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Eagle Creek Wayfinder 40L Review

This is a relatively comfortable travel backpack with a versatile design that is functional but not as well thought out as others.
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Price:  $130 List | $96.73 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Durable, comfortable, versatile design
Cons:  Feature set not suited well to any specific use
Manufacturer:   Eagle Creek
By Lyra Pierotti ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 10, 2019
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63
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 15
  • Comfort - 25% 7
  • Features - 25% 6
  • Packing & Accessibility - 20% 4
  • Durability - 15% 8
  • Weight Per Volume - 15% 7

Our Verdict

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 found that the feature set was so broadly focused that it was often a mismatch for our uses. The bag certainly is functional, but it was particularly challenging to stay organized. Some of the pockets were difficult or cumbersome to access, tucked into tight spaces, or placed too low in the bag. For a more thoughtful and versatile backpack, with a feature set well suited to a variety of uses, we like The North Face Overhaul.


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Pros Durable, comfortable, versatile designGood suspension, lightweight, affordable, gobbles gearVersatile, duffel-like ease of use, just the right balance of travel featuresVersatile, durable, comfortable, intuitiveLightweight, durable, affordable, highly versatile, can become a daily use duffel
Cons Feature set not suited well to any specific useSquare design protrudes from back, too big for some airlines checked baggageBackpack straps not comfortable for long distances, gear sags in soft structure when not fullSmall hip belt, not best for long distances with heavy loadsLess organization features, not set up for traveling with electronics
Bottom Line This is a relatively comfortable travel backpack with a versatile design that is functional but not as well thought out as others.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.The Overhaul is an excellent, versatile, and intuitive travel backpack with well balanced features.A great small duffel with shoulder straps for a variety of travel purposes.
Rating Categories Eagle Creek Wayfinder 40L Osprey Porter 46 Patagonia Black Hole MLC The North Face Overhaul 40 Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler 45L
Comfort (25%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
6
Features (25%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
5
Packing & Accessibility (20%)
10
0
4
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
Durability (15%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
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8
Weight Per Volume (15%)
10
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7
10
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7
10
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7
10
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6
10
0
9
Rank (%)
10
0
9
10
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1
10
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2
10
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3
10
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4
Specs Eagle Creek... Osprey Porter 46 Patagonia Black... The North Face... Eagle Creek Cargo...
Volume of Main Pack 40 L 46 L 45 L 41 L 45 L
Measured Weight 2.61 lbs 3.23 lbs 3.35 lbs 3.78 lbs 1.61 lbs
Dimensions (Inches) 14 x 21 x 8.25 21 x 14 x 12 22.8 x 8.6 x 14.5 21 x 12 x 7 22.75 x 8.75 x 12.5
Carry-on Size? 22 x 14 x 9 in Yes, if not stuffed Must be cinched down Yes, if squished Yes, if not stuffed Yes, if squished
Volume of Daypack N/a N/a N/a N/a N/a
Measured when stuffed (inches) 22x15x11 22x14x12 22x14x10 21x13x10 22x13x9
Fabrics 300D Dual-Diamond Heather Ripstop, 500D Poly RPVB Coating 420D Nylon Hex Diamond Ripstop, 420HD Nylon Packcloth Polyester ripstop with TPU laminate 420-denier ripstop nylon Bi-Tech Armor Lite
Frame Type Padded backpanel Stiff foam Foam backpanel Molded padding None
Access Type Top and panel loading Panel loading, zips all the way open Clamshell design Panel loading Top and panel loading
# of Pockets 3 zippered 5
Laptop sleeve Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Waist Belt Type Yes, thick unpadded strap Padded None Unpadded strap N/a
Sternum Strap Yes Yes, whistle Yes Yes No
Different sizes? No No No No Yes
Volume Options 12.5L, 20L, 30L, 40L 30L, 46L, 65L N/a N/a 60L, 90L, 120L

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Wayfinder from Eagle Creek is designed with versatility in mind but misses the mark on functionality for a variety of uses.

Performance Comparison


The Eagle Creek Wayfinder is a relatively versatile travel backpack.
The Eagle Creek Wayfinder is a relatively versatile travel backpack.

Comfort


It's 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 backpanel and hip belt make this a comfortable travel backpack. The hip belt may be small  but it is effective for heavier loads and falls out of the way when not in use. It can also be tucked into the backpanel to streamline the bag  making it more like a book bag.
The backpanel and hip belt make this a comfortable travel backpack. The hip belt may be small, but it is effective for heavier loads and falls out of the way when not in use. It can also be tucked into the backpanel to streamline the bag, making it more like a book bag.

The shoulder straps 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 as well and is adjustable in two places, which allows you to keep excess straps out of your way.

The Wayfinder has a small but effective hip belt that can support heavier loads or fall out of the way when not needed.
The Wayfinder has a small but effective hip belt that can support heavier loads or fall out of the way when not needed.

If comfort is your top priority and you'll be hauling heavier loads longer distances, check out the Cotopaxi Allpa 35, one of our favorites for comfort. We also like the Kelty Redwing, great for the more outdoorsy traveler. For similarly designed travel backpacks that are a little more comfortable for airline or urban travel, you might like the more formal and subtle backpack, The North Face Overhaul, or the fun and comfortable Osprey Porter.

Features


The feature set of the Wayfinder seemed to display a bit of an identity crisis. We had a hard time figuring out how best to use the bag, and if it was most suited to airline travel, commuting, or as a school bag. It has three larger zippered compartments; the one closest to your 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 was a good spot for some of our electronics and office accessories as well. However, it also made the most sense to tuck our 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 feature set on the Wayfinder is where things went astray. It was difficult to match the bag to our varied uses  and seemed as if  in designing the bag to be versatile  it has ended up being a little awkward for many travel purposes.
The feature set on the Wayfinder is where things went astray. It was difficult to match the bag to our varied uses, and seemed as if, in designing the bag to be versatile, it has ended up being a little awkward for many travel purposes.

The large outermost compartment was 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 did 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 was handy and just the right size for a wallet and keys as well. For a traditionally featured travel backpack, we like the soft suitcase, or "clamshell," design of the Patagonia MLC.

Packing & Accessibility


This is where the Wayfinder went astray. In an attempt to make a versatile travel backpack, Eagle Creek designed a bag that was difficult to match to our uses. 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.

If we commuted with it, we sometimes mixed up where to put books, binders, and tablets or computers, and found that the middle pocket was perhaps bigger than necessary for a daily commute.

The Wayfinder has three main compartments with a variety of smaller pockets  but it was difficult to work out our own organization scheme to fit the design.
The Wayfinder has three main compartments with a variety of smaller pockets, but it was difficult to work out our own organization scheme to fit the design.

For a thoughtfully designed travel backpack, easy to pack and access, check out the Osprey Porter. If you're looking for more of a suitcase design, we also liked the Patagonia MLC. Or if you want to go really simple, check out the Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler.

Durability


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, and durability where it matters. For one of the most durable packs in this review, check out the rugged Osprey Transporter, a duffel style travel backpack. The Patagonia MLC is another highly durable travel backpack in a more traditional soft suitcase design.

Weight & Capacity


The Wayfinder is relatively light for its capacity given the thoughtful use of both 300 and 500 denier fabrics. For a 40L pack, this bag will carry enough for many long weekend getaways.

The OGL Test Load (left) and how much of it fit into the bag.
The OGL Test Load (left) and how much of it fit into the bag.

For another take on lightweight travel backpacks, check out the REI Stuff Travel. This small 20-liter backpack stuffs into its own pocket and can be easily tossed into your luggage of choice. This makes it very easy to have a nice day pack for adventures once you arrive at your destination. The Kelty Redwing is also very lightweight for its size, but much larger and more outdoor-leaning; it's a great crossover backpack for the outdoors enthusiast or off-road traveler.

Value


The Wayfinder is not a bargain travel backpack. It is designed with versatility in mind, but 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.

Conclusion


The 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 otherwise a very well made and durable backpack.

The Wayfinder will certainly help you find your way to your destination  but it may not be the most graceful companion.
The Wayfinder will certainly help you find your way to your destination, but it may not be the most graceful companion.


Lyra Pierotti