Quantcast
Forum

 

SEARCH THIS BLOG
« Wear your stuff | Main | Beware the Virgin »
Thursday
Aug302007

MEI Voyageur travelpack review

MEI VOYAGEUR TRAVELPACK: Review summary – Simple, no nonsense carry-on travelpack. Stowable backpack straps make it convertible to shoulder bag use. Super comfortable in backpack mode thanks to waist belt, lumbar pad, and internal stays. A rugged piece of outdoor gear. More pack than luggage – will appeal mostly to backpackers. Handmade in the USA.

RATING: 3 1/2 stars, a One Bag, One World recommended product.

meirev1.jpg

The Voyageur pack by MEI helped start the travelpack craze. Now carryon-size packs and suitcases that sprout backpack straps are common. But while many of these products were inspired by this simple pack, the Voyageur is still very much in a class by itself. It is not for everyone and doesn’t pretend to be. The Voyageur knows what it is – a basic pack that functions as carry-on luggage and is extremely comfortable to carry when worn on the back.

Simplicity embodied

The Voyageur has a standard rectangular shape with dimensions of 22x14x9. It has one main compartment, one small pouch compartment in the main compartment, and one long, flat zippered pocket on the outside of the zippered flap. The flap zips around the two long sides and one end. This allows wide open access to the large main compartment which ends up being about eight inches deep. Nearly everything you carry must go in this main compartment. It has two adjustable hold-down straps for securing folded clothes. The flat 6x9 interior pouch pocket will hold small items, a few toiletries, valuables, or documents that need to be kept secure and dry. It is sewn in at the top end of the bag. The flat 14x19 zippered pocket on the outside will hold a magazine or newspaper or two, tickets, and a few small items. Obviously, this is a simple layout that you aren’t going to get lost in, but it has some limitations.

Packing the pack

The Voyageur is not as easy to pack as many carryons, and its large interior compartment is capacious but not especially efficient. The bag is essentially unstructured except for the internal back frame (see below). This means when you lay it out to pack, the sides tend to collapse. This makes neat, careful packing tough to do. Packing is further complicated by the fact that the thick lumbar padding, stowed straps, and rigid internal stays make the floor of the compartment anything but flat and even. The lump caused by all this stuff is as much as three inches thick and is more pronounced in the center and lower portion of the pack. This pack is probably not for the business traveler or the snappy dresser. It is best-suited for those who roll and stuff their casual or outdoor clothing. The fastidious bundle packer who plots carefully to avoid wrinkles will be disappointed.

The one-big-compartment design is less efficient than a thoughtfully planned multi-compartment design – in the same way that a tool box is more efficient than a tool sack of the same volume. Packing cubes are probably essential if you want to get the most out of the Voyageur. There are many sizes of cubes to choose from and you’d need at least two or three. I used a Tom Bihn large cube which made the space much more manageable. On the plus side, if you’re a stuffer, the external compression straps will really cinch your load tight.

What’s it’s really good at

The Voyageur is a pack. Any pack carries stuff. A really good one puts the load on your back in such a way that the load seems much lighter than it really is. The Voyageur is a really good one. The very things that make the main compartment a pain for packing make this the most comfortably-carried travelpack available. The backpack straps are well-padded, but what really makes the pack work is the waist belt, the well-padded rigid internal stays, and thick lumbar padding. I tested a fully-packed Voyageur against two other convertible carryons and the Voyageur was much better at carrying the load comfortably. If you’re a backpacker and you don’t want to check a larger external frame pack the Voyageur is the clear choice. I’m guessing you could carry it all day and be quite satisfied. The construction seems first rate and the Cordura fabric is backcoated for water resistance. The zippers are beefy and all the strapping is well-sewn. And speaking of strapping, it has an abundance of loops for attaching extras to the backpack rig.

What’s not so goodmeirev2.jpg

This is a five-star pack, but as a suitcase it rates no better than two or three stars – if that. Travelers used to the extra amenities that many carryons provide will be disappointed with the Voyageur. It is also inadequate as a shoulder bag. The supplied shoulder strap has a puny pad, but the biggest problem is that it doesn’t ride comfortably against the body with all the backpack hardware stowed. It’s awkward on the hip and tends bulge. Without the compression straps it looks like the Voyageur could swell beyond carryon size limits.

Its styling is somewhat dated. It looks for all the world like an old-school 80’s pack. (The MEI website says the company pioneered travelpacks in 1973 and I’m guessing the Voyageur design hasn’t changed much since then) This may appeal to you, but a sometimes-business traveler may find it a little too “trail-ready”. Add to this the fact that is holds its shape poorly on the shoulder and you have a less than attractive choice for the spiffy traveler.

Who it’s for

If retro is your thing, you aren’t worried about a few wrinkles, and you’re going to carry it full-time as a backpack then the Voyageur MEI may well be your dream bag. Ditto if you’re a twentysomething who doesn’t mind (or prefers) looking a little scruffy. I believe the Voyageur is a good enough backpack to suffice for the short-term vagabonder. I just don’t think most modern carryon travelers who have widely-varying travel needs will prefer it as their first-choice bag. At $136 it is an excellent value for a USA-made product. It is available online at mei-packs.com.

SPECIFICATIONS:

· 1000 denier Cordura®

· COLORS: Black, Burgundy, Coffee, Hunter Green, Khaki, Navy Blue, Steel Grey

· DIMENSIONS: 14x9x22”; 3.5 LBS

 

Reader Comments (62)

i have been using this bag for 3 or 4 months now, and i live out of it. i have been looking a "sexier" bag, but the voyageur is the biggest carry-on bag, i have run across. i even managed to get 2 scuba fins, mask and snorkel, in addition to my normal load in there for a recent trip. i took out the lumbar support to solve some of the problems in the article. i use it in shoulder mode frequently, without the lumbar support it works better, because the straps lay flatter in their space. i did upgrade the strap, though, to a nice REI one. i have yet to over load this thing. i just wish it looked cooler. but i have settled for function over cosmetics.

October 3, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterNoah M Kern

I almost wonder if this bag should be put in a different class for rating. It seems to be more of a backpack then a travel bag. Actually it's almost a new hybrid class of upscale backpack. To rate it against the Aeronaut or Air Boss seems unfair, almost like trying to rate this bag for serious mountain hiking. I can certainly see why you'd compare it to the Aeronaut or Air Boss but I don't think those bags are even trying to compete with each other. It'd be interesting to hear if the manufacturers felt they were competing.

October 22, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

The MEI is more pack than suitcase (which I noted). The lower rating is just meant to emphasize that it lacks the packing ease and frills of some convertibles. It is a convertble that is biased more towards the backpack than the suitcase - but people buy it to sub for a suitcase. I don't think anyone is hiking with them. It's too large for a daypack, not functional enough for a long-haul pack. It sure feels great on the back though.

October 22, 2007 | Registered CommenterFrank@OBOW

Hello,
I'm interested in hearing from owners of MEI bags and/or
Red Oxx Sky Train with their reviews and impressions of the quality of their bags, and the customer service of the company that they went with. I'm primarily doing adventure type travel in SE Asia for an extended period.

Thanks,
Dave in Hong Kong

November 30, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Bradford

Seconding the above post, but in regards to the Ebags Weekender and the Mei Voyageur.

Brad, I've read quite a lot of your site - it's wonderful, and has helped me tremendously.

I noticed you've tried both bags, how significant are the differences? I know that Mei is a smaller company that has all of their bags made by hand in the US, and I'd love to support the little guy, but I'm on a pretty tight budget.

In terms of workmanship, would you say the $170 (with shipping) Voyageur is worth the price over the $50 Ebags Weekender for a traveler on a budget?

I'll likely be spending 3 months in SE Asia, followed by 3 months in Europe. I'm sure it'll see more use after that, and I'm curious if the Weekender will hold up to that much abuse.

Thank you very much, and again, amazing site (looking forward to trying out the Stinkfighter Beta!).


-Dave

January 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDave

Dave,

I look forward to feedback on the Stinkfighter! The eBags Weekender is a nice design. Quality aside, it is an excellent choice. It is actually more comfortable on the back than most convertibles. BUT it is less functional as a shoulder bag and does not include any type of shoulder strao. If you travel once or twice a year or you're just trying out the whole one-bag thing, it's a great choice. It isn't going to last as long as the MEI or any quality bag. My Weekender showed a major seam failure after a few trips.Having a catastrophic bag failure in the middle of a trip might cause enough stress or expense to make the cheap bag the most expensive at all. But the fact is - if you don't care where it's made or who made it - it is probably a tremendous value for the occasional traveler. A better bag means peace of mind. And it's hard to put a dollar value on that. Good luck!

January 18, 2008 | Registered CommenterFrank@OBOW

Good lord, amazing reply time to boot! Website of the year.

Thanks a lot, I think you've sold me on the Voyageur. Knowing that you have, in fact, experienced a failure with the Weekender is enough to scare me away from it.

I'll get back to you on the Stinkfighter in a couple of months, by then you'll have no doubt perfected the formula.


Much appreciated again,

Dave

January 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDave

The MEI Executive Overnighter is a more sophisticated piece of luggage. The Voyageur looks like it came out of the 70's but is great on the back.Packing cubes are nice to have with the Voyageur since it has only one compartment and it doesn't hold its shape too well laying on the bed for packing. I assume you've seen the reader review of the Executive Overnighter on this site...

January 19, 2008 | Registered CommenterFrank@OBOW

Indeed I have! I considered it, but I decided on the Voyageur due to its padded hip belt.

Which is another reason I'm glad I steered away from the Weekender, despite the appealing price point. This thing is going to be on my back for the vast majority of the trip.

I have a few packing cubes I was planning on using to alleviate the gigantic main compartment. I considered bundle wrapping, but I don't know if I have it in me to deal with that at every stop - even with a tri-zip.


God help me, but I do love the look of the Voyageur. It's blocky, somewhat ugly, and indeed quite retro, but something about it just rubs me the right way.

Plus, I already have a cheap piece of wheeled (I know) luggage for business/formal travel. This baby is for full blown backpacking. Wrinkles be damned!

Thanks again for all the advice. Probably the best site I've found regarding travel gear, I doubt even Doug Dyment replies to his readers this quickly.

January 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDave

Hi there! your site has been a great help! I've been trying to decide which bag to get... at the moment its between the MEI voyageur, lowe alpine amazon 40L (have you tried that?), tom bihns aeronaut, rick steves convertible carry-on and osprey porter 46... i just can't decide..
it's for backpacking in asia and I just want one with secure lockable zips that would be easy to pack and to carry on the shoulders as a rucksack ..rather than using a shoulder strap..
which do u recommend?
out of all of them? if you don't mind..
thank you!
Caroline

April 11, 2008 | Unregistered Commentercaroline

If you plan to carry this bag for several hours a day, the Voyageur is the only choice. I'm not an expert on "real" backpacks (like the Lowe). A local outdoor retailer is your source for that. Keep the weight under 20 and you should be pretty happy with the Voyageur.

April 11, 2008 | Registered CommenterFrank@OBOW

wow, fast reply! thanks brad! but as you say it's hard to pack... so what do u think of the aeronaut? or the rick steves? : )

April 11, 2008 | Unregistered Commentercaroline

The Aeronaut is tremendously versatile - especially if you're not packing mostly mens' dress clothing - but like every other convertible (except those made by MEI) it is not meant for extended use on the back. And Tom Bihn even tells you that on his website. The Rick Steves bag (latesst model, see today's blog post for a picture) has a pretty beefy waist strap so it might be more comfortable than average. We look forward to hearing your feedback - whatever you choose. The best info on this blog usually comes from readers.

April 11, 2008 | Registered CommenterFrank@OBOW

Dear Brad,
what about the brain bag? it's 36 L... i'm just not sure it has panel loading or lockable zips..
what do u think?
thanks!
Caroline

April 11, 2008 | Unregistered Commentercaroline

I just had a look at a Lowe Alpine Amazon in a store. Trying to decide between the MEI Voyageur, Osprey Porter 46 and Amazon. I saw an MEI bag (might have been a China Clipper) belonging to a friend which he's had for 12 years. The Lowe Alpine looks like it might last a year... It also doesn't open fully, which surprised me. Fittings and construction seemed very cheap as well.

May 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDave

If you're interested in the MEI Voyageur, be sure to order months before you need it. I ordered one at the start of June and have been told it's unlikely to ship before September. The customer service at MEI also leaves a lot to be desired. Leave a voice message and expect to wait more than a week for any kind of response.

June 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCraig

Sorry to hear that they're so overwhelmed with orders. I would like one within three weeks and I live in Europe. Ordered it in May. Emailed today and waiting to hear back from Ahmed. I did find him very good at emailing but haven't tried calling. I don't want to end up getting a trekking pack but there's literally no choice in travel packs over here.

June 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDave

I gave up on MEI after not hearing back from Ahmed for a week, which is a shame as I like the look of the Voyageur. So I've ordered a Red Oxx Sky Train. Will cost me about $400+ in shipping and customs charges but I'm hoping it will be worth it.

July 8, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDave

So I ordered the Sky Train and it's already been sent - even though they were backordered and only just about to finish a production run. Fantastic service and communication. Looking forward to relying on it for a few months.

July 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDave

Dave, I've been trying to decide between a TB Western Flyer and the Sky Train for a while now; any insights you can share about the Sky Train after you've used it would be welcome, either in this thread or one in the forum where some folks are wrestling with the same question. Thanks,

July 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterVic

Hi Vic,

Will do. The Red Oxx arrived promptly and looks well-constructed, although a little smaller than I expected, which is probably a good thing.

Funnily enough, MEI called the next day to say that the Voyageur was ready. It won't arrive in time for my trip but I decided to go ahead and get it sent anyway, as I'd like to see how it compares in the future.

I'll post comments on the Sky Train after I've used it for a while.

July 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDave

I had quite a bit of trouble getting ahold of anyone at MEI. This was pretty the worst customer interaction I've ever had - Ahmed never once replied to any of my emails, though he did call me twice, after multiple attempts of trying to reach him. Even so, it wasn't a satisfying experience, despite Ahmed's politeness. It's a shame, because I really wanted the bag, but delivering the pack in a 3-month span seemed impossible.

September 25, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterbrian

Hi Brad,
Thanks for your great reviews. I'm 6'2" with fairly broad shoulders, do you have any idea if the bag will fit well? I've had a non-adjustable 'hip' strap bag before, and it fastened uselessly just below my ribs.
I'm also considering the aeronaut, especially with Tom Bihn's apparently prompt service - but the lack of compression straps, supposedly less comfortable shoulder straps give me pause.
I'm open to suggestions from other people - my email is attached ( I think )

October 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterlance

Dave,

Any observations on the Sky Train? I'm still torn between it, the Western Flyer, and the smaller version of the Aeronaut being discussed on the TB forum.

Thanks in advance for taking the time to let us know!

Vic

October 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterVic

All, I used an MEI Voyageur for 3.5 months straight on a round the world trip earlier this year. It survived climbs up Machu Picchu, African Safaris, Thailand scuba diving, and urban Tokyo. It's extremely durable, comfortable as a backpack, and has the best lockable zippers on the market (which provided piece of mind while walking through busy train stations and airports).

Because it's soft sided, it could be crammed in any airplane overhead bin. There's nothing more frustrating that a "carry-on" that doesn't fit and needs to be gate checked. Pack cubes are a must to get the full benefit. I used one Eagle Creek large and two medium pack cubes. When arranged at the bottom of the pack it left the top half free for flip-flops, a fleece, and many other items.

The pack's design is very traveler friendly. Because it's side loading and you can unzip the back of the pack to the base, you can easily access all areas of the pack. Another one of my pet peeves are top loading packs where your arm deep in the pack trying to fish out a random item in bottom. It also means customs agents don't have to pull out all your items when you go through security. You can quickly unzip the pack and they can "view" the pack's entire contents.

Also, as mentioned above, this pack isn't for everyone. My wife used a carry-on roller bag that could convert to a backpack in a pinch. She didn't want to carry a pack or the weight everywhere we went. I wanted the freedom and mobility of a pack and the Voyaguer easily handled 20 - 25 pounds.

After living in it for 100 days, the pack still looks brand new and held up extremely well. It's too bad MEI's customer service is lacking because they make a great, inexpensive pack.

November 8, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNate

I thought I'd add my $0.02 since people seem to have a lot of interest...

Re: MEI customer service and Ahmed - yes, communication can take awhile and is a bit frustrating, but Ahmed is very nice and helpful and is willing to have as many 45-minute-long conversations as you need to ask any and every question you might have. That, to me, is really good customer service. This IS a small company that gets a lot of business beyond their means, and you can tell how busy and flustered they are when you speak with them. But it is so worth it - super quality! I had called to order a Voyageur, but only had 3 weeks until my trip to Italy, so Ahmed told me they had 2 "Trekker I" packs available - 1 in green, 1 in blue - and would I be interested in one of those? So I hemmed and hawed and asked him a billion questions and looked at the website, etc. etc. The Trekker is basically the Voyageur but with added day pack (notice - I did not take the day pack on my trip, so no field report) and 2 hide-away side pockets. The pockets are a mixed blessing - very nice for the return flight or wet shoes you don't want in the main pack, but they make the pack too wide to easily walk down the aisle of a train, and I would assume a plane also. I stopped using them after about 2 days, but it also really lightened the weight.

So essentially, I was using a Voyageur. This pack is awesome - I for one like the way it looks. I got the navy blue, which was really nice in that it did not stand out too much, but was different enough to spot easily on a baggage carousel or in the overhead bins. The padded straps and hip belt are AMAZING!!! So comfortable. My brother is a seasoned world traveler, and he carried my pack for me to the airport when I flew home before he did, and he was rather impressed by how comfy it was. Something to point out - he is 6 feet tall, I am a 5'5" female - we both found it comfortable. The straps are all very adjustable too.

Other things: it DOES suck as a suitcase on a shoulder strap - only had it like this at the airport waiting in line when I didn't want to have to close up the harness system in a hurry. Oh yeah, this is a big thing, the flap that covers the harness could be a bit bigger just so you don't have to fight to stretch is out if the bag is packed to bursting, and also the zippers tend to snag at the points where the belts and straps meet the bag itself. This is mainly just annoying, but really a pain in the ass when you are in a hurry. This was probably my biggest gripe with the pack, so overall, not so bad. I emailed Ahmed to tell him about it many moons after my trip, and he said "we will keep [it] in mind and make the necessary improvements".

Re: packing - you must get packing cubes and I will also recommend something like the Eagle Creeks compression bags. It is truly amazing how small your clothes can get when you remove all the air-space. Be warned, though: you get more space to fill, but more weight as well. How important is your spine to you? Just don't be an idiot like I was. Pack as light as you possibly can, as if that weren't obvious on a site like this...

So I think I will leave it at that, since this is way too much of a comment, if it can even be called that anymore. Hope someone finds this useful.

November 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

One other thing, I must agree with Nate above - best lockable zippers ever!

November 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

Just to let you people know that I purchased a Voyageur bag online on 18 October 2008 and not getting any response to my queries on the delivery of it. Any advise as to how to resolve this issue?

November 19, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterfirefly009

firefly009:

Try emailing AND calling Ahmed. Be patient and try not to get upset when you speak to him, which I know must be a tall order at this point. If you contact him through both methods, I'm sure he'll get back to you as soon as he can. Give him as many options as you can for how he can reach you. I often emailed him when I had questions, and he would often get back to me by phone. He often sounds like he is in the middle of a project on the phone, so I assume he prefers calling because he can keep working rather than typing. This is definitely a case where you catch more flies with honey...

Hope this helps a bit.

November 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

Thanks Linda for the comforting advice. Ahmed finally responded to my email hope to get my Voyageur in time for my trip.

November 21, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterfirefly009

I can sell and ship my nearly new navy Voyager immediately. I'm a 60-something woman who received my Voyager in October...ordered in May. Now that I have it I realize that I'm not the "type". (I'd never seen a picture of it, just bought it based on recommendations at onebag.com.) The bag has been used just once by my husband on a short car trip. I'd like $130, including shipping in the continental US. (It's $136 plus shipping from the company, Genuine Gear.) email aliceklassen@yahoo.com or call 559 859-7011.

This week I found a wheeled carry-on in a department store and bought it despite malignment on sites like this.

November 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAlice

I came across this post while looking into a new carryon travel bag. I had an MEI for years until it was "liberated" in Costa Rica. The bag was indestructable. I used it extensively and it took all that I could throw at it on the busses, trains and planes on an extended South America trip. The only drawback I found was that it was not rigid if packed wrong. As others have mentioned, packing cubes are a great help. I replaced the MEI with an Osprey, which is beyond carryon size. It is a tremendous pack. The only problem was the daypack. Bad dimensions and attaching system. I recently purchased the ebags carryon pack. I am curious about the quality. My recent trips are short so I will be able to manage a blowout situation if it arises. All in all, the Mei is a good bag, great in backpack mode and fairly functional if packed correctly.

January 12, 2009 | Unregistered Commentertrl

Any opinions on MEI executive traveller versus osprey porter 46?

July 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

Nate in Nov 2008 posted that his wife used a carry-on that converted to a back pack - is there such a thing? Would the Air Boss by Red Ox work with using a folding luggage carrierfor airport corridors be a good option - do not want to use a wheeled carry-on but cannot backpack due to back issues. Anyone have a good option?

August 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRose

Just want to report that I have received excellent customer service from MEI. I ordered my bag on a Monday and received it on Friday (in the US). Bag arrived without the shoulder strap, but given the comments above I guess I am not too worried about that. Nevertheless, I have emailed the company regarding the missing strap.

September 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJenny

I have just received my voyageur within five days of ordering (to Australia!). Ahmed and his team answered several emails prior to my purchase, overall I've been very satisfied with the customer service. I know that is a big question through reading over the comments in this thread, but from my experience I have to say it's not something you should worry about.

I had originally intended on getting the 'coffee' colour, however due to availability and my need to get the bag quickly there were only a few colours available, I finally settled on the burgundy. I have to say that the bag looks great in that colour, it was a good (unsighted!) choice in the end.

As for the bag, I've had a careful look over all the stitching and the quality seems very high. One point mentioned in the review is that the floor of the pack is not flat due to the padding and hiding of straps. I have to agree with this, however the bag volume is still rather large and I'm sure that when I use it on my upcoming trip I'll be more than happy that the backpack straps and internal padding is there and as large as they are. I can certainly see why comments have been made about hiding the straps. It seems quite tight even without things in the bag, so I'll have to see what it's like when packed ...

I'm usually a chronic overpacker, so this will be my first foray into using a single smaller bag even if I do intend on checking it in (as Qantas allow only 8KG which I think is impractical). I am travelling via train quite a lot when in Japan, so I'm sure it will come into its own then. I'll make a point of posting again after I've travelled and comment on how it performed and whether it lived up to my expectations

October 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAlan
I recently purchased a new Voyager (and a set of Rick Steves packing cubes). The bag was delayed a few weeks, but Sipra (MEI rep) contacted me and coordinated all of it to ensure it would not affect my trip. I received several emails from her on the status and for when it was shipped. I got the bag, was very disappointed, sent her an email explaining it all: the customer service was the best I have received in many years and the product was the finest product, for the money, that I have ever purchased. Seeing as how every future purchase I make will not live up to the standards MEI has set, I will always be disappointed... Yes, a bit of sarcastic humor, but it is the truly the best way to explain my satisfaction.

I would suggest getting packing cubes as the openness of the pack would suck without the organization the cubes provide, but is perfect with them. I also own the Tom Bihn Aeronaut and plan to travel with both as I have business to conduct while I travel, but feel that these two will serve me well as I finish seeing the rest of the globe!
January 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWorld_wide_wait
"I got the bag, was very disappointed, sent her an email explaining it all: the customer service was the best I have received in many years and the product was the finest product, for the money, that I have ever purchased."

There seems to be a contradiction between very disappointed, the need to explain it all and the finest product ever bought.

Can you clarify, please?
January 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTill
I ordered a black Mei Voyageur and received it on my door step in 7 days...in Australia! So they must have fixed up their manufacturing system. I will just re-iterate what everybody else says. A really good quality bag for the price and the perfect size.
February 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHappy traveller
Hello,

I am a new traveler who is looking to purchase the MEI Voyageur. My main objectives in purchasing this pack are:

1. To get the most room out of a carry-on bag.

2. To not stand out when I decide and can afford to travel internationally.

3. To get a bag that can be handled roughly and can withstand various climates.

With all of things considered, this looks like a great choice. Can anyone give me some insight on a color choice? Initially, the gray seems like my first choice, but the brown may also be an option; I definitely want to stay away from black. How about the packing cubes I've seen mentioned here; are Eagle Creek's a sure bet?

Any and all responses are appreciated!

Thanks in advance,

Joe
March 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJoe
Joe, I think this particular brown looks really good. It is probably even more low maintenance than the grey. I like the grey, too, otherwise.

EC is an excellent choice for packing cubes.

If you haven't done so yet, go read the sticky on packing techniques on FT:
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/travel-products/1024268-packing-tips-masterthread-includes-how-pack-suit.html

It'll help a great deal.
March 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTill
Joe, I just received mine on 3/22, and I can vouch for the brown: it's handsome, yet understated, and looks as if it'll be pretty forgiving of stains and such.

Overall, I'm impressed. Trial-packed it with a heavier-than-usual load (~23 lbs.) yesterday, using the bundling method supplemented by a mix of eBags and Eagle Creek packing cubes, and took it around town. The suspension system came through nicely. Apparently they've made a few changes since Brad's review: the external webbing loops for attaching items to the top of the bag are now absent (the top carrying handle's still there though, as well as the left and right side loops); and while it does still have the D-ring attachment points for a shoulder strap, the strap itself is no longer included. (I guess they figure anyone interested in the bag will probably carry it in backpack mode most of the time anyway.) That said, I tested it out using a Tom Bihn Absolute strap; it was OK despite being overloaded, but not nearly as comfortable as the backpack harness.

I can also vouch for MEI's improved customer service. When I emailed a question regarding availability I had a reply within 24 hours, and when I placed my order in late February they responded within the hour. I told them I needed it by mid-May, was told it would arrive "on or before May 1st", and received it two days ago. So it appears they've got their supply problem sorted out, though I'd still advise anyone interested in an MEI product to order well in advance of their trip, just in case.
March 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTony
After reading comments in the MEI Voyageur and Overnighter reviews, I was a bit apprehensive about purchasing from MEI, not because of inferior construction or design qualities but because of slow production and shipping times. However, recent comments spoke to improved customer service and faster shipping times, so I decided to consider purchasing an MEI product.

I emailed MEI several times for a couple reasons. First, to see if they could assuage my concerns about production and shipping times. Second, to ask various questions about their bags. MEI responded to all of my comments and questions with thoroughness and promptness; never did a response take more than 12 hours to arrive in my inbox. With my questions answered and my mind made up on purchasing a Voyageur, I ordered from MEI. As promised, my order shipped just days (3?) after I purchased the pack (shipped on April 6th), and arrived in Canada on the 14th.

I'm very happy with the product - it's not perfect, but there is no other pack out there that fits all of my requirements as closely as this model - and I am very happy with their customer service and turnaround time. If you are on the fence about purchasing an MEI product, I suggest you contact them directly as I did and ask enough questions until you feel confident in making your purchase. From my experience and from the experiences of others, it would appear that MEI has overcome its struggles, and you should not feel apprehensive about ordering one of their packs.
April 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDevon
I read these reviews Monday, called MEI Tuesday, they shipped a bag Wednesday and I received it Thursday for a trip on Saturday. I had a choice of 6 colors and strap or no strap (I chose the strap for an extra $5). I'd say MEI has overcome their manufacturing, ordering and shipping delay problems in a big way! I'm looking forward to trying it out!
August 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJill
i bought the mei ( green ) in a store at 1996, i travel to asian, canada, south america had np. good backpack for travel anywhere
September 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLeon
Just got my MEI Voyageur, it actually came quicker than I was initially told it would. Looks like a terrific bag, I'm really looking forward to trying it out on my upcoming trip to Japan...
September 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDavid "Lefty" Schlesinger
After reading this thread, I had to add my own experience. My husband and I decided to try traveling with one bag each from now on, and after extensive research (and a few recomendations from friends), decided on the MEI Voyageur. I was a little apprehensive, because of some negative reviews about people waiting months to get their bag, but we had seen the bag in person, seen how awesome it is, and wanted it. Added to that, we really wanted to support an independent company like MEI.

I went on the MEI site and saw that none of the colors really called to me (I'm a girl, and I tend to be picky). I halfheartedly settled on the Grey color, but decided to email the company and ask about alternate color choices, since each bag IS handmade, I thought I might have a slight chance of getting exactly what I wanted.

SSipra (CS rep) replied to my email within 24 hours, told me he was unsure if they could honor my request, but would find out. In just 5 days I had several emails from him updating me on his project, and a final email saying that they could, indeed, make me my very own MEI in a Lavender color. He even sent me an email with pictures of the fabric they were going to use, to make sure the color was ok. I went ahead and placed an order for my lavender pack, and one for a brown for my husband.

I ordered (and paid for, since I ordered on the http://www.meivoyageur.com website). October 10th. I received an email yesterday telling me my bags will ship monday, and I should have them by friday. The total time between me ordering my bags and getting them will be exactly one month...and, considering the fact that they made my bag custom and from scratch, I think that is an excellent turnaround time.
Even though I have not yet received MY bag, I have seen other MEI voyageurs and can vouch for their practicality, their versatility and comfort.

I will recommend the company to everyone and anyone that I know enjoys to travel. Companies that genuinely care about their customers satisfaction are few and far between now, and deserve all the support we can give them.

I should also mention that they did not charge me a penny extra for making my bag. From what I understand, the bags ARE handmade, but they are cut in batches of 25. I would have been more than willing to pay extra for my special color, but they never even asked. They just wanted my business, and my satisfaction.

This company is the embodiment of what customer service SHOULD be. As soon as I get my bag I will definitely post some pictures.
November 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLeti
Just bought the eBags weekender and am very impressed with its design. It zips all the way open on the long side, and has a little structure, so it's very easy to pack. It has great pockets without wasting too much space on them, and has padded, ergonomically shaped backpack straps that stow neatly away, leaving a fairly classy-looking suitcase. I also like the four external and 2 internal cinch straps and clever laptop and "3+1+1" pockets. It was very reasonably priced, and the bright orange lining inside makes it easy to find anything. The only problem is that I'm 5'2" and the bag doesn't fit me properly, resulting in more fatigue than I'd expected. My husband, on the other hand, is 5'10" and loves it, so it will not go unappreciated or unused.

So my search for the right pack continues. I think I really need something with a good hip belt, internal support, and maybe a sternum strap The Tom Bihn Aeronaut looks good, but the way it's constructed, I wouldn't be able to fit a snorkel and fins (important). The Red Oxx luggage looks really nice but at the price of less-than-ideal straps.

Quick question about the MEI Voyager - does it fit less-than-tall folks? Would love to hear how the harness system works on short people.

Thanks for all the great information, everyone.
January 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkatlprod
kathprod asked whether the Voyageur fits "less-than-tall folks" -- what I wonder is whether it fits someone as tall as 6'4". Same question for the Executive Overnighter (which seems to have a less robust harness system).

I got this answer from someone at the company: "We have sold the Voyager and Executive Overnighter to few tall customers in the past, however we do suggest checking some travel blogs to see if someone out there can give you a candid feedback on either bag."

Does anyone have experience with either bag that would suggest they'd work for me?
January 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMike
Hi. I'm female, 5'4+ and slim. I have a difficult time carrying a pack when it doesn't fit my body well. The MEI is too large for me. Its too wide, for when walking through a busy place I need to turn sideways to walk through a busy bus station. I feel its also too deep and a bit too long. Also, the waist belt is too large for my body, have to clinch it to the max compression and still its too large. So, I'm thinking of special ordering a Voyager to smaller specs. Any recommendations on some better numbers to give them to make a bag? I also found that I stuff a bag to the max so making it smaller would ensure it being able to fit on the plane. Any suggestions on specs?

Thanks!
July 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRKA

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.