Mon. Sep 21st, 2020

Spotter Up

In Depth Tactical Solutions

Like many of our readers, I travel a lot. From simple single night business trips to ten day international trips to various 3rd world countries and more. I am always looking for a good bag to bridge the overnight to weeklong timeframe. Having relied upon Tumi roll-a-boards for the better part of two decades, I find that roll-a-boards can be a hassle outside of well-paved North America. Vanquest recently sent me their Skycap-46 Duffel Backpack and after four trips with it, I may have found what I have been looking for.

This pack is robust and well made. It carries everything I have needed for 2-4 night trips. Carrying it is very comfortable. With a mix of 500 and 1000 denier Cordura, I expect it to be very durable. I definitely can attest that the water repellent coating works as I both spilled water on the pack and carried it in the rain, the contents remaining dry throughout.

So much thought went in to the manufacture of this pack and it shows. I commented to my wife, “Every time I go to pack something in it, I seem to find a purpose built pocket just for that need.” On top of all that, it looks good as well. And I love fact that it doesn’t convey a traditional overly tactical look.

From the manufacturer’s website:

SKYCAP-46 Key Features: (1) 46-Liter capacity; (2) Stowable shoulder straps and waist belt; (3) 15” laptop support plus admin front pocket; (4) Large volume main compartment with external compression straps; (5) Blend of 1000-D and 500-D CORDURA for great strength to weight ratio.

The 2018 SKYCAP-46 is a carry-on compatible* duffel backpack designed for world-travelers like you. Dedicated laptop / tablet compartments for quick access at the airport, multiple lockable zippers, a RFID-blocking pocket, and dozens of pockets / slots. This fully padded 46-liter duffel backpack is THE solution for you to travel securely with all your essentials.

The laptop / tablet / admin pocket lets you store your 15” laptop and a full-size tablet in their own dedicated quick access padded sleeves. The pocket also has an admin organizational panel for your chargers, pens, headphones, and wallet. There’s also a RFID-blocking pocket to protect your passport and credit cards from digital pickpockets.

The main compartment is lined with high-viz orange 210-D ripstop nylon, offering generous storage for your clothing and travel essentials. The front zippered ToughMesh pocket is perfect for a toiletry kit, or one of our Maximizer organizers. Two side ToughMesh pockets are for larger items (sandals, shoes) or dirty clothes.

For the best balance of weight and strength, we use ultra-durable 1000-D Cordura® nylon at high-wear areas (bottom, sides), and 500-D Cordura® for the rest of the bag. Our Cordura® is treated with DWR (Durable Water Repellent) for all-weather performance, and will be ready every time you need it.

Main compartment

The spacious main compartment is lined in a high vis orange (as are all the compartments and pockets), making it easy to see the contents. The compartment feels a little tight as you pack it, but holds more than you might expect. The reason it feels tight is the EVA foam side wings, which give the bag structure and protection. There are two side zippered pockets that turn out to be perfect for holding my running shoes and shorts (thereby helping protect my clean clothes from the dirty exercise attire). The rest of the compartment holds everything I need for 2-4 days of travel (at least casual/business casual – I wouldn’t use this bag as my primary if I traveled with suits).

Laptop/Admin pocket

The laptop / tablet / admin pocket holds up to 15” laptop and a full-size tablet in dedicated padded sleeves. My 13 inch laptop was well protected. An admin organizational panel sits on the front of the laptop sleeves and holds chargers, pens, flashlights, tourniquet etc. The RFID-blocking pocket protects your passport and credit cards from digital pickpockets.

Extra pockets and features

There are three quick access pockets worth pointing out. On the front of the pack is a pocket perfectly sized for a book for the trip, or gloves or even a light jacket, etc. On the top and bottom are two small pockets perfectly sized for your earbuds, power cords, phone power pack, toiletries, snacks etc. The top pocket has become a key feature I love, giving me easy access to my power cords and headphones and protein bars while on my trips. It is worth nothing that the top and bottom pockets do take up some of the main compartment space though.

The shoulder straps are comfortable and easily adjusted for different loads and body types. But they can also be quickly tucked away (along with the waist belt) if you want to use the bag as a traditional duffle style.


It is not very compact for storage, as the foam side panels make it harder to fold up than a traditional duffle or carryon pack. Additionally, it can be overstuffed and might exceed some carryon sizes. Lastly, there is no water bottle sleeve on the wide of the pack. This is a small but noticeable oversight for those of us who carry refillable bottles on our travels.


Cost – List price is $199.99, but right now it is discounted to $169.99 on the Vanquest website. This seems very reasonable for the level of quality and comparable or better than it’s peer group. 5.

Comfort – Handles and shoulder straps are supper comfortable. Easy to wear and carry. 5

Durability – Extremely robust and well made, an easy 5.

Functionality – Very functional, does what you need it to. 5

Weight – Very reasonable for a pack this size. 5

Overall rating – 25. I love this pack. So do my friends. One has tried to buy it off me twice while traveling. My roll-a-boards may well be relegated to the attic.

Specs & Features

  • Total Pack Capacity: 46 Liters
  • Net Weight: 4.0 pounds | 1814 grams
  • Overall Exterior Size (Fully Extended with Handles): 25″ (H) x 16″ (W) x 10″ (D)
  • Padded main Compartment (Interior): 21.5″ (H) x 13″ (W) x 6.5″ (D)
  • Three grab handles with one for rolling luggage pass through
  • Two compression straps for space saving that fold away
  • Fold away padded shoulder straps with load lifters & sternum strap w/ integrated whistle store
  • Fold away padded waist belt
  • Laptop and Tablet sleeve fits 2018 15″ Mac Book Pro laptop plus 10″ tablets
  • Front attachment loops for travel pillows and shoes
  • Top and side loop panels for quick ID of your luggage
  • Materials: 1,000-D Mil-grade Cordura® fabric on high wear areas and 500-D Cordura® for the rest treated with Durable Water Repellant
  • EVA foam padded Shoulder straps for long term comfort
  • High-visibility, lightweight & moisture resistant 210-D Ripstop nylon interior.
  • Durable RC-Class YKK® lockable zippers, reversed for protection.
  • Mil-grade ITW® and UTX-Duraflex® hardware made from high tensile strength Acetal polymer.
  • Main zipper pull (Zipline Orbit) made by ITW-Nexus
  • Spartan Zipper pulls
  • High tensile strength nylon webbings and binding tapes, finished with high tensile strength bonded nylon thread

Material Disclosure

I received this product as a courtesy from the manufacturer via Spotter Up so I could test it and give my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.

*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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