Planning for the Laugavegur, probably my biggest issue in terms of gear was choosing the right backpack. The backpack had to be able to carry everything I needed, but also meet the requirements of carry-on baggage. Ultimately it came down to a pair of backpacks (the other was the Pacsafe Venturesafe X40 Plus Backpack) and I couldn’t be happier with my choice of the Eagle Creek National Geographic Utility Backpack, a sample I received just before leaving.
Overall, this pack is easy to pack (it has a butterfly opening for easy accessibility). The straps aren’t overly adjustable and the hip belt is pretty minimal, but they worked great for me over 7 days of travel and hiking. The weatherproof materials and zippers protected my gear and also have the benefit of easy exterior cleaning.
The insides are basically a large open area with an internal webbing panel for gear attachment. The inside of the front panel features internal mesh zippered pockets to stash smaller essentials, along with a key fob holder to keep the keys safely inside the pack.
I didn’t use it on this trip, but there is an additional lockable padded 17″ laptop compartment, which also could work as a place to store a rain jacket or other items needing quick access. I loved the hidden side stash pocket, where I kept my passport, wallet, and needed papers safe and protected in a Ziploc bag (which I didn’t really need).
The front zip compartment is useful in a variety of ways. Off the trail I kept protein bars, my gloves, and my hat for easy access. On the trail, I used it to store my water bladder. A lack of a hydration compatibility is probably the only thing missing on this bag.
The fact that the backpack is built of waterproof materials, with self-healing zippers that also had covers meant I never had to use the backpack cover I brought along. Through high winds blowing sleet, rain, and serious drizzle over two days, my gear never even got damp. Very impressive.
I find the design of the pack very appealing and the performance far exceeded my expectations. As a carry-on, it can hold quite a bit of gear and still feel good carrying it long distances (our longest day was 7 hours on the trail). At 3 1/4 pounds, it’s not ultralight, but not heavy for its performance.
If you’re looking for a really well-made travel bag, consider the The Eagle Creek National Geographic Utility Backpack 40L. Good looks and performance will handle anything you throw at it, even Iceland’s Laugavegur Trail.
*This product provided for editorial purposes – all opinions are my own.