I Tried This Carry-On Backpack With a Built-In Closet, and I Was Shocked At How Much It Holds (and It’s on Sale!)

published Dec 19, 2023
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After last year’s scramble to find holiday gifts at the last minute, I decided early on that this time around, I would be prepared. So, over the past few months, I’ve been storing a number of them in my NYC apartment. When my flight to my hometown finally arrived, my gift pile was basically a small mountain on my bedroom floor. Still, I was determined to avoid hauling them to the post office — checking a bag would be cheaper, right? Regardless, when I was done shoving them all into my luggage, I didn’t have much room left for clothes, and when your trip is three weeks long and it’s the season of bulky sweaters, that’s a pretty big problem.

Thankfully, as soon as I started packing a few days before my trip, Solgaard’s Endeavor backpack eased my concerns. I’d read all about Best List editor Britt’s experience with the brand’s carry-on suitcase version, which she went as far as to call a “suitcase superhero,” so I had some pretty high expectations going in. I’m happy to report that the backpack delivered and then some, and now, I can’t imagine ever traveling without it.

What is the Lifepack Endeavor?

Solgaard says that this is the “perfect backpack” — and even after only one trip with it, I’m inclined to agree. It’s built to hold the brand’s award-winning, three-compartment closet system in the largest section of the backpack. When you get to your destination, the system folds out and can be hung in a closet. The medium one claims to fit five days worth of clothes, and the large size allows for a week’s worth. In the other, smaller portion of the backpack, there’s a drop-proof, easy-to-access pocket that can hold up to a 16-inch laptop, and you’ll find tons of other useful pockets scattered throughout. (Seriously, when you think you won’t find another pocket, you will.)

Credit: Morgan Pryor

Why I Love the Lifepack Endeavor

At first, I was dubious that the closet could hold as much as it said it did and still fold into the backpack — it’s a pretty average size when it’s empty. I started off by filling it to what seemed like almost half of its capacity, and it folded down and into the pocket without any problems. After that successful attempt, I decided to cram as much as I needed for my trip into each pocket, which turned out to be two skirts, two pairs of jeans, five long-sleeve tees, a sweater vest, and a pair of sneakers. Honestly, I probably could’ve squeezed another few items in there, because after only a bit of adjusting, the closet was fully inside and hidden away. Next, I went about packing my jewelry, contacts, and glasses case, which was remarkably organized thanks to all of the smaller, zippered sections. Lastly, my laptop slid inside the pocket perfectly.

The true test, however, was how well it performed in action at the airport. With a full-sized suitcase and tote bag in tow with the backpack, I was impressed with how comfortable it felt on my back and shoulders (and my upper body strength isn’t the greatest). It was certainly pretty bulky with how much was inside it, but I didn’t find myself needing to constantly readjust the straps or hunching over. Security was a breeze — finding my laptop to put it in a separate bin had never been easier — and I got to the gate with hardly any discomfort.

When it came time to board the plane, I hoisted the backpack into the overhead bin smoothly — and with my usual carry-on, I’ll admit that it’s usually a bit of a struggle, so this was a welcome change. It’s worth noting, though, that if you’re planning on packing yours as full as I did, I doubt that it can be stored under your seat. Another tip? I recommend bringing a travel steamer along to smooth out all of the wrinkles in your clothes that come from being compressed in such a tiny space. But other than those minuscule setbacks, the Endeavor backpack has earned a top spot in my travel lineup, and I honestly don’t see myself using a rolling carry-on ever again. Sure, it’s a bit of a splurge — though it’s currently on sale — but for how long I know that this bag will last me, it’s worth it.

Buy: Lifepack Endeavor (with closet), $199 (normally $245)