I don’t think of myself as someone who’s particularly hard on luggage, but sometimes baggage handlers are….and to be honest, when I carry too many bags I’m pretty clumsy! My Eagle Creek Gear Warrior AWD 26 endured a lot of abuse this summer, and still made it home in great shape.

First, a 38-hour train ride from Seattle to Minneapolis. As usual, I brought too much with me, but the Eagle Creek Gear Warrior™ AWD 26 mitigated some of that pain.  I was able to stack my yoga bag and food bag on the top of the Gear Warrior and just wheel it along. Still, I had a very heavy computer pack on my back, so my bags took a tumble a few times.  (The Gear Warrior always remained upright!)

eagle-creek-awd26-wheelsThe best thing about four-wheeled luggage: all I have to do is push.The bag moves along without much effort on my part. It’s quite smooth on hard airport floors, and even does a good job on sidewalks. Traveling with an “all wheel drive” bag is so much more comfortable than pulling a two-wheeled bag.

The difference is incredible. I’m almost six feet tall, and have had to lean over or have my  arm in  unnatural positions with the two-wheeled bags I’ve used (and will never use again). The Eagle Creek Gear Warrior™ AWD 26 bag moves with ease and doesn’t tip over. Much better. The only surface that required me to have some coordination and make some effort was rounded brick surfaces. Even then, if I hadn’t been overloaded with my other bags, it would have been much easier.

Packing the Gear Warrior was simple, thanks to Eagle Creek’s Pack-It cubes. After placing tube containing my hiking poles and a pair of hiking shoes into the single cavity of the bag, I layered in several packing cubes. I like the internal straps;  they hold my cubes in place and scrunch things done a bit so I can squeeze in a few more things. eagle-creek-awd26-inside

There’s also a nice large, zippered flat pocket in the inside of the “lid” that I used for maps and paperwork. On the outside of the pack there are two external pockets, one runs the length of the bag and the other runs about halfway down the bag. I used those zippered pouches for last-minute items like my allergy pillowcases, batteries, and a few books. Thanks to zippers pulls, it was easy to quickly locate the zippers and close the bag. An inch-wide strap on each side of the bag adds an extra level of security, keeping the bag closed even if the zipper were to fail (it didn’t).

I was surprised that the straps made it through all my travels intact; they felt very lightweight and the snap-close snaps didn’t look very strong or durable. Still, after two days on a train, two day-long bus trips, several shorter bus trips, and three flights, the Eagle Creek Gear Warrior™ AWD 26 was dirty and bruised but very much intact.

dirty-tear-oneThe worst abuse happened between Minneapolis and Reykjavik. When I picked up my bag at baggage claim, it looked like it had been dragged behind a truck on a dusty road (actually, my first thought was the old commercial where chimpanzees throw suitcases around). The tough nylon material sustained two tiny snags (they disrupted the surface of the nylon but didn’t puncture it) and was pretty dirty by the time it came out of baggage claim. (Still, easy to clean with a damp cloth.)

dirty-tear-two

The one element of the bag I found lacking was the handles. There’s one on each end of the bag and a third handle on the side, which gives me options when I’m grabbing the bag off of the conveyor belt in baggage claim. However, the handles weren’t rigid enough for my tastes. They felt more like thick rope, and because they “gave” too much I felt like the bag was too heavy for its handles. It made carrying the bag seem harder. (Plus, as always, I packed too much.)

Still, after two months of travel, I was happy with this bag in terms of its durability, wheel-ability, and packability. For a bag that is far more attractive than my former bags, and made with a finer-looking material thnt the usual chunky nylon weave, the Eagle Creek Gear Warrior™ AWD 26 performed brilliantly. The wheels were still in tip-top shape by the end of my journey, the handle never felt flimsy, and as a result, traveling with too much luggage was much easier on me than it has been in the past with my old two-wheeled bags.

Available in black, tan, and two-tone blue with red contrast straps.

Manufacturer’s Site: www.eaglecreek.com

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