soft shoulder straps and combined with its low weight you can hardly feel it.

What I don’t like:

  • Its material is so soft that it hardly holds its own weight; in most cases, the bag sits like a sack of potatoes…
  • The material is so thin that wears off when sharp or heavy objects are packed in the bag;
  • The bag is not well-balanced; since all additional pockets are located at the front side, the additional weight makes the bag lean forward, which is awkward when backpack is on my shoulders;
  • The top handle is not well-placed; for some reason it is located more towards the back of the bag.

For these reasons, I lately started looking for alternatives. What I wanted was a spacious yet compact backpack, comfortable for everyday use, with dedicated pockets for organizing all the small things I carry along, lightweight and durable, and even water-resistant if possible.

My short but in-depth online research came up with two potential candidates: Targus Seoul (a long time favorite of mine) and HP Odyssey. The former was a bit more expensive (about €45) than the latter (€25) but money was not an issue, as a backpack is a long-term investment.


I spent hours checking out video and text reviews on Amazon, blog posts and images from manufacturers and users, trying to figure out how I would fit my stuff in their pockets and slots, which were their strong and weak points etc. I even had the opportunity to check the Odyssey at the office, as a colleague of mine had a couple of them in different colors. Seoul seemed more refined, with well-thought features (see the trolley and tablet sleeve, and maybe a bit more spacious) while the Odyssey seemed more rugged and less-refined but still practical. The Odyssey even got a reddot award / honorable mention in 2015.

»The HP Odyssey scores high for its well-thought-out functionality, which focuses particularly on the safe and comfortable transport of sensitive electronic equipment.«

And when I was about to get one of these for me, I recalled a backpack given to me several months ago, resting at my storage room. And I decided to give it a try…

(to be continued).

Packing light for summer holidays

Packing less is great, but you always have to carry the essentials with you; especially when you spend some time away from home. You need to carefully plan your stay, think about the items that you will definitely need, add some of those that you may need and then start packing. The easiest way is packing more, but this is not really convenient – especially during summer holidays.

During the first part of our summer holidays, I packed my stuff in my compact messenger bag: My 10.1-inch tablet with its charger and the Logitech K480 keyboard, a couple of smartphones with their chargers, HDMI cable for plugging the tablet to the hotel room’s TV (it was the first time the TV was unlocked and the cable proved useful for keeping kids busy watching cartoons), a notepad & pencils, wallet, my sunglasses etc. However, I hardly had the opportunity to use the bulky keyboard and instead I used mostly my smartphones for consuming content (e.g. checking out social media, looking for information on places to visit, GPS navigation etc.) and producing as well (taking and editing photos, updating social media). I also found the bag heavy to carry around.

As a result, during the second part of our holidays, I decided to get rid of some stuff and be even more portable. I challenged myself to fit all my essentials in a really compact mens shoulder bag that was given to me as a gift some time ago but never had the opportunity to use it. It may sound impossible, but this little bag held the following during my holidays:

  • My Magic Wallet
  • A pocket notepad and a couple of pens
  • A pocket book (one of the biographies of Black Sabbath 😃 )
  • Home keys, car keys and hotel room keys with keyrings
  • Two smartphones and one charger
  • My sunglasses in their pouch
  • A compact flashlight (it always comes handy when away from home)
  • A nail clipper
  • Coins
  • Fresheners & gums
  • All the receipts collected during the vacations and a couple of folded A4 pages with map of the area and other notes.

It was so compact and light that I could easily carry it around by the pool, the beach and our evening walks – virtually all the time. Of course I did not have my 10.1-inch tablet nor its keyboard with me, but I would hardly have the opportunity to use them anyway, based on my experience and daily schedule. This meant that I stayed a little bit behind with blogging, reviewing the places we visited etc. but this would happen anyway, due to lack of time for that (and not due to the lack of the items themselves).

Test drive of Hare Kohu beach shader: Part 1

I recently got myself a Hare Kohu beach shader by Terra Nation, after our cheap beach umbrella broke. I went for a shader, as I liked the fact that our staff would be half-protected while we are swimming and that kids would find it fun to sit under the shade and play (compared to a typical beach umbrella).

The specific shader is easy to setup, provides plenty of space, is said to be of high quality and is lightweight. What more could I ask? I purchased one and spent some time at home, opening and closing it and I was amazed by its simplicity. Its material was thinner than I expected (more or less like a rain umbrella) so I don’t expect it to last for a long time; however, it may make up for it thanks to the fun of using it.

Today I had the opportunity to test it under real conditions, at a remote beach we visited during our summer holidays. It was really windy though, and the wind’s direction was opposite to the sun’s one, so the shader had to face the wind like the sails of a boat if we wanted to get some shade…

I  needed some help from my wife to open it; in fact, she needed to make sure that it will not fly with the wind when opened! After that, I used five of the pegs provided with the shader and had both windows opened, in order to allow the wind’s flow, and put all our stuff inside. Using one of the available cords with an additional peg did not improve things. We soon realized that the shader would not stay at its position unless an adult sat inside, so we had to swim in turns! In the end, we got so frustrated by the wind that we had to pack our things and go. I closed the shader by myself and it was easier than I expected, taking into consideration the strong wind.

Despite that, my first impressions from Hare Kohu were positive:

  • It was easy to set up, even under windy conditions;
  • It gave us plenty of space and shade for three persons – even 4, if squeezed;
  • Our stuff were protected (at least partially);
  • We appreciated the roof pockets, which allowed the easy storage of our e.g. sunglasses and smartphones, among others.
  • The shader was easy to carry around (thanks to its practical carry bag) and lightweight, equal to a beach umbrella (but more compact).

On the other hand, it was obvious that strong wind was an issue and I would also appreciate a slightly thicker material (the current one looks prone to tearing at some point soon, even when packed with all these parts of the shader’s skeleton pressing the fabric).

Overall, I find it a nice investment and I can only hope that it will be a durable one.

Timex Expedition Fullsize Camper Black Face Watch – T425714E

Well, it finally arrived – with an initial shipment date between the end of August and end of October (I wasn’t in a hurry to receive it, as I already had a wrist watch to wear during this time) and an update for shorter shipment between August 6th and 8th, it arrived even earlier (5/8). It was purchased from Amazon UK for about 21 GBP including shipping costs.

The watch arrived in a really nice packaging (carton box from Amazon) with additional paper balls inside, in order to ensure a safe shipment.  The watch was in its original packaging, as you would buy it from a watch store and included the manual and the receipt from Amazon.


It is really light (you cannot notice that you are actually wearing it), and looks nice and sturdy. It says that it is water resistant up to 50 meters so it must be ok for swimming in sea and pools. Indiglo functionality looks also really cool, by illuminating the whole watch plate with a single button press!

It will replace my Darch wrist watch which was apparently really nice but too small for my wrist. It will also replace my AK wirst watch, which collapsed a couple of months after purchase – I’ll try to avoid cheap, low quality items (especially ones which i plan to use daily and for a long time) in the future. It surely didn’t worth it…

Living on the cheap

Times are hard, especially regarding financial aspects. However, small gifts are always more than welcome especially when we are talking about practical items and useful gadgets. In this context I just purchased the following:

  1. Philips Sounddot 2GB mp3 player: Bought it for just 19,00 euros from a local store in Athens. I just needed a portable MP3 player to replace my broken Sweex MP-303 (whose battery was completely worn and exhausted). I just needed a long-lasting battery for this one and I hope that Philips will prove to be continuing its nice tradition in this area (I still remember its mobile phones, holding a charge for about a week with medium usage!). It is small and supports fast charging and shuffle mode (which my ill-fated Sweex did not…).
  2. Timex Expedition Fullsize Camper Black Face Watch – T425714E: Bought it for a little bit less than 22 GBP  including postage (15 GBP the watch alone; it is usually for sale at about 30 GBP minimum, not including postage), from I needed a durable watch to replace my unfortunate cheap Chinese purchase from Ebay. This time I went for a well-known brand and I avoided metal bracelets. I wanted something cheap but good, withstanding swimming (but not diving) and showing the date (because I tend to lose track of time lately…). I expect it to arrive in the next week.