I’m an avid CabinZero backpacker and recently I received the new CabinZero ADV Pro and was pretty excited about using it – it looked like some my gripes about my current favourite CabinZero Military were finally getting addressed with this new model. I carried the new bag around on a few trips, and here’s my honest review of the new CabinZero ADV Pro and how it stacks up against the Military.
CabinZero fan since 2015
I’ve used this backpack for most of my trips since 2015, from short weekend trips to my 15-months across Asia, Europe and South America, so I think it’s fair to say that I know the CabinZero product pretty well. You can read about my thoughts about the older models of CabinZero here – my favourite is the CabinZero Military (New) 44L.
What I like about CabinZero [affiliate link] is that it started with the whole idea of a simple backpack meant to maximise the amount that you can carry in your carry-on luggage. I’ve gone from always checking in a bag to going carry-on only largely because of the CabinZero.
Since then the brand has diversified its main product – you can now get smaller 28L and 36L versions for really strict budget airline restrictions, and they have a whole range of companion pouches, bags and other accessories as well.
This introduction is meant to give you a bit of context to my review. I do personally like CabinZero, and yes they do sponsor my bags which means I get them for free, but I’m not getting paid to churn out a positive review. I recommend this bag to people all the time and get asked about its features a lot, so I’m documenting my personal experience here for you to make your own informed choice. It’s important to consider that your needs are not the same as mine.
With so many new versions of CabinZero available, let me break it down a little for you.
ADV vs ADV Pro
ADV comes in standard ADV and ADV Pro, the main difference is that the laptop pocket in Pro is on the front of the bag while ADV is similar to Military with the L shape pocket on the inside of the bag. It looks the same way for the new Classic Plus and Classic Pro, which are upgrades of the original Classic.
According to the specs, the shoulder strap and back panel material are different between ADV (Airmesh same as Military) and ADV Pro (EVA), but I haven’t seen the ADV for myself so I can’t confirm this.
ADV Pro vs Military
The ADV series is a new range of CabinZero backpacks that I assume at first was supposed to be an upgrade of the Military range as they were branding the Military as Adventure at one point. They have since seem to decide to brand it separately, but given that my favourite CabinZero is the Military, that’s why I’m comparing it against the ADV Pro review.
Here are some of the ADV Pro features compared to the Military. Scroll down for a more detailed review.
- Size – ADV Pro is smaller:
- ADV comes in 42L/32L
- Military comes in 44L/36L/28L
- Shape – ADV Pro more streamlined:
- The new CabinZero range (Classic Plus, ADV) has a slimmer rectangular shape 57 x 34 x 25 cm and is heavier at 1,600g
- The old CabinZero range (Classic, Military) has the old almost-squarish boxy shape 52 x 36 x 19 cm and is lighter at 1,050g
- Compartments – ADV Pro has more pockets:
- ADV Pro has 9 compartments: one main compartment, 1 large front pocket with 1 laptop pocket and 2 smaller zip pockets, 2 smaller zip pockets on the interior flap, 1 thin interior pocket for frame support, 1 pocket underneath the bag for strap cover flap, 1 top pocket
- Military has 5 compartments: one main compartment, 1 large front pocket, 2 smaller pockets on the inner flap, an elastic L-shape interior pocket for laptop
- Laptop pocket – ADV Pro laptop pocket more accessible:
- ADV Pro laptop pocket is inside the front pocket and padded with a velcro strap. These can apparently block RFID as well.
- Military laptop pocket is an elastic L-shaped pocket on the back of the main compartment
- Straps – ADV Pro straps thinner, can now be hidden:
- The new CabinZero range has an additional flap that you zip up to hide the straps. You can hide the flap in a pocket under the bag when not in use
- Military straps are just… there
- Other new features in ADV:
- Elastic straps on interior back
- D Ring on left shoulder + 4 elastic bands on shoulder straps
- Removable aluminium frame to support back
- Removed molle webbing on the front which is used to add additional gear
- Bungee cord on interior
Check out the Military 44L for yourself [affiliate link]
42L CabinZero ADV Pro review
I carried the ADV Pro on a recent scuba diving trip – here’s what I liked and didn’t like about the bag.
Pros of the ADV Pro:
- Laptop more protected/accessible: This was one big issue I had with Military as it was difficult to pull out my laptop when I went through security, so I ended up not using the pocket much at all. the front pocket definitely makes it easier to pull out, and the padding helps to protect the laptop as well.
- Stowaway straps: I like that you can hide the straps when you need to. While I try to go carry-on only, I’ve had to check in my bag on occasions when I was on a really small plane or just carrying more luggage than usual. I was always afraid of all the dangly straps getting caught in the conveyor belt, so being able to zip it up neatly is a nice option.
- Nicer colours: the old Military colours were really dull – I was happy when they introduced dark blue and grey in the new Military, but the ADV Pro goes a little further with a brighter yellow and blue option. I picked the Mossy Forest green which I think is chicer than the New Military Green.
Cons of the ADV Pro:
- Less packing space: Other than the obvious volume difference, I’ve found that all the additional pockets and streamlined shape mean you can squeeze less things into the ADV Pro compared to the Military. With Military, I am usually able to stack 2 layers of packing cubes on top of each other, but in the ADV Pro I can definitely only fit 1 layer of packing cubes.
Now compare it to how I usually pack with the Military – you can see I can easily stack 2 layers worth of stuff before closing the bag. This space has been taken up by the ADV Pro’s front pocket, and arguably you can stuff a fair bit in the front pockets of the ADV Pro, but space is not as well-maximised as with the Military.
- More expensive: the new ADV Pro is US$255 as compared to the Military which is only US$155. $100 difference is quite significant.
Check out the CabinZero ADV Pro 42L on the CabinZero website [affiliate link]
I’m a little torn about how I feel about the new ADV Pro. I like most of the new features, but the big issue for me is that it’s just less roomy than it used to be. The squeezability and maximisation of space was the main selling point of CabinZero for me compared to other bags, so I’m more inclined to carry the ADV Pro if I’m travelling light or have check-in luggage with me. I still prefer the Military (new) for pure carry-on only trips just because there’s more room.
I posted up a video review of this on my Instastories and have seen 2 different types of sentiment from my audience so far – some people welcome the streamlined shape, additional pockets and other add-ons, others like me lament the decreased packing volume, so ultimately I think it depends on what you prefer.
What do you think about the CabinZero ADV Pro? Do you like it more or less than the other CabinZero bags? Share with me what you think in the comments below.