With inadequate or sub-par gear, travel days can be brutal. They can be frustrating and defeating, and put a giant damper on your travels altogether. But with the right pieces of gear, travel can be relatively easy — and even fun. Issues of fumbling with too many bags, trying to carry awkwardly-designed bags, not having enough room in your travel bag to carry the things you need and waiting in horrible baggage check lines can all be squashed with the right product — like Eagle Creek’s new Cargo Hauler Special Edition 60L duffle. This bag is rugged. This bag is durable. And this bag is insanely functional and offers a level of simplicity that is a thing of beauty in expertly designed gear. Made with the adventurous carry on-only traveler in mind, this bag features details like 100-percent waterproof materials, multi-carry straps and organizational pockets that expand when needed without compromising the integrity of the bag’s shape. It’s easy to pack, easy to carry, easy to carry on and easy to access your stuff from when you reach your final destination. I’ve spilled the contents of an entire water bottle on this bag, left it sitting on a muddy sidewalk in a snowstorm and dragged it through airport security — and it didn’t miss a beat.
Pros: Where to start? The Cargo Hauler Special Edition 60L was designed for the traveler that has been in every bad airport scenario imaginable, and lived to gripe about it. The main feature that makes this bag worth the purchase is the comfortable, yet functional, multi-carry straps. The ergonomic and moisture-wicking straps can be fastened together to wear as a standard duffle, or pulled apart to don as a backpack. The placement of the straps and fasten points never affect easy access into the bag. And the best part is, the transition process is so simple and fast. Instead of fussing with or adjusting the straps to change the bag from a duffle to a backpack, the process is as simple as clicking or releasing a button on the padded one-button closure strap. The straps fasten to the bag using two different carabiner-inspired systems, both easy to detach and attach, depending on your needs and preferences. And this bag will last you a long time, thanks to the X-Pac™ fabric the bag is constructed out of. The X-Pac™ fabric is a high-tech fabric most often used to build high performance racing sails on sailboats. The durable material is waterproof up to 200 PSI and has been tested to withstand winds upwards of 100 miles per hour. It also features a waterproof rain flap to cover up the already water-resistant, polyurethane-coated zippers. It’s hardcore, which is what you need if you’re the type of busy traveler that tends to beat up and overuse your luggage. And should you happen to completely wear out the bag, it’s okay. It’s covered under Eagle Creek’s No Matter What lifetime warranty that guarantees repair of replacement if the product doesn’t last a lifetime. But as a meticulous packer, my favorite feature of this bag is the level of organization it provides the user. In addition to a spacious main pocket that is easy to access, the Cargo Hauler Special Edition 60L also includes expandable side pockets on each end that perfectly fit: your mud-crusted hiking boots, an easy-to-get-to extra jacket, those dress shoes you weren’t sure you had room for, a leaky water bottle, your toiletries kit that you’ll have to unload and load, then possibly unload again, souvenirs … you name it. This bag will help you stay organized and keep the things you need to stay accessible, accessible. This bag also folds up compactly into itself for easy storage when not in use. And for the month of March, a major pro of this bag is that it’s part of Eagle Creek’s “Buy a Bag, Change a Life” program. For every Eagle Creek backpack, duffle or piece of luggage sold, the company will provide a packH20 water pack to hurricane victims of Puerto Rico. Learn more about the program by visiting: eaglecreek.com/packh2o.
Cons: While the transition from duffle to backpack is designed to be a simple and easy process, it’s not always completely effective. While the straps that attach to the bag via a full-closure carabiner work fabulously, the other side of the strap is designed to hook onto and off of a loop on the bag, leaving plenty of room for error and for the straps to detach from the bag if jostled enough. I found that side of the bag falling apart more often than I would have like.
Where We Took It: Cabin hopping in the Colorado mountains, and whiskey drinking in Louisville, KY.