So for this review, I will be looking at a piece of luggage. Correction, several pieces of luggage.
Now, I know some of you are probably thinking, what the heck does luggage have to do with portable electronics? But as any well-traveled gearhead knows, being able to easily stow your gadgets is always a key consideration, especially when flying.
Which brings us to the Balanzza TRUCO (Travel Utility Carry On). Eagle-eyed folk who take a look at this product will likely notice that it’s like the Omega Supreme of luggage sans the Autobot symbol. It actually breaks out into three smaller parts.
It's like I could feel my inner nerd giggling inside the first time I saw it.
Then again, the breakdown feature is cool and all but does it actually work well in the real world? I got to try the TRUCO for several weeks, including a trip to Japan.
Great organizer: With its ability to break down into three separate pieces, the TRUCO is great for stowing your laptop and gadgets into separate sections while keeping clothes and toiletries in the main bag. There's an upper case that clips to the top, which is great for stowing portable devices such as game systems, tablets and chargers. It also includes a divider, which helps with organization. Then you have a detaching front case that doubles as a laptop bag. The main body itself is sized like a smaller rolling business bag without the two attachments.
Suited for flying: Air travel is where the TRUCO truly shines. The ability to break down the TRUCO into smaller pieces gives you a lot of flexibility with handling your carry on. You can store the whole thing on the upper bin or separate either the top case or the laptop bag and slide them under the seat in front of you for easy access to gadgets and other items you want to keep close.
The TRUCO is especially great for smaller regional planes that can’t fit a standard carry-on roller bag in their smaller overhead bins. Flying from Reno’s airport, for example, I anticipated this scenario and put all my precious electronics in the upper case and my clothes and non-crushable items in the main bag. I then detached the upper case at the plane entrance along with my laptop bag (since I was still allowed to carry on two items) then gave the main bag with my clothes to the baggage handler. This allowed me to keep stuff that could otherwise be crushed or damaged if checked in the plane’s main storage area.
Easy to detach: Each piece connects with a set of slide-in clip straps that are easy to both attach and detach. This helps when you have to quickly break down your bag at the security checkpoint or when boarding the plane. The clip straps are also quite sturdy. I tested this by lifting my luggage with all the cases attached several times while using the mini handle from the upper case instead of the slide out handle. The stuff did not budge.
The handle: If I had to single out one thing that I wish could be improved about the Truco, it would be the main handle. The handle is a bit wobbly when fully extended. It also would be nice to be able to lock halfway, which I couldn’t do with the unit I tested. The $200 price tag may also be a bit high for some.
Space for big items: The Truco’s biggest asset — the ability to break down into multiple parts — also means it won’t have as much space to fit bigger items, especially stuff on the longer side. My tripod, for example, fits just fine in a normal carry-on roller bag but doesn’t fit in the Truco because its main compartment is shorter than your typical carry-on roller. The separate, detachable top bag for the Truco actually takes that extra length away from the main body. So while you still get the same amount of total space overall, the use of separate detachable parts makes the main bag smaller lengthwise. Also, while the laptop case can handle most sizes, fitting a 17-inch laptop can be an issue. My laptop is a bit on the slim side so it was fine but folks who have a chunkier 17-inch laptop may not be able to fit their device in the laptop bag.
Not enough lock slots: As a paranoid tech-head who travels with expensive gadgets, I am a stickler for securing my bags with a lock (TSA-approved, of course. I’m a law-abiding citizen after all). The Truco has a lock slot for only one of the bags. Fortunately, you can still slip a lock through the double zipper handles for the other cases.
Despite its hiccups, the Balanzza TRUCO is a great bag for folks who do a lot of flying while carrying a boatload of gadgets. The ability to organize your stuff and break down the TRUCO into different pieces gives traveling tech-heads extra flexibility, especially when prioritizing their carry-on items.
Perhaps my thoughts about the TRUCO are best summarized by comments I heard from several guys standing behind me either at the airport or the plane ramp every time I broke down my luggage.
Yep, just like Omega Supreme.