I travel to Europe four times a year for two weeks at a time, and I want a suitcase that holds everything I need without weighing me down. I traveled with the Eagle Creek Load Warrior 25″ Wheeled Duffel on a recent trip to Switzerland, and it will definitely be coming back with me on future trips.

The Eagle Creek Load Warrior 25″ Wheeled Duffel is more like a soft-sided rolling suitcase rather than a rolling duffel bag. This makes a huge difference in how it packs and travels. It’s shaped like a suitcase (more  rectangular than round), so it doesn’t become top heavy once it’s packed full and it can sit upright without tipping over, thanks to the plastic feet on the bottom of the bag. Also, the Eagle Creek Load Warrior 25″ Wheeled Duffel has molded corners on the bottom edges and reinforced corners on the top edges, making the frame  much more rigid than a duffel. I appreciate the added protection for times I want to bring back more delicate items; I can pack them near the corners and not worry about how much my bag will be tossed around en route.

The expandable handle on the Eagle Creek Load Warrior 25″ Wheeled Duffel suitcase telescopes out from the bag smoothly and easily. When not in use, I can collapse it into a storage well with a zippered cover. The handle has two positions to accommodate both short and long reach. There are three grab handles on the suitcase: one on top, one on the side, and one on the bottom of the front side of the bag. This last grab handle came in handy so many times! It’s how I was able to get my fully packed suitcase onto the weight scale at airport check-in, off of the conveyor belt at baggage claim, and up onto the bed in my hotel to unpack.

The Eagle Creek Load Warrior 25″ Wheeled Duffel’s rolling wheels are larger than most suitcase wheels, and although they’re not spinners or rubbery roller blade wheels, they roll smoothly and aren’t so loud on cement and cobblestone that they cry “Hi, I just arrived from far away and now I have to roll my suitcase over these very loud cobblestone streets 17 blocks to my hotel because I was too cheap to get a taxi.”

The main storage compartments of the Eagle Creek Load Warrior 25″ Wheeled Duffel is surprisingly large! As I was packing I wondered if the pile of clothes I was bringing (four outfits, one pair of tall boots, my puffy ski clothes), my toiletries bag, and two jars of peanut butter (a gift for a friend), were going to fit. Luckily, the bag expands by two inches by unzipping a zipper that wraps around the top of the bag.  Everything fit with room to spare.

Inside the main storage compartment there’s a zippered mesh compartment for small items, such as an extra cell phone power cord and a few pens, that  I want to keep separate from my main clothes. The Eagle Creek Load Warrior 25″ Wheeled Duffel has an additional zippered storage compartment underneath the front flap of the bag that is great for dirty clothes because it’s completely separate from everything else. In fact, Eagle Creek calls it” the Laundry Chute.” There’s another, quick-access zippered pouch on the side of the case, where I store all papers, tickets, maps and documents.

The Eagle Creek Load Warrior 25″ Wheeled Duffel  is fairly lightweight to begin with (weighing in at just over six pounds empty), has easy to grab zippers, and is made of a tough rip-stop nylon fabric which I found easy to clean (just a damp cloth in warm water is good enough to remove most stains). It has both interior and exterior compression straps to help flatten and secure the load.

Another great feature of this bag: the Equipment Keeper, an elasticized strap that can secure extra gear, such as my ski helmet, to the top of the bag. The strap has a metal clip on the end that doubles as a bottle opener. I haven’t used that particular feature yet, but I’m sure I will soon.

The Eagle Creek Load Warrior wheeled duffel comes in Black, Ochre (yellow), and Slate Blue.

Bottom Line: A solid bag that’s large enough to hold everything I need for a two-week Swiss adventure but still easy to maneuver.

BUY ONLINE: $250, click for eBags.com.

Manufacturer: www.eaglecreek.com