OBOW Light Travel Forum > LL Bean Quickload Review

As promised, a short review of the LL Bean Quickload based on two weeks in Switzerland and Germany at Christmas time.

Two adults, two kids, two weeks in Europe during winter, 4 "luggage" bags and 4 small, personal bags. The 4 "luggage" bags included an eBags Weekender, the LL Bean Quickload, an ancient Eastpack convertible bag and a 24 inch wheelie.

The LL Bean Quickload had very good capacity. I was able to easily fit in: 2 pairs long pants, 4 pair underwear, wool base layer top and bottom, five shirts (one short sleeve, the rest long sleeve), wool sweater, 2 pair wool socks, laundry kit (included clothes line, microfiber towel and some detergent), the toiletry kit for the ENTIRE family, a bathing suit (for the hot tub at ski resort), two paperback books to read and leave along the trip, cache of spare zip lock bags, gloves, hat, a pair of pajamas (a luxury I allowed myself when I found I had plenty of room) and, here's the kicker--one pair of insulated ski pants.

I know I had a few more items in there, but I just can't remember what they were right now.

All of this fit, with room to spare! At the Swiss check in, the bag weighed 7.5 kg.

In fact, none of the convertible bags weighed over 7.5 kg. (I recognize this is easier to pull off when you have a 24 inch wheelie that the heavier items can go into. But honestly, we weren't taking anything too heavy anyway.)

The empty LL Bean bag was definitely lighter than the empty eBags Weekender, which meant we could put more in it and not worry we were going to go over the limit.

The inside of the bag is fine and the compression straps are the garden variety ones, but work well. The compartment in the inside "lid" is mesh, but has a zipper only on one end. I prefer the Weekender's design of having the zipper go around three sides of the same compartment. Also, I like the Weekender's feature of a small, flat, zippered compartment on the inside on the "hinge" part of the bag. We used it for stashing our drivers' licenses, which we didn't figure we would need but brought along anyway just in case we decided to rent a car spur of the moment.

The straps on the Quickload are curved and a bit wider than the Weekender. I am narrow shouldered and have a slight preference for the narrower Weekender straps as a result. If the Quickload had included a sternum strap, which it does not, I think I would have found it more comfortable. It was fine, so this is not such a great issue.

The smaller outside pocket on the Quickload is a disappointment. It has some organizer features, but the zipper is just straight across the pocket and does not extend down the sides. As a result, it's difficult to efficiently use the organizer features. This is a bad design flaw. However, as a practical matter, I used the organizer panel in my small messenger bag so I didn't really get too hung up on this. I ended up simply using it to stash receipts and used maps, etc.--essentially stuff I wasn't going to need to access every day.

The smalller outside pocket did include a little lanyard clip that was on an elastic cord. That elastic cord feature is an improvement over a standard key clip. I ended up attaching a little "squeeze" flashlight to it, which we used multiple times. The ability to pull it out a bit with the stretchy elastic was very useful.

It does have a larger outside pocket, which does zip down on the sides. It was spacious and this is where I easily stuffed those ski pants.

All in all, it's a good bag. If you need your one bag to include a highly usable organizer pocket, don't buy the Quickload. On all other fronts, it's a solid bag. And the weight difference between it and the Weekender is nice. Also, the lifetime, satisfaction guarantee from LL Bean is worth quite a lot. (I have NO affiliation with LL Bean.)

In short, it held all my stuff with room to spare. As a result, I had no trouble fitting in my purchases from the trip on the way back.

One side note: The person at the Swiss check-in counter simply could not believe that 4 people going to Europe in winter (and skiing--at that) could travel with so little luggage.

Thanks to all the tips on this site.
January 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHolly
January 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBrad
Thanks for sharing your experience with the LLBean
quickload pack.

For the price; it is a good value. Though the bag looks
compact, I have found that it can carry a lot for longer

As far as the small outer pocket I use a few zip-lock
bags to organize smaller items and they slide in and out
of the outer pocket easily.
January 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDan
Dan - can you cross-post your comment to the review on the main blog page?
January 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBrad
Brad, I have complied per your request.
January 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDan
As another nice review of this bag appeared yesterday, from Cindy H. I have taken the liberty of doing a cut and paste to cross-post under the specific bag name. This is NOT my personal review...just one that would tempt me to buy the bag for certain trips, where the distance to be walked would be greater than just inside a terminal, though for this year, I have nothing of that sort scheduled. With my basic list of items, this bag would likely load out to around to just over 22 lbs, so I might trim that to get it closer to 20 lbs.

"I just returned from 2-1/2 weeks in Africa using the LL Bean Quickload. What a great little bag!

I decided not to use my OPEC bag for a several reasons:

* Africa has a lot of dust. I wanted a bag with a smooth nylon outside. The OPEC bag collects lint like crazy. I didn't want to see it after hundreds of miles of dirt roads.

* I wanted a bag with external compression straps, as I was flying on a European based airline with weight and size limits.

* Most important - I needed a bag that could be locked to avoid casual theft

* I needed a bag that could withstand the rigors of travel and endure dust, thorns, etc.

The Quickload was the lightest bag that fit this bill. It is similar in design to the ebags Weekender Convertable, but only 2 lbs 2 oz. I added an Op/Tec SOS shoulder strap for a total weight of 2 lbs 4 oz. This is 1-1/2 pounds lighter than the Weekender, and 5-6 ounces heavier than the OPEC.

The nylon outside of the redesigned bag is fairly rugged. The bottom of the bag is covered with heavy duty rip stop nylon. It has padded handles on the top and sides, and 4 external compression straps. It also has locking zippers on the main bag opening. The small outside pocket with key holder and pockets is fairly inaccessable, and I only used it to store miscellaneous paper and a rubber door stop. The second (big) outside pocket is wonderful. The flap unzips about 3/4 of the way around the bag, and is about 2 inches deep. It is a great place to store fleece and rain jackets. I also stuffed my sleeping bag in there (really!)

The main compartment consists of a big empty area with internal tie down straps. There is a mesh pocket on the inside of the lid. The zipper goes across the wide dimension of the bag (Vs length) making it less accessable than the OPEC or eBags pack pockets. That said, it was sufficient for my needs. I carried ~ 20 pounds, and for this weight shoulder straps only is sufficient. For heavier loads (adventure travel) I would want another pack with a true suspension system and hip belt.

At $99 this is a great little bag, especially if you are looking for one in the light weight category. It comes with LL Beans lifetime guarantee.

February 14, 2010 | Cindy H

One further point that would merit comment from someone who knows both bags would be how it compares to the Osprey Porter 46, particularly relative to a usable WAIST BELT. As one approaches and exceeds 20 lbs. that becomes very important.
February 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlan Birnbaum
Another feature that I like about the LL Bean quickload;
is when you carry the bag in the back pack mode
the bottom portion of the bag is padded and gives some
structure to the bag. Many times I have loaded the bag
without using the inside suspension straps ; I still find
the bag comfortable on my back, even if the contents
shift a little inside.

For shorter distances I just carry the bag on my back with
one of the back pack straps.

i use larger zip-lock bags one for shirts, one for pants
and one for under garments, including socks.Another
zip-lock bag for toilet items like tooth paste, tooth brush
bar soap , etc.

So far i have not missed having the hip belt . Packing with
different sized zip-lock bags has worked well for me when
using this bag. All the contents of the bag seems more
organized this way and keeps the weight down to the minimum.

For the price and the unconditional gurantee by LL Bean,
this bag is worth considering in your luggage collection.

Infact I have ended up using this bag more frequently than my
other travel bags.

One other benefit that I have found is the outer nylon material
of the bag is smooth to the touch which makes it more comfortable
when you carry the bag on your back or your shoulder.
February 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDan
Thanks Alan, for cross posting

One other thing - the Quickload has an inner lining, which the OPEC does not have. This proved to be important when we had a huge storm come in while we were camping out in the bush. The supplied tent leaked severely, and I awoke the next day to find the Quickload sitting in a puddle of water. I picked it up to find that the clothes inside were still dry! The dampness did eventually seep through, but it took several hours. I was impressed. The QL also has storm flaps on the zippers. I think this combination means that you are probably OK in a when traveling in normal conditions during a rain storm.

As Dan noted, the padded bottem gives it more struture than then OPEC bag. I find the curved shoulder straps to be more comfortable than the OPEC and Weekender bags. The smooth nylon on the outside of the bag ensures that what I'm wearing won't get snagged and bunched up in my back when wearing the bag in backpack mode. Unlike the OPEC, the smooth nylon makes it easier for the padded shoulder straps slip in and out of their storage pocket.

For air travel, I wore the bag in over the shoulder and backpack mode. While others had their wheelie bags gate checked, mine was never ever challenged.

The only improvements I can really see are:
* Fix the small outside pocket so it is more accessable. Two options - the first is to make the zippr opening U-shaped and bigger (adding weight). My second (preferred option) would be to get rid of the small pocket and put organizer pockets in the lid of the big outside pocket. This would lighten the bag while giving it organizer features.
* I would like the big outside pocket to have locking zippers too.
* I would prefer the zipper for the mesh pocket in the lid of the bag to go lengthwise for easier access
* I would liike some sort of small ring sewn into the corner of the main zipper. That way I could lock my zippers to the ring, making it that much harder to break into the bag.
* I miss the bright orange liner of the eBags weekender. I wish that LL Bean would do something like that.

Overall, this bag has pretty much the same features as the weekender, but comes with locking zippers and is significantly (1-1/2 pounds) lighter. The QL is ~$35 more, but since it comes with a lifetime guarantee, and my old Weekender blew out after 3 years, I think that the QL might be a better buy in the long run.

Bottom line? If I'm really pushed up hard against weight limits, I'll take the OPEC bag. Otherwise I think I'll go for the Quickload for looks, comfort, and extra features.
February 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCindy H