My luxury carry-on case from Knomo – Bolsover luggage review

If Knomo were your best friend, she’d be one of those cool, stylish people who lives life to the full – always on the move, trying out the latest gadgets, working on some interesting, creative project or other. Perhaps she’d be a photographer, designer or even a blogger, moving effortlessly from an informal business meeting to drinks with friends. Knomo is a girl who doesn’t really care about logos and labels, she just loves things that are beautifully designed and work for her lifestyle. Understated elegance is her trademark, she’s the sort of girl that always looks polished and put together, even though you can’t quite place what brand she’s wearing. Perhaps Knomo is a girl just like you or me, or perhaps with the perfect piece of luggage we can live her lifestyle too.

Ready to disembark MSC Splendida with my Knomo case

Ready to disembark MSC Splendida with my Knomo case

Of course I’m just having a bit of fun imagining the Knomo lifestyle, since Knomo is not a real person but a purveyor of luxury luggage, handbags and other finery that might just work in your lifestyle. If you’re looking for a classy bag with room for your tablet, laptop and mobile, that won’t shout “technology geek”, look no further. Or perhaps a case for that iPhone 6 that’s already on your Christmas list? Or even the perfect soft leather messenger bag that will keep the man in your life organised and looking good (Knomo’s not just for girls you know).

I made a short video below so you can see how I got on with my Knomo Bolsover case on my cruise

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To test out whether Knomo could cope with my aspirations for effortless style as well as accommodating all the technology that goes with a blogger’s lifestyle, I took the Bolsover trolley bag along as hand luggage on my MSC Mediterrranean Cruise. On the flight out to Barcelona to meet the ship we had one suitcase between us as well as a small carry-on case which was the perfect scenario for my Bolsover. In Placa Catalunya we stopped for a photo opportunity, enjoying the sunshine and the life in the square that is Barcelona’s beating heart.

Arrived at Placa Catalunya in Barcelona with my Knomo case

Arrived at Placa Catalunya in Barcelona with my Knomo case

Isn’t she pretty?

I must say that this gorgeous bag made me feel quite the jet setting girl about town. The luxurious red carry-on is piped in leather-effect trim and covered with a soft waterproof fabric that’s quilted in a diamond pattern. I love that rich, red colour, the shade of tomato ketchup or should I say a glass of good claret? It feels luxurious, elegant and expensive (but of course no more than I deserve!) There’s a sturdy metal telescopic handle that allows you to pull the case along easily in the aiport but slots down and zips away neatly when you want to use the bag as a weekender to drop into the back of the car, as well as a tactile but robust carrying handle at the top of the bag. I’m instantly impressed by the amount of shiny chrome zips and endless pockets – a girl can never have too many pockets in my opinion.

Lets take a look inside

Zipping open the main compartment of the case reveals four little side pockets to tuck way your underwear, jewellery or other small items with some straps to keep everything firmly in place. In the lid are two more larger pockets to pack your shoes and a half depth zip pocket to keep a book or kindle. Already I’ve counted seven pockets but that’s before I discover the extra zipped compartment that becomes your office storage area built into the lid.

You can tuck a 17 inch laptop in here, with some more sleeves and pockets for all those pens, chargers and other odds and ends, with a zip pocket for your tablet. That’s another six pockets and there’s more! On the outside lid there’s another full width zip pocket where I’d put a magazine to read on the flight and a cute little zip pocket set into the leather trim that’s the perfect size for your mobile. Two more pockets, what more could I ask for ?

Perhaps a way of finding my Knomo case again if I ever lose it? They’ve thought of that too. Inside the top compartment you’ll find a unique ID which you can register on the Knomo website. Now if you and your case are ever parted and it’s found by some honest citizen, Knomo will return your bag to you free of charge.

My Knomo case in my stateroom on MSC Splendida

My Knomo case in my stateroom on MSC Splendida

Who is the Bolsover case ideal for?

With all these compartments and zipped sections, this case is ideal for the elegant business traveller who’s away for a few days, or a leisure traveller like myself who always travels with a laptop and other techological paraphernalia. I have to find space in my luggage for a laptop, mini-ipad that I use for novels and online travel guides, a video camera, normal camera and all the associated batteries, cables and chargers (that’s where all those pockets come in handy). The Bolsover is a great weekend bag for those who like to pack in an organised way with a place for everything. This really is a case that you could hand to the porter at the smartest luxury hotel with pride and pretend that it’s packed with your designer wardrobe (Silly me! Who’s pretending? I know you only buy the best!)

What’s not to like?

If there is anything to watch out for with the Bolsover I’d say that if you are a truly minimalist and lightweight traveller, this may not be the case for you. The height of the case is slightly shorter than the maximum allowance for most airlines, which could be a waste of potential extra packing space if you are trying to maximise your allowance without paying for checked luggage. At nearly 3.4kg the case isn’t the lightest around and if you are packing all your technology it will end up being on the heavy side and an effort to get into the overhead locker on the plane, not to mention being a bit too heavy for those airlines that have a carry-on bag weight allowance.

My Knomo case in my stateroom on  MSC Splendida

My Knomo case in my stateroom on MSC Splendida

Here’s what I love

I love the way that the Knomo bags are all so stylish and elegant, yet they are also perfectly designed to fit your tablet, mobile, laptop of any other technology that you need to take with you for business or leisure. It may look like an elegant clutch but there’s room for your mobile, keys, credit cards and notebook. It may look like a sporty cross body bag for the girl on the go but you can still find room for your tablet and camera. I like the fact that you can keep all these things with you without revealing to the world that there’s an expensive laptop or camera inside. Smart but not shouty.

Check out the other items I love that match my Bolsover case

Left: Huntley Weekend Bag £149 Right: Maple cross-body bag £79 from Knomo

Left: Huntley Weekend Bag £149 Right: Maple cross-body bag £79 from Knomo

The Vital Statistics

Heather tried the Bolsover carry-on wheeled trolley in scarlet from Knomo. The bag has a zipped compartment that fits a 17 inch laptop at the front of the bag and is made with a quilted nylon exterior and leather style trim. The bag measures 45cm H x 29cm D x 19.5cm D and weighs 3.42kg. The Bolsover wheeled trolley costs £249 and can be ordered from the Knomo Website. Other matching items in the Fitzrovia Collection include the Maple cross-body bag £79, The Huntley weekend bag £149 and the Great Portland Shoulder Tote £119.

Thanks to Knomo who provided Heather with her Bolsover carry-on for this review.

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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What equipment do you need for hiking in Europe?

If you’re a fairweather walker who is embarking on a longer or more strenuous trip than normal, it can be difficult to decide what additional equipment you’ll need for a hiking trip in the UK or Europe. Not all trails are the same and what you might need for a 3 day walk on the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path that I’ll be doing next weekend could be different than what you need for a 12 day Alpine trek like the Tour de Mont Blanc that I’ve also experienced. Weather, terrain and your budget will all be a factor in what you take, so here are some tips on picking the right gear for your hiking holiday.

Hiking in the Alps with my friend Julia Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Hiking in the Alps with my friend Julia

Weather considerations

In most parts of Europe, at most times of year, you can expect the odd shower, so a lightweight waterproof jacket will generally be essential. Even warmer regions of Europe can be surprisingly cool at night and your jacket will ward off evening chills. However it’s worth checking the general temperature and likelihood of rain before you make any new purchases. For instance if you’re hiking in Mallorca as I will be in September, it probably wouldn’t be worth purchasing a new waterproof, or if you do it’s better to go for an inexpensive and lightweight one, whereas for a hike in the Alps it would be worth investing in a good Gore-Tex jacket.

Budget considerations

I’m a believer in keeping costs down by using what you have or borrowing items for occasional use, but investing in a few good pieces of equipment when you really need them. Consider what you really need and how much you are likely to use it after your hiking holiday, then look at what you already have in your wardrobe or can easily borrow and make your purchases accordingly.

Walking on the coastal path in Cornwall Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Walking on the coastal path in Cornwall

What’s the terrain?

Some hiking trips will be on more demanding terrain than others. When I walk in Cornwall or Pembrokeshire in the UK, it’s generally on flattish terrain, so I may not worry too much about walking poles which would be essential on a mountain trek. Also, if you are up in the mountains, away for days from any major towns or villages you’ll want to take everything you need as it could make all the difference to your comfort and safety.

Choosing your walking boots

Let’s start at the bottom with boots and socks that you’ll need for your hiking holiday. For anything more than a country walk on flat terrain, where trainers may be fine, I would recommend investing in a good pair of boots or well supported walking shoes. There are many hybrid styles of boots available these days and if the terrain is not too demanding or the climate hot you may prefer to go for walking shoes or mid height boots. However for longer trails on demanding terrain I would definitely choose a boot with good ankle support, to avoid twists and ankle injuries. If you are buying new boots you always need to try on as many pairs as you can in a local outdoor equipment retailer such as Cotswold Outdoor, before making your final choice and buy only what feels comfortable from the moment you put it on, even if it is a bit more expensive than others. Some well padded hiking socks will also be a good investment and I always have plenty of plasters, especially the specialist blister plasters in my bag, just in case. Read my article on how to choose walking boots for your hiking holiday.

Choosing your walking boots for hiking in Europe Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

My walking boots take a well-earned rest in the Tour de Mont Blanc

A Waterproof Jacket

The next most essential item for hiking is normally your waterproof jacket. Unless you are going to an area that is reliably dry, it’s worth ensuring that you have a good jacket to keep you comfortable and dry in any rain showers. My waterproof jacket cost around £100 and is made of breatheable Gore-Tex but there are good jackets to suit all budgets. Look out for features such as plenty of zip pockets to keep cameras, phones, snacks and lip salve close to hand and for under-arm zips or vents to keep you cool, as well as drawstrings and visors on the hood to keep you extra dry in a downpour. It’s likely that your jacket will be in and out of your rucksack, so it needs to pack up small and light too. For longer treks with high likelihood of rain, you’ll also need waterproof trousers, but I don’t normally take them on shorter treks where I can check the weather beforehand or find a friendly pub to shelter.

Walking on Dartmoor Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

My waterproof jacket kept me comfortable in all weathers on Dartmoor

Your rucksack

Another important items to consider is the rucksack you will be carrying all your gear in. Again the size and style will depend very much on the type of hiking holiday. For some types of holiday, where you are doing a circular walk from your accommodation, or where your luggage is transported as part of an organised walking holiday, you can get away with a day sack. On longer treks such as the Tour de Mont Blanc where you are carrying all your walking gear for the whole trip, you will need a 30L to 45L rucksack, but then it’s worth reducing the amount you carry to the bare minimum. Look out for a rucksack with side pockets and easily accessible compartments, so that you don’t have to unpack the whole rucksack on the mountainside to get at the one thing you need. Also consider the waterproof qualities when buying a new day sack or rucksack, or invest in a waterproof cover for longer treks and consider packing clothing into plastic bags inside your rucksack.

My friend Julia with her rucksack on the Tour de Mont Blanc Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

My friend Julia with her rucksack on the Tour de Mont Blanc

Wearing lightweight layers

You’ll want to stay dry and comfortable while walking, but your clothing is one area where you don’t necessarily need to spend lots of money as you may already have suitable items in your wardrobe. It’s a good idea to have a pair of lightweight, quick drying walking trousers with zip-off legs to convert them into shorts, if you are walking for more than a couple of days and are likely to encounter showers. Otherwise choose other lightweight, stretchy and quick drying trousers or shorts you already have in your wardrobe, but avoid jeans or any fabric that will take ages to dry once wet. On your top half you can wear any lightweight t-shirt or longer sleeved shirt and I often use a running t-shirt or anything that will wick away sweat. You’ll also need a lightweight fleece or two, as even in hot destinations as the temperature can drop in the evenings. The key is to have clothes that can be layered, are light, quick drying and comfortable. Here’s my article on what I packed for the Tour de Mont Blanc.

Walking on the Tour de Mont Blanc Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

A stretchy running t-shirt is fine for most hikes

 Walking poles

Before I walked the Tour de Mont Blanc, I never used walking poles for my walks in the UK, but now I wouldn’t be without them on longer hikes. On longer walks and especially where you are carrying a heavy rucksack, they really support your legs and knees and on uneven or slippery terrain such as coastal paths or mountain treks they will help you keep your balance and avoid twisting a knee or ankle. Once again there are walking poles for every budget, but I would look out for telescopic poles that fold up small and are more practical to transport when travelling. Read my article about walking poles for the Tour de Mont Blanc.

Choosing your walking boots for hiking in Europe Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Walking poles are essential on longer treks like the Tour de Mont Blanc

Whether you’re walking a coastal path in the UK, planning a major mountain trek or doing some hiking as part of your summer holiday, it’s worth spending a little time considering what equipment you’ll need and then making the purchases that will be most useful, according to your budget, for a comfortable and enjoyable walk.

This article was brought to you in partnership with Cotswold Outdoor where you can shop online for Outdoor Clothing and Footwear, Climbing, Camping Equipment and more for the outdoors.

 More useful reading

How my Leki Vario Poles saved my legs on the Tour de Mont Blanc
How to choose the perfect walking boots for the Tour de Mont Blanc and other hiking trails
The mountain clothing you’ll need for treking the Tour de Mont Blanc

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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How my Leki Micro Vario walking poles saved my legs on the Tour de Mont Blanc

When my friend Julia and I started walking the Tour de Mont Blanc three years ago, we weren’t convinced that we needed walking poles at all. We’d done plenty of walks around Britain without them and couldn’t really see the point. In fact I remember that Julia had to hire one pole from the local ski hire shop in Les Houches, while I had one and borrowed another from Hotel Slalom, which I managed to break before the end of the trip.

Viewpoint at Col de Bonhomme on the Tour de Mont Blanc Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

With my Leki Micro Vario walking poles at Col de Bonhomme on the Tour de Mont Blanc

Three years on and we are both totally convinced that walking poles are essential on a mountain hike that is as arduous as the Tour de Mont Blanc. In the second year of our walk Julia suffered from altitude sickness and we had to cut short one of our days walking because of it, so she really regretted only having one pole to support her on that trip. Last year I had some inexpensive telescopic poles, but they managed to get wedged together, so that I couldn’t pack them down small, and they had to go. This year I was convinced that I needed some quality walking poles that would stay the course and see me a through a few mountain treks in years to come, so I checked out what my local Ellis Brigham store in Bristol had to offer. My eye was caught by a pair of Leki Micro Vario carbon poles which admittedly weren’t cheap at around £145 but which had the great advantage of packing down much smaller than anything else I’d seen.

Leki Micro Vario Walking Poles Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Leki Micro Vario Walking Poles break down to only 38cm

Why do you need walking poles?

Perhaps you’re planning a long mountain trek like the Tour de Mont Blanc and are undecided on whether you need walking poles, so let me tell explain why they are essential. Firstly, if you are walking for up to 10 hours a day, carrying a backpack that is 10kg or more, your legs deserve all the support you can give them. The poles spread the load on your knees, legs and ankles through your whole body, so you’ll be less exhausted at the end of the day and with less risk of twists and sprains. Secondly, the walking poles help you balance on uneven ground and sleep slopes, when your rucksack makes you top heavy, or you’re picking your way across a slippery stream.

Trudge up the mountain for 3 hours or more as we did regularly on the Tour de Mont Blanc and the poles will help propel you up the hill, steadying you on the climb. I remember that when I went Nordic Walking on Dartmoor, it was described as “like walking in 4 wheel drive”, which is just the traction you want on an uneven mountain trail. You might think that once you’re over that mountain crest, the walk downhill will be a breeze in comparison, but in fact that can be just as tough, if not more so on your knees. The path may be quite slippery with shale or mud and there could be stones or boulders along the way, so you are just as much in need to poles to support your legs on the downhill run.

Tete Nord de Fours on the Tour de Mont Blanc Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

With my Leki poles at Tete Nord de Fours on the Tour de Mont Blanc

Why I chose the Leki Micro Vario walking poles

When I looked around the range of walking poles in Ellis Brigham, I knew that Leki were one of the leading manufacturers of high quality walking poles, so I shouldn’t have any of the mishaps with breaking or locking poles as I’d experienced in previous years. I decided to try the Leki Micro Vario poles because they have a unique design and fold up into sections for storage, making them some of the smallest and lightest poles I’d seen. We were travelling to Geneva on cabin baggage only, keeping our packs as small as possible, so this was a big bonus, as my poles could easily fit easily into the side pocket of my rucksack. The fold-up design also meant that I could pack up my poles and store them in my  room in the mountain refuges, rather than leaving them in the communal boot area. Although I’d met the most friendly people on the mountain, I did have a mysterious experience one year when I discovered a piece of my pole had gone missing, so I was a little wary.

Walking down from Col de Bonhomme on the Tour de Mont Blanc Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Walking down from Col de Bonhomme on the Tour de Mont Blanc

How to assemble your Leki Micro Vario Poles

You may think that it would be completely obvious how to assemble a pair of walking poles, but I found that my Leki micro vario poles had a locking button that was hidden when the poles were broken down, and I puzzled for quite a while to work it out, so I’ve made the video below to show you how.

  1. First fit the two lower sections that are joined by cord together
  2. Next extend the third section until a small metal button clicks into place to secure the whole pole firmly
  3. Extend the fourth upper section until you have it at the correct height, marked by the rings on the pole, then push the locking lever down against the pole to secure
  4. Finally adjust the wrist straps by pulling the top strap upwards to flip up the locking mechanism, adjust the strap length from the underneath and then flip the locking mechanism back down to secure.

I hope you find the video below useful, about how to assemble your Leki Micro Vario Walking Poles

 

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Another great feature of these poles is the grip handle which was extremely comfortable with an egg shaped top that fitted into the palm of your hand and an equally comfortable shaped grip with soft wrist supports.

Who are these poles good for?

I should mention that at around £145 the Leki Micro Vario poles are at the expensive end of the range of poles stocked by Ellis Brigham. There are plenty of options for poles from Leki and other manufacturers, but none that pack so small and light. If you are not a regular hiker and plan to do the Tour de Mont Blanc or a similar mountain trek as a one-off, then I would probably buy some walking poles at the cheaper end of the range. However, for frequent walkers and those who like to travel light, the Leki Micro Vario poles are an excellent investment, the sort of kit that is always a pleasure to use. These poles are also great for those who combine hiking with climbing and need poles that will pack away easily into a rucksack pocket when they need their hands free. Whatever your budget,do make sure that you have walking poles of some sort on the Tour de Mont Blanc as it’s an arduous trek and you really do need them.

The Leki Micro Vario poles are made from carbon for minimum weight with maximum strength. They pack down to around 38cm and extend from 110cm to 130 cm in height. The poles feature the Leki Aergon grip which allows a range of gripping options, with a wrist strap adjustment that is easy to use, even when wearing gloves. The speedlock, external locking mechanism allows the height of the poles to be adjusted easily and securely. The poles also have replaceable metal tips in case one gets caught or breaks. These poles retail at around £145 for the pair, but other walking poles are on sale from £50 per pair.  Thanks to Ellis Brigham who gave me a pair of Leki Micro Vario Carbon Poles to try for this review and specialise in all kinds of Mountain clothing and equipment.

FREE Tour de Mont Blanc Packing Guide

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More great gear for the Tour de Mont Blanc

How to choose the perfect hiking boots for the Tour de Mont Blanc
The mountain clothing you’ll need for treking on the Tour de Mont Blanc – video
What I packed for my mini Tour de Mont Blanc – video

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

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