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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
Eagle Creek Wayfinder 40L
Photo: Eagle Creek
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Price:  $130 List | $129.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Durable, comfortable, versatile design
Cons:  Feature set not suited well to any specific use
Manufacturer:   Eagle Creek
By Lyra Pierotti ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 16, 2020
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65
OVERALL
SCORE


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

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 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.

Color Update

The color scheme of the Wayfinder 40 has been updated slightly (and is also now available in some fun bright colors), but everything else remains the same.

June 2020

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award 
Price $129.00 at Amazon$299.95 at REI$101.51 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$199.00 at REI$140 List
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Pros Durable, comfortable, versatile designComfortable, innovative, feature rich, sturdy, great for camera gearGood suspension, lightweight, affordable, gobbles gearVersatile, duffel-like ease of use, simplistic features, max volume carryTapered for easy loading, comfortable harness system, adventure friendly
Cons Feature set not suited well to any specific useHeavy, expensive, finite amount of spaceSquare design protrudes from back, too big for some airlines checked baggageSoft body sags when not stuffed, harness system not fit for long adventuresDoes not sit upright, brain hits your head, laptop sleeve unpadded
Bottom Line A decent travel backpack that can be used for a variety of travel types but is not the best fit for most usesThis pack is the perfect supplemental piece of gear for expedition photographers, weekend warriors, or those who travel for workThis travel backpack is easy to pack, organized, and very durable, though a little bulkyAn easy to use and extremely durable pack with a clever design backed by one of the best warranties in the industryThis is a great choice for those who enjoy casual travel on a budget including camping, climbing or hiking
Rating Categories Eagle Creek Wayfinder 40L Peak Design Travel 45 Osprey Porter 46 Patagonia Black Hole MLC REI Co-op Ruckpack 40
Comfort (25%)
7
9
8
6
9
Features (25%)
6
9
7
9
8
Packing & Accessibility (20%)
4
9
9
9
8
Durability (15%)
8
9
9
9
8
Volume To Weight Ratio (15%)
8
6
8
7
5
Specs Eagle Creek... Peak Design Travel... Osprey Porter 46 Patagonia Black... REI Co-op Ruckpack...
Volume of Main Pack 40L 45L 46L 45L 40L
Measured Weight 2.61 lbs 4.51 lbs 3.23 lbs 3.35 lbs 4.32 lbs
OGL Volume/Weight Ratio 15.33 9.98 14.24 13.43 9.26
Detachable Daypack? No No No No No
Dimensions (inches) 14 x 21 x 8.25 21 x 13 x 6.5 21 x 14 x 12 22.8 x 8.6 x 14.5 24 x 13 x 10
Carry-on Size? 22 x 14 x 9 in Yes, if not stuffed Yes Must be cinched down Yes, if squished No
Dimensions When Stuffed (inches) 22 x 15 x 11 21 x 10 x 14 22 x 14 x 12 22 x 14 x 10 22 x 9 x 14
Fabrics 300D dual-diamond heather ripstop, 500D poly RPVB coating 400D nyon and polyester 420D nylon hex diamond ripstop, 420HD nylon packcloth Polyester ripstop with TPU laminate 210-denier nylon ripstop
Frame Type Padded backpanel Foam padding Stiff foam Foam backpanel Ventilated mesh
Access Type Top and panel loading Top and panel loading, zips all the way open Panel loading, zips all the way open Clamshell design Top loading
Number of Pockets 8 zip, 4 no zip 6 zip, 2 watter bottle 7 zip, 8 no zip 9 zip, 8 no zip 6 zip, 7 no zip, 2 water bottle
Laptop Sleeve Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Waist Belt Type Yes, thick unpadded strap N/A Padded None Padded
Sternum Strap Yes N/A Yes, whistle Yes Yes
Different sizes? No No No Yes Yes
Volume Options 12.5L, 20L, 30L, 40L 45L 30L, 46L, 65L 26L, 45L 18L, 28L, 40L, 65L

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Wayfinder 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.
Photo: Lyra Pierotti

Comfort


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 backpanel and hip belt make this a comfortable travel backpack...
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.
Photo: Lyra Pierotti

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

Features


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.

The feature set on the Wayfinder is where things went astray. It was...
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.
Photo: Lyra Pierotti

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 has three main compartments with a variety of smaller...
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.
Photo: Lyra Pierotti

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, 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 OGL Test Load (left) swallowed into the Wayfinder.
The OGL Test Load (left) swallowed into the Wayfinder.
Photo: Lyra Pierotti

Value


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.

Conclusion


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.

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

Lyra Pierotti