The Product

Lightweight Carry On Luggage

For the majority of overnight and shorter trips, a 22-inch carry-on bag is a must have these days given that your chances of receiving checked luggage on time seems to be declining by the month.  Unless congress steps in and takes action, your only guarantee of having your clothes when you get to your destination is if you take the matter (i.e., bag) into your own hands.  A 22-inch rolling suitcase gives you the maximum amount of space under the TSA’s carry on regulations.

Recommended
Eagle Creek Tarmac ES 22
Eagle Creek Tarmac ES 22
Pros
  • Very lightweight and fits all carry-on regulations
  • "No Matter What" damage repair policy
Cons
  • Does not have a hanging compartment

For a recent overseas vacation, we decided to take the advice of Timothy Ferris in The 4-Hour Workweek and try to minimize what we brought with us.  The goal was to each pack for the week into a 22-inch carry-on.  We started our research and came across a Money Magazine article that rated the top five lightweight suitcases. My wife was immediately intrigued by the winner, the Eagle Creek Tarmac ES 25.  Having backpacked through Europe ten years ago with Eagle Creek backpacks, which held up amazingly well, she thought this sounded like a great bag.  Eagle Creek has been a dominant player in the adventure luggage market for years, but the company has been making a push into more traditional luggage providing the same rugged, versatile and lightweight designs that have made them successful.  With a little more research, she discovered that the Tarmac ES 22, (the smallest one of the series) is the lightest rolling carry-on with a lifetime guarantee, weighing in at only about eight pounds.  Eagle Creek’s guarantee is a “No Matter What" damage repair policy, which goes farther than most other luggage manufacturers.   

The Eagle Creek Tarmac ES 22” is made of durable Cordura nylon and has two good sized outside pockets.  It opens like a book, where one side is open for packing and the other has two mesh pockets that are perfect for separating out smaller items and laundry.  The main compartment is expandable and compresses easily without the annoyance of hanging straps.  For an organized packer, this is perfect.  When it came time to pack, we were surprised at how well everything fit.  There was even some extra room in the large internal pocket.  On our international flight, my bag was above the limit; however, the fully packed Tarmac weighed only about 25 pounds and made it in under the more stringent international requirements.  When the airline proceeded to lose my checked bag, my wife knew that she and the Tarmac were going to be really good friends. 

Throughout our week long trip, we stayed at four different places; and she continued to enjoy the bag each time she packed and unpacked it.  It was also light enough to carry up and down stairs.  On the return flight, we did check the bag because we had to run a sprint to make a tight connection; but the bag came off the belt looking like new.  Next time we travel together, there is going to be competition for the Tarmac.

The only real negative with the Eagle Creek Tarmac ES 22 is that it does not have a hanging compartment.  Women can get away with this more than men, both due to the nature of how their clothes fold and their ability to fold.  I have seen a suitor version of the Tarmac, but the suitor is an insert and I think you sacrifice some of the clever pockets that make the bag so functional.

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