Last Updated on November 19, 2019 by Larissa
For the past two years Michael has been traveling with an Eagle Creek Expanse underseat rolling luggage bag, also known as a rolling tote bag or wheeled tote. It’s his go-to bag for a long weekend or his second (i.e. carryon) bag for a longer trip. Since we travel full-time, those longer trips can be six months or more.
Review of Eagle Creek Expanse Wheeled Tote Carry-On
[Note: this post contains affiliate links, which means we earn a small commission on any purchase at no extra cost to you.]
When we started traveling permanently in 2011, we each traveled with the same luggage configuration: a 21-inch two-wheeled suitcase plus a computer bag sized shoulder tote, both that could fit as carry-on luggage. We would stack the two and breeze through the airport with ease.
Now that many airlines limit the number of carry-on items, we often check our wheeled suitcases (check out our separate review of the Travelpro Maxlite Spinner). But we still had to slog those heavy shoulder totes through the airport (no fun!).
And carrying heavy baggage is not only no fun, it’s also bad for you. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons suggests, “choose luggage with wheels and a handle.” It was time to look for a tote with wheels, which is how we came across the Eagle Creek Expanse bag.
Searching for Underseat Rolling Luggage
Our ideal bag needed to be lightweight and small enough to fit under an airplane seat. We also wanted a large open compartment to stow bulky items like a computer and toiletry kit . This meant wheeled briefcases wouldn’t work (too many panels for files). Also essential was the elusive “trolley strap”: the band on the back of the bag that allows you to slide it over the handle of your larger suitcase. Several bags we tried in the store did not have a trolley strap, making them essentially unstackable. For us, this is a serious flaw; ease of mobility is a must when traveling.
After a great deal of searching, we found the Eagle Creek Expanse Wheeled Tote Carry-On, which we refer to affectionately as the “bowling bag.” It really does look like something Fred and Barney would be carrying into the Bedrock Bowling Alley (except for the wheels) on the Flintstones. Larissa still uses her trusty Quilted Tote (she calls it “the perfect wheeling totebag,” which is a similar style bag, but a little more “girly.”)
Purchase the Eagle Creek Expanse Wheeled Carry-on Tote on Amazon
Our favorite feature: the trolley strap
In addition to meeting our size requirements, this bag has an elasticized back slip panel. The panel makes it easy to stack on top of most pieces of luggage. This means walking with both pieces of luggage is much more comfortable. This feature is crucial. You’d be surprised how many small wheeled bags we come across that can’t be stacked . . .solely because they lack a trolley strap!
The bag measures 13.75-by-14.5-by-8.5 inches, small enough to fit under an airplane seat. But it’s large enough to fit a 13-inch MacBook Air along with assorted items (medications, reading material, electrical adapters, and personal papers). These are the things that we don’t want to put in checked luggage. It also weighs a mere four pounds.
Eagle Creek Expanse as a Rolling Weekender Bag
The bag is an excellent main piece of luggage for a long weekend trip or as a supplemental bag for a longer trip. For a weekend trip I fit the following in the bag:
- Pair of chinos
- Pair of shoes
- 13-inch MacBook Air computer
- Two pairs of socks, two t-shirts, two pairs of underwear
- One short-sleeved shirt
- Gym shorts
- Toiletry kit (also, by coincidence, Eagle Creek)
- Kit for meds
- Electrical adaptors for phone and computer
- Wallet with extra money, credit cards, ID, various papers, business cards
Here are some sequential photos showing all of the above being packed into the bag in layers:
There was also room left over for additional clothing or small items. Plus, the two exterior zippered pockets keep things I want to reach easily on a flight like tickets, snacks, and reading material.
Summary of our Eagle Creek luggage review:
Michael has been traveling with this bag for two years now and it’s been all over Asia, Europe, and North America. It’s proving to be a solid, reliable performer. It is sturdily built and provides just enough pockets for separate storage areas. Meanwhile, there’s still enough room for chunky items. Best of all, there is no strain on our shoulders! (This takes away some of the sting of having to pay baggage fees for our other suitcases. 😕)
And who knows, maybe he’ll even take up bowling again. 🎳
Purchase the Eagle Creek Expanse Wheeled Carry-on Tote at Amazon
We’re Larissa and Michael, your typical middle-aged couple from Philadelphia who’ve been traveling the world full-time since 2011, seeking off-beat, historic and tasty sights. To receive updates and valuable travel tips subscribe to our free travel newsletter here.