OBOW Light Travel Forum > REI Overnighter - Patagonia MLC - Eagle Creek Weekend Adventurer: User Thoughts

Over the past several months my wife and I have had the chance to use three different bags: the REI Overnighter (about $90), the Patagonia MLC ($159), and the Eagle Creek Weekend Adventurer (ECWA. About $120 when we bought it.) I should like to share some thoughts about these 3 bags.

We just returned from a 16 day overseas trip where I used the MLC and my wife used the ECWA. Originally, I was going to use the REI bag and my wife was going to use the ECWA. So we bought the latter first to be used by our daughter on a trip to South America. It turns out she did not use it and my wife contemplated using it.

But a bit of background is in order. I often travel in the US for business and am supportive of the one bag concept and intelligent packing list choices combined with productive packing techniques. I now have 6 trips with the REI bag, and it has become my bag of choice for most of my business travel needs. That bag fits under most airline seats in front of me, thereby taking away the worry of no overhead bin space available. (I have posted my thoughts on this bag in another part of this forum.) Before we left for our big trip, I shared the 1bag/lightweight concept with my wife and she decided she would give it a try.

After she looked over the ECWA bag, she was not sure it would meet her needs. I told her that my concept is not for everyone and she is free to use another rolling bag and checking it. In this discussion process, she felt she would like to look at the MLC bag and decide between the two. So we ordered the MLC and she began her comparisons. Well, to my horror, she was going to use either of these bags packed to the brim with a huge amount of clothing, makeup, and shoes! Gasp! With her trial packing, she decided to use the ECWA. That left me with using either the REI or the MLC. I chose the MLC.

The MLC: I packed this bag easily with the following other than the clothes I wore: 3 pairs of pants, 6 shirts, two T-shirts, one ultralight Merino wool pullover, 5 underwear, 5 pairs Merino wool socks, ziploc with laundry kit, my toiletries, small umbrella, Marmot ultralight rain jacket, two ties, flip-flops, bathing suit and a few other goodies. My things fit easily in the MLC with room to spare. As a matter of fact, I took too much for our 16 day trip. Should have cut back the umbrella, one pair of pants, the Merino pullover, one t-shirt, and the ties. I also wore and then later packed a Scott Evest travel vest with a zillion pockets. Turns out I did not use it at all and it should have stayed home. I weighed the bag and packed contents at about 18 lbs.

I found the MLC bag to work ok. It has two large outer pockets and a small pocket in addition to a large compartment with an organizer divider that had some ability to compress items down. I found that the organizer divider was not for me. Plus its ability to use the two straps to compress did not work the way I wished. But, overall, the bag did its job. The carrying handles, padded shoulder strap, and the backpack straps all worked ok for me.

ECWA: My dear wife put this bag to the test. She packed this poor bag beyond its limit! 5 pairs of shoes, makeup, toiletries, dresses, pants, tops, socks, you name it. It weighed out at about 25 lbs. She now admits that she took too much. Moreover, she took a huge purse loaded with goodies as well. Hardly the 1bag1world lightweight concept! 12 days out of 16 days were on a cruise, and she thought she might use some evening outfits. She took two that she did not use. Anyway, the stress on seams and zippers of the ECWA bag was at maximum. But, this bag took it. No problems.

In my view this bag is a better choice than the MLC. Now I am not trying to hate on the MLC, as it is a good bag and served me well on my trip. But, the ECWA had some features that were better. Zippers are a bit better and allow for locking of two zippers on one run via locks, zip ties, etc. They have two circular metal openings that marry up nicely. Secondly, the ECWA has a main opening with two compartments: one with compression straps and the other a zippered compartment that is designed to work with the various cubes and folders that Eagle Creek offers. I have been a long time user of the Eagle Creek folders (have two 15" and one 18") and swear by them. I find that having a decent pair of compression straps really helps. I used this bag on one of my business trips.

Both bags fit in the overhead bins and we received no grief from the airlines at all, in this case KLM and Delta.

Lastly I should like to comment on the backpack strap method. I am an ultralight hiker who often uses a UL frameless pack. I have found that when you try to overpack one of these (such as a ULA Conduit) discomfort sets in to the point where you are better off using another pack, such as a Gregory internal frame pack. In my opinion, this same observation has relevance for the backpack style carry-ons. The more you pack them, the higher the chances of discomfort. I believe you should try to keep them under 20 lbs. as much as possible. (Side note: the Lufthansa published carryon bag limit is 17.6 lbs.) It is not that you cannot overload them like my wife did, it is that your comfort will increase as the weight goes down.


June 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSteve
Very nicely done.

When our new site becomes active, why not "cut and paste" this into the "gear review" section of our new forum? This is exactly what I'm hoping our terrific readers will do--review their own travel related items so others can get real users opinions.
June 9, 2013 | Registered CommenterFrank@OBOW
Nice to read a positive review of the ECAW. I own a REI Overnighter which I like and just ordered a Eagle Creek Adventure Weekender. I've had it on my radar for a while and most places have it for 25% off right now. I like the REI Overnighter but you really need to be disciplined to avoid overpacking the thing. Even though it readily overstuffs without consequence there's only so much you can stuff into a 2100 cubic inch bag. My pack light weakness is that I like to bring along an extra pair of shoes and I find that, in the Overnighter, that only leaves room for my iPad. I'm hoping the ECAW will allow me to bring my Thinkpad X230 or Macbook Air and an extra day or two of clothing. I have an eBags Motherlode TLS Weekender and can't take advantage of all of the space it offers (3300 cubic inches) without causing the bag to be overly heavy for a non-wheeled bag.
June 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDunbar
I have both the ECAW and the MLC. (No REI Overnighter, but I do have an old REI Adventure Tour Lite, which was my go-to bag for many years) I prefer the ECAW also. It obviously works well with the EC packing cubes, of which I really like the super-lightweight Specter cubes. The build quality is pretty good, although not super tough like a Tom Bihn. I can get a ton of stuff into it -- last trip I packed 8 prs boxers, 7 t-shirts, 2 long sleeve shirts, 1 light sweater, 1 sweatshirt, 1 pr shoes, 1 pr jeans, 2 pr twill pants, 1 swimsuit, 5 pr socks, and a dop kit. The backpack straps are pretty comfortable. The bag is also surprisingly lightweight. It's well designed, has lots of room, and looks good. We like it so much, we ordered another one for my wife.

The MLC is good too, but not quite as nice. It's a bit longer, and not as deep. It holds a lot too, but I don't think it holds quite as much. It's also not quite as comfortable as a backpack. I don't think you can go wrong with either bag, but I prefer the ECAW.
June 10, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterkbob
Kbob, i take it you are okay to sink wash everything but your under garments. Just kidding
June 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRalph
I received my ECAW from Berman Luggage yesterday. The size is just what I was looking for but I threw some clothes in it and it doesn't quite sit on my shoulder as comfortably as my REI Overnighter. The REI Overnighter (using the shoulder strap) I carry more like a backpack with one strap. The ECAW seems to hang straight down which seems like it will cause the bag to bounce off my hip when the bag is fully packed. I'm eager to take it on a trip and see if I like it.
June 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDunbar