Fusion DJ Controller Bag: Tour Test – Planes, Trains & Automobiles

By February 27, 2013 Gear Reviews No Comments
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by Mark HInes (fingas)

Hey Mark-

Great seeing you again at #FelaATL on Friday. Had a good time jamming with you. I am looking at the Fusion Controller bag dimensions and based on what I’m seeing in regards to airline’s carry-on baggage restrictions, it looks like the bag exceeds all carriers specifications. Do they ever give you a hard time carrying this thing on board? I wouldn’t be opposed to checking it but I would feel much better having it with me.

Let me know your thoughts whenever you have a free moment.

Thanks!

Mike Zarin, 5:47pm Feb 17

Hey brother. I too am concerned about traveling WITH my essential gear so this is no small point. Traveling with gear that HAS to arrive WITH me so that I can do the gig that I am traveling for, I developed an airport move called “The Brody” aka Captain Brody. This essentially boils down to rolling with your gear through security and, onto the plane as if THERE WILL BE NO PROBLEM. I have found that you get stopped less if you rock like everything is all good. If you are able to employ this technique successfully, it has 2 benefits:

  1. Your mission-critical equipment is as close as it can be to you at all points during your journey, thereby elminating lost baggage hassles, and abusive treatment that checked bags are vulnerable to.
  2. Checking your gear bag is free is some limited cases, but can cost your $25 or even $50. This approach minimizes cost while maximizing gear security.

This technique serves me well, but let me detail some of my travel experiences with the Fusion DJ Controller Bag so you have more of a real-world perspective on how it travels.

PLANES

SECURITY

If you are a traveling DJ, VJ, Producer, Musician, you are likely to be carrying some gear that is going to raise eyebrows when it passes through the X-Ray Machine, or, at minimum, spice-up an otherwise boring day for a TSA worker. Point is, you are LIKELY to have your bag pulled and examined by a TSA worker, so, act like you know. Be prepared, drop the attitude and start exhibiting the finer points of the Fusion bag’s design by easily accessing each storage area and entertaining the security official with your array of technical oddities. Budget the 10 minutes this can take into your travel plans and rejoice on occasion when your gear passes through the machine without arousing any interest or suspicion. With regards to getting your gear bag on the plane with you, contrary to popular belief, security is not your enemy. It’s the next line of airport personnel that can make or break your plans to have your gear traveling safely above your head on the plane.

OVERHEAD

I have only flown twice with the Fusion + SX. The first time, I travelled JetBlue with the “even more space” option which enables you to board with priority, and gives you more leg room. I boarded with the the bag on my back, no drama, and, getting on the plane early, I had first dibs on overhead. After quickly, and easily removing the laptop bag, I stashed the Fusion bag overhead… It slid in no hassle.

THE GATE-CHECK: Side A

So, the second time I flew, American Airlines, I believe, I Brodied my way all the way onto the plane, but, a flight attendant demanded that the bag would not fit overhead. I had already rocked it overhead on JetBlue so I knew it could fit, but, the plane was JAMMED and the flight attendant said she would gate check it and it would be waiting for me as soon as I de-planed. The Fusion design again allowed for easy access to my laptop, iPad, and headphones so I had what I needed for the trip, and I yielded my re-secured bag to the luggage handler. I watched through the window as the cat personally packed my bag onto the plane. As soon as I stepped off the plane, my bag was waiting right by the door. I un-zipped the compartment revealing backpack straps, popped it on my back and proceeded to dip through the airport with ease.

THE GATE CHECK: Side B

Upon returning, I experienced a slightly different version of the gate check; After successfully “Brodying” all the way onto the plane, I was faced with a full flight, and no overhead space anywhere near my seat. I politely inquired with the flight attendant if she would gate check my bag. She warmly obliged, only this time, my bag would not be waiting right outside the plane door. I would have to pick it up from the baggage claims carousel. While not as optimal as my JetBlue experience, I was still avoiding a check fee, and had the confidence that my bag was on the plane and not headed to a different destination than me. The bag would only have to endure one round of jungle-boogie moving it from the plane to baggage claim, and, with the solid build of the Fusion bag, I wasn’t highly concerned that gear would be damaged while the bag was out of my hands.

TRAINS

Headed to Jump N Funk @ FLUID Nightclub on Friday, February 8th, I was facing an impending winter blizzard called Nemo. By midday, roads around NYC were supposed to be impassible due to freezing rain, sleet and heavy snow. If I was going to have any chance getting to Philly to perform with DJ Rich Medina for some hardcore Fela Kuti fans who were going to show up REGARDLESS OF THE WEATHER, I had to jump on a train. The weather forecast heightened my gear transportation concerns, but, the Fusion DJ Controller bag is built solidly, and even features it’s own rain coat to further protect your gear from precipitation & moisture.

Once again, the comfy, padded shoulder straps convert the gear bag into an ergonomic backpack which enables efficient dipping around the city and subways on foot. I made my way to PENN STATION, 34th Street, NYC, making it just in time for a midday Amtrak. I boarded, choose a seat, easily liberated my Beats Exec Headphones (review coming soon) and iPad from the Fusion Bag, and slid it into position in the overhead rack. Though train travel is not my favorite, the Fusion Bag made it a breeze even in such bad weather. I arrived in PENN STATION, 30th Street, Philadelphia and waited for my partner Rich to scoop me. While waiting, a few heads walked by and remarked about the bag.

“That’s a serious bag bro”… “Wow, that case is tough! Do you like it?”. I didn’t cop this bag to make a fashion statement, but, apparently I was. Ok Fusion, you are doing your thing… Let’s have a lil photo shoot till Medina gets here.

My gear: the Pioneer DDJ-SX, Laptop & Projector, arrived at FLUID in top shape and we rocked the spot. Big Ups to sponsors 101 Apparel.



AUTOMOBILES

The next day, the snow had abated and the roads into NYC, were less treacherous. I decided to take the wallet-friendly Bolt-Bus back home. Boarding the bus, I could quickly see that the overhead racks were less-ample than those on the Amtrak and the Fusion was not going to fit. I stepped off the bus to inspect the under-bus bays. Less secure, and grimy from the dirty snow. I opened the Fusion and released the laptop and controller bags from the inner case; these would go back on board with me. I pulled the rain jacket over the whole case obscuring the bag’s sexy exterior and protecting it from under-bus weather grime and bag boosters. I slid the backpack straps back into their pocket. This would make it very difficult for anyone to abscond with the bag should I be passed-out during a stop.

The next gig would provide a family road-trip opportunity. Heading to Atalnta for Spreadlove with DJ Kemit to promote the return of Fela! the Musical to ATL. So far, the Fusion has been great when I’m traveling alone, but how well does it play with others? After all, my family rolls 5 deep, and, in a Jetta Sportswagon, there is only so much space for gear (though it seems to miraculously expand and contract to fit our needs, just like the Fusion bag!).

14 hours of driving later (big ups, Kimeye), we arrived just in time for soundcheck. With it’s compartmental design, I had my controller, laptop and stand out of the Fusion in no time only to turn and see a throng of fellow DJ’s salivating at the sight of the Pioneer DDJ-SX. As their chatter about the myth and prophecy proceeded around it’s fated capabilities, the more savvy jocks stepped in for some real intel.

Mike Zarin: Though we crossed paths in the past, Zarin and I would have the opportunity to rock side by side this night. He on the tables with partner Chris (@Caz) and I on visuals, we consummated respect that has been, to this point, loosely developed via social media. It is courtesy of Mike’s interest in the Fusion case and his follow up email that prompted the completion of this review.

DJ Ausar: Though traditionally a turntable purist, this Afro House spinmeister and radio personality was sporting Traktor and the S1. Though he exhibited some lust for the DDJ-SX, he was far more curious about what I was toting it in. after giving Ausar a brief tour of the Fusion, he remarked at how tough the craftsmenship and design were on the and said that he was intrigued by the bag that was one step smaller than mine. He should be, regardless of your controller choice or software brand, you need a case that is going to get that gear to the gig in top shape.

DJ Kemit: The Mayor of Atlanta… This guy and his lady, Queen Aishah are true ATL dignitaries regularly smashing out large warehouses like 595 North with throngs of eager ATLiens looking for a proper dose of authentic Soul, Afro, Hip-Hop and House. DJ, Producer, Engineer and family man in his own right, Kemit both sets trends and recognizes when cats are carving out new ones. Kemit and I got to sit down and GO IN on his new mobile studio setup, sharing tales of software and hardware we dig. Expanding his toolset to include Ableton Live and Serato Video, Kemit is soon to be toting either an APC40 or DDJ-SX or both.

Fusion, we have a another few customers…

Holler at your peoples, Fusion Product Superstar, Nicole S.!

Part II Coming Soon:  Fusion goes to Jamaica… can it take heat?

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