Spring is around the corner. And whether you’re about to graduate and making plans for summer break or just taking a short vacation on some company miles, as a tech savvy traveler you want your gear to fit your travel.
To that end, Joshua Raley will be offering gear reviews dedicated to the best gear for the road. So stay tuned, it could change your life! Well, probably just your carry on, but still.
In Barcelona, Spain at 5:00 a.m. my buddies and I were packing our gear in the pitch black dark so not to wake up our roommates in the hostel. With only a few minutes to spare before missing our train to Pamplona, one of my pack’s zippers decided to split. After some hasty repairs made by flashlight and hurrying through the city’s subway we made it to our train on time. But situations like this make you picky about gear. It needs to be well made, hold up over time, and never slow you down.
One of my travel buddies and good friends on that trip has used the same Eagle Creek bag since 2009. After 6 countries including Brazil, Spain, Thailand, and soon to be Australia, his bag is still going strong. A short backstory, Eagle Creek was started in 1975 when the owners of a small climbing shop in the San Jacinto Mountains of California started sewing custom bags for their friends and regulars. As adventure travel grew in popularity so did the Eagle Creek brand. For the last few weeks I’ve been testing out their newest line of Load Warrior and Gear Warrior bags.
The Bag Review – The short of it
What is it? Eagle Creek 22” Load Warrior, wheeled duffel carry-on bag, no backpack straps
Who’s it for? (and not for) Carry-on only crowd that need a bag to last, not for those wanting a full backpack with straps or for heavy packers
How much? MSRP for 22” $230, 25” $250, 28” $270
Does the company stand by it? Yes, under their lifetime warrantee, you send it back, they fix or replace it
When/where can I get it? Normally on Eagle Creek’s website, but for now they’re sold out
Eagle Creek introduced the Load Warrior in October promising, “versatility and rugged durability for any adventure.” The Load Warrior and Gear Warrior (slightly larger of the two) come in a total of 5 sizes. I prefer to pack carry-on only, so I stuck with the 22” Load Warrior.
The quality of materials was the first thing that stood out after using this bag on a 4 day trip in January. The construction of this bag screams well-made from the lockable zippers & pull loops to the heavy stitching around the many grab handles. And Eagle Creek managed to keep the overall weight to just over 5 and half pounds with a capacity of 41L-45L.
It’s a small thing, but this outside pocket pictured to the left? I love this pocket. It’s extends down the front of the bag to give you plenty of accessible space to quickly tuck items away when you’re wheeling through the airport, whether it’s a passport, a tablet, or just a beanie.
The wheels and extendable handle are well balanced and it stands up easily, even when heavily loaded with items stacked on top in the handle area. The sewn in handles feel sturdy, especially the one in the center of the pack.
The top loader bungee cord was the feature that most surprised me, it seemed a bit of a gimmick at frist glance since it doubles as a bottle opener. But on my first trip with the bag I immediately found myself using it, first to secure a rolled up jacket in the airport and other times to secure my smaller bag. And later the entire bag still fit great in the overhead bin even with the jacket strapped on. Which is notable since most ‘carry on’ sized bags, regardless of the stated size, often barely fit into overhead bins depending on how you pack. Eagle Creek’s True to Size guarantee says this bag fits in the overhead every time. In my experience even stuffed full of sweaters and big jackets it fit in the overhead easily while flying with Delta and American.
The extending dual handle may be the only downside of this bag. On the one hand it’s sturdy enough you can easily lift the entire bag with it, but after using the mono-handle on some other brands this bag feels less agile wheeling through crowded airport lines.
If you’re a carry-on only traveler this bag is a perfect fit and is going to last. If you’re interested in getting even more off the beaten path you may need to look into other bags. Eagle Creek’s Switchback series has most of the features of this bag in addition to a full backpack strap and waist harness system. Overall this bag stands out for it’s smart design and reliable materials.