Eagle Creek Flashpoint ORV Trunk 30
Published on 04/27/2012
By Peter Reese
Going light and fast is sweet. Ask Ueli Steck, world-famous Swiss mountaineer who forsakes 70% or more of the traditional gear list to climb high when the weather’s right. Other travelers are testing how little is still enough to make it on the trail or on vacation.
Eagle Creek has long organized the outdoor life of minimalists and fully equipped adventurers. ActiveJunky.com testers were hard-pressed to consider abandoning their beat-up rolling duffels and travel packs when the Flashpoint landed in the shop. One hundred liters of armored, wheeled capacity seemed like a step backward from the dirt bag aesthetic that’s earned respect from couch surfers across the country.
There was no stopping the testers from going straight to the road, putting the now-weighted Flashpoint through obstacles more like Rwanda than Richmond. Side-by-side with another bag, Eagle Creek got pushed across gravel, high-drop curbs, rough-scored concrete and road fractures sure to send most into retreat. The logic? If the high-end bag couldn’t handle a major dose of reality, the smooth-gliding zippers and quick-grab straps would be irrelevant.
It wasn’t pretty, fellow gear grinders. Not for the Flashpoint, but for its travelling companion that received the same loading and confronted the same obstacles. Within less than ¼ mile, the other well-known, wheeled trunk literally skidded to a stop. Despite the appearance of abrasion resistance and bottom stand-up braces, it started shredding nylon over every tough curb.
Flashpoint and its minder waited patiently for Tester #1 to pull their jaw shut and roll on down the road. With a skid plate on the bottom interior edge, Eagle Creek didn’t cry out for attention or babying. The opposite, in fact, as wheels pivoted confidently to dodge pitfalls when dragging could be avoided. Loaded more for a bowling convention in Milwaukee than a breezy getaway to the Bahamas, Flashpoint plowed through on the journey to begrudging respect.
Back in more docile surroundings, the intricacies of the piece came into focus. The recycled Bi-Tech fabric was already a thumbs up, supported by low profile, protected seaming that testers valued. With two height options, the guarded pullout handle mechanism functioned confidently with a rubberized thumb lock. Parallel skid rails along the bag’s belly got horizontal for easy loading.
Zippers glided easily, even with one-handed, off-camber jerks to open up the bottom boot and top bonus compartments. Sealed more like a weather-fighting alpine shell than tourist luggage, Flashpoint continued to raise Eagle Creek’s status with rugged top and side grips. Inside the full-on main compartment, load management straps were standard issue. Of note was the toggle-in partial mesh divider to organize it or air it out inside the cavernous cargo hold.
Packing and repacking took little time but mandated some quick thought as the interior allows limitless configurations (which Eagle Creek is happy to manage with optional accessories in their Pack-It System). Testers’ concerns had more to do with trusting the brand at a nearly-$400 price point.
A big jump from ditty bags and divider cubes, Flashpoint is a world away from the mass-market products Active Junky had experienced some years ago. Bells-and-whistles buyers likely will be disappointed by an obvious lack of accessory straps, countless lashing loops (there are four) and a miniscule side pocket. Taller travelers may be frustrated as Eagle Creek’s handle height is average. Meaning, slightly short for those over 6’ 2.”
Occasional travelers should value Flashpoint for the reliability, adventure aesthetic and easy-rolling freedom it allows. More serious adventurers cramming everything from trekking poles to helmets to camera gear inside can think of Flashpoint more like travel insurance. Unlike other bags, the lack of loops to snag and corners to tear makes Eagle Creek an expedition-category piece. Topped with a “No Matter What” warranty, this up-front investment has got some serious dividends attached to it.