Packing the Red Oxx
I Don't Believe it Either!
A luggage review? Really!? Well, I do travel fairly often, and because I'm a personal audio and photo geek I do have to carry way too many gadgets and wall-warts. Having to get in and out of the aluminum sky tube hundreds of times has taught me what works and what doesn't, and developing a carry bag production line at HeadRoom clued me into some of the details of quality fabric manufacture. Good bags are part and parcel of a portable lifestyle, and a thoughtful quiver of bags will make the traveling geek's life much smoother, but the truth is that I would never have done a luggage review were it not for an unusual set of circumstances.
I frequent a little headphone forum where talk is as much of scotch, cigars, and exotic micro-brews, as it is about headphone gear. Luggage, in the form of briefcases, carry-on bags, and a purse that a man might carry, is a favorite topic. Someone there came up with the silly notion of having a travel team and executing a group buy of travel luggage complete with team logos. After much keyboard thumb wrestling, Red Oxx emerged the winning supplier. The company was very accommodating, allowing the team athletes (Ha!) to individually select from a variety of different models and colors, and had the needed embroidery skills and machinery to effect our collective and diverse desires. To be truthful I didn't really need the luggage, but after I learned Red Oxx is a Montana company located 140 miles to the east of me in Billings, I simply couldn't resist and opted into the group buy. Unfortunately, life changed and I had to opt back out before the buy went through. And that was that for Red Oxx and me...or so I thought.
My good friend, Paul, and I rent an old brick garage in downtown Bozeman behind the Cat-Eye Cafe, where we keep our motorcycles and wrench on bikes at a pace of extraordinary leisure. Our man-cave has many stellar attributes, but it's most important characteristic is it's approximately one-and-a-half blocks west of our favorite watering hole/pool table, The Crystal Bar. One day not too long ago, Paul and I had finished our round of pool and had settled onto stools at the bar when our friend Howard came in. Howard and I had shared the same camp at Burning Man a few years ago, and he used to have a weekly radio show on the local collage station until he moved to Billings a couple of years ago. He still does the show once a month, so we bump into each other every now and again.
"Hiya Howard! So, I don't think I've asked you, what the heck are you doing in Billings these days?"
"Oh, I got a gig as a marketing manager."
"Sweet, what company?"
"Oh, you won't have heard of it. We make safari luggage. It's called Red Oxx."
I about spit out a mouthful of Bozeman Brewing Company's "Hopzone" IPA! I couldn't believe my ears. For the next half hour or so we stitched together the synchrony of the group buy, the travel team, and the general silliness of life's coincidences. He'd also not heard of my job change to product reviewer last year, and when I mentioned I'd be leaving soon on a trip to New York, he suggested I take a springtime ride on my Yamaha FJR to Billings to pick up some bags to review on my journey to the Big Apple.
Well dear reader, maybe you could resist the opportunity to burn through 280 miles of Pirelli rubber and 9 gallons of gas to pick up some bullet proof bags to play with, but I sure as hell couldn't. And that's exactly how I ended up taking a long hard look at a sweet suite of rugged travel bags from Red Oxx.
Let's take a look at the bags...