The Patagonia MLC (short for "maximum legal carry-on," although the bag is actually a bit smaller than most airlines' limits) is a nonwheeled carry-on bag that earns rave reviews for its durability. It's comparable in size to the Red Oxx Air Boss (*Est. $225), but it has only two compartments instead of three, and it's made of water-resistant recycled polyester rather than Cordura nylon. At 2.9 pounds, it's even lighter than the Red Oxx, yet it doesn't appear to sacrifice durability: Professional reviewers describe this bag as "bombproof." However, Patagonia's warranty is not as strong as Red Oxx's: although users can return any bag that "does not perform to (their) satisfaction," they must pay to repair any damage due to wear and tear. Still, at $160, this is a reasonable midrange alternative to the pricey Red Oxx bag and the budget-priced eBags Weekender eTech Convertible (*Est. $60).
The Patagonia MLC is one of the top two luggage picks for 2012 in Outside magazine, based on what reviewer Ted Alan Stedman calls "rigorous field testing." It is also the top pick of John Flinn, travel editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, in a 2008 roundup of carry-on bags. User reviews for this bag are scarce, but we found about 30 at eBags.com as well as a handful at Amazon.com.
1. Outside Magazine
Ted Alan Stedman names the Patagonia MLC as his runner-up choice for the best luggage of 2012, saying its durable yet compact construction makes it "ideal for rugged trips that involve flights in small planes." His "rigorous field testing," involves taking the bag on a two-week trek to Africa.
Review: Best Luggage, Stephanie Pearson and Kate Siber, March 13, 2012
2. San Francisco Chronicle
Travel editor John Flinn recommends the Patagonia MLC as his favorite carry-on bag, citing its "bombproof" construction and "thoughtful" details, like rounded corners to reduce abrasion. However, he does note that its two-pocket design can make it a little tricky to pack.
Review: Rating Carry-On Luggage, John Flinn, May 4, 2008
In nearly 30 reviews, the Patagonia MLC earns an overall rating of 4.6 stars from users at eBags.com. Owners praise the bag's durability and say it fits easily in luggage bins or under seats. The hidden backpack straps are also cited as a plus.
Review: Patagonia MLC, Contributors to eBags.com, As of April 2012
We found only a couple of reviews for the Patagonia MLC at Amazon.com. One reviewer who claims to be "tough on luggage" praises the bag's durability, but another compares it unfavorably to Red Oxx carry-ons.
Review: Patagonia MLC, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of April 2012