It never fails: I travel somewhere that is known for its wine, and I find myself with a bottle to bring home. Packing the bottle safely can be tricky, though. I’ve had bottles break that were inside the bubble wrap bags that some wine stores sell, but I think I have found a solution in the inflatable VinniBag travel accessory!
It’s marketed for wine, but you can also use the 22″ x 8″ inflatable VinniBag to safely transport anything that fits inside — things like camera lenses, coffee cups, and other small breakables. Think outside the box, too; the VinniBag floats, so you can use it when boating or at the beach as a holder for your keys, cellphone, or medications. You can even use it as a travel pillow!
[Click a circle to open the gallery]
So how do you get started? Watch this …
The first step is to separate the two sides at the bottom of the bag.
Next you slide the wine bottle (or other item) in until it hits the “stop here” line near the top of the bag.
You can blow a bit of air into the bag to help stabilize the item inside if you are worried about it shifting too much before you start rolling and then give the final blow up. VinniBag mentions that you should pull on the arrows at the bottom of the bag to “flatten the dry seal extension”. Evidently “trapped air can prevent a secure seal and can allow contents to shift.” Obviously, you don’t want that!
Next to tightly roll the bottom of the bag up, and then you secure it with the plastic buckle.
It only takes a couple of deep breaths to inflate the bag, which is a good thing because I’m the person who gets headaches when I blow up balloons or pool toys. =P
You can now consider this bottle of wine stabilized and ready for shipping!
I love that the VinniBag can be reused many times due to the plastic clip and roll sealing system, unlike the WineSkin bags I usually use; I get two uses at most out of those, and on the second use I have to deal with sticky residue and a compromised seal from their first use. Granted, the VinniBag costs more, but I see it as the difference of buying something that will last through many uses and buying something that is basically disposable. Oh, and if for some reason your bag ever fails, it is a number 3 recyclable item — or you can send it back to VinniBag, and they will “have it turned into a garden hose to help keep our planet green”. Pretty cool, right?
How well does the inflatable VinniBag protect its contents? Watch this …
You don’t have to use the bag for breakables, though; uninflated it can hold wet items like a wet bathing suit, and when it’s inflated you can even use it as a travel pillow. The VinniBag is versatile and can be used in many situations; it folds flat for easy travel, and it is a convenient piece of gear to have on hand when you need it. This is something that I’ll be keeping in my carry-on — just in case!
The VinniBag retails for $28 for one, or you can get two or more for $25 each; it is available directly from the manufacturer.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample
What I Like: Folds flat; easy to pack; multiple uses; can be used over and over; recyclable
What Needs Improvement: They aren’t cheap, but when you consider that they are so versatile and reusable, the price is less hard to swallow
Bonus: Joel took a look at the VinniBag in 2011; check out his review.