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Posts Tagged carry-on bag

Eagle Creek 2-in-1 Backpack Duffel

I love packable travel backpacks. The new Eagle Creek 2-in-1 duffel may be the best I’ve seen to-date. It meets my non-negotiable criteria for an overnight carry-on: it’s lightweight, packable (stuffs into its own pocket), and offers many of the bells and whistles of a full-scale (non-stuffable) backpack.

eagle-creek-2-in-1-duffelI’m usually less of a fan of convertible bags. Maybe it’s just me, but on a given trip, I either need a duffle or a backpack, but rarely both. However, with the Eagle Creek 2-in-1, you don’t lose as much valuable space when switching between styles as you do with many convertibles, making this a non-issue for me.

The 2-in-1 is made of ripstop nylon and carry-on sized at 11 x 22.5 x 7.5. It has a 33 L capacity (28 as a backpack).

What I love about the 2-in-1: when used in backpack mode, the pack can be accessed by top-load panel or side panel zippers, and offers two roomy water bottle pockets, a deep top zippered pocket, and a deep interior zippered pocket.  The zippers are lockable, and you also get side and bottom compression straps with external lash points for stowing more gear.  The bag is reflective and very lightweight. Converting the pack to a duffel is pleasantly simple (see photos below) and when you do convert, the duffel version gives you 15% more space (though a little bit is lost to shoulder strap storage).

What I don’t love so much: I really wish the shoulder straps slightly more significant (I’m willing to add some weight for this feature) and more adjustable. They do adjust at a basic level, but I was unable to fit the straps to my nine-year-old. I know, the 2-in-1 has never been touted as a child’s pack, but because of the size and weight, it’s the ideal carry-on bag for a kid. We love using the top zippered pocket for my son’s iPod, ear buds, and Kindle (all the possessions he could possibly want on a trip) and the main compartment for the rest of his gear.

How it converts: Converting from a backpack to a duffel is easy, as illustrated below. Eagle Creek is nice enough to color-code the straps and clips for us (all are gray), making it even simpler. Step 1: unhook the shoulder straps from the bottom of the pack. Step 2: stuff them into the zippered back panel. Step 3: Unzip the bottom circular compartment. Step 4: Pull out the duffel straps. Step 5: Attach the duffel straps to the coordinating clips.


Pick up a 2-in-1 duffel from Eagle Creek for $80, or find it at Amazon, Sunny Sports, or Moosejaw for the same price. Colors include black, flame orange, or mantis green. While you’re shopping, take a look at additional Eagle Creek gear we’ve reviewed.

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Crumpler Spring Peeper Duffel

I get very attached to my luggage. If my checked luggage is a sight for sore eyes every time it makes it to that final baggage claim conveyor belt, my carry-on luggage is girl’s best friend. Finding the perfect carry-on bag is tough: I like my Crumpler Red Dye No 9, but wish it were a bit more streamlined for bulkhead storage, and like my trusty age-old duffel, but wish it had wheels. Crumpler’s Spring Peeper duffel combines the space of the duffel with the posh features I’ve come to expect from Crumpler. Hello, new favorite travel buddy.

crumpler-spring-peeperThe Spring Peeper comes in two sizes, large and medium. I reviewed the medium, which is 70-litres and carry-on size approved (even at persnickety airline counters). The large is checked-bag only, which is good to know going in. The medium Spring Peeper sports your traditional duffel style, with the added benefit of a three-position handle and wheels. The lockable main compartment is roomy, and includes Crumpler features such as extra tie-downs, an internal compression panel, and compartmentalized interior side pockets. Even though the main space is large, you can keep things organized. You get an extra zippered external pocket that’s also quite roomy, and an internal ‘wet pocket’.  The Spring Peeper is simpler than other Crumpler bags I’ve reviewed, but in my experience, too many compartments and divisions can equal lost or unusable space.

I love the zipper closure of the Spring Peeper. No, zippers are not a new phenomenon to me, but this one follows a kidney shape around the exterior of the main compartment, making it much easier to cram a ton of dirty clothes into close. The zipper pulls are well made, and I’ve never had a snag issue (even while cramming).

The trolley handle has a nice rubber grip and collapses with a button. The top straps close with thick velcro, and two additional straps tighten the overall shape to fit into any overhead compartment. I’ve taken the Spring Peeper on the smallest of commercial planes without a problem. The bag has wheels on one end (not on both), and pulls smoothly through terminals everywhere. The material is weather-resistant, and if you don’t want to take my word on the carry-on compatibility, the exact size is 32 cm in width by 55 cm in height (volume of 40 cm).

Pick up a medium-sized Spring Peeper at Crumpler for $210, or, if you are looking for the large, find it on Amazon for $265 (either way, enjoy their ‘death do us part’ warranty). The bag comes in black or red.

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ECBC Falcon Rolling Duffle Bag

carry-on duffle

The ECBC Falcon Rolling Duffle, available in black and grey, is a fantastic companion for the busy road warrior thanks to its multiple pocket options and handles on all sides (side, top, and front) for quick-and-grab access. A unique identification tag pulls out of the side of the bag for easy identification access if travelers choose to fill in their information.

Nosy TSA agents can conveniently access the bag thanks to its compliant FastPass system that gives them the ability to open the bag despite it being locked to the general public. It even features a front pocket for electronics that is also locked with TSA-compliant features, but no one should check this bag with expensive electronics in it anyway. Still, as a carry-on bag, the foam-coated pocket can hold a 15-inch laptop. On a regional jet, any important electronics should be rescued before the bag is tossed hastily into the plane’s belly.

Even if the bag were mishandled, there are skid-resistant plates on the bag’s corners that are meant to absorb shock and provide resistance for the bag’s contents. And for heavy packers like me, an extra zipper pocket allows the bag to expand to allow for added purchases on the return leg of a trip.

One thing that I did notice is that the bag’s free-form shape did not allow me to stuff in larger items like lengthy documents or work equipment easily without being bent or damaged. Rarely do I carry such things, but for those looking for a durable bag to take to presentations, that could pose a potential problem.

Despite having the expanded pouch in use, I have never had a problem with this bag passing muster as a carry-on bag by conservative gate agents, and the durable fabric resists water so even if the bag is exposed to the rain for a few minutes, nothing will get wet.

The price tag is a fair $350 for such a durable bag, and it is available for sale on the ECBC website or on Amazon.

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Magellan’s Four-Wheeled Getaway Under-Seat Tote Travel Bag

4-wheel under seat luggageThis innovative, four-wheeled Getaway Under-Seat Tote carryon bag from Magellan’s quickly caught my eye. Not that I have thrown caution to the wind and decided to slum it aboard Spirit (which charges for overhead baggage), but that thought crossed my mind when I saw this item. Both Spirit and Allegiant charge for baggage in the overhead bin adding to the need for suitcases to maximize that underseat storage space. This would be great for those that travel aboard ultra low-fare airlines.

That kind of bargain hunting is perfect for those looking to save money and willing to fly those ultra low-cost airlines making this bag ideal for them. However, it could also be of interest to Southwest or Delta passengers concerned about passing the nosy gate agent scruff test.

I decided to try it myself and had no problems on any of the ten flights I traveled on with this bag. To be fair, I did not stuff another large bag on top of it (although my narrow briefcase was always present). And the bag may appear to tall to fit under the seat at first, but it does with ease.

The four-wheel rotation of this bag made it simple to maneuver within the airport although it was smaller in storage size meaning it is best left for short trips.

The main compartment has ample space for a small stash of clothes and a pair of tennis shoes plus some handy pockets, including a padded iPad sleeve, zippered water bottle pouch, and 3-1-1 pocket. It weighs less than seven pounds overall and is just about 15 inches tall.

The lightweight nature of the bag and lack of a bulky appearance make this an ideal travel gift for frequent flyers and is available on Magellan’s website for $149.

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Helly Hansen 50L Duffel

You can’t go wrong with a classic. If you need a waterproof, rugged, all-purpose duffel bag and want to pay a bit less than you would for most adventure-gear brands of a similar size, Helly Hansen’s 50L duffel is for you.

Helly Hansen 50L duffelHelly Hansen offers their duffel bags in 30L, 50L, and 90L for  $75, $90, and $110 respectively. I don’t usually open my reviews with the price, but it bears noting the value here: you get all the features you’d expect in a high-quality duffel for a price that makes you want to buy two. Or three.  I’ve been putting ours through its paces for eight months now, and it shows literally no sign of wear.

It’s pretty, too. When the 50L duffel arrived in our household, it caused an argument between my teen and tween sons; each wanted to claim it as their own new carry-on bag. I settled things by taking it for myself. In the months since, my oldest has reclaimed it, putting it to use as a ski gear bag. It’s so versatile, it’s been pressed into service as a day bag for snorkel gear, too.

Let’s go over features: don’t expect a lot of bells and whistles on the Helly Hansen duffel. Like others in its category, the genius is in its simplicity. But it does deliver on details. The bag is made of tough nylon tarpaulin, with extra flaps to fold over zippers and keep moisture out. Its water-resistency is what makes it a great ski or snowboard gear bag. You get compression straps to tighten everything down (and fit into airline overhead compartments) and a zippered pocket both inside and outside. There’s a name tag holder and a padded shoulder strap, but I’ve saved the best for last: hideaway backpack straps that allow you to carry the duffel on your back. As mentioned, you can tuck these straps into the bag, but we keep them out full-time.

The duffel features a nice U-shaped extra-rugged zipper to completely open up the bag, and stiff end panels makes it possible to stand the duffel on one end (great for easy storage or for resting between your knees on a bus, shuttle, or plane). It comes in a nice variety of shiny colors including orange, white with red accents, blue, red, black, or purple. Buy straight from Helly Hansen for $90, or pick one up on Amazon for a few bucks less or look at Moosejaw.

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