Convertible Travel Bags – capable of being either smart pieces of soft luggage for travelling, or rucksacks for backpacking and trekking – first appeared in the 1980s. Design-wise, they tend to come at it from one particular use. So you will either get a bag primarily designed as travel luggage but with a rucksack harness, or a bag which is rucksack first and foremost, but where the dangly bits can be hidden away to make a passable travel bag. Since the early convertible travel bags, we now also have wheeled soft luggage, and some of those convert into rucksacks, too.
Rohan’s Volition Series comes in two sizes – 40 litres and 60 litres – and is at the heart of a system. So the basic bag provides you with a decent travel bag with shoulder strap, of which the 40 litre model I tried is small enough to use as airline carry-on. But the cleverly moulded stiff foam back allows you to attach either a trolley for those trips where trundling is your best option, or a full rucksack harness when you want to use it backpacking, or on a trek.
There’s an interesting choice of fabrics for the soft part of the bag. The main body is a tough and lightweight coated diamond ripstop polyamide called X-Pac, with a small amount of tarpaulin fabric – coated on both sides – around the base and sides. And where other bags might use aluminium stays and closed cell foam encased in fabric for the back of the bag, Volition uses a thin one-piece back made of compression-moulded EVA. The bag itself is a simple design with single main compartment and a couple of internal compression straps, with panel opening using a water resistant zip. That’s handy not just for keeping weather at bay, but for protecting the teeth of the zip – in the past I’ve had bags with unprotected zips rendered useless because the zip teeth were mangled in transit. There’s a zipped pocket on the front panel large enough to take some magazines, with organiser pocket for a few pens and travel documents.
The optional rucksack harness has a back stiffened with a plastic sheet and aluminium stays, with the option to set it at one of three back lengths. It attaches to the bag using quick release buckles, and while the hip belt isn’t as substantial as you might find on a dedicated rucksack, it is shaped, and it supports loads well. The shoulder straps are shaped, too, with adjustable sternum strap for added stability. It comes in its own tailored stuffsack, which could be quite useful if you’re travelling with it prior to attaching it when you reach the start of your trek.
If you feel the need to organise your belongings, Volition has two optional zip-fastened neoprene bags, the Bow and Stern Box, shaped to fit each end of the bag. I found the smaller Bow Box quite handy as a wash bag.
The Verdict: For a versatile travel bag, the Rohan Volition 40 has good outdoor credentials, with water-resistant zips and dedicated walking pole attachments
Clive Tully, Camping Magazine – December 2011