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Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler 45L Review

A great small duffel with shoulder straps for a variety of travel purposes.
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $90 List | $74.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Lightweight, durable, affordable, highly versatile, can become a daily use duffel
Cons:  Less organization features, not set up for traveling with electronics
Manufacturer:   Eagle Creek
By Lyra Pierotti ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 22, 2019
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69
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 15
  • Comfort - 25% 6
  • Features - 25% 5
  • Packing & Accessibility - 20% 8
  • Durability - 15% 8
  • Weight Per Volume - 15% 9

Our Verdict

The Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler is a small duffel bag with backpack straps, which doesn't sound like a recipe for an award-winning travel backpack. However, this pack is so well designed that it quickly became our go-to for a wide variety of uses, from daily trips to the gym to international expeditions. It's a great travel backpack for the active outdoorsperson. We were additionally pleased by the simplicity; it was easy to pack, ultra-lightweight, and this made it surprisingly easy to pack in a way that was comfortable on our backs for short-distance hauls from helicopter drop to basecamp, or on a walk home from the gym. It is carry-on size, so it makes a great addition to your luggage system, and it also stuffs into its own side pocket, making it easy to bring along and deploy later if you need a bag to help keep your gear organized or have a duffel to leave behind at a hotel with your clean clothes packed safely for the end of your dusty yak trek or other backcountry adventure.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award 
Price $74.99 at Amazon$139.95 at Amazon
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Pros Lightweight, durable, affordable, highly versatile, can become a daily use duffelGood suspension, lightweight, affordable, gobbles gearVersatile, duffel-like ease of use, just the right balance of travel featuresFun, stylish, comfortable, durable, simple and streamlinedVersatile, durable, comfortable, intuitive
Cons Less organization features, not set up for traveling with electronicsSquare design protrudes from back, too big for some airlines checked baggageBackpack straps not comfortable for long distances, gear sags in soft structure when not fullNo obvious place for wallet or passport, pocket design less intuititveSmall hip belt, not best for long distances with heavy loads
Bottom Line A great small duffel with shoulder straps for a variety of travel purposes.The Porter 46 is a durable, easy to pack travel backpack, but may be bulky for some airlines or uses.Another stellar product from Patagonia; thoughtfully designed, rugged, easy to use, and fortified by the Ironclad guarantee and cutting edge company ethics.An excellent urban travel backpack, durable, comfortable, and even stylish.The Overhaul is an excellent, versatile, and intuitive travel backpack with well balanced features.
Rating Categories Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler 45L Osprey Porter 46 Patagonia Black Hole MLC Cotopaxi Allpa 35L The North Face Overhaul 40
Comfort (25%)
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6
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8
Features (25%)
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Packing & Accessibility (20%)
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8
Durability (15%)
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Specs Eagle Creek Cargo... Osprey Porter 46 Patagonia Black... Cotopaxi Allpa 35L The North Face...
Volume of Main Pack 45 L 46 L 45 L 35 L 41 L
Measured Weight 1.61 lbs 3.23 lbs 3.35 lbs 3.6 lbs 3.78 lbs
Dimensions (Inches) 22.75 x 8.75 x 12.5 21 x 14 x 12 22.8 x 8.6 x 14.5 20 x 12 x 8 21 x 12 x 7
Carry-on Size? 22 x 14 x 9 in Yes, if squished Must be cinched down Yes, if squished Yes Yes, if not stuffed
Volume of Daypack N/a N/a N/a 16L from bundle package N/a
Measured when stuffed (inches) 22x13x9 22x14x12 22x14x10 22x12x11 21x13x10
Fabrics Bi-Tech Armor Lite 420D Nylon Hex Diamond Ripstop, 420HD Nylon Packcloth Polyester ripstop with TPU laminate TPU-coated 1000D polyester 420-denier ripstop nylon
Frame Type None Stiff foam Foam backpanel Foam padding Molded padding
Access Type Top and panel loading Panel loading, zips all the way open Clamshell design Clamshell design Panel loading
# of Pockets 3 zippered 5
Laptop sleeve No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Waist Belt Type N/a Padded None Padded Unpadded strap
Sternum Strap No Yes, whistle Yes Yes Yes
Different sizes? Yes No No Yes No
Volume Options 60L, 90L, 120L 30L, 46L, 65L N/a 28L, 35L N/a

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler is a simple duffel that covers a lot of territory. It is excellent for everyday gym use, works reasonably well for airline travel, and is exceptionally well suited to international trips and expedition use.

Performance Comparison


The Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler makes a great gym bag.
The Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler makes a great gym bag.

Comfort


The Cargo Hauler is a duffel bag with shoulder straps, and we were quite pleased with how well the bag carried in backpack mode. The supple fabric conformed to our backs, and the rectangular profile allowed things to move around enough that we could avoid having hard objects ramming our spine. The flatter profile of the duffel also ensures that even an awkward or imbalanced load (which is likely with a duffel) would still ride close enough to your back to ensure the pack isn't yarding on your shoulders.


We preferred this duffel over the Osprey Transporter, especially for the carrying comfort. The U-shaped shoulder straps on the Transporter often encroached on our neck and felt constricting. The looser shoulder strap design of the Cargo Hauler draped more naturally over each shoulder. And the ultra-lightweight (but still-durable-enough-for-a-duffel) fabric ensures the pack is contributing minimal weight to the pad on your shoulders.

The comfortable shoulder straps and cushy grab handles makes this a great duffel to tote and carry in any way.
The comfortable shoulder straps and cushy grab handles makes this a great duffel to tote and carry in any way.

Part of "comfort" for a duffel bag on an expedition has to do with the straps and grab handles. We loved the grab handles on the Cargo Hauler. The two on each end are big, padded, and have enough structure that they are always easy to grab. There is one more on the side, which is not padded, but it is wide and also easy to grab.

Features


On the surface, the Cargo Hauler is just a simple, durable, lightweight duffel with shoulder straps. It has a U-shaped zipper which folds open along the length of the bag, making access very easy. The zipper pulls have rigid plastic supports that make it easy to loop even a gloved finger through them, and they are lockable in case you need to stash or store the bag and want a little extra peace of mind. The pack has shoulder straps which are easy to remove and stow in the bag (note that sometimes the threaded D-ring buckles that anchor the top of the shoulder straps come out). Keep in mind, however, that these two shoulder straps also function as the pack's top grab handle—it works well, but means you may not want to remove the shoulder straps.


There are two impressively large zippered side pockets, one of which also doubles as a stow pocket in which the whole duffel can be stuffed into a convenient and small package. The bottom is lightly padded, adding durability and protection, and giving the pack a little bit of structure to support its rectangular profile—and make it easier to stack with other duffels. This bag is effortless to lash on to rooftops and yak backs, too, with several robust sewn daisy chain loops.

The duffel's main compartment also has lockable zippers, which is great if you have to check it at the airport or leave it quasi-attended somewhere. The storm flaps over that main compartment also help keep the rain out of the bag when your luggage is sitting in the rain on the tarmac waiting to be loaded on the plane. Or on the long trek to basecamp when it is lashed to a yak.

Easy access zipper and a lightly padded bottom make this an excellent mini expedition duffel.
Easy access zipper and a lightly padded bottom make this an excellent mini expedition duffel.

Packing & Accessibility


Sometimes we love the simplicity of a duffel bag, which is certainly the case with the Cargo Hauler. It has one compartment, two side pocket, and no organization scheme, meaning there is little to think about when packing this bag. That said, it also offers little organization for office and business equipment. Because of this, one of the main issues for traveling with a duffel on airlines is the lack of features to streamline your trip through airport security. Or so we thought.


When we broke down our priorities for a swift and easy TSA experience, it came down to two things: ease of access to valuables like passports, and swift removal of electronics. A duffel has minimal pockets and typically nowhere to put your laptop. With the Cargo Hauler, we could just set our laptop or tablet on top of the rest of the contents in our bag (you may want a separate sleeve or case for impact protection), making it super easy to pull out at the security checkpoint. The U-shaped zipper that folds open along the length of the bag adds to this ease of access to the main compartment. Additionally, your laptop or large tablet then provides a smooth and rigid surface against your back and puts what is likely the heaviest and most dense object in your bag very close to your center of gravity, reducing excess torquing on your shoulders. All of this improves the carrying comfort of the bag. Awesome.

The spacious interior makes this bag easy to pack and  in a twist on the packing concept  it packs into a side pocket  making the bag itself easy to pack in other luggage.
The spacious interior makes this bag easy to pack and, in a twist on the packing concept, it packs into a side pocket, making the bag itself easy to pack in other luggage.

The Cargo Hauler has two side pockets which are surprisingly large and tremendously useful. These were better designed than the hard-to-access side pockets and internal zippered pocket on the Osprey Transporter. Additionally, the whole bag packs in to one of those side pockets for easy storage or to toss into another bigger duffel or larger luggage.

Durability


The Bi-Tech Armor Lite fabric used in the Cargo Hauler is super durable, and designed for abrasion resistance—an excellent durability focal point for any duffel on an expedition and taking rides on rooftops, in helicopters, or on yak backs. We were immensely impressed with the durability of the Cargo Hauler. It is the closest thing we have found to the supple-yet-rugged Black Hole fabric used in the Patagonia Black Hole MLC.


And if durability isn't enough to impress you for the simple fact that it holds up better over time and space, we also found that the Armor Lite looked good after a lot of use as well—again similar to the Black Hole fabric. For all that durability, the Cargo Hauler is still impressively lightweight. What a great balance of desirable features.

Weight & Capacity


The 45 liter Cargo Hauler is impressively light, weighing less than two pounds. It also has a relatively high capacity of 45 liters. This makes it a solid performer in this metric. It also means this is an excellent extra duffel to bring with you on trips like expeditions where you may want more gear organization options or a smaller bag to leave behind at a hotel.


Value


The Cargo Hauler is a great deal. It is simple, well designed, durable, and highly versatile. This is a duffel that will last for miles, whether in airplane cargo bays or on the backs of dusty yaks.

The Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler was so versatile  we loved using it as a gym bag.
The Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler was so versatile, we loved using it as a gym bag.

Conclusion


The Cargo Hauler is an excellent duffel for all of your hauling needs. We love the simplicity of the duffel style, and though it is less optimized for office use and business travel, it is not useless in a pinch. We loved this travel backpack for a wide variety of uses: gym use, car and airline travel, as well as expedition use! This is a great bag to strap to a roof rack or the back of a dusty yak. For its simplicity, durability, and versatility, the Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler is a winner.

We are a huge fan of the simple  streamlined Cargo Hauler from Eagle Creek.
We are a huge fan of the simple, streamlined Cargo Hauler from Eagle Creek.


Lyra Pierotti