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Reviewed by 1 customer
Displaying review 1
Comments about Eagle Creek Gear Warrior Wheeled Duffel - 32":
I just received this product via mail order. I've test packed it to make sure it's well designed for my needs but not yet traveled with it. Normally, I wouldn't review something before I'd used it for a while, but no one else has said anything, and I would have liked to have had some information to go on before I ordered this bag (availability in stores seems to be very limited, and I wasn't even able to see the item before I mail ordered it). My impressions are very positive, and the only reason I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 is because I haven't gotten to travel with it, yet.
I think this product line (Gear Warrior and also the similarly unreviewed Load Warrior, which is more of a carry on size and uses the same materials) strikes a great balance between light weight and durability. I considered buying one of Eagle Creek's "ORV" luggage pieces from last year (~2012). Those were wonderfully robust, but they were so heavy that 20-25% of your 50 pound airline luggage allotment was used up before you put so much as a pair of socks in it. By contrast, REI's Wheely Beast products from last year always seemed a bit thin to me (and not as light as they should be for it). Even though REI would take care of any problems with the luggage I would still be concerned about damage to my gear and having a hole in my luggage on an outbound leg rather than when I was home and able to deal with it. The Gear Warrior uses fabric thick enough to inspire confidence, plus there is a second, interior liner (everywhere except for the "laundry chute" and one other low-wear area nearby) to protect your gear if the outside somehow became damaged. Maybe I'll feel differently after a year or three, but my impression is that Eagle Creek got the balance between light weight and durability spot on. REI's popular Wheely Beast has gone on sale, but there is not yet a new (2013) model available to compare, but by the time you read this there may be.
The solid protection on the Gear Warrior is accomplished while keeping the luggage surprisingly light. The manufacturer's stated weight for the Gear Warrior 32 is accurate. For my part, I find that I can pack my own typical gear, use the full capacity of the Gear Warrior 32 and stay below 50 pounds. Unless I were packing atypically (for me, anyway) low mass/high volume items, I don't think I'd be able to fill the larger size Gear Warrior and stay under 50 pounds. Moreover, a duffle that's larger than you need lets your gear rumble around inside, becoming disorganized, while the luggage itself weighs more to start with. I don't think I could normally get to 50 pounds with the 28" Load Warrior.
I also considered Osprey's new Ozone line, which is ultra light weight. Similar to my comments about the Wheely Beast, I wanted a bit more protection. Osprey makes great gear, and I recently had cause to test out their unconditional free repair guarantee on my beloved Osprey Waypoint (wheel-less convertible backpack luggage) thanks to the savage baggage handlers of a tiny regional asian air carrier. The process was fast, painless and as advertised, so I'd have no qualms about Osprey standing behind their ultralight Ozone product. But, like I said, I wanted more protection for my gear. Eagle Creek claims a similar warranty to Osprey. I hadn't heard of that before, so it may be new for them. I have had no cause to test Eagle Creek's warranty.
A couple of comments about design/layout: The Gear Warrior has 3 compartments. There is the "laundry chute" (not sure whether I'll use it for that) which is a long, tube shape compartment on the top, then there is the upper, shelf compartment, then there is the main, lower compartment. This approach makes organized packing easier than with the Load Warrior 28, which has only a (smaller) laundry chute and a main compartment. The upper compartment on the Gear Warrior 32 is about 28" long, and down by the wheels it's about 14" across and about 3" deep. It's about an inch narrower and half an inch shallower up by the handle. It's a great size to keep nicer clothes neat with resorting to a packing cube system. The main compartment is also about 28" long, 15" wide, and about 8" deep down by the wheels becoming 6" deep up by the handle. Both of these compartments are fairly rectangular. I think this makes packing easier and more space-efficient, especially if you're folding clothes you don't want wrinkled. Contrast this to much of Osprey's product line. As much as I love their stuff, many of their pieces have curved, irregular compartments that can be harder to pack well unless you happen to have the right sized pieces left over to tuck into the unusual end spaces. Something to consider is that because the Gear Warrior has 2, externally accessible main compartments you'll need 2 luggage locks/wire ties to secure everything (it should just be 1 for the Load Warrior 28). The Laundry Chute compartment on the Gear Warrior 32 (probably the same on the Load Warrior 28, but I can't confirm that) doesn't have the double zippers with eyelets needed in order to lock it shut. (So, maybe I'll put laundry in the chute, after all...) The zippers are all good quality. The Gear Warrior has 2 internal, mesh side compartments. As I recall, the Load Warrior 28 only has 1. The Gear Warrior also has a more effective compression strap design. The Load Warrior only compresses half the bag. One thing the Load Warrior has that the Gear Warrior does not is the side pocket. That pocket would be great for stowing boarding passes, but I don't see me keeping those way down by the wheels or even on a 28" luggage piece at all. I'd rather be able to stow a water bottle, if anything, but the shape of the pocket is poor for that.
Nitpicking, I have 3 minor criticisms about the Gear Warrior design: First, I'd like to be able to lock the Laundry Chute so I can have the option of using it for something other than dirty clothes. Second, I wouldn't trust the helmet bungee attachment feature up by the handle to safely secure any helmet of mine. Eagle Creek should just say it's for holding a coat -- it's appears quite good for that. (I'm not sure how well it will stow a jacket when a second bag is piggybacked, though.) And third, the plastic clip which lets you hang another bag off the Gear Warrior (near the base of the handle) piggy-backed is not robust enough to attach a heavy second bag -- it needs to be quite a bit stronger.
The Gear Warrior 32 appears to be a terrific piece of luggage. I hope this helps you decide.
* Intermediate markdowns may have been taken.
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