Updates to the Gear Warrior Wheeled
This wheeled duffel has gotten a complete makeover this year, featuring 100% recycled materials and an updated handle and wheel design. The sizing has also shifted a little. The 32" (92 liter) version that we tested isn't offered anymore. The closest sizing in the upgraded bag would be 30" (95 liters), which we now link to above. See the newest Gear Warrior below in the first image, compared to the version we tested in the second image.
To summarize the updates:
- Recycled Materials — Eagle Creek is moving in strides towards sustainability, offering lots of their new bags in recycled materials. The new Gear Warrior line is entirely comprised of recycled materials, including a PET ripstop and recycled coating.
- Handle Updates — The handle system is all new and impact-resistant, with an enhanced tube design intended to increase strength and reduce wobble.
- New Wheel Design — The new bag features larger, more-treaded tires for when you have to take this bag "off-road".
Since we haven't tested the updated Gear Warrior, the rest of this review is for the version we previously tested.
Hands-On Review of the Gear Warrior Wheeled
The Eagle Creek Gear Warrior is a wheeled piece of luggage that nearly every traveler can appreciate. It sports a host of well thought out pockets and compartments at a slightly below-average weight, meaning you have to think about what you bring marginally less before hitting most airlines 50-pound baggage limit. The Gear Warrior was a little harder to zip shut when packed to the brim. It also does not boast the best weather resistance, but for most airline travelers, it sheds precipitation adequately.
The Gear Warrior is a top-notch wheely bag. The majority of travelers will appreciate its pockets, organizational features, and respectably low weight, and while it didn't win an award in our review, most folks will find it plenty durable and weather resistant for airline travel.
Ease of Transport
The is a pretty darn easy way to move around a lot of stuff; it features the most prominent wheels of any model in our review, which allows you to easily pull it over rough, uneven, or unpaved surfaces.
The Gear Warrior's 3.5-inch wheels were the largest in our review. While this design did make this model slightly less nimble, it was the easiest to pull across uneven terrain. from cobbled streets to gravel roads.
Several members of our review staff commented on its cushy grab loops, and one is featured on nearly every side of the bag. While we initially thought they would be insignificant, every single tester commented on how pleasant it was to pull the Gear Warrior off baggage carousels and luggage racks.
Our entire testing team commented how functional and cushy the grab loops were. Featured on almost every side of this model, they simply made it easier to drag our bag around, whether pulling it out of the trunk or off a luggage rack.
The Gear Warrior's wide wheelbase is a definite advantage; it allows the model to be stable when standing up; so steady, in fact, that we would often leave a backpack hanging from the handles (as long as there was enough weight in it) and it would rarely tip over. The downside is that this award winner is a little harder to control in tight spaces or crowds.
The Gear Warrior, along with The North Face Rolling Thunder, was the most stable to be left free-standing. This contender was so stable that as long as our carry-on wasn't insanely heavy, it could be left hanging from the handle.
The handle extended far enough to give us the adequate leverage needed to tote our 50-pound bag around the airport relatively well. However, we liked the longer handle, and the higher distance between the top of the bag itself and the handle found on The North Face Rolling Thunder 30" and the Patagonia Black Hole Wheeled better. Why? The more significant distance just made it easier to handle the bag, especially when we had another bag on top of it. With that said, the Gear Warrior is an excellent bag to pull around, and the big wheels are major selling points.
The Gear Warrior's handle tucked away nicely in a small zippered compartment. We really liked this design as it kept the handle cleaner and it was less likely to get dinged or nicked up.
Ease of Packing
The Gear Warrior, along with The North Face Rolling Thunder 30", and The North Face Rolling Thunder 36", offer some of the best features for staying organized.
Besides the primary compartment, the Gear Warrior sports three additional compartments for organization. We used the large "U" shaped pocket inside the main compartment; the access zipper more or less mirrored that of the one found in the main compartment. While this award winner had a thinner volume and material that some of the others, the bag itself was easy to access and close. Inside this compartment is a long zippered mesh pocket, which is an ideal area to store small items that are easy to lose. This notable winner is an excellent way to stay organized in general.
This photo shows the separate zippered U-shaped compartment and associated mesh zippered pocket located directly above the primary compartment. This bag features a ton of organizational features that we think travelers will really appreciate.
The final compartment is on the top of the bag near the handle. While it's a touch on the small side for shoes and things of that nature, it was still an ideal place for our liquids and other items of that size and nature.
The main compartment of the Gear Warrior is accessed via a large U-shaped zipper, making for a classic clam-shell design. While this design makes it super easy to find almost any item in this compartment, when loaded to capacity, our review team finds it is more difficult than average to zip shut.
The only disadvantage of the Gear Warrior is that it can be difficult to maximize its 92-liter capacity; if you pack it super full, it's harder to zip shut than most models. Unlike the The North Face Rolling Thunder and the Patagonia Black Hole Wheeled, the zipper is primarily on the top of a box that you fill up and then close the lid on. With the Gear Warrior, it closes on the upper corner of that box but is still slightly on the side.
When fully loaded, this bag was harder than most to zip shut.
Despite sporting one of the larger volumes in our review, it weighs in at an impressive 7 pounds 9 ounces (for the 32"/92-liter model). It certainly isn't short on pockets or organizational features, either.
This organizing genie weighs two pounds less than the slightly smaller The North Face Rolling Thunder 30" (9 pounds 14 ounces for the 80 liter) and very close to the same weight as the Patagonia Black Hole Wheeled (70 liters). However, the Eagle Creek model is 20 liters larger and features more pockets. We like the Gear Warrior, as it sports more features, like a keeper to strap bulky items, a secondary compartment, treaded wheels, and reinforced corners.
The Gear Warrior uses relatively burly fabrics and reinforcements compared to the vast majority of luggage. It is plenty durable for most airline travelers. The only reason this model didn't score higher in this metric is because there are several models in our review with burlier, more durable fabric. As far as the longevity of the handle and frame or the actual quality of construction, we think the Gear Warrier is a solid contender.
The Gear Warrior Wheeled is certainly as durable as most classic airline luggage and will last most users years of abuse. However, it isn't as durable as most of the models in our fleet.
The frame and handle of the Gear Warrior are about as durable to any other model, like the Patagonia Black Hole Wheeled or The North Face Rolling Thunder. The difference in durability becomes apparent when we discuss the materials that each one is crafted of; the Gear Warrior is constructed of 450D ripstop polyester, with an additional layer 210D in high wear areas for reinforcement. When you compare this to traditional luggage, it's extremely burly; however, when compared to models like the Patagonia Black Hole Wheeled (900D polyester rip-stop and reinforced with an additional layer of 630D) or The North Face Rolling Thunder (1000D polyester with 1680D reinforcements), the Gear Warrior just isn't quite as tough. Durable, yes. Identical to the most substantial duty models in our fleet? No.
There are plenty of reasons to buy the Gear Warrior but top-tier weather resistance isn't one of them. It doesn't offer poor weather resistance, just average.
Its exceptional at keeping your stuff dry in a drizzle, but it's nowhere near as weather resistant as the Patagonia Black Hole Wheeled or The North Face Rolling Thunder models. In both our side-by-side testing as well as in real-world use, the Gear Warrior did not stand up to the previously mentioned contenders during our hose spray down test.
The Gear Warrior Wheeled is a top-tier model for the majority of airline travelers. While you can buy more weather resistant and durable models, the Gear Warrior still provides enough of both for most airline or bus travel, plus a host of other design functions and features that those users will appreciate.
The Gear Warrior is best for primarily airline travel, but its large wheels, host of pockets, and organizational features, and any traveler can truly appreciate respectable weight. While it isn't the most robust of the bunch, it is rugged and will outlast the majority of baggage you see on the carousel.
At $299, the Gear Warrior is a decent price; it's more or less in line with many other wheeled pieces of luggage of its quality and feature set. We're firm believers in getting what you pay for, especially when it will pay off in its durability and convenience of design.
The Gear Warrior is one of our favorite models for folks looking for a bag with lots of pockets and compartments. This award winner is ideal for those doing lots of traditional airline travel. With its excellent attributes, including its lightweight, well-designed grab loops, tuck-away handle, and stable platform, this bag deserves a notable mention.