The Bento Bag Is My New Go-To Carry-On Bag

by joeheg

In 2021, Nomad Lane was nice enough to give us one of their Bento Bags if we’d review it for the blog. We occasionally get offers like this and we accepted if they knew we’d give our honest opinion without any interference. Since they were fine with those terms, Sharon took the bag on 2 trips and liked it but it didn’t really fit her travel needs.

Since she didn’t want it, I said that I’d try it out. Now that we’re flying on short weekend getaways again, it’s become my go-to carry-on bag.

The Bento Bag is designed to be compact, which it is. There are a seemingly endless number of pockets and cubbies to store items. More importantly, at 17x8x10, it’s designed to fit under the seat on almost every domestic US airline.

I’d used the Bento Bag on several trips in 2022 as an addition to my Travelpro Rollaboard bag and it was great to carry my computer, headphones, travel pillow and toiletries.

It easily fits under the seat of an American A321.

a person's legs in a pocket with a bottle of water in it

It also fits on a United E170

a person's feet in a seat belt

And on United’s 737 MAX8.

a person's legs in a seat

We recently had two long weekend trips to New York where we wanted to bring food back home. I knew that our travel cooler wouldn’t fit in a carry-on sizer. With only two nights away from home, I tried to fit everything into the Bento Bag and see if it could serve as my only bag on a short trip.

On our first trip to Newark, we flew on a jetBlue E190 and I had no problems fitting the Bento Bag under my seat.

a person's legs in a pocket with a bottle of water and a book

Coming home we were on a United 757-200. And while United has the smallest under seat requirements of the US airlines, the bag slid under the seat with no problems.

a blue and white label on a blue and white bag

On our next flight, I needed to fit more into the bag as we’d be going to a benefit concert and I needed to bring a set of nicer clothes.

Here’s everything I needed to fit into the Bento Bag.

a green bag with clothes and other items in it

While it wasn’t easy, I got everything to fit.

a bag with a few items inside

Once I took my Bose Headphones and travel pillow out, I was able to fit the bag under the seat. First on a jetBlue A320.

a green bag with black straps

Then coming home on a Delta A321 (which ended up being the tightest squeeze of any airline because of the IFE system and the support bars under the seats.)

a bag on the floor

Final Thoughts

While we liked several things about the Nomad Lane Bento Bag when we originally tried it, it didn’t suit our travel plans in 2021. Now that we’re in 2023 and heading back on the road for 1-2 night getaways, I appreciate the bag on another level. The ability to organize everything needed for a trip into a bag which fits under an airplane seat makes the Bento Bag a must have for anyone who doesn’t want to risk having to gatecheck a bag.

While I’ll still use my TravelPro rollaboard and my Pacsafe backback when I need them, it’s nice to know I have a bag that will hold everything needed for a weekend getaway.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


James April 4, 2023 - 5:01 pm

I purchased the bag and love it. High quality and much better than aback pack.

joeheg April 5, 2023 - 1:12 am

I rotate my bag depending on the trip. Sometimes I need a backpack, but if I don’t, I bring the Bento Bag.

Lynn April 14, 2023 - 3:11 pm

I travel a lot, but reading what a guy thinks about a bag and how much he can fit into it is pointless…guys are clueless about what a girl needs to pack. So….thanks for the info comparing the under the seat room on different airlines… But that was the only helpful bit


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