Adventures of a Carry-On Bag

Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

Some trips need a big bag, and some just a carry-on. I’m a huge fan of packing as lightly as possible, and carrying-on whenever possible. Ever-increasing checked bag fees and fun lost/delayed luggage experiences just reinforce this for me.

Sometimes I do need the bigger, checked bag — for longer trips of several weeks or more, when going to multiple destinations, or when you are traveling somewhere cold or doing things that require more gear (hiking, diving, etc.) For these types of trips, I rely on my beloved FlipSwitch from Eagle Creek, by far my favorite brand of luggage and travel accessories. I reviewed the FlipSwitch here — it’s big but can be compacted down via compression cords, and acts as both a rolling suitcase and backpack.

Recently, however, I decided it was time to try out a new carry-on piece of luggage. The one I have is pretty small – I really use it for just my computer and very short trips. I wanted a full-size carry-on, a rolling suitcase that would also be rugged, versatile, and hold as much as possible. So naturally, I turned to Eagle Creek again.

Out of several possibilities, I ended up choosing the Tarmac 22. It seemed a simple and straightforward carry-on, with the typical durable wheels that Eagle Creek is known for. A few little unexpected extras were nice: a Cargo Net that can be used inside or outside for extra compression of clothing or a jacket, and a nifty little Coat Keeper that you can use on the outside of the bag to stick your jacket or even a neck pillow in. No more tying those things to the handle or stuffing them in my shoulder bag!

I knew the material would be super durable and long-lasting because it’s the same stuff as my FlipSwitch (Bi-Tech™ Armor fabric) that’s gone to many countries and still looks practically brand new; and another thing I really liked about the Tarmac 22, that’s important to me, is that it was pretty lightweight.

I received my Tarmac 22 the day before I was to leave for a one-week trip to Costa Rica. Packing was a breeze, partly because I’m a huge fan of the packing cubes and folders system (I only started using these a couple of years ago and wondered why I hadn’t for years!) — and admittedly, I was just going for a week on a tropical vacation with lightweight clothing.

However, I also had some extras to pack along. I was going to visit friends who are now living in Costa Rica, and they asked me to be their pack mule — to bring some things to them that were hard or expensive to buy in Costa Rica or ship there. So, I had several extra items to also fit into my carry-on bag.

And I was off to sunny Costa Rica! Here’s what I found about my new carry-on bag:

  • It was super easy to handle and maneuver. Could roll it even down the narrow airplane aisle to my seat — way, way back in coach.
  • Lightweight style and materials made it easy to pick up and load into the airplane’s overhead bins.
  • The compression straps and extra internal and external zipper pockets made packing and accessing items a cinch. Could keep things I wanted to get to readily (chargers, etc) in easy places. Two zippered compartments on the front (both with internal pockets) and one on the side.
  • It looked good. I chose the Slate Blue color for my Tarmac 22 — mainly because that’s the same color as my FlipSwitch and I liked it.
  • Sturdy, durable material, which wasn’t a surprise to me. And Eagle Creek offers the “No Matter What” lifetime warranty that covers damage — for any reason.
  • A bottle opener! This comes in very handy for those beers on the road.

Coming home, I had some extra room from the “pack mule” items that I took to my friends, but I took advantage of that space and brought home some awesome Costa Rican coffee!

I’m looking forward to taking this bag on many more trips — in fact, in two days I leave for Colorado and will pack my Tarmac for that trip as well, and again for Florida next month.

I’ll update this post with any additional, future comments. But Eagle Creek, once again you’ve come through with a traveler’s dream luggage!

Oh, and now through June 15, 2014, Eagle Creek is running a pretty awesome savings event — so it’s a great time to check out what they offer!

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