Guest review by Tina Koyama
When I travel, I always pack for a carry-on only – a roller bag that goes in the overhead bin and a standard-size backpack that shoves under the seat. (Yes, I do this even for three-week trips!) Especially for intercontinental flights but even for much shorter ones, I must have lots of different kinds of entertainment: Kindle books and music, of course, but also a sketchbook, art materials, my journal and a writing pen. I don’t expect to have my entire arsenal of everyday-carry supplies at my fingertips because then I wouldn’t have space on my tray table for snacks. But before takeoff, I like pulling out everything I might possibly want during the flight so that I don’t have to constantly dig around under the seat to get more things out (and risk knocking over my spouse’s beverage, which has happened). And I’d like to get it all out in one smooth operation.
Am I dreaming? Maybe. But when I saw the Lihit Lab Teffa Bag in Bag in the A4 size (Ana has reviewed the A5 size), I thought it would be ideal for organizing all my in-flight entertainment in one tidy place. I chose bright orange so it wouldn’t disappear into the black hole of my black backpack. The hard part is anticipating all my needs and carefully selecting what to put into it before the flight begins.
I was planning to use the large main compartment, which has a double zipper, for my 8-inch tablet. But when I got a super-thin 12-inch Surface for Christmas, I was delighted to find that it also fits comfortably in there. I don’t always travel with a laptop, but it’s nice to know that the Teffa could serve as a sleeve for the Surface (much more functional than the pocketless sleeve that came with the Surface) if I decide to bring it.
In the unzipped compartment on the left, I put a 6-by-9-inch handmade sketchbook, which is typically what I use when I travel. A softcover Baron Fig Flagship notebook (a favorite for pencil sketching) also fits nicely in this space. In the right-side compartment I put six colored pencils and one Blackwing. I like that the compartment is narrow enough that the pencils won’t fall down into a heap at the bottom, so they are all easily accessible.
I chose two brush pens and a Sailor 1911 Large fountain pen (with fude nib, my first choice for drawing) to put into the three pen slots. Described as being wide enough to accommodate thick pens, the pen slots nonetheless felt a bit tight when I pushed those pens in. I’m guessing they will loosen up with use.
The two front pockets (with Velcro flaps) were just the right size for a Field Notes notebook (for sketching and journaling), my phone and ear buds (not visible).
Except the laptop, everything shown came out of my usual everyday-carry. I could easily fill any of the compartments or pockets with more than what you see here, but I really want the bag to be slim and tidy while still meeting my in-flight entertainment needs.
Filled, the whole Teffa bag fits easily in the padded laptop compartment of my backpack, and I can pull it out in one elegant motion! (Ya think? We’ll see if I can avoid tipping the beverage.) There’s still plenty of space in the backpack for my everyday-carry bag and snacks. That should do it, right?
So far it’s theoretical, since I haven’t flown with it yet, but there’s a test flight is coming up in a few months. In the meantime, I have to fight the temptation to add a few more colored pencils, a waterbrush, a pocket-size Rhodia journal (my favorite for longer trips when I have a lot more to say), and oh, look – a magazine would fit …!