The Eagle Creek Wayfinder is a well made, durable, and relatively comfortable travel backpack. It was clearly designed to be versatile, useful for airlines and daily commutes alike, but we find the feature set to be so broadly focused that it was often a mismatch for our uses. The bag certainly is functional, but it is particularly challenging to stay organized. Some of the pockets are difficult or cumbersome to access, tucked into tight spaces, or placed too low in the bag. That said, if you need something affordable for a lot of scenarios, this one could be a decent fit.
Eagle Creek Wayfinder 40L Review
Cons: Feature set not suited well to any specific use
Manufacturer: Eagle Creek
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Wayfinder is designed with versatility in mind but misses the mark on functionality for a variety of uses.
This is a comfortable travel backpack that can handle heavy loads with relative ease. The suspension distributes and supports the load on your back, allowing you to feel light and maneuverable in transit.
The shoulder straps of the Wayfinder are connected to each other in a U shape that is anchored on the top of the back panel. This U shape encroached on our neck sometimes, making it mildly uncomfortable, but this can depend on the user. The waist belt provides balanced support for heavier loads and is adjustable in two places, which allows you to keep excess straps out of your way.
The feature set of the Wayfinder seems to display a bit of an identity crisis. We had a hard time figuring out how best to use this bag, and if it is most suited to airline travel, commuting, or as a school bag. It has three larger zippered compartments; the one closest to the back is padded and rectangular for electronics, with a nice sub-pocket for a tablet. There is also a hole for earphones, but we didn't find ourselves as inclined to use that.
The next compartment has more organizing pockets: larger mesh pockets as well as slim ones for pens and pencils. This is a good spot for electronics and office accessories as well. However, it also makes the most sense to tuck socks and underwear in the lowest of the pockets in this compartment, so we were a little worried about pulling out a pair of underwear when going in for a pencil. Awkward.
The large outermost compartment is just a simple, large pocket. It has sturdy fabric, so we felt confident putting toiletries here, but also sometimes tucked our tablet in here for quick access; this was also a bit awkward due to the large size. We do like it for snacks and lunch as it kept these items separate from things that could be damaged or stained by food or liquid. On the front outside, there is a small fleece-lined pocket for easy access and protection of electronics; this is handy and just the right size for a wallet and keys as well.
Packing & Accessibility
This is where the Wayfinder really went astray. In an attempt to make a versatile travel backpack, Eagle Creek designed a bag that is difficult to match to many use cases. When we went for a weekend trip, our pencils got in the way of our underwear. There was no clear theme as to what type of items should go where. When commuting, we sometimes mixed up where to put books, binders, and tablets or computers, and found that the middle pocket is perhaps bigger than necessary for a daily commute.
The Wayfinder is a travel backpack that will stand up to many uses and withstand a variety of abuses. It features 300 and 500 denier fabrics for some weight savings, yet retains durability where it matters. Particularly for the price, this is a solidly durable bag.
Volume to Weight Ratio
The Wayfinder is relatively light for its capacity given the thoughtful use of both 300 and 500 denier fabrics and thusly scores quite well in this metric. For a 40L pack, this bag will carry enough for many long weekend getaways and only weighs 2.61 pounds.
The Wayfinder is quite affordable compared to many other travel backpacks. That said, while it is designed with versatility in mind, we would advise potential buyers to scrutinize the feature set before purchasing this bag. If the design perfectly suits your needs, it may be well worth the price; otherwise, it probably isn't, despite being cheaper than many other options.
The Eagle Creek Wayfinder is a relatively comfortable and reliable travel backpack. It is meant to be versatile, but it wanders a bit too much between travel pack and bookbag to be a good fit for either. If the organization scheme works for you, however, this is an otherwise very well made and durable backpack at a decent price.
— Lyra Pierotti
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