Travel season is officially upon us. I should know since I’m a total travel junkie.
I think it’s important to get out when you can and experience the world around you—new places, new people, new food.
There’s really only one part of the whole travel experience that I dread:
It really weighs me down (how could I resist that one?).
This year, I’ve mapped out a road trip through Northern California with a few close friends. We have several day-long excursions planned to Hot Springs, the Redwood Forests, and various beaches along the coast.
I wanted to be able to pack everything I need for the entire week-and-a-half that we’ll be gone, but also have a way to pack a change of clothes and a few essentials that I’ll need for these excursions without having to drag my entire suitcase around with me.
Enter: The Fold-Up Bag by Paravel.
What Is Paravel?
Relatively new to the luggage scene, Paravel was founded in 2016 by friends and ex-fashion executives Indre Rockefeller and Andy Krantz. Their mission was to create design-forward travel bags that could stand out amongst all of the other boring black luggage at the baggage claim, all without the designer price tag.
To achieve this, they teamed up with some of the worlds’ best factories and mills (the same ones used by luxury brands) and adopted the direct-to-consumer business model allowing them to provide their customers with designer quality bags at a reasonable price point.
So, how’d they do?
My Hands-On Review
Unboxing and First Impressions
I’ll hand it to them, Paravel definitely knows how to appeal to us modern-day package-chasers.
The bag arrived in a shiny gold mailer. Just look at it and tell me you don’t want to bust it open like a 5-year old on Christmas.
The bag shipped in its folded form along with a small white envelope sealed with a gold emblem. Inside, the envelope contained a postcard showcasing images of various Paravel bags.
Overall, I was pretty impressed with Paravel’s unboxing experience and it left me excited to
Here’s how it works:
The lightweight, Nylon duffel bag folds down completely flat and easily fits into your suitcase as an extra bag that you can pull out during your trip for daytime excursions while leaving the rest of your stuff back at home base.
It’s also TSA approved for the overhead bin and easily slides over the handles of your roller suitcase in case you end up returning with more than you came with. That’s right—this bag is now an insurance policy for my girlfriend’s minor shopping addiction.
O.K. and occasionally, my own. Those duty-free knick-knacks can be hard to pass up.
I opted for the Safari Green because I felt it would fit best with my neutral-dominated wardrobe. I wasn’t disappointed with the vibrancy of the color in person.
Aesthetically, the bag is a hit for me. It comes in a variety of colors that appeal to both the discreet traveler (ie: myself) or your everyday peacock (check out the aptly named Bebop Red version—you’ll know what I mean).
The black-and-white straps provide a nice contrast to the green and give the bag a retro-inspired feel.
The gold Paravel logo is displayed on a small, black leather rectangle on the front of the bag. It’s tasteful without looking overly showy or pretentious.
Made up of mostly Nylon—a material often used to make parachutes and camping tents—the bag is durable as well as weather and stain resistant. But it’s not bulky!
Paravel’s fairly priced, designer quality Fold-Up bag is a versatile travel essential that can adapt to almost any packing scenario---whether it’s a weekend getaway, daytime excursion or an everyday trip to the gym.
The reinforced cotton webbing straps are strong enough to withstand daily wear but don’t add any extra weight. They’re also wide enough to sit comfortably on my shoulder without slipping off or buckling under the weight of the bag.
The two-way zipper makes for easy access and the multi-zippered pockets are great for storing my smaller essentials that I don’t want getting lost in the main space.
You also have the option to customize the bag for a small additional fee with Paravel’s embroidery option.
You can choose up to three letters from eight different colors of thread (yellow, black, white, navy, pink, red, sapphire, and turquoise). This does add an extra 7-10 days for shipping, but the added reassurance that you won’t get your luggage mixed up with anyone else’s at the baggage claim is worth it for me.
We (naturally) went with a TAM logo. It has good stitch density and I think the font and size of the embroidery suits the overall aesthetic of the bag.
If I had one reservation about the design, it would be that the bottom of the duffle bag becomes the outside of the bag when folded, which could be a problem if you were wanting to throw the bag into a suitcase full of clothes after using it.
In a perfect world, I wouldn’t want my clothes coming in contact with something that touched the floor.
But for me personally, I normally travel with the folded bag inside a front pocket of my suitcase or carry-on, so this isn’t a big issue for me.
Contrary to popular belief, size matters—when it comes to luggage (honestly, these are layup puns). This versatile bag is small enough to slide easily into any suitcase without adding any extra weight or bulk (it only weighs 14 oz.) and large enough to hold several articles of clothing and a few daily essentials, such as my laptop, chargers and an extra pair of shoes.
When expanded, it measures 18 x 11 x 11.5 inches, perfect for the overhead bin. When it isn’t full, the bag easily fits under the seat in front of me. Folded, the bag measures 9.75 x 8 x 2.75 and becomes the perfect extra bag to throw into your suitcase without thinking twice.
I wouldn’t necessarily classify the price of this bag as a budget price, as a Google search for “Nylon Duffel Bag” quickly reveals, however, I would argue that the midrange price tag is more than fair considering the source and quality of the materials used here.
The unique features such as the foldable design and customizable embroidery also increase its value. I see this as a designer quality bag at a fair price point that has quickly become a go-to travel essential for me.
My Overall Thoughts
What I Like
Nicely packaged in a cool looking gold mailer.
Reasonably priced given the quality and materials used and versatility offered in comparison to its competition.
The personalization of the bags with Paravel’s embroidery option is a plus.
The Fold-Up bag is versatile and great for everyday use and travel.
The Nylon material is durable and stain and weather resistant.
It lines up against Paravel’s mission to create unique, quality luggage that stands out.
What I Don’t Like
The Nylon material does slightly wrinkle after being unfolded.
The bottom of the bag becomes the outside when folded which could expose your clothes to the ground.
Overall, I’m a fan of my Fold-Up bag.
And it’s not just because it has TAM embroidered on it—although, that definitely makes it cooler.
Yes, the material does wrinkle slightly after it’s unfolded, but I think it’s worth it for the added versatility.
I really like that I can use this as an everyday getting around or gym bag OR as a weekender, OR as an insurance policy inside your suitcase. OR anything else really.
If you’re in the market for a stylish, well-made, and super versatile everyday bag, I think you’ll struggle to find better value at this mid-range price point.
(Get 15% off with code TAM15)