Friday, June 01, 2018

Gear Closet: Eagle Creek National Geographic Guide Travel Pack 65 Review

Today, Eagle Creek and National Geographic officially take the wraps off their new line of travel products that includes several pieces of luggage and packs. I was lucky enough to get glimpse of these bags back at the 2018 Winter Outdoor Retailer show, but at the time the entire line was under embargo to the point where I couldn't even mention them in my post-show notes and reviews. But, awhile back I was able to get my hands on the new Guide Travel Pack 65 and have a had chance to put it to the test while traveling. After just one trip, I was able to boldly proclaim that I have a new favorite travel pack, one that will now go with me just about anywhere.

The first thing that will strike you when you lay eyes on the Guide Travel Pack is that it doesn't look like any other backpack you've ever seen. It is made from super-durable, puncture-resistant Tarpualin materials that are incredibly tough and water resistant. The bag also has sleek lines, is black in color, and if you look closely, you'll see the word "Further" embedded in the design. The entire product screams quality and the bag will instill a level of confidence that not only will its contents be well protected throughout your travels, this is a bag that will go with you on many adventures for years to come.

One of my favorite aspects of the Guide Travel Pack is that it offers users traditional access through the tip of the bag as you would find in pretty much every backpack on the market, but also full access to its contents through the back panel as well. A zipper that runs the entire length of the back lets you get to pretty much any point in the pack's main compartment without having to unload all of your gear. Need quick access to your sleeping bag at the bottom? No problem. Want to swamp out wet clothes for dry, comfortable garments? You can get to them too. It's a really nice feature to have, particularly on a backpack designed for travel.

In addition to the main compartment – which offers 65 liters of storage capacity – the pack also has an additional pocket built to keep your dirty laundry separate from your clean clothes. This pocket is also waterproof, making it safe and easy to store wet items without getting your other garments wet too. Again, this is a really nice touch for a travel bag, and one that regular adventure travelers are definitely going to appreciate.

The Guide Travel Pack also features an adjustable, unisex torso suspension that can be easily adjusted to fit a wide variety of body types. I'm fairly tall and it was easy to adjust this pack to fit my specific needs, and I think most other people will have no problem too. If you're on the shorter side, it might be a bit more challenging to get just the right fit, but for most of us, this is a one-size-fits-all pack that truly works.

That one-size-fits-all approach doesn't mean the pack sacrifices any level of comfort however. The pack panel is nicely contoured and padded, making it easy to carry this pack through airports, around town, down trails, or just about anywhere else you want to go. This is a bag that has been built to go on big adventures, and I found it to be surprisingly comfortable no matter where I wore it.

That said, this is a bag that is definitely more aimed at the traveler and not the backpacker. It is on the heavier side, tipping the scales at 4 pounds, 11 ounces (2.13 kg), which is twice that of most packs dedicated to backpacking for instance. Part of the extra weight comes from the fact that the bag is built from such durable materials, which are made to protect not only your camping gear, but other equipment you might take with you on an adventure, like a laptop, camera, or other electronics. In fact, the Guide Pack was actually built for Nat Geo explorers, scientists, and researchers who take precious equipment with them into the field. This is a bag that will allow them to not only carry those items into remote places, but keep them protected along the way.

Other nice features include hydration compatibility, exterior pockets for keeping important items close at hand, and easy-pull, self-repairing zippers that have never snagged or failed during my testing process. External compression straps make it easy to adjust the pack to fit just about any load, while the almost-bulletproof fabrics can be wiped clean quickly and easily. As a result, this bag will likely look practically brand new, even after many years of use.

As you can probably tell by now, I absolutely love this pack. As someone who travel a lot for his job, often to remote, wild places, this is exactly the kind of backpack that I've always wanted. It isn't likely to replace my lighter packs for dedicated backcountry camping trips, but for adventure travel excursions, this will be my go-to bag moving forward. The fact that it looks absolutely stunning, and offers an impressive level of access to its interior at all times, is simply icing on the cake.

Priced at $349, this pack will probably be seen as being on the more expensive side for the more causal traveler. But for those who truly need all of the performance it delivers, it is easily worth every damn penny. This could very well be the last pack that you'll ever need to buy and I expect that it will become your favorite new travel companion too. National Geographic has often struggled in the past to crate good travel gear that lives up to its iconic name. Now, thanks to this collaboration with Eagle Creek, it seems like it has finally hit on a winning strategy.

Find out more here.

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