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Outdoors eaglecreek

Published on November 2nd, 2013 | by Sophia

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Eagle Creek Switchback 26: For The Frequent, Flexible Globetrotter

Every once in awhile you come across a product and wonder how you ever managed without it. For the frequent and flexible globetrotter, the Eagle Creek Switchback serves as a perfect example. A backpack and suitcase? A one-piece or two-piece? A design that suits business travel as much as it does adventure?

The Eagle Creek Switchback 26 is a wheeled backpack that allows you to easily “switch back” and forth between multiple luggage options depending on your specific needs: Wear the zip-off pack and roll the main pack? Check. Wear the main bag and snap the zip-off pack on front to even out the weight distribution? Check. Wear it all as one big backpack? Check. Leave the main bag in the hotel and take your zip-off pack on a day trip? Check. Thanks to zip-away connect fit adjustable suspension and 3D air mesh removable straps that reduce weight and add volume, this pack is versatile and comfortable. A sleek shape and design allow you to wheel directly from plane to work meeting as easily as carry it around a national park, and the handles are great, smooth to move and lock.

The Switchback includes thoughtful details, such as separate laptop and tablet sleeves in the zip-off pack and multiple grab handles and a central lock point on the main bag. However, getting the hang of all the straps, zippers, flaps, handles, and lock points is not necessarily intuitive and requires some effort, and balancing it all can be a feat. The zip-off pack could also stand to offer a few extra sections for those of us with compulsive organizational habits, and we found the front flap zipper to stop a bit short and make digging around difficult (though that means pickpockets will have an even harder time getting to the bottom of it as we did).

On the plus side the pack is very durable and has held up well to some light rains so far, with no water penetration, perhaps thanks to the Bi-Tech nylon and Bi-Tech Armor fabrics that prevent abrasion and are weather resistant. The main bag is soft but we didn’t have any problems with contents getting damaged when checked on a transatlantic flight. The “ultra rugged” wheels seem to be able to take on anything and we were impressed with how little they wobbled on sharper turns. We’ve been using another Eagle Creek bag, the similar Flip Switch 28, since earlier this year to great results (and no issues so far)!

Weight-wise the pack is surprisingly light on its own considering all its accouterments, and you can split your load with ease. When packed to the brim, however, it’s clearly better suited for rolling than carrying. The Switchback is likely not the right choice for the hardcore adventurer who wants to rock climb his way across the Andes with a handful of clothing and gear. Its ideal for the well-rounded traveler who is just as likely to sip cappuccinos in Europe for a week as they are to backpack around Sri Lanka, and wants to look good and be comfortable either way.

The Switchback 26 has a 58L main bag that’s perfect for a longer trip. For $340, the smaller Switchback 22 offers a 40L main bag size. So far the Switchback only comes in the one color, but how can you go wrong with classic black?

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