As someone who looks longingly at rivers wherever I travel, the idea of carrying a small fly rod is very appealing. That’s "small" as in something I can stuff into a carry-on or backpack and forget about until it’s needed. One rod that hits the sweet spot for price, durability and size is the Eight-Piece Travel Series Fly Rod Outfit from LL Bean. It comes packaged with the Streamlight II Large Arbor Reel and it’s available from 4 to 9 weight. The outfit includes a Scientific Anglers Supreme 2 Fly Line, 20 lb. backing and a leader that’s pre-loaded onto the reel. Best of all, when it’s collapsed, the rod is a mere nine inches long in it’s protective carry tube, small enough to fit into a carry-on, briefcase or backpack. At $269 for the 6 weight, it’s an affordable way to turn longing into action.
My quest for the perfect carry-on, a bag that can handle a couple of days worth of clothing, may be over. I just came across a duffel bag that weighs less than 3 pounds, measures 12" x 12" x 21" and has a drop bottom. That means it has two separate main compartments (7 " and 4 " deep) that let you keep items completely apart. Like shoes. Or dirty clothes. A large U-shaped lid (with inner mesh pocket) gives you top-to-bottom access while a perimeter zipper opens the entire bottom compartment. A 16" x 8" side panel pocket is a bonus. And it’s made of water- and stain-resistant high-density polyester. The biggest surprise is not the price, a reasonable $79.95, but the fact that it’s from Rick Steves, better known for his PBS shows than luggage design. No matter, it’s the best bag I’ve seen in ages.