We started traveling when we were young and cash was tight, and taking a cab would have meant choosing to eliminate some activity from our itinerary. We loved Europe, and with easy access to public transportation from many airports, we would find a simple hotel close to a train or subway stop, and the rule became: if you bring it, you have to carry it. It didn’t take many ascents up from a London tube station far underground to convince me to pack light.
With that, I can do a 2 week trip to Europe with a backpack and a carry-on bag. This does mean that my backpack should be roomy, light, and versatile. I recently tried out the Eagle Creek Afar backpack. It fits the bill on all 3 aspects.
This is one of the larger backpacks I’ve tried, measuring 12.25 x 20 x 8.5 in (31 x 51 x 21 cm), but is so light 1 lb 11 oz (.77 kg) that it doesn’t feel too large.
The center compartment is very roomy, allowing for even a medium-sized pillow, the requisite noise-canceling headphones, a sweatshirt, and basic toiletries, with room to spare.
The padded laptop sleeve is, if anything, larger than is needed. The space will hold a 17” laptop, so smaller laptops will sink down to the bottom of the space. The second space in that section is not large enough for an iPad but could hold a phone. Or you might choose to put your passport in the smaller pocket to keep your valuables together in one section.
The third section at the front of the backpack has good organization for small items, such as pens, passport, (or, you know, candy). A mesh outside pocket could hold a fairly small sweater or something you want easily accessible. Two mesh side pockets give ample space for good size water bottles. And for times when you want your suitcase to do the work of carrying the backpack, use the back slip panel to secure the backpack to your suitcase handle. This will avoid the sliding around that happens when you try to carry a backpack on the handle of a suitcase without any real way to secure it.
For extra security, there is a reinforced ring that you can use to attach a lock and secure the zippers for the main and front sections. There’s also a very unobtrusive safety whistle on the sternum strap.
Now for appearance. I went with the smoky blue color, which is a nice, mid-range color, making it easy to spot in a crowd of luggage. With slightly darker highlights on the straps, it is really a very nice looking bag.
As I mentioned, I can do 2 weeks in Europe with a backpack and a carry-on. I didn’t mention that I also use the same amount of luggage for a quick weekend trip. (There just seems to be a set of stuff that I need to take everywhere I go!) To wrap up my testing, I tried packing just this backpack with everything I’d need for a weekend away. The bag held everything I need, making it a nice alternative to a smaller backpack and a second bag. This bag will be a great piece for my travels near and far.