Published on June 8th, 2019 | by Darren Paltrowitz


Why I Took A Solo New York All-Star Bag To Rockford, Illinois

Although located about 90 minutes from Chicago or Madison by car, and within driving distance to Milwaukee and other notable destinations, Rockford is absolutely a city in its own right. Offering the world far more than Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame act Cheap Trick and legendary women’s baseball team the Rockford Peaches, Rockford has just about everything one would expect from a small city.

Beyond its own regional airport (Chicago Rockford International Airport), for starters, Rockford has an arena (BMO Harris Bank Center), theaters (Coronado Performing Arts Center and the Starlight Theatre), craft breweries (including Prairie Street Brewing, Urban Forest Craft Brewing and Carlyle Brewing), minor league sports teams (baseball’s Rockford Rivets and hockey’s Rockford IceHogs), a Japanese garden and its fair share of colleges and corporate offices. On top of all that, rumor is that a casino coming to Rockford in the near-future, as related to Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen.

When given the opportunity to visit Rockford for a 48-hour visit, I had a bit of a conundrum when it came to packing. We are in the warmer months of the year, yet it isn’t quite summer. Also, in being a two-night trip, I wasn’t sure whether it would be better to take an overly-packed backpack or an underpacked suitcase. Fortunately, earlier this month I was blessed with a promotional item that turned out to make my packing for Rockford that much easier, thanks to Solo New York.

Part of Solo’s Varsity Collection, the All-Star is made from super-light nylon, has separate compartments for a laptop and shoes (or dirty clothes), and plenty of space for everything else. Sporty, versatile, and noticeably lightweight, the bag also looks sleek enough for everyday use, despite its more than 22 liters of capacity. Packed to the brims, yes, I was able to fit two days of clothes, my MacBook computer, chargers for my laptop and phone, toiletries, exercise and swimming-related gear — the Radisson Hotel & Conference Center Rockford had both a gym and an indoor pool — a notebook, and a few other odds and ends. It easily fit under my seat on the airplane, yet with some quick already-built-in adjustments, it could be worn into town as a backpack.

I have a few other 2-night trips coming up over the next few months, and anticipate using the All-Star for those trips as well. So thanks to Solo New York for both generously sending me the bag and also creating something that a travel writer — or general weekend warrior — can utilize so efficiently, while further appreciation goes out to the city of Rockford for its hospitality and charm.

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About the Author

Darren Paltrowitz is a New York resident with over 20 years of entertainment industry experience. He began working around the music business as a teenager, interning for the manager of his then-favorite band Superdrag. Since then, he has worked with a wide array of artists including OK Go, They Might Be Giants, Mike Viola, Tracy Bonham, Loudness, Rachael Yamagata, and Amanda Palmer. Darren's writing has appeared in dozens of outlets including the New York Daily News, Inquisitr, The Daily Meal, The Hype Magazine, All Music Guide, Guitar World,, Businessweek, Chicago Tribune, L.A. Times, and the Jewish Journal. Beyond being "Editor At Large" for The Hype Magazine, Darren is also the host of the bi-weekly "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz" podcast, as co-produced with V13 (formerly He has also co-authored two published books, 2018's "Pocket Change: Your Happy Money" (Book Web Publishing) and 2019's "Good Advice From Professional Wrestling" (6623 Press), with a second podcast set for a June 2020 launch.

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