Review: Eagle Creek Tarmac AWD 22 Carry-On Suitcase
A carry-on suitcase can be a traveler’s best friend. It stays close at your side during your journey and, when well designed, can make life much more pleasant on the road. I prefer to use one whenever I can; it helps me stay mobile and avoid the potential hassle of the airline losing check-in luggage. However, not all carry-ons are created equal. I’ve tried going the thrifty route only to waste money on bags that could not withstand the long-term wear-and-tear of travel and that eventually became difficult to maneuver with flimsy wheels and handles.
For the past year, I’ve been using Eagle Creek’s Tarmac AWD 22 carry-on bag on trips around the world and finally understand the value in a well-made bag. Its quality, sturdiness, and design has made prepping and packing painless. This suitcase is a great option for couples or adventure, business, and weekend travelers.
About Eagle Creek
Eagle Creek is a travel outfitter geared towards adventure and independent travelers. The company integrates innovative and tested solutions into their luggage, organizers, and accessories. With over 40 years of experience, Eagle Creek has developed a reputation for creating durable and smart gear. Its products are backed by lifetime warranty against defects or, as in the Tarmac’s case, offers a “No Matter What Warranty” that promises repairs or replacements regardless of the cause.
- Size: The Tarmac 22 measures 14 x 22 x 9 in (36 x 56 x 24 cm) and meets the carry-on size restrictions of major airlines. The Tarmac AWD series also come in larger, check-in sizes that are 25” and 30” tall.
- Capacity: The suitcase holds up to 2550 cubic in (42 L). It can comfortably hold four days worth of clothing – up to a week if packing lightly.
- Weight: It weighs 8.125 lbs (3.69 kg) empty.
- The Tarmac is extremely well constructed. The back consists of a light but sturdy 3-ply polycarbonate shell and the rest of the body is made of abrasion- and weather-resistant Bi-Tech™ fabrics.
- There are self-repairing zippers with large pulls that are easy to manipulate and use with luggage locks.
- The bag is equipped with four rugged, oversized spinner wheels that can tackle multiple terrains and roll in 360° directions.
- The wheels are protected by a skid plate and bumpers so you won’t have to worry about them coming loose.
- There are three comfortable, padded grab handles on top, side, and bottom of the body that facilitate handling.
Interior divides equally and integrates with Eagle Creek’s Pack-It™ System
The Tarmac has a rugged yet classic aesthetic. It currently is offered in three colors: olive, slate blue, and black. I purchased the olive because the color is distinguishable without being too loud or flashy.
- Main compartment: The main compartment divides evenly in half. This provides a more balanced, roomy approach to packing and makes it easy for couples to split sides equally. There is a removable cargo mesh pocket on one side and a zippered compartment on the door that keep items compressed. The suitcase also conforms to the measurements of Eagle Creek’s Pack It System – a zippered cube system that makes it easy to organize and save space. Read more about Eagle Creeks packing cubes here»
- Outer Pockets: The top outer pocket is a good place to store small, loose items and houses a coat stash strap, key holder, and bag strap to clip additional bags to the Tarmac. The larger, lined outer pocket can store magazines and documents, plus features a padded pocket to hold tablet devices.
- Handling: A strong telescoping handle is recessed into the back shell for added protection and is adjustable at several heights. There are three padded handles on the body that are easy to grab from overhead compartments or vehicles.
- Maneuverability: Four spinner wheels rotate and move in a 360° direction so that the bag can either be dragged behind or roll alongside you. The large, protected wheels roll well on smooth floors, pavement, and even on the brick and cobblestone streets that I’ve tackled.
- Cargo Net: The interior mesh cargo net can be used to compress interior content, or removed and re-attached to front of bag to stash additional gear.
- While the wheels work easily on certain smooth surfaces, they may work a little too well at times. There have been a couple occasions on slick, waxed floors when the bag would start to roll away from me when left standing.
- While I love the ease and simplicity of the interior, I wish one of the dividers had shoe sleeves or small pockets.
Where to Buy
Eagle Creek sells its gear online on its website, and online outfitters like Amazon, eBags, Zappos, and Sierra Trading Post. Its products can also be found at brick-and-mortar retailers like REI and many other local outfitter and luggage shops.
Have you tried the Tarmac AWD 22 or have another go-to carry-on? Leave your recommendations for other travelers in the comments section below.
Lara was instilled with the travel bug at an early age and has visited over 25 countries. Her mother’s job as a flight attendant enabled a childhood of exploring the world. She recently relocated to Seoul, South Korea, where she hopes to explore much of Asia over the next couple of years. In addition to being the founding editor of En Route Traveler, Lara also works as a freelance graphic designer. In her spare time, she contributes as a Local Expert to AFAR, enjoys vegetarian cuisine, instructs Zumba, dabbles in photography and, of course, travels as much as possible.