There is good reason why the Eagle Creek Activate Wheeled Duffel 30 ($215) made us smile. At HI Travel Tales, we’re always looking to save ounces and pack less. There are times, though, when the demands of a trip require larger luggage – for gear for planned adventures or on-site winter weather, for example. Certainly, it’s no fun knowing your luggage weighs almost more than a bowling ball – even before you load it.
Boasting 5,490 cubic inches (90L) in capacity yet weighing only 7 pounds 11 ounces, the Eagle Creek Activate Wheeled Duffel is plenty big — 14 x 30 x 13 inches — and only about a pound heavier than another favorite and more sizeable piece of luggage we’ve tested in the past, the Eagle Creek Load Warrior 28 (6 pounds 14 ounces – 4100 cubic inches, expandable to 4450).
Eagle Creek Activate Wheeled Duffel loaded with features
Large and durable wheels handle just about anything you can drag this bag over – cobblestones, dirt roads, broken and cracked asphalt, gravel, ice, snow, you name it. The only surface that gave me a bit of challenge when rolling the bag behind me was wet slush (and I apologize now to the lady in front of us for the wet snow that kept dripping on her head after slinging the bag onto the overhead rack on the train in Norway).
Hurling the large bag into an overhead rack was made much easier thanks to the three padded grab handles – one on the top and one on each side – as well as the strap handle at the base.
The external compression straps are well placed and ensured no matter how I loaded the Eagle Creek Activate Rolling Duffel – and with three weeks of winter adventuring in Norway, it was packed to the gills – everything and more seemed to find a place and stay put. The interior is simple: One large open compartment that is best organized using a variety of packing cubes and folders – like those found in the Eagle Creek Pack-It System — as shown in the image to the right. One exterior side zip pocket works well for non-bulky or flat items that are easily stuffed or folded.
The back and base of the Eagle Creek Activate Wheeled Duffel are structured and reinforced, with sturdy bumpers, feet and skid rails. Which means the bag can take a beating – either by the luggage handlers or when bouncing over curbs and up and down stairs. It is a duffel, though, which means the sides and top are soft (though made of very durable 600 denier polyester ripstop and 1000 denier Helix Ballistic fabrics) so if you are packing along fragile items, they will need to be well protected. (If you need more room, there is also an Activate Rolling Duffel 32, as well as two smaller Activate Wheeled Backpacks that serve both as rolling luggage and a backpack — 21 and 26 inch.)
The neon yellow fabric we chose does provide a vibrant flash of color on the luggage carousel amid the sea of black and brown, but my goodness it does get dirty quickly – after the first flight it was smudgy. Small price to pay though for lightweight, functional convenience. Even with that teeny tiny quibble, our HITT Seal of Approval is enthusiastically bestowed on the Eagle Creek Activate Wheeled Duffel.