The Wayfinder is designed with versatility in mind but misses the mark on functionality for a variety of uses.
The Eagle Creek Wayfinder is a relatively versatile travel backpack.
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 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 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 heavier loads or fall out of the way when not needed.
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 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.
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 pockets, but it was difficult to work out our own organization scheme to fit the design.
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 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.
The Wayfinder will certainly help you find your way to your destination, but it may not be the most graceful companion.