DJ Expo 2013: Travelling with equipment for DJing can be tricky, and ﬁnding the ideal luggage solution is never an easy task. As ever, we're here to help.
Thankfully, quite a few companies have risen to the challenge of creating DJ-friendly baggage, putting some serious thought into providing the best possible solutions whatever type of DJ you are.
Here, we select some of the best offerings currently on the market.
Fusion SA-02 DJ Mix Bag
Fusion has a range of different gig bags and isn't specifically a DJ brand. However, its attention to detail and willingness to try and solve many luggage conundrums for those who are shifting DJ kit caught our attention.
This is one of the smaller bags in the range, but is still big enough to house an Akai APC40 or Native Instruments S2 controller.
Inside of the bag there's a small pouch at the bottom that can be unzipped at the outside front. A rainproof elasticated cover can be stretched over the bag to protect your contents from the rain or spilled drinks in the DJ booth.
The most impressive aspect of this bag is its un-zippable design, which enables you to lay the bag out flat when packing and unpacking. Plus, there are separate removable padded pouches for your MIDI controller. These also unzip fully open, meaning you won't be pulling off fader caps and rotary knobs as you drag your controller from your bag.
The only trade-off with this bag is weight, which, because of its luxurious build quality and robust, well-thought out design, is considerable. The empty bag is pretty heavy considering its size, and there's no real room for any overnight stuff. But, when you consider the competitive price, this is a fab bag that you would trust on the road with your DJ kit.
UDG Ultimate DIGI Wallet Large
If you're a laptop jock using CDJs or vinyl with MIDI or timecode control, it's quite easy to end up in a situation where you're throwing all your bits and pieces into a regular laptop bag or even an old rucksack.
With this wallet, you can at least separate your laptop from all the other bits and pieces and organise your luggage a bit more. Inside there are nifty tight elastic pockets to cram your USB keys, dongles, portable HDDs and cables into. There's a larger netted compartment that's designed to take a set of headphones; this will even cope with a large set without the housing reversed. Another zipped netted pocked could hold a handful of adaptors and other DJ nerd shrapnel.
On the outside of the bag there are two larger zip pockets, with the front pocket containing a fleece-like soft lining. Both pockets can easily house an iPad and 11-inch Macbook Air, although they are not quite padded enough to withstand a heavy knock.
Admittedly, some might class this wallet as a bit of a luxury add-on - especially if you've already shelled out for an expensive bag - but if you're playing regularly in different clubs with varying specs, something compact and organised can be a real life-saver. This bag is also useful if your DJ setup is different depending on the venue you're playing - just put it inside a larger wheeled controller bag or backpack when needed.
UDG Producer Bag
Here’s a well-thought-out bag for carting your production or DJing wares around. This time, we're looking at a rucksack/shoulder bag hybrid that is tough enough to protect your laptop and will ﬁt nicely into the hand luggage compartment on airlines.
The bag is available in a range of colour combinations and there’s a combination lock to slot your zips in if needed. The pockets on the front and side work great for cables and accessories, and inside there's a removable velcro padded 'wall' that can separate your laptop away in its own slot towards the back. There's just enough room for a change of clothes in the central compartment, too.
On top there's a slot in the lid that zips open and provides easy access to your passport, wallet and phone.
The only gripe is that the rucksack straps on the back cannot be removed or stored away. This is a bit annoying when using the bag with the detachable shoulder-strap, and means that you can end up with a dangling mess of straps.
Fusion SA-06 Controller Workstation Bag
Designed to house larger DJ controllers, this tall, slim backpack comes complete with a separate, detachable, padded inner controller pouch, laptop pouch and circular headphone case.
The price may seem high, but when you think about the combined prices of these storage bags and sleeves if you were to buy them separately, this bag is actually pretty decent value for money. Plus, because they are all removable, they could be used separately, too.
Like the other bags in the Fusion range, all sleeves and the bag itself unzip fully, allowing the bag to be laid out flat when being packed and unpacked. This is particularly useful with a tall thin bag; you don’t have to go in shoulder-deep to get your kit or drag gear out of the top of the bag (risking faders and knobs getting snapped off in the process).
It would have been nice to have the same tough rubber that you'll find on the base on one side of the bag (so that you could confidently put it down on its side) and a side handle and shoulder strap option to complement the fact that the rear shoulder straps can be tucked away if required.
UDG SlingBag 258
This comfortable shoulder bag has a central CD storage wallet that holds 248 CDs, while a lightly-padded rear pocket holds up to a 15.4-inch laptop.
At the front, a section ﬂips open to reveal a space for all the extra bits and bobs you need to take to your gigs - audio leads, iPods, air-horns, glow sticks and the like. The front pocket will happily take headphones with reversible housing that can be folded flat, but large 50mm+ drivers without rotating ear-cups will be a squash to fit in.
The SlingBag is robustly constructed in a heavy-duty nylon, but light enough to carry around comfortably due to the shape of the shoulder strap. The bag comes in a range of designs and is also offered in the more conventional black and other single-colour ﬁnishes.
Whether you’re making the transition from being a CDJ to laptop jock or just need some future-proof CD luggage, this is a cracking purchase.
Mono The Fader
Again, it's good looks and durability from Mono, with a build quality that is second to none. This courier-style bag is stylish and really well put together.
It’s solid and padded - ready for everything from vinyl to laptops - and it’s got more hidden pouches and pockets than you could ever need. Plus, it looks super slick and is comfy to wear.
There's a side pocket with a small velcro fastening, which is great for any A4-size documents or rolled-up cables. There's also a side zip pocket with headphones hole that you can stick your MP3 player in. It's much more of a lifestyle laptop bag than a purely functional piece of DJing luggage, but this is why we like it so much. Probably the only downside is that, just like the EFX365, the clip close-function is under the strap.
It's great to have but we would have liked velcro added so that you could simply close the bag without rummaging around underneath the strap whilst it sits on your shoulder
The Fader is fantastic as a piece of hand luggage or as a bag that you can use every day for your laptop, USB drives, headphones and a few cables. Once you've used it for a while you really do begin to realise just how well-designed this bag is.
UDG Creator Bag
This is quite an expensive bag, but it’s beautifully designed and feels rock-solid and durable. It feels well equipped to take all your production and performance kit on the road.
Intended as a solution for laptop DJs using Serato, it’s great for carrying a laptop, audio interface, headphones and even a compact mixer or controller. There’s a compartment for everything, and even an LED light that turns on when you zip open the main compartment! A removable velcro section in the large central compartment can keep bits of kit from wobbling around if necessary.
The downsides to this bag are that the zips feel like they may snap in half and that it's too large to comply with many airlines' carry-on luggage requirements. Having a soft case, you certainly wouldn't trust it in the hold with all your precious gear.
This is a shame, as the front pockets offer easy access to passports and boarding cards and, for laptop DJs, the large central compartment has more than enough room to serve as an overnight bag. It's a really great bag, but if you're looking to invest in an all-rounder there are possibly better options.
Mono EFX 365 DJ Pack
The 365 DJ pack sits at the top of Mono's EFX range and offers a multitude of storage options in a bag that might actually survive more than a few gigs and a couple of ﬂights. Primarily designed for the digital DJ, it'd be useful for any digital performer.
A well-protected and easily accessible laptop section should make life easier when going through airport security, and the variety of pockets means that all your accessories will easily ﬁnd a home. The centre section will accommodate up to a 17-inch laptop and a few 12-inch records, too. The addition of a cable hook allows you to store cables without creating a ball of spaghetti.
Another touch that make this such a useful option is the slim proﬁle, which means that the pack fits in most overhead lockers with ease. The downsides are that, although it's good looking, the overall shape actually makes this bag a bit strange to carry on your back. The clip that fastens under the front flap is also a bit infuriating to open and close while you're holding the bag, and there are no really easy access points.
Overall it's got good looks and great durability, but a few simple design problems might get on your nerves.
UDG Creator Wheeled MIDI Controller BriefCase Black 15.6"
Designed for a small controller and laptop, this clever piece of rolling luggage also works great as a complete overnight solution for the jet-set DJs out there.
Inside there's a nice padded controller sleeve, but it's a simple affair and doesn't have the un-zippable edges or top closing flap that the sleeves included with the Fusion bags do. There's also a small zip pouch inside with a netted front that would work well for adaptors, USB keys and any other small bits that can be a faff to get at in large pockets.
One unique thing about the case is that the front laptop pocket can be unattached so that bag can be hinged flat. This is supposedly to enable you to lay the bag flat at airport security without having to take the laptop out of your bag. Our tests at airport security were met with, "Sir, just take the laptop out of the bag,” but UDG can hardly be blamed for this.
Regardless, the front laptop section is extremely well padded and can be trusted. Around the back there's a shallow, accessible zip pocket that's ready for your tickets and passport, etc, and a strap for attaching this over the top of a larger wheeled trolley if required.
Overall, this case represents the easiest way to carry a small CD collection, overnight clothes and everything else you might need for a DJ gig. Combine it with the DIGI wallet and you have a very organised solution for Rekordbox and laptop DJs who don't use a large controller.
Traktor bag by UDG
Based on the UDG courier bag deluxe, this NI flavoured version sports an extra audio interface pocket and some nice Traktor branding. Externally the bag feels robust and rubbery, but when you open it up you find the more familiar tough nylon that's common to many bags.
There are plenty of pockets, pouches and compartments inside and the shoulder strap is extremely comfortable, even if you cram 35 vinyl records and a laptop in there. As you would expect, the laptop compartment has extra protective padding, and there's a very useful zip pocket on the top-rear of the bag for stashing your tickets/passport etc in. This is accessible without you having to open up the main part of the bag - very useful if you're travelling with this bag as hand luggage.
You probably wouldn’t want to buy this unless you were a Traktor user, even though the extra compartment is very useful. Also, it's not big enough to fit many of the major controllers (such as NI's own S2 and S4), so you'd need a separate bag for one of those. But, if you're after something to transport the F1, X1 and new Z1 controllers around, this would be a great choice.
All in all this is a great day-to-day and hand-luggage bag with very high quality construction.