Curiosity

GoBag: An Interview With Founder James Fyfe

November 4, 2015
GoBag

Frequent travelers, especially those who fly often with RyanAir or EasyJet and are therefore subject to (extremely) limited baggage policies, have a love-hate relationship with carry-on luggage. Checking baggage is expensive, time consuming, and not always reliable. But sometimes, especially when going to colder destinations or on trips where extra gear is needed, it can be almost impossible to cram everything into your carry-on bag.

This is the dilemma James Fyfe, creator of GoBag, found himself in while living in Brighton, England. “It’s really close to Gatwick Airport, a big hub for EasyJet, so I tried to go away to lots of different places around Europe and fully make use of £30 flights,” he told me over Skype from his new home in Sydney.

Fyfe was embarking on adventure trips like sea kayaking in Sweden, where he needed gear, boots, and warm clothes. “I was being quite Scottish and thrifty,” he explains (he’s originally from the Scottish Highlands). “Checking baggage would take too much time and money, so I would put all of my clothes in a bag and vacuum out all of the air.”

An engineer by trade, Fyfe eventually created his own custom bag. He went out and bought a sewing machine and got some welding fabric and materials through work contacts. “A good portion of the bag is actually welding, not sewn, to make it water tight,” Fyfe says. He knew someone through his engineering job who did the welding for him, which was essential in making the bag functional. “I actually don’t know if I would be at this stage without him,” Fyfe says.

Once his friends saw the bag actually worked, they started telling Fyfe he should start producing more of them and from there, GoBag was born.

Fyfe made the GoBag video with a friend and launched a Kickstarter campaign with a £45,000 goal. Today, he’s raised £298,228 and couldn’t be more excited about the success. “I love travel and adventure, and to have a product in the area where I have a huge passion is really cool,” he says. 

The GoBag is so simple, yet has the power to really change the way you pack and travel. It’s a backpack with one main pocket and a zipper around the entire thing, so you never have to dig your bag to find something. “You can slide the zips to where your camera is, notebook is, etc.,” says Fyfe. The key feature though, is the vacuum compressible bag inside the backpack. With completely welded seams, the bag is airtight and has a high-quality vacuum valve. Though you can compress it with a vacuum, Fyfe says he never does, and the beauty of it is that you can compress it with your body weight. “All of the air comes out of the bag, and it stays in a compressed state as if you were sitting on it all the time,” he says.

GoBag

The bag was built to enable adventure travelers to carry more, but Fyfe has recently discovered other uses. He took the bag to a wedding a few weeks ago and put his suit in the compressed portion, and when he arrived it was still folded perfectly. “It’s not a feature I designed for, but it can be used for business travelers too,” he says.

Other features include a detachable wash bag and an easily accessible laptop panel, perfect for airport security. In the future, Fyfe plans to develop packing bags for cameras and accessories that stick in certain areas of the bag so you always know where they are.

Considering funding for the project only started in May of this year, it’s been a fast-paced adventure for Fyfe, who quit his engineering job to focus on the project. “It’s quite nice to have all of the responsibility and decisions, but at the same time it’s more stressful than I thought I would be. At the end of the day you have everything on you, and I’ve had a few sleepless nights” he says. “But, you get to define your destiny.”

The self-defined “bag geek” now gets excited about things like zippers, and loves that he gets to talk to bloggers, photographers, and others in the travel industry on a regular basis. “It’s such a nice circle to be in, everyone is really friendly,” he says.

Now Fyfe is hoping that friendliness transfers into purchases of the GoBag, but from the success of the Kickstarter and the obvious need for more space in carry-on luggage, no matter where you’re going, I don’t think he’ll have any problems. I’m really looking forward to ordering one myself!

GoBag carry-on luggage

Learn more about GoBag here: http://www.wearegobag.com/

P.S. Fyfe’s most memorable adventure to date is a road trip he took at the age of 19 from Edinburgh to Ulaanbaatar in an old Ford Fiesta. Kyrgyzstan, with it’s beautiful mountain passes and rural landscapes, was his favorite part.

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