Comparing two Carry On Travel Backpacks: The Embassy Leather Rolling Backpack and the MPG Convertible Yoga Backpack

This is not a sponsored post - it's two bags I bought this week in anticipation of traveling and wanting to do so with only a backpack as a carry-on.  

I spent a great deal of time online and decided on this bag first;  a backpack with the option of a shoulder strap, hand strap, or a hidden pull out handle that transforms your bag into a rolling carry-on.   The second bag was an impromptu purchase I found at my local TJMaxx - but I found it still available online on the MPG site (a newer version with purple interior) or online at Amazon.  

First - let's let them speak for themselves using the product descriptions they use online.  I'm going to cut and paste them here.  My review and comparison of both bags will start after the product descriptions.

(They also offer a larger 24" inch version here - Black 24'' Leather Rolling Carry-on Luggage Tote - although I bought the smaller 19" version backpack option.)

Product Description

Embassy Genuine Leather Backpack / Cart is the best of a rolling bag and backpack in one plus rich cowhide style! Premium leather and versatile function for less! The luggage experts at Embassy built this rock-solid Bag with a smart rolling design plus backpack straps so you can roll or carry as needed. Stitched from thick, durable cowhide leather it's rugged enough for serious use, plus rich in character. It's also packed with smart pockets to keep you organized on the go. Best of all the super price, for truly affordable luxury. Check out the better-built details: Rolling design with telescoping trolley handle plus backpack straps for those times when rolling isn't an option; Thick cowhide leather is strong, supple, rich with character; Generous main compartment with clamshell zipper for easy access; Front and side zippered pockets keep your essentials organized and in easy reach; Telescopic handle is cleverly hidden behind a zippered pocket for when it is in use as a backpack; Approximately 14 1/2 x 19 x 9", 6 lbs. Get all the great looks at features at a great price. Order Today! Embassy Genuine Leather Backpack / Cart
  • Oversized, Adjustable Shoulder Straps
  • Telescoping Handle
  • Multiple Pockets
  • Two Zippered Saddle Bags
  • Measures 19'' x 13'' x 6-1/2''
  • 5.9 lbs.
(There is a discrepancy on the exact measurements, but it depends on how much you pack in it.  I found the 19X13X6.5 to be the closest to true)


Product Description

  • Fabric: 100% Polyester
  • Liner: 100% Nylon Cire
  • Convertible backpack, straps pack away
  • Yoga mat holder
  • Laptop compartment
  • Detachable cross body shoulder strap
  • Water bottle holder
  • MPG metal plate logo


Here are the two bags I bought - side by side

Note the complete difference in the style and size and placement of the straps.  This ended up to be very important.

The Embassy bag on the right looks so much bigger, but it's really not.  It's shaped differently so it's a little wider only at the top, and because it also has the option to convert to a rolling luggage bag, it's internal support helps it keep it's shape and stand up on its own.  

The MPG bag is actually about the same size but it scrunches down more.  Although I am happy that it also has a flat bottom so it stands alone to some extent.

Inside the bags:  The Embassy has a zipper that allows easy access by opening completely on 3 sides.  This allows it to open wide for packing and finding things.  The con to this is if you have to open your bag at the airport, perhaps to get your laptop out if it's a larger version - all of your things can be seen if you open it all the way around.  If you just open the top or one side of course, you could slide it out.

The MPG bag has a zipper top that only opens across the top and about 1/3 way down the sides.  This is large enough to peer in when empty, but there is no easy access for things on the bottom.  It's a typical backpack style 'top load' pack.

Where's Your Laptop or Ipad?  The MPG bag has a special padded pocket with a flap that lifts to put your laptop or ipad.  You could put an ipad and an ereader side by side in there.

Because the Embassy has no internal pockets, your laptop would be pack with your clothing, folders, accessories or whatever else you are packing.  However - there is a nice somewhat hidden side pocket accessed from the front that is pefect for an inpad - or your papers or files.  Anything larger than 8 1/2 X 11 inches won't fit in very easily though.

The MPG is a backpack - while the Embassy can be bought as just a backpack or with the rolling wheeled option as I did.  The handle is completely hidden away under a nice, unobtrusive zippered pouch on the top.  You would never know it was there until you unzip the pouch.  To use it you simply grab it and pull it out.  I found it just like any of our other small, rolling carry on luggage.  The wheels are kept away from the clothing and objects inside the bag by a thin flap of fabric velcro attached in place so your items don't get dirty.  However, I'm just speculating here, but I think if you are using this in pouring down rain, the moisture from the wheels could conceivably get a little dampness on things inside if used long enough as a 'rolling' suitcase or in deep puddles. I would use it as a backpack only in wet, or snowy weather.

 Here is the flat bottom of the MPG bag and the wheels of the Embassy.

I mentioned the placement and size of the straps above.  I'm shocked that a yoga-influenced bag, highly marketed towards females would have such wide, thick straps placed so far apart.  I am not petite and not large; I'm quite average and I found the bag to be a little uncomfortable because of them.  They are so wide they rub on my neck as well as my upper arms right next to my armpits.  No adjustment of the straps has improved this.  The only thing that would truly help it not to rub and cause this soreness would be if the straps were narrower by about 1/2" on each side.  The bag seems like it would fit a mans shoulders much better, even though this bag is made and marketed to females.

On the flipside, I was totally shocked at how comfortable the Embassy bag was.  Even with the wheels and internal frame, the extra 1.5 lbs. or so over the MPG bag is hardly noticeable.  Oddly enough, when I put it on, it is literally the most comfortable backpack we own and the length of the bag was perfect fitted against my lower back for perfect and comfortable support.

FINAL THOUGHTS:  I had initially thought I'd use the MPG bag because it would be lighter pre-packing and I like the laptop pocket.  However, once the Embassy was delivered, I fell in love with it.  The way it fits so comfortably is a huge plus.  One down side I can already see is if it's not packed light, you will not want to pick it up or carry it by the small handle at the top as I can it would rip with heavy weight.  Either use it as the backpack or rolling luggage or hook on the strap that comes with it to sling across your body or over your shoulder.  The handle on the MPG seems very sturdy and I think it could handle more weight without issues.  The only other thing to add is the MPG is easy cleaned and wiped down, while the Embassy is real leather - pieced together in a patchwork pattern and the leather is a thin leather, not a thick bomber jacket or leather couch type leather.  If you drag it against the concrete or shove under a seat where it hangs up on a piece of metal, screws or springs, it's going to be damaged.

In the end, I love them both for different reasons but for the is particular trip I'm opting for the Embassy bag.  However I am still very happy I bought both and will gladly use both depending on the kind of travel I'm doing, how many days I'll be gone and how heavy my bag is.  My 3 day trip will be perfect with some light packing and using the Embassy bag I ordered from Amazon.

If you like any of the ideas on my page, please consider using my affiliate link to make any purchases you have planned through Amazon. (Even if it's something not related to this page). Thanks! Budget at Amazon

The two items reviewed - available on Amazon as of this post and the larger option rolling bag:
MPG Convertible Backpack Black

Embassy Genuine Leather Backpack / Cart
Larger - Black 24'' Leather Rolling Carry On Luggage

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