REVIEWED: Eagle Creek EC Lync SE 20 (Limited Edition)

What a carry-on. Lightweight, cabin-sized and utterly convertible, is this 36-litre ‘everything, everywhere’ the definitive travel bag we’ve been looking for?

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Business or leisure? Urban or rural? Active or sightseeing? If you’re like us, the average trip contains an element of all of the above. One day might be whizzing through airports, the next hiking a canyon. Whatever’s possible gets attempted. But do you have a bag that can cope with all of that? Short of checking-in anything – no, we don’t do that, EVER! – being ready for anything is tricky. Eagle Creek, help us!

Versatile & tough

Take one glance at the EC Lync SE and it’s obvious what’s going on; it’s a cabin bag with backpack straps … and wheels. It looks tough and, blimey, it looks versatile.The Special Edition features upgraded fabrics and findings to offer even more durability and resilience than the original EC Lync bags. The capacity – 36 litres – should do any self-respecting traveller just fine for a couple of weeks. You travel with two pairs of shoes? Are you kidding me? If you’re not, know that there are other, bigger versions available in the form of the original EC Lync, which is sold in 43, 62 and 74 litre sizes. The largest converts to a duffel rather than a daysack, and all come with Eagle Creek’s ‘No Matter What’ Warranty, a lifetime warranty that includes repair or replacement due to product failure during the product lifetime, regardless of the cause.

Just over two kilos

Weighing 2.33 kg when empty, the EC Lync is built around an aluminium frame, with a retractable mono-handle, and a wheeled chassis (there are only two wheel, however – sooo last year!). It’s designed to act something like a tent, with the frame collapsing into four sections, leaving the main bag as a daysack ideal for sightseeing or hiking. But here comes the weird bit; its all goes into a large stuff-sack.

Lose the sack?

We’re not really sure why. I mean, I get that it’s a tidy finish, but why would you need to put a backpack and its occasional frame into something else? On our trip to Barcelona to test the EC Lync SE, we wheeled it around the airport and to a hotel, then partially dissembled the frame ready for the trip home. The we used the backpack for the duration of the stay. Brilliant. Genius. But we didn’t use the sack. If anything, it takes up valuable space in the EC Lync SE’s devilishly comprehensive collection of pockets.

Pockets galore

Mmmm, pockets. Good pockets are like a good flight; very rare. But the EC Lync SE has them all. Inside the pocket on the front is a mesh pocket that’s ideal for storing a wet towel and toiletries, while the bag itself opens as a suitcase would, complete with strong elastic straps to keep everything in their place. That makes it an organisational dream; no more emptying the thing each night hunting for a deck of playing cards, a battery …or a passport.

Stash pocket

The stash pocket on the top was also great for sunglasses and earphones, while the diagonal pockets on the front proved handy for phones and a hip-flask (essentials only on this trip). But the best pocket? A small, hidden pouch on the rear – so protected by your back when wearing the EC Lync SE as a daysack – that’s big enough to take an iPad. Brilliant idea. Brilliant. Just a shame it doesn’t take a small laptop.

On the move

Wheeling a packed EC Lync SE around the airport was easy, with the pack seemingly weighted well so it wasn’t much of a drag. The wheels are strong and, crucially, big enough. The bottom line? They’re no novelty. Still, that T-shaped grab handle is a little short for a six-footer. As a footnote, the construction of the EC Lync SE is fabulous, from that uniquely versatile design to the use of Helix Dual ripstop fabric and strong, waterproof zips.

Chart-topper

The EC Lync is a revelation, its strong yet collapsible wheeled option a brilliant innovation. But is it really necessary? So well designed is the EC Lync as a front-opening, comfortable and pocket-savvy backpack that we’re not so sure the wheels will be necessary for its next trip. That may only apply to this, the smallest version of the EC Lync, but wheels or not, this one goes straight to the top of the charts for anyone trying to travel light – and travel clever.

Price as reviewed: £400

Buy the Eagle Creek EC Lync Limited Edition 20