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Aug 18 2013

Eagle Creek Adventure Weekender Review

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It probably makes sense to touch briefly on my travel philosophy before I jump into my review of the Eagle Creek Adventure Weekender suitcase.

I am not quite a complete “one-bagger” like some of my esteemed travel compatriots, but I am not far from it. I loathe checking luggage and have had this hatred underlined by a couple of airlines sending my luggage to Islip, when I was bound for Indiana. Nothing like a midnight trip to WalMart to buy something to wear to a 7:30 AM presentation.

I will not bore you with the horror stories, but I can tell you that I have been able to get on flights I would never have made because I had my luggage with me. Have you ever noticed that when you are trying to get on the last plane out of an airport that the first thing they always ask you is, “Did you check any luggage?” Makes you think, doesn’t it?

I also love going straight out the doors while the rest of the passengers are waiting for luggage to be “handled”. It makes me feel vaguely superior, AND I get to the front of the cab line.

The Adventure Weekender hits a sweet spot in my travel regime because of these tendencies. The question is whether it will suit your travel style. Let’s dive into the details and find out.

Eagle Creek Adventure Weekender

Specs:
SIZE-2500 cu in / 41 L
WEIGHT-2 lbs 9 oz / 1.16 kg
FABRIC-600D Poly Ripstop | 600D Helix™ Oxford | 1260D Helix™ Ballistic
DIMENSIONS-13 x 20 x 8 in / 33 x 51 x 20 cm

The name obviously alludes to the Weekender being a piece of luggage appropriate to a two or three day trip. However, careful packing would allow you to stretch that. The size fits within the carry on limits of all but the most Draconian airlines (yes, I am talking to you Spirit and Alitalia!), and at 2.5 pounds empty, it is very light before you start cramming it to the brim.

The material is a mix of different weight nylons and polyester, and it has proven to be robust in my testing.

The Adventure Weekender is a fairly simple bag with a couple of clever twists. From a carry standpoint, it has a solid grab handle that is made by wrapping a piece of nylon around the two handles and snapping it closed. It is comfortable in the hand.

The Weekender also features a shoulder strap and hideaway back pack straps. A good rule of thumb for deciding the maximum weight you want to carry is to use ten percent of your body weight. For me, that means keeping the total to right at twenty pounds. Yes…I know I need to lose a few pounds. As you get close to this total, holding a bag by hand for any length of time becomes uncomfortable.

Using a shoulder strap helps to transfer this weight from your arm to your shoulder, but if you need to run through an airport it is still not perfect. If your flight lands at A2 in Atlanta Hartsfield and you have 35 minutes until the connection takes off from E35 then you can really appreciate backpack straps. They distribute the weight better, the bag is more stable and it doesn’t flop as much as on a shoulder strap. Much better, but be careful if you are standing in a crowd and need to turn quickly as you could knock someone over!

The backpack straps on the Weekender hide in a zippered compartment on the back side of the bag, just under the pass-through for stacking it on a roller bag. They pull out and attach to semicircle clips on the opposite side of the bag.

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The straps are comfortable and work well, but I do wish the hardware was a little more heavy-duty. Being able to tuck those straps back away when you get to the gate makes them much less likely to snag or hook on something as you push them into the overhead bin or shove it under a seat.

The Weekender has a wraparound zipper that opens to allow the bag to lay completely flat, which makes packing much easier. The zippers have big finger pulls on them which makes opening the bag simple even with gloves on.

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Once open, the Weekender is divided into an open side with compression straps, and a side with a full, zippered closure. These sections are scaled to fit the Eagle Creek packing cubes perfectly. Two of the full cubes will fit in each side…or two half cubes and a full cube…or…well you get the idea. I tend to pack socks and undies in a half cube, shirts and shorts in a full cube and pants under the compression straps.

Keep in mind, the Weekender does not have a frame internally, which makes the bag much lighter. The downside is that it is relatively unstructured. If you stuff it full and try to cinch the compression straps down hard, you will have a roughly barrel shaped bag. Use the compression straps with care!

If you have not used packing cubes before, I cannot recommend them highly enough. They add almost no weight to your luggage and they greatly increase your organization while cutting down on wrinkling. I am currently testing out the Eagle Creek compression cubes and will have a short write-up on those soon.

Once you have the middle sections packed up, the zippered side folds over the open side and none of your carefully arranged contents will shift or slide.

The front side of the bag features two more zippered pockets. The one closest to the center is sized for a laptop, but it has minimal padding so plan on using some sort of sleeve also.

The outermost pocket opens to reveal the full organizational section.

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Zippered pockets, card slots, pen loops and a key clip combine to make the Weekender a great single bag for a short business trip. These pockets are not deep, so if you have packed the interior of the bag very full, it can be a challenge to cram lots of accessories into this section.

Conclusions

The Adventure Weekender is just about perfect for its intended task of getting away for a couple of days with everything you need.

I only have a couple of small quibbles with the bag. I wish the back pack strap hardware were made of metal instead of plastic, and if you leave the shoulder strap on all the time it can make opening the clothing section a bit annoying. For balance, the attachment points are each on a different side of the zipper. This is the right choice to carry the bag. The solution is to simply unclip one side when you open the bag to pack it. These are truly small issues.

We go through a lot of luggage here at Restless Tech and very few pieces find their way into our “permanent collection”, but the Adventure Weekender hits a really sweet spot.

Easy to pack, easy to carry and perfect for a short trip with no other bag required.

Highly recommended.

Eagle Creek Adventure Weekender $150
Available in black, olive and sienna

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