Today’s Gear Review is by guest author Clint Harbour
I got my new Eagle Creek Deviate backpack about two months ago, and it has been my go-to back for trips since the first day. I will confess that I am not a backpack hiker; I am a backpack business traveler. I am on the road for work generally two or three days each week. So, while I do not hike in the wild for days and days, I do hike through airports and move in and out of hotels frequently. In doing so, I use my backpack a lot.
And two months in, I love this bag. It has all the bells and whistles you want from a backpack combined in one lightweight bag. The first thing I noticed – and one of the most important things – is that the bag is lightweight. I am usually carrying another backpack with a laptop, files, tablets, and other work-related gear, so I do not want two heavy bags on my shoulders. The Eagle Creek’s minimal weight makes it ideal for slinging over a shoulder and getting on the move. It does not slow me down when racing to make an airport connection.
The next thing I noticed – and appreciated – was its size. The Eagle Creek hits the sweet spot for being able to pack a lot but still fit in the overhead bin as a carry-on! Obviously, the smaller size helps in the weight category, but it is not so small that it is not functional. I need to fit a few days’ change of clothes, overnight kit, and gym clothes and shoes, and this bag does that and more.
The innovative design helps with packing, too. My last two travel packs (going back twenty years), differed in one key respect. The first was a traditional top-load cylindrical bag that required me to unpack everything to get to the clothes on the bottom. My second bag had a zipper that opened the entire face, allowing me to get to all parts of the main compartment at once. However, to open it, I had to be able to lay it flat lest everything would fall out. This bag solves both of those problems by having a zipper that can open the entire compartment if you want, but also allows you to only open the very top if you need to retrieve or replace one little thing that can go on top. This design makes packing and unpacking much easier – giving you the choice of how you load the bag and letting you have easy access to what you packed on top.
The backpack consists of three separable pieces: the main pack, a smaller day pack, and a fanny-pack size piece that perfectly fits an overnight kit. (To be clear, it’s not a fanny pack, it’s just a small bag that is roughly the shape of a fanny pack.)
As I mentioned above, the main pack can fit a few days’ worth of clothes with ease. I have also packed files from work as it is big enough to hold clothes and files. The main pack also has external compression straps and load lifter straps that help secure the separable packs and balance the weight of the fully assembled backpack. Using the straps is not necessarily intuitive and can take some time to figure out. That being said, I am not an engineer, and I was able to do it without reading the instructions. The bottom of the main pack has a rain cover attached that can be unfolded and stretched over the top to protect the whole bag from inclement weather.
Separate packs for convenience
The smaller pack is a great size for a day pack, to carry around in a new city with a guidebook, camera, snacks and drink. When travelling for work, I will usually pack my gym clothes in there to avoid the mingling of gym clothes and work clothes. It is big enough that I can fit my gym shoes (size 14) if I want to and can close it easily without stressing the zipper.
As noted, the fanny-pack sized piece is perfect for an overnight kit. The zipper opens wide enough that I fit my overnight kit easily inside without having to disconnect it from the main backpack.
The only thing I would change about this bag is the external pockets. The main pack has external pockets on either side composed of tight netting with an elastic top piece to secure the contents. The pockets are certainly deep enough, running almost half the length of the whole bag, but they are not wide enough for my purposes. I prefer to pack my running shoes in the external pockets (one on each side) so that they do not dirty up the inside of the bag. The problem is the narrowness of the pockets makes it a tough fit for my shoes. I have to fold the sides of the shoes in and stretch the pocket out to cram them in. Now, credit to the bag because I have done this successfully a number of times and the shoes are snug. It takes a bit of effort, and I worry that the pockets will stretch out and the shoes will not stay put.
- Carry-on size, overhead bin friendly
- Three separable pieces
- Top load and front load capability
- The external pockets are too narrow
- The straps can be intimidating
Check out Eagle Creek backpacks and products here!
Originally from Liberty, Texas, Clint now lives in Austin. He has also lived in Cape Town, South Africa. Clint is a trial lawyer, basketball coach, and occasional eater of vegetables. His work takes him all over the State of Texas, and his pursuit of fun takes him all over the world.