Products, Reviews

The Classic 44-Litre Cabin Zero Backpack: A Full Review

March 27, 2017

If you’re looking for a cabin bag that’s lightweight, roomy, stylish, and practical, take a look at the Cabin Zero backpack.


For years I travelled with a Pacsafe Venturesafe 25-litre backpack as my carry-on bag for long weekend breaks and short (up to around 10 days) backpacking trips in Europe.

However the waist strap broke over a year ago and on my recent city break in Copenhagen I couldn’t tighten the shoulder straps, meaning that I was becoming acutely aware of the weight of everything I was carrying around on the first day (before I could check into my hostel) and the last day (once I’d checked out of my hostel and before my flight home).  That was two out of my three days in Copenhagen that sightseeing became uncomfortable after a couple of hours.  And because I was on a budget trip, I couldn’t make too many coffee stops to give my shoulders a break.

So when I returned to England I decided that it was time to look for a new cabin bag. The fact that my DSLR camera took up around half of my 25-litre storage space had also become rather restrictive too (when I first bought the backpack I only had a little compact camera).

It was whilst I was looking around for Pacsafe Venturesafe 25 alternatives that I learned that Cabin Zero were looking for British travel bloggers to review their cabin bags.  I headed over to their website to take a peek.

Cabin Zero Cabin Bags

Cabin Zero are a British company, founded by Neil Varden following a 6-week trip to India in 1993.  After a succession of backpack fails he realised that the kind of backpack he needed (“a cabin sized bag which would be lightweight, durable and also cool enough to use at [his] final destination”) simply did not exist at that time.

And so Cabin Zero was born.

And the name? Cabin sized = zero hassles. Simples! 🙂

Cabin Zero currently offer three different size cabin bags: 28 litre, 32 litre and 44 litre.  Seeing as though I needed a bag large enough to accommodate my DSLR with its 18-135mm lens and case, as well as my laptop, hairdryer, straighteners, AND clothes and toiletries, I decided that a 28 litre bag simply would not be sufficient, and they didn’t offer 32 litre bags when I first wrote this post.  So, I had a look at what their 44 litre bags had to offer.

Cabin Zero 44-litre Cabin Bag Features

  • Cabin-sized (measures 55 x 40 x 20 cm). CabinZero bags have been developed so that they will be accepted as carry-on by all the major airlines.
  • Built in Global Tracker, powered by Okoban
  • YKK Lockable Zippers
  • Thick padded shoulder straps
  • 25 year warranty if you ‘like’ them on Facebook (clever!)
  • 44L capacity
  • Strong, durable materials
  • Weighs just 760 grams (approx)

First Impressions

When my Cabin Zero cabin bag first arrived I was impressed at just how lightweight it was.  Many cabin bags (particularly those rigid-framed ones you pull along on wheels) already weigh anything up to three kilograms (my mum’s is just under two kilograms and is considered lightweight), and considering the weight limit for carry-on is 10 kilograms, the more lightweight your cabin bag is, the better.

I also noticed the quality and strength/durability of the material.  This felt like a bag that would stand the test of time.

Packing for 7 nights in Tuscany

With an additional 19 litres of storage space to work with, the initial temptation was to pack twice as much stuff as I usually do.  But whilst I did have more room for a few more items of clothing, I didn’t want to risk packing things I didn’t need and simply wouldn’t use or wear.  I was also very aware of the weight limit (seeing as though I already travel with a lot of electrical equipment).

So I decided that I would take two of my three small packing cubes to accommodate my clothes (one pair of jeans, one pair of harem pants, five tops, one dress, and two cardigans, as well as the outfit I was wearing), still leaving me room for my DSLR and 18-135mm lens in its padded case, a pair of sandals and a pair of flips flops (I was wearing my third pair of shoes), my laptop and charger, my hairdryer, straighteners, two clear bags of toiletries, a bag of make-up (none of which I wore; why do I always pack it?), my sunglasses in a hard case, a small medical kit, a guidebook, and a couple of adaptors and memory card readers.

Everything I needed fitted very easily and very neatly into my Cabin Zero backpack.  It was the perfect size for my week-long adventure around Tuscany.

What can you fit inside a Cabin Zero 44L Backpack?

What I loved about the Cabin Zero 44-litre cabin bag/backpack

1 | It’s small enough to be classed as a cabin bag, but large enough to accommodate everything you need for a week (or longer) away.  

With my old 25 litre backpack, if I wanted to take my DSLR camera I had to sacrifice any more than one or two changes of clothes, and the only other shoes that would fit were my Vibram FiveFingers  because they pack down to pretty much nothing.

2 | It’s available in 16 different colours, so you’re bound to find a shade of your favourite colour in there somewhere.

I went with Mysore Red because it matches my hair 🙂

With my Cabin Zero outside the Basilica di Santa Croce, Florence

3 | Because it opens like a suitcase, it was very easy to access anything I needed without having to unpack what I didn’t in order to get to it.

Most cabin-sized bags – unless they’re the rigid-framed variety on wheels – are top loading, so if you want to get to what’s in the bottom, you have to remove what’s on top first.

4 | The side compression straps ensured that all the contents stayed put when it was on my back.

Cabin Zero cabin back fastened with compression straps

5 | The padded shoulder straps, and the fact that it sits quite high on my back when on (compared to my old backpack anyway) meant that it was very comfortable to wear whilst sightseeing and during walks between train/bus stations and our accommodation.

Gazing up at Keith Haring's Tuttomondo, Pisa

6 | It has two handles, on the top and on the side, so you can carry it like a suitcase for short hops on and off of public transport.

With my Cabin Zero cabin bag at our hotel in Pisa

7 | It has a large zipped pocket on the front to store items you need easy access to.

I kept my document wallet in here and the clear plastic bags with my liquids in.

8 | There’s a padded inner sleeve in which to store your laptop so that it sits flat with your back when carrying the pack.

It’s so important when you’re a travel blogger or when you’re travelling on business, to have somewhere to keep your laptop where it is protected and won’t move around.

9 | It has sturdy lockable zippers on the main compartment so that you can secure it with a padlock.

Cabin Zero cabin bag lockable zippers

10 | It’s super lightweight (weighing just 760 grams).

This meant that even with my heavy electrical items in it, it was still well within the 10 kilogram weight limit for cabin baggage.

Where I think it could be improved

My only real complaint about the bag was its lack of smaller inner pockets.  There a full-width zipped pocket and a full-width mesh pocket inside, but no smaller pockets in which to store things like tissues, cleansing wipes, earplugs, a memory card reader and an eye mask.

Would I use it again?

Absolutely, yes.  I love the fact that I can take it on the plane with me (so no waiting around at the baggage carousel at the airport, and no extortionate checked baggage fees to incur) and I love the fact that it gives me all the benefits of a suitcase, but that it can be worn on my back.

I also love that it’s brightly coloured (even if you’re small like me, your friends won’t lose you in the crowd), well designed (you can tell that it was created by someone who’s done a lot of travelling himself so knows what works and what doesn’t), and – quite simply – looks cool.  I felt proud to be seen wearing it.

So if you’re looking for a cabin bag that’s lightweight, roomy, stylish, and practical then Cabin Zero is definitely a great place to start your search.

You can claim 15% off your Cabin Zero cabin bag by using my promo code GALLOPAROUNDTHEGLOBE.  Just head over to their website to place your order.


**I was provided with a complimentary 44-litre Cabin Zero cabin bag, in exchange for an honest review**

Travelling Italy with my Cabin Zero



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  • Reply Tayo April 1, 2017 at 8:37 AM

    This backpack does sound really good and its definately compact from the pics. Might peruse it for me Euro trips especially my travel buddies mock me endlessly over my luggage. Thanks!

    • Reply Kiara Gallop April 3, 2017 at 5:11 PM

      It was perfect for my week in Tuscany, just the right size and weight! 🙂

  • Reply Ellie Cleary April 1, 2017 at 4:50 PM

    This looks like a great bag! I use an Osprey Farpoint 40 (also in Red LOL) which to be honest looks pretty similar except for being 4 litres less. I use it as my main bag when backpacking. Something I’ve found to be so important is the sturdy zips! I really like the design of the Cabin Zero and the fact that it can be taken as a carry on – big fan of travelling light! 🙂
    Happy travels, Ellie

    • Reply Kiara Gallop April 3, 2017 at 5:09 PM

      Coincidentally I was also looking at the Osprey Farpoint 40 in red!:-) And also wondering if it could replace my backpack that I use for longer trips (currently a Berghaus 55l), so maybe I’ll try my Cabin Zero on longer trips too. Essentially I shouldn’t really need any more clothes, as long as there’s a facility to wash those I have. It’s just packing for cooler climates where the extra space would come in useful.

  • Reply Sophie Nadeau April 29, 2017 at 10:04 AM

    Wow, you managed to fit so much into that backpack (it looks a little like a tardis from the outside :P). Cool that there’s a padded inner sleeve too because as we’re travel bloggers we often need to bring our laptops with us… lovely review 🙂

    • Reply Kiara Gallop April 29, 2017 at 6:46 PM

      Haha, I like that: my own little tardis! 😉 Yep, it’s a perfect sized pack for a week away. I’m flying out to Girona for just under a week on Monday and I shall be taking my Cabin Zero with me once again 🙂

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