The GearGuide crew did quite a bit of travel over the past month or so. There’s even more to come with one of us stationed in the U.K. for the next four months. Packing? Well, like most frequent travelers, we tend towards the rollaboard route to avoid the wait at the luggage carousel. Our go-to bags include the High Sierra AT6 and the Mountainsmith Boarding Pass. And we recently added the Eagle Creek Expanse Convertible International Carry-On to the rotation. It’s good looking and quite compact. The company makes them in several colors: basic black, red and blue. Our sample came in a solid gray and orange accented combo. Here’s how it did.
The Eagle Creek cuts a svelte profile at just under the regulation 22 inches in height and 14 inches across. The main compartment presents enough room for a day or two of gear: a pair of running shoes, shorts, a pair of jeans, a couple of shirts, sweater or hoodie, toiletry kit, etc. Inside are two buckled tie-down straps to help keep the load compact and balanced. There’s also a mesh pocket for smaller items.
Weight: 6 lbs, 2 oz
Capacity: 1830 cu in
Materials: 500, 420 and 300 denier polyester
On the exterior of the Expanse Convertible Carry-on, Eagle Creek places a single zippered pocket. It runs the entire length and width of the bag and includes a padded laptop or tablet section. In addition to the aforementioned electronics, you can squeeze an extra jacket or other items that you want more accessible than in the main compartment.
In the regular rollaboard configuration, you’ll notice some well-executed components. The telescoping handle is nicely finished aluminum. The top carrying handle provides a comfortable grab point. A couple of knocks: although the wheels run smoothly, they don’t look to be user replaceable, and the side handle is pretty skimpy (but we rarely use it).
Converting to backpack is a simple three-step process. Unzip the compartment containing the straps, connect each one to the latch point and adjust. Built-in sternum straps help keep things in place while you’re trekking.
The Eagle Creek Expanse Convertible Carry-on presents a fairly compact frame. This limits capacity, as you’d expect. The product’s official specs call for just over 1800 cubic inches of storage which is a long way from the Mountainsmith Boarding Pass’ nearly 2800 cubic inches and the High Sierra AT6’s more than 3000 cubic inches. Pretty diminutive by comparison both on paper and in practice. We were hardpressed to get a full week’s worth of beachwear in the Expanse on a recent excursion to Southern California.
The Eagle Creek Expanse Convertible Carry-on delivers a great option for shorter trips. Call it more of an overnighter than a full-week option for all but the most efficient travelers. We liked the looks and the quality construction. And we would have it as a more regular part of our rotation if it hadn’t been for the limited capacity.