The cheap, perfectly-sized international travel backpack and a hardcase alternative

It is a truth universally acknowledged that anyone posting a gibberish-branded viral affiliate link must be in want of a life. But I flew internationally lately, and when I saw the $40 Coowoz Large Backpack from Amazon doing the rounds among the influencer types on Tik Tok I murmured agreeably because it is a big deal this summer. It has all the pockets and compartments, its zips don't die half way through the first journey, and it fits precisely within the newly-compressed dimensions of certain carriers whose free bag size is one inch smaller on the long axis than the standard domestic U.S. free bag dimensions. These airlines, such as Norse Atlantic, quickly gained a reputation for checking those dimensions at boarding and charging exorbitant fees if the bag so much as tickles the side of bag-checking frame. To be sure, it's not as bad as swimming in blood and human excrement like you might have to with Air France, but it is annoying.

Liz Hund reviews the "viral backpack" for CNN and finds it to her liking.

My favorite feature of the backpack is its clamshell-style packing system. In other words, the large main compartment unzips like a suitcase for easier packing and more organized travel days — no more digging around trying to find things at the bottom of your bag. This has become a must-have feature for me, and trust me, it's a game changer.

Depending on what kind of packer you are, you can easily fit a long weekend's worth of spring or summer clothes — I was able to fit enough for a four-day trip. Better yet, with this clamshell-style packing system, you're able to utilize packing cubes, allowing you to keep your clothes more organize

By Christmas all the fancy brands will have their own slightly-smaller luggage options. But that will be too late.

However, dear reader, this is not the affiliate link travel bag I wanted to tell you about. I did not buy the Coowoz backpack, because I did not know about it in May. I instead got a cheap hardcase box of the kind usually used to travel with delicate equipment such as cameras and guns: the 17" Yellow Weatherproof Equipment Case, made of Polypropylene Plastic with Foam Insert (yellow) and Meijia Portable All Weather Case (green, black, orange) sneak in right under the personal item volume limits.

They're ugly, functional, unweildy, have no compartments, and are not backpacks, but are a better fit for carriers using that 17" personal-item limit. More liters! It is half an inch within the three dimensional volume limit in play, with no stretch, pockets or straps to tease the gate agent's imagination. And you can get it on Amazon for the same price at the Coowoz.

There is a name-brand equivalent of these clones–the Nanuk 920 []–but it's so expensive you might as well just bring your normal bag and pay the damned fee.

Remember that there are also weight limits to worry about, and they're easily reached with bigger bags like these.

Coowoz Large Travel Backpack [Amazon]

Meijia All-Weather Case [Amazon]

17" Yellow Weatherproof Equipment Case [Amazon]