Eagle Creek Tarmacs

Tarmac 25 and 28″ Rolling Bags

As you may remember from our earlier post, the newly redesigned Tarmacs from Eagle Creek have arrived. And since we think that these bags represent the single best value in the luggage industry, and because our blog now gives us the perfect forum to do so, we’ve decided that a pocket-by-pocket review is an excellent thing to do.

First, a little background on these rolling, “soft-sided” bags. The Tarmacs are a combination of rigid and soft. There is just enough structure to durably mount the wheels and the handle. The rest of the bag is a tough, flexible material with rounded corners and soft sides. And soft is a good thing, because the softer a bag is made, the longer it will last. A soft bag will give when it takes a hit or a scrape. Hard sided bags on the other hand do not give and thus have specific and acute wear points.

Flexible exterior provides
increased durability

As an analogy I’ll bet many of you own a basic duffel bag that you’ve had for years. Despite all the abuse you might have inflicted upon it, nothing has gone wrong with it because there is nothing to go wrong with it. It has no hard edges or corners and the only moving part is a sturdy zipper.

Durability issues really begin when moving parts are added and when bags become rigid in order to accommodate handles and wheels. Eagle Creek have always done an outstanding job with the Tarmacs, employing an extremely durable foundation for the wheels and handle without adding much weight. With this new edition Eagle Creek has produced an excellent refinement of an already great bag. They’ve improved upon what was good and made the necessary tweaks to the few minor shortcomings of the original Tarmacs.

Reinforced corners protect
your bag and what’s inside

Exterior pocketing, grab handles and interior organization have all been nicely improved. The already heavy-duty wheels, rugged shoulder patches and the abrasion resistant fabrics have all been tweaked for the better. And, of course, the Tarmacs are backed by Eagle Creek’s unbeatable “No Matter What” damage repair policy that still states “If your luggage is ever damaged (even if by the airlines) we’ll fix it free of charge – no matter what”.

Starting from the base, Eagle Creek shows off its commitment to the durability of the Tarmac line by beefing up the bags where it counts the most – where the luggage meets the road. Burly, smooth running wheels are recessed and protected by a sturdy housing.

Reinforced wheel housing and
rugged, off-road wheels

This housing also acts as a rugged curb guard, allowing the user to smoothly drag the bag from the street, up the curb and onto a sidewalk, without scraping and abrading the ballistic nylon fabric. The bottom feet not only keep the bag balanced when standing upright but are also positioned to provide protection for the zipper as well as providing an extra handle when the Tarmac needs to be lifted or carried. Further zipper protection is provided by a small, but highly effective, strip of rubberized piping placed alongside the zipper where it makes the corner from the side to the bottom of the bag.

On the bottom front corner, a significant wear point, Eagle Creek has added both a ballistic nylon patch and a rubberized patch to further fight the affects of wear and tear that occurs from usage.

As I noted above ,the top front corners and the sides of the Tarmac are rounded and soft in keeping with the design of these flexible bags. With the new Tarmacs, Eagle Creek has done an great job of protecting the bags where it is necessarily rigid and keeping it soft and flexible where they can for a longer life.

How Does It Pack?

Deep pockets in the lid
provide extra packing space

The Tarmacs offer very handy built-in organization, with four large, deep pockets that provide outstanding storage space for jackets, sweaters, extra shoes, rolled up t-shirts, socks and underwear–really just about anything you can think of. Two of the pockets are on the outside of the lid and you’ll find two more to match them on the inside of the lid. The smaller of the two interior pockets is plastic lined and makes a perfect spill-containing storage place for your toiletries kit. Because of this pocketing, and particularly the interior pocketing, Tarmacs always look a bit small on the inside. This is really an optical illusion as about one-third of the interior packing space is in the interior pockets inside the lid.

The shoe box separates
dirty shoes or clothes

On the main interior section Eagle Creek has provided a new zippered pocket, which they call a “shoe box.” Their idea is that it will be a handy place for footwear, keeping shoes from soiling other contents. We suspect that most customers will use it for dirty clothes.

When not needed, the shoe box compresses flat and takes up almost no packing space. They’ve also added a zippered pocket between the handle tubes to help the user fill that often-wasted space—a great place for stashing ties or rolled up undergarments. Or, given the protection of the handle housing, small breakables would do well there.

Other Details

The zip-expansion adds
15% to the packing space

All the Tarmacs offer an expansion panel that adds around 15% more capacity, depending upon the particular model. A simple zipper releases the expansion panel, and the bag simply becomes a bit thicker to accommodate all that extra stuff you bought on your trip. The bags also include an “add-a-bag” strap that allows just about any duffel, tote or garment bag to be attached to the face of the Tarmac and wheeled as one. All exterior Tarmac zippers offer eyelets allowing easy locking of any of bag’s compartments.

Click through to our web site to see the entire line of Eagle Creek Tarmacs and get additional specification information including actual weights and measurements.

Visit TravelEssentials.com to check out all the Tarmacs from Eagle Creek.

The tarmac with a
ORV Gear Bag and
a Small Flight Bag
The Small Flight Bag on the Tarmac handle The sturdy foot on the bottom of the Tarmac
Use the handy
baggage clip to carry extra bags
The top front pocket The larger, bottom front pocket
Tarmac with the ORV Gear Bag attached Lockable zipper pulls Tarmac interior, including the center zip pocket
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