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Eagle Creek...new bag?

I need a new bag like I need a hole in the head, especially when international travel for me is a long way off. Nonetheless, I persist. There's a good sale at EC now, which hasn't been common. I'd like opinions on a few things, if you have an EC bag.
1. 2 vs 4 wheels: I'd consider 4 wheels to justify purchasing another bag, and there are advantages. It looks like it would be nice down the aisles rather than dragging a 2 wheeled directly behind me on the plane/train. The 4 wheels on the bag look very sturdy for this type of bag, to me, but that means little as I have no experience with same.
2. Tarmac international vs Expanse international? The Expanse is lighter, allegedly by 11 ounces and sleek, and less expensive. However, the Tarmac has the add a bag (love the weight distribution of this way of carrying a bag), has a coat carrier (saves me from bringing one), and the outside of the bag has the pocket style that I'm used to using (RS bag...and my RS bag looks like new and I like it, but this is really my only shopping addiction...travel containers). But, I love all the handles on the Expanse bag. I wish both of these bags were an inch or two shorter.
3. Also, the Tarmac might allow me to carry only one bag and easily remove the plane items from the lower segment.
4. Do either of these bags fit under the seat, using it slightly as a foot stool?
5. Have any of you used this bag as your only bag, except perhaps for a small financial hidden crossbody? It's really not my clothes that fill up a bag...it's my toys and comforts, which I should work on reducing.
6. Are EC's bag measurements accurate?
7. Then there's the Expanse convertible for the rare occasions I might want to put it on my back...all 20 lbs...

So, opinions anyone?

Posted by
465 posts

I love Eagle Creek and we have the Tarmac --- we also have 2 wheels and 4 wheels. We only take 2 wheels to Europe as the 4 wheels don't work on Cobblestone at all - it is impossible to push with you as it constantly tips - we know from experience!! Only the 2 wheels that you pull behind you will go on cobblestones in Europe. You are only carrying a bag on the plane of a few seconds - but you will be carrying a bag on sidewalks and cobblestone for blocks. Eagle Creek is great - we've had their luggage for years and it's been all over the globe with us. We have the 26in and the carryon of the Tarmac (2 wheels).

Posted by
829 posts

I use two -wheeled bags [non-EC] , as I don't want the added length with the four-wheels. Two-wheeled bags usually tuck the wheels inside the frame more.
Good luck with the purchase and safe - future- travels!

Posted by
465 posts

YES- ditto what Pat said, my husband has lost a wheel on the 4 wheeled bags as they stick out so.

Posted by
193 posts

Two days in on a European trip that would span five weeks and several countries in late 2019, my trusty 4 wheel roller bag started shedding the rubber around the wheels while rolling down the cobblestone streets going to the hotel in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. What a pain that was for the rest of the trip! When I got back home, I purchased the Osprey Ozone two wheeled, 42 L carry-on from Moose Jaw when they were having a 20% off sale. It has oversized wheels which look like they can easily handle any cobblestone road that I might encounter in future travel. I have only used it once before Covid reared its ugly head and that was on a short trip to Disneyland but it worked fine. I do like the stability of a 4 wheel roller bag more than a 2 wheeler, but due to the light weight of my Osprey Ozone bag and the large wheels, I will make the compromise.

Posted by
2646 posts

Thanks! I logically know I don't need 4 wheels. I also logically know I don't need another suitcase... But then there's that 2 wheeled Tamrac with the bells and whistles I like, don't need, and is possibly slightly too large...but still it would be a little bit for the economy? LOL

Posted by
465 posts

We LOVE our Tarmac bags - and we got the 26in and the carry on while it was 30% off at Eagle Creek.

Posted by
4180 posts

I’ve had 3 Eagle Creek bags, along with stuff sacks and accessories. All very durable, and a great value. If you find a good deal on something, and it’s not an obvious “no way!” then it’s probably worth getting, especially if it has bells and whistles that add to its worth.

My newest EC soft-sided is still an older model (10+ years ago) and a different design than the two you’re considering. This was before spinners became the standard, but it does have 2 wheels, plus converts to a backpack style with 2 straps tucked behind a zippered panel. That came in handy for getting thru the crowded medina in Marrakesh a couple years ago going to/from our lodging, although our other 2-wheeler, a Briggs & Riley, rolled over the cobbled parts, albeit getting towed by the telescoping handle. Having a 2-wheeler that you can tilt and either push or pull in line with your walking path makes getting thru the aisle on a plane easy. Rolling onto an escalator works better with a tilted 2-wheel approach, rather than an upright spinner technique, too.

So what’s worth more to you, saving 3/4 of a pound on weight and some money, while getting lots of available handles, or add-a-bag adaptability but maybe only needing that one Tarmac bag anyway, plus getting accessible, familiar outside pockets?

Posted by
519 posts

I've seen these recent Tarmacs at department stores. Eagle Creek makes good stuff. Study the customer commentaries carefully, look for shills and ignorance, and go searching the travel equipment review sites for more accurate evaluations of construction and more practical real world usage. Compared to my Tom Bihn Aeronaut45, I'm not in the least impressed with these new Tarmacs; too much stuff to zip and get caught. The Expanse is way cheap and less complex. But my tastes and needs in luggage are not yours. The internal volume of a wheel bag is significantly less than one without wheels so it's difficult to go one-bagging with a wheeled unit of less than 40 or 45 liters, especially if you carry toys. A wheeled bag is not likely to fit under a seat after takeoff without making life uncomfortable for whoever is sitting next to you. Accurate? Probably.

The discussion over wheeled luggage borders on religious fervor around here. For an almost impartial examination of the pros and cons:
https://www.onebag.com/wheeled-bags.html

Posted by
3585 posts

I have aspired to the One Bag plan for 10 years, but it doesn't work for all. There is the reality that for some, non wheeled bags may result in a lot of pain when traveling and replacing a suitcase in Europe, though inconvenient, may be a whole lot less expensive that extended physio therapy on return home. Also, depending where you are traveling, 4 wheels can be used and less painful than dragging a two wheeled bag. I'll risk my 4 wheels when I take extended travel...and either replace it or have it repaired enroute if one breaks. Not everyone is interested in doing that, but I'll prefer the comfort over the 'maybe'.
Everyone needs to make their own decisions based on need, route and physicality.

Posted by
9083 posts

I"ve had my hands on numerous Eagle Creek bags over the years. All were well made and durable.

As for 2 wheels versus 4 wheels, it really is opinion. I started with no wheels, went to two wheels and now use four wheels. And I'm not looking back. When it comes to four wheel bags on cobblestones it's a must to get quality wheels. On some occassions you will have to drag it like a two wheeler but a bag with good quality wheels will endure. I have had four wheeled bags from numerous companies including Eagle Creek. All have worked well. On some rough surfaces, you will tilt the bag and use it as a two wheeler. It is advisable to realize it must be treated slightly gentler than a two wheeler. (Most manufacturers will even suggest to convert to two wheel pulling over rough terrain.)

My arm and shoulder are also happier with a four wheel bag. No dragging behind me as it is usually by my side.

The way to see if your bag has quality wheels is two fold: First, they should be wheels and not "balls". Second, make sure the wheel housing is attached directly to the inner frame. This means the wheel housing itself has a bolt or screw directly into the internal frame. If the wheel is attached to a metal plate and the metal plate is screwed into the outside of the bag, run away. For four wheel bags to be used on rough surfaces, stick with the quality names and not a box-store original. It's not the time to go cheap.

Eagle Creek measurements have occassionally had typos but that was before the company was sold. The two bags you mention seem to be correct. Just realize the inches are rounded up from the metric.

As for which bag, well, that's a personal preference. Do you want the extra goodies or lighter weight?

As for two wheels vs four wheels, that has been an ongoing argument on this forum for years.

Posted by
2646 posts

Cyn, you hit the dilemma accurately. I need to think about this.

Bogie, I can travel one bag with my RS wheeled bag, but I often choose not to, depending on the trip. I am looking for wheels for this one. I like Tom Bihn, but they are just not for me.

Thanks all. Much food for thought. The 4 wheels are now ruled out, at least.

Posted by
2646 posts

Oh, Maria and Frank... I guess the 4 wheeler is back in... Maria, I would have the same replacement attitude as you. Frank, thanks for the details about what to look for with the wheels.

Posted by
9083 posts

Wray.....some luggage stores and outdoor stores like REI uually carry Eagle Creek bags. Why not see if any in your area has them and then go take a look.

Posted by
2646 posts

Yeah, I will wait until we shop again. I also think I don’t like the clamshell opening...

Posted by
3585 posts

Just for thought, the 3 things I look for in luggage is only 1 external pocket....if it's a small one for quick access to ticket or toiletries, I am happy. I lock my zips even with carry on, because I travel along often on overnight flights;so the fewer zips, the better.
I prefer no laptop sleeve. To me that is wasted valuable packing real estate.
I prefer clam shell opening for visibility and access.

Posted by
38 posts

I would just like to say thank you for this post. I am planning a 4 week trip in October (BOEE and add on to Venice) if the tours go. Knocking on wood. I will inspect my bags tonight for all the tips included here. :-)

Posted by
2646 posts

You've all convinced me to stick with what I have. My RS wheeled bag has what I use (and it does look like new still), does squish down a bit on top, and is just 5 lbs. I do use the zipped sections on the front...the small for my items I put on after security; ie, watch, etc. The next size has my liquids. The bottom zip section holds my grocery bag of inflight items; ie, electronics, headphones, etc...when I'm going one bag, which is less than I should. I then pull out the grocery bag of items on the plane for under seat. The full zip on the front, I think intended for a coat, I use for my plastic folder of my trip documents, etc. So, I do have it all now...it's just I love luggage and I love watching Jessica Dobson's videos for info so I just eye those EC bags...LOL.

Plus, my H is laughing at me...

But isn't it nice to talk about packing for a change?

Posted by
3585 posts

Well Wray, you know the answer...stop watching the videos that trigger the addition ;-)
(easier said than done)
Sometimes I just go look at my stack of travel related 'stuff', and I realize it is a bigger pile than a full carry on suitcase, so I walk away in shame....

Posted by
2646 posts

Michelle, That sounds like a great trip. Fingers crossed the tours go forward!

Posted by
2646 posts

OK, two months later and a recreational packer can only resist a suitcase for so long...such sales. I finally bought the EC Tarmac International and it arrived this week. At least I did get some fun play from it. I'm keeping my RS bag as well. They differ. The RS holds a lot more as it is fat, unexpanded. The Tarmac is 8" even if the slight expansion is used, which I didn't, but it is maybe an inch taller...or slightly less. Both fit international sizes and both weigh about the same. I will get rid of at least one of my other suitcases...likely two.

So I packed the Tarmac, and I love it because it made me think about what I pack even more. I'm not an over packer, but I might throw an extra item or two in that I don't need. When I do laundry once a week, layers and limited combo's work well. With everything that would go in that bag, it weighs 19 lbs so better than I was doing with my RS bag, by 2 or 3 lbs. So now I can be ready to go in about 10 minutes, from scratch, due to my refined list. My items in the bag for clothes are: 3 Tees (1SS/2LS), 1 jean, 1 yoga/leisure pant which I could wear all day if I had to do so, 1 PJ, 4 socks, 4 unders, 2-3 bras, 1 cashmere sweater, 3 light weight scarves, 1 blouse, flip flops (depending on type of trip for shower/room). On my person: slacks, tee, blouse, vest, unders, non wire bra, socks, shoes, pashmina and jacket. Of course, I have toiletries, 311 bag, microfiber towel and clothes line (although I prefer and will use hotel laundries if available), empty crossbody bag, recycle grocery bag, bedside bag and my OTC med and misc (eyeglass repair, motion sickness bands, sewing kit, etc.)bag in the suitcase as well.

My PI has camera, meds, electronics and documents, and has room for me to pull out a change of clothes from the Tarmac should I have to check that bag. So now I'm ready to go somewhere...

Posted by
5500 posts

Thanks for the review, Wray. Good luck on actually getting the old suitcases out the door-- mine seem to take up residence in the spare room as "organizers" of other stuff that should go, too.

Posted by
1 posts

Wray, you are an absolute delight! Glad you figured out everything. Happy traveling--I hope!

Posted by
2646 posts

Laura, haha. I have an ‘out the door’ area of my basement in preparation for possible downsizing soon. One suitcase has been moved back upstairs (I say with some shame). On the positive side I did get rid of 2 money belts, 1 travelon purse and 1 pacsafe purse through our local Free Marketplace. So there is hope.

Linny, Thanks for adding positively to my day!

Posted by
31194 posts

Wray,

Your post has been both timely and interesting. I've been thinking of trying a four-wheel spinner on my next trip, as my back isn't what it used to be so the venerable old backpack may have to be retired. Eagle Creek is my first choice, despite the cost, so I'll be looking closer at the various models when the time comes.

Posted by
91 posts

To OP: This is about the add-a-bag strap you mentioned in your post. I agree that the weight distribution with a bag strap makes pulling a rolling bag so much more comfortable as opposed to using a slip sleeve on my backpack, which just adds to the drag weight. Many years ago on a RickSteves Italy trip, our guide had a roller bag with an add a bag hook. I was impressed at how easy it was for him to just drop his back-pack into the hook while walking between bus and hotel. I searched for and tried many options of commercial add a bag hooks until I found the" OXO Tot Handy Stroller Hook". Although it is meant for child strollers, it attaches easily to the upper roller bag carry handle of almost any bag. The hook lies flat (which I think is a plus) and it is easy to loop the carry strap on top of my small backpack (my personal item) on and off the hook. It is also simple and quick to loop the hook's attached velcro strip around the roller bag handle. I usually remove the hook and tuck it into the front pocket of the roller bag should I need to check my bag.

Posted by
2646 posts

Nancy, that sounds similar to what many pilots and flight attendants use. I agree, carrying the extra bag that way makes the entire load almost weightless.