Gear Minimalism Travel

Ordered a GoRuck GR Echo backpack

Goruck gr echo

This definitely isn’t something healthy, but I’ve been checking out various bags recently. I lusted a long time over the Cote & Ciel Isar Rucksack, and finally bought one recently. It’s a great bag and I love it, but I’ve also been getting an itch for something a little smaller that I can carry around for day to day use. With that in mind, I eventually ordered the GoRuck GR Echo.

A lot of it had to do with the review of the bag over at Tools & Toys. There are many reviews and YouTube videos about GoRuck stuff out there, so that probably helped nudge me to part with my money.

It’ll take me a while to get hold of it, since I’ve shipped it to a friend’s place in America, but I’ll post my thoughts on the actual bag after I’ve received it.

One disappointing thing is that it’s definitely a ding towards my goal of minimalism.


On the Cote et Ciel Isar Rucksack

In a park near Shenzhen Bay

Introduction & reviews

I’ve been wanting to get the Côte & Ciel Isar Rucksack for a while, and I eventually bought one while I was traveling in Hong Kong. I don’t intend for this article to be a review, rather just my views on the bag. If you’re looking for a review of the bag, here are some pretty good ones:

I ended up getting the large sized Eco Yarn version in black. The Canvas material felt heavy and also looked like it would absorb water, not something suitable for a guy who walks in the rain often.


It’s always important to take note of the lifestyle of a user. Different scenarios call for different tools. In my case, I usually work from home, but I do travel overseas often for several weeks at a time, or sometimes do a weekend trip somewhere. As a result, I always want a bag that can accommodate enough clothes for a weekend trip, as well as being lean enough for day to day use when I go out to meet clients.


  • Good build quality. Love the feel of the Eco Yarn. I don’t have to worry about it ripping anytime soon.
  • Looks great. Not that I know much about fashion (as my wife says), but I think it looks very fashionable.
  • Massive storage capacity. Seriously, the 21 litre capacity means I can keep stuffing all my wife’s shopping into it, and not have to occupy my hands with shopping bags.
  • Water resistant. I don’t go trekking, but I do have a tendency to walk in the rain, so it’s always important to have a bag that can weather the rain.


  • Extremely loose straps. The straps are extremely loose. It has been mentioned before in other reviews, but you have to use it in order to really grasp how frustrating that is. Whenever I sling the bag on, the straps will loosen, and I’ll need to readjust the length, which is always guesswork. In the end I decided to knot the strap right below the buckle. It’s ugly, but it does then job.
  • Hard to get to stuff when you’re on the move. Before switching to this, I was using a Targus notebook backpack which had plenty of external pockets, so it was always easy to get to stuff. Because the main compartment of the Isar opens sideways, it’s pretty hard to strap the bag in front of you and dig for your stuff, something I used to do fairly easily with my previous bag.
  • Stuff collects at the bottom of the bag, creating a pear shaped bulge. Gravity does its usual thing. Because the main compartment is one huge duffel area, the stuff you put in tends to fall to the bottom of the bag, which makes it look rather weird. I’m still sniffing around for some organisers so I may fasten some stuff to the top half of the bag instead.
  • Main compartment only has one zipper. So you can’t use a lock to lock the compartment. Sometimes I wish I could, just to avoid any casual thieves stealing anything when it’s in the overhead compartment of an airplane.

Other bags I’d check out

  • GoRuck GR0. Pricy, but it seems to have good build quality and massive storage too. The MOLLE webbing should allow for some nice storage customisation inside it. Most guys recommend the GR1, but I think for the average Asian, the GR0 might be more suitable.
  • Isar Rucksack Medium. I’m using the large size Isar, but for daily use, sometimes I do feel that the medium size might suit me better.
  • Tom Bihn Smart Alec. I’ve been hearing some good things about this bag. It looks pretty nerdy, but sometimes you’ve gotta close an eye of the functionality is good.


Backpacks are pretty personal things, so as long as you’re happy with what you’ve got, that’s the right bag for you. The Isar isn’t perfect, but at the moment, I’m a happy camper.

My Isar Rucksack when it's fully loaded up
My Isar Rucksack when it’s fully loaded up
Apple Travel

Using Passbook at KLIA and HKIA

I’ve been itching to use Apple’s passbook ever since it was announced, as it’s an ideal solution for digital tickets. The lack of support from local cinemas so far means that I haven’t found a good opportunity to give it a go. Fortunately as I was checking into my Cathay Pacific flight online, I noticed that there was an option to download the mobile ticket, which was supported by Passbook, so this was a good excuse as any to test it out.

There are a couple of places where you’d usually need your boarding pass, and this is what happened:


  • Check in counter: I was allowed to bypass this step, since I had no check in luggage and my boarding pass was already on my phone.
  • Document check before entering the immigration area: Passbook barcode was scanned using the same scanner that scans the printed boarding pass.
  • Boarding gate: Surprisingly the lady needed to take the extra step to manually verify my digital boarding pass here, though there wasn’t any issue.
  • Boarding the plane: The crew usually asks to see your boarding pass when your get on the plane, but if you tell them your seat number directly, they let it slide, so I didn’t need any boarding pass here.


  • Check in counter: I had already checked in online using the Cathay Pacific mobile app, and I had no trouble when I was purchasing my ferry ticket to HKIA, but the lady wasn’t too sure if I’d run into issues without having a printed boarding pass, so she printed one for me, just in case.
  • Entering HKIA via ferry: There is a security check before entering HKIA by ferry and I made the mistake of handing the the security personnel my passport with the printed boarding pass inside (because that’s where I usually store my boarding pass), so she stamped that and let me through. My assumption is that I could get past this with just my Passbook ticket, but I guess I can only verify this on my next trip. Update: They don’t accept Passbook here. So you’ll need a printed boarding pass. Damn.
  • Boarding gate: No problem.
  • Boarding the plane: No problem.

Things I noticed

  • While the gate number was supposed to automagically update to my Passbook boarding pass, that never happened. The gate number did update after I did a manual pull-to-refresh though.
  • Having the option to have the boarding pass displayed on your lock screen is very useful, since it gives me quick access to my boarding pass.
  • Shopping at the airport usually requires your passport and boarding pass, I managed to make it work with Passbook and my boarding pass.

It’s good to see Passbook support increasing. I know that Malaysian Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and Airbnb already support it. I’m definitely looking forward to more services supporting it, especially the local cinemas, since I’m not overly fond of their mobile apps.