Backpack – this issue didn’t get much attention here so far, despite my blog being name “Rooksack”. So I wanted to introduce you after all, to the backpack I actually travel with. I prefer those which fit to the dimensions of the airline hand luggage regulations. The Cabin Max so far does an excellent job in these terms. That’s why I wanted to introduce him to you after I have used it for almost two years now.

The backpack had just gone down the band and slipped onto the track down to the baggage collection. Suddenly it struck me like a lightning. I was shouting „Stop!“, but it was too late. My large backpack was gone and with him my passport. I needed it, because it was tied to my ticket. And it was only 30 mins left until our flight was supposed to take off. Not enough for another Check-In. 150 euros were wasted and I had just missed the last scheduled flight from Liverpool to Belfast that day. And it got worse: When we came to the booked replacement flight the next morning, it was cancelled. The volcano with the unpronounceable name Eyjafjallajökull had erupted and wasted Europe’s airspace with small particles. This led to a blocking of the English and Irish airspace.
That wasn’t just the moment when I cursed all the volcanoes and my forgetfulness, it was also the day I cursed Check-In luggage to hell. Since then, I’ve flown almost exclusively without luggage to check-in.

On the search for a new best friend

So after I finally lost my confidence in check-in baggage and my memory brain capacity, I started to look for the perfect backpack with the hand luggage dimensions (55x40x20cm). My requirements on backpacks are more practical in general. I like to have an extra pocket for important documents, so I can access them at the airport passport control. A comfortable pair of straps are also nice, but stability is most important to me.
Also, the model should not be too expensive. Even if I would invest a few Euros more for good quality, I find the prices of various outdoor manufacturer outrageous. Especially since these prices are rarely used to meet ethical standards. So why not just choose a cheaper manufacturer?
Overall, I put more emphasis on the material quality. But the speed at the check-in is very important. Therefore, a simple backpack with only a few or easily accesible extra pockets is recommended as hand luggage for air travel.

Behold: The Cabin Max

I was pretty happy when I found the Cabin Max at an internet shop. The Cabin Max Backpack Flight Approved Carry On Bag has a volume of 44 liters. There is really no other manufacturer known to me that exploits the hand luggage dimensions for flights as good and also still is that cheap (my backpack costs about 30 Euros or 40 dollars). The manufacturer is not particularly well known. But they became very sympathetic to me when I read on their internet site that they even give a guarantee that it will get through hand luggage control. I don’t know if they really do that. But still I felt convinced, because that’s what I was looking for all the time. In the meanwhile, they even added new colors. You can buy it in blue, violet or neon green now. However, I don’t recommend to get another colour than black. Bright colours attract all kinds of insects and you really don’t want insects on your travels. Seriously!

Also they now gotthe same model for a couple of bucks more with additional wheels as a trolley. I think not bad too, but I am not a big fan of extra weight. The other models were smaller and therefore were not an option. I was looking specifically for the dimensions and this backpack was next to it.

First Test

On my first flight with it I first tried it out on the baggage devices for hand luggage maximums that Ryanair put out on all airports. Although I was a little in doubt it fits perfectly, even when it’s completely filled. This way it’s also rather an advantage that the backpack is made of flexible material and is pretty soft. You can stuff it in everywhere.
I also assume that the people in the airlines know these backpacks already and stopped checking them.
However, one should note that some budget airlines such as Wizzair have now tightened their hand luggage regulations. Now hand luggage carry ons of 42 X 32 X 25 cm are allowed only. For the regular carry on size you have to pay.
If there still isn’t enough space for your clothes though, you can put on some extra sweaters and such and save this space in your backpack.

Strengths and weaknesses of the Cabin Max

So the best – and that was the reason for this purchase – is the optimal fitting to the hand luggage dimensions. I have found no other backpack so far that just partially uses the space as well as the Cabin Max. The padding is also quite bearable for this price range. However, the straps are a bit cheap and I am afraid sometimes that they might break. However, nothing happened in the past two years.


Well, the airing is not that great. But I prefer that compared to the annoying metal bars that some manufacturers prefer to add. So a wet back is better than a heavier backpack I think.

Belt tensioners and appearence

The belt tensioners look cheap and they indeed aren’t high quality products. But again, everything has held in the past 2 years. But the adjustment strap slips down easily and sometimes I have to readjust it when putting the backpack on. This can be annoying sometimes, but it doesn’t drive me crazy either.


I welcome that can completely open the zippers of both pockets down to the bottom. Especially to reach stuff in the main compartment as well as for the small pocket this is quite handy to reach stuff at the bottom quickly. Especially with the airport security this is a major relief. I wish other travellers would have that more often and would stop wasting my time searching for their camera or whatever stuff is down in the grounds of their bags.

Use during trips

So for trekking or for day trips in the heat it might not be the best option. I don’t care that much about it sticking to my sweaty back after a day of walking. But that’s up to everyone themself.


Yes, I would buy it again. I am happy today, and after nearly two years it’s been more than worthwhile! So far there are still no other backpacks that are adjusted as well to the hand luggage dimensions. If you find out about another, please let me to know.

Posted by Peter Althaus

Hi, ich bin Peter und ich schreibe hier auf Rooksack über meine Abenteuer mit dem Rucksack in der Welt. Wenn Du mehr davon willst, folge mir auf Facebook, Twitter oder abonnier uns per E-Mail!


  1. A few pics would be nice… Does it actually have a usable hip belt? You spoke about those in your ‚the perfect backpack‘ article.


    1. Über den Autor Juni 12, 2014 at 13:07

      Hello Wouter! No it actually doesn’t. It is a very plain backpack. The best thing about is that it is so plain. You can fill and it stays flexible, in case the airline checks the bag size. And it’s only 30 Euros. So you can’t expect much 🙂 Have a great day!


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