Large, smooth-rolling wheels handle bumps easily and negotiate curbs well, while the chassis is strong, light, and rugged while sitting higher off the ground than normal to clear obstacles. The retractable handle is comfortable and locks securely.
If you’ve got more bags than hands, or are covering rough ground, just pull out the padded shoulder straps and hipbelt. It’s not supportive enough for thru-hikes, but it will help you get through the airport. Bummer: The straps usurp some storage space.
After you check in, grab your sandals, sunglasses, water and head out for a dayhike. The detachable 20L daypack fits everything you need for a short hike, has three zippered pockets, and a padded laptop sleeve for road warriors.
The daypack attaches with a zipper and four quick-release buckles. I found the zipper only to be necessary if checking the bag. When I toted the Meridian through Denver and Seattle I just buckled the top two clips for easy checkpoint passing.
The Meridian 22″ is overhead-compatible in most airplanes, and fits best handle-first. It’s also the maximum allowable size, so on smaller aircraft (or if you board late on a full flight) you might have to gate-check it.
Photos and text by Joel Nyquist.