THE QUECHUA PEOPLE OF PERU, with their Inca leaders, had a mystical way of life and a sophisticated society that led the world in the development of horticulture. Then a couple of dozen Spaniards led by Pizarro arrived, took over their country and transformed their lives.
How could this happen The conquistadores had two advantages over the Quechua – horses and wheels. One of the first manufacturers to fit wheels to luggage was Stahlsac.
Stahlsac is German for “Steel Bag”. This seemed appropriate all those years ago when Jim and John Stahl made their bags in North Carolina, USA and they were necessarily expensive but built to last.
I was originally sent a couple to test and, more than 12 years later, the second one is finally showing signs of wear. I jokingly asked Jim if it was still under guarantee!
Jim and John first moved production to Mexico to keep their prices competitive before succumbing, like everyone else, to the lure of the Orient. Now their bags are made in China.
While few of us can afford to buy bags made in America, neither can we afford to check in a bag for a journey by air that weighs a lot before we’ve even started to pack it. Jim and John have been on top of that.

With dimensions of 70 x 30 x 42cm, and volume approaching 100 litres, the Curacao Clipper bag is capacious. It has an extending handle so that you can drag it along on its wheels. It also weighs in empty at only around 3.5kg.
This has been achieved by using lightweight yet durable materials, including a chassis and big wheels designed by Jim Stahl himself. This includes a big base that enables the bag to stand upright securely even when fully loaded.

There are two main sections. The bigger one will encompass all your dive gear, while the second will take clothes and personal items. These are accessed via two big U-route zips, which make loading easy.
There is also a smaller zipped pocket that I found useful for small items that I might want to access at the airport – like my woolly hat, for when I arrived back at a wintry Gatwick fresh from Indonesia.
Another zipped section at the back proved handy for transporting a couple of copies of DIVER that I took to give to people at host locations. Nice details were the reinforced corners that stop the corners of the top of the handle-chassis wearing through the material, and a substantial padded fabric handle, matched by a hard handle integrated with the base, for lifting the bag onto such things as X-ray machines at various airports.

Finally, once the bag is loaded to your satisfaction, two strongly integrated adjustable straps, closed by big pinch-clips, are used to keep everything secure and together.
For the ultimate test, I took the Clipper on a journey to the other side of the world that included four international flights and four by a developing country’s domestic airline, two long boat-rides in open ocean and a liveaboard trip.
The baggage-handlers at Heathrow managed to break a tag off one zip, but apart from that and a few salt stains, both the bag and its contents survived intact.

Cressi Moby Light, £85
TUSA RB8, £135
Scubapro Caravan, £110

PRICE Expected to be around £170
VOLUME 97 litres
DIMENSIONS 70 x 30 x 42cm
DIVER GUIDE width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100%