Rugged Travel: Red Oxx Mfg.


If you’re a serious traveler, then you know the worth of good travel bag. Whether you’re a weekend tripper packing a little extra photo gear, or a sky commuter making a weekly NYC to LA trek, staying organized – and looking good while you’re out on the road – is paramount. We stumbled on Red Oxx Mfg. earlier this year, and their line of burly travel luggage has been slowly replacing every other bag we own ever since. Get your hands on one of their carry-ons or packs, and you’ll understand why we won’t fly with anything else.

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Born in 1986, Red Oxx has a legacy of gear design from the special operations community from founder, Jim Markel Sr. After a twenty year career as a Green Beret and Special Forces officer in both the Army and Marine Corps, Jim started tinkering with military surplus parachute rigging webbing. Soon after, Jim Jr., his son, finished a stint with Marine Force Recon and joined his father in designing and building products from military grade fabric. Their focus was, and still is, on American made quality. They have never moved their factory out of Billings, Montana, and every bag is still sewn by hand. The result? Red Oxx bags are some of the toughest, and best looking, pieces of luggage we’ve ever carried. After a few months of hauling ours around, We can’t imagine leaving them behind.

Air Boss $255

The Air Boss if Red Oxx’s best selling carry-on. The first thing we noticed are the zipper pulls. Rather than the typical metal pulls, each Air Boss zipper is equipped with a Monkey Fist knot tied from 550 paracord. These pulls are easier to grip, and also completely silent (a nice touch that kept us from jingling down the concourse on the run when narrowly making a connecting flight). The Main center pouch is padded enough to protect vital electronics, and also lends the bag some structure. Two outer pouches feature internal compression straps, which we found extremely helpful for cinching down garment bags for wrinkle and worry free packing. To top it off, the entire bag body is made from 1000-denier Cordura nylon, ensuring this will be a travel bag that will last for generations. If by chance you find a way to actually damage your bag, Red Oxx’s lifetime are backed by their “No Bull” lifetime warranty.

Packing Cubes $15-25

On the accessories side, the line of Packing Cubes takes organization even further. Each one is color coded according to size, helping you keep track of your clothes, shoes, workout gear, and more. The largest, the Kingfisher, is sized to effortlessly fit in a side pouch of the Air Boss, and the other range in size for different items; we found the Meerkat perfect for packing a weeks worth of socks and underwear, and the Hedgehog kept cords, chargers, and thumbdrives from disappearing. The bottom line? You’re going to want a couple in each size once you discover how indispensable they are.

Nomad Shave Kit $40

We know, you’re wondering just how special a simple dopp kit can be. The answer is in the Nomad’s construction. Using the same Cordura as the Air Boss, as well as over sized #10 YKK Vislon zippers, the Nomad can double work as a shave kit, extra packing cube, or tool kit. We ordered a second one that keeps our greasy bike tools safe in the garage and on roadtrips. It is the first dedicated tool bag that has stood up to harsh desert trails in Moab, UT, as well as being loaded and unloaded constantly with wrenches, sharp tire levers, and chain and spoke tools without issue.