- Buyer's Guide
We’re all familiar with Matador around these parts. The Colorado-based company has been making award-winning travel bags and accessories for the last six years. Their toiletry items continue to surprise and innovate in a product category that rarely sees either word to describe new releases. Taking a look at their bag line, there has been a strong focus on packability and waterproofness.
In 2020, Matador launched their first travel pack, the SEG42, a unique backpack with segmented compartments and a larger duffel-style central cavity. But it wasn’t until early 2023 that we finally got to see what the team from Boulder has been working on for the past couple of years.
The Matador GlobeRider45 (GR45) is engineered to be the ultimate travel companion, combining the features of a traditional travel pack with the construction and materials typically found in outdoor gear.
Materials & Construction
The GR45 is built from exclusively Bluesign-approved materials. The main body is a combination of 420D UHMWPE reinforced ripstop as well as 420D recycled nylon, both with PU waterproofing. Additionally, 100D nylon ripstop lines the interior. Like most pack designs, Matador selectively chose different material weights and features depending on the type of performance and wear expected out of those areas. Most of the exterior, including the top and sides, is all 420D and feels substantial to the touch, but without the weight penalty some necessarily denser materials might require.
Matador chose PU-coated sealing zippers and hardware to secure the bag. All zipper pulls are adorned with short paracord pulls with shrink-wrapped tips for easy access. In practice, I wished the pulls were just a few millimeters longer to allow me to get a better purchase on them. When fully unzipping the main compartment, there’s a lot of real estate to cover and opportunities for small snags or the pull to get snagged along the route. Though this was a rare occurrence, I think more substantial pulls could offer better leverage.
The shoulder straps and hip belt use EVA foam padding. The straps measure about 3 inches wide, while the hip belt is about half an inch larger. This makes them very comfortable as the padding is substantial while the width spreads the load across a wider area. The shoulder straps are curved to help alleviate painful pressure points. When not in use (for checked-bag mode, for instance), the straps all stow away using a clever mechanism. More on that later.
Finally, for support and for ease of carrying, the Matador GlobeRider45 has an HDPE framesheet with aluminum framestay. This gives the bag a reasonably rigid foundation or base, a feature much appreciated when loading the bag in its traditional clamshell configuration. The additions to the frame also help with carry, both in backpack mode and when the side handles were used.
Storage & Organization
The 45-liter capacity is designed to meet most airline carry-on requirements. The bag measures 22″ x 11″ x 12.8″ (55 x 28 x 33cm) and weighs 4.5 pounds empty. The clamshell design lets you easily pack like a traditional suitcase, but take note that the two halves are not symmetrical in design or amount of space. The main body is a cavernous rectangular area with no dividers or organization. There is a thoughtful bungee system to keep things from moving around too much, but the thin gauge of the cord means it’s relegated to light duty.
Of note are two long and narrow stash pockets that bifurcate the main compartment. The stretchy walls provide some latitude, but ideally you’ll want to stuff relatively thin items here like pairs of socks, or perhaps a wristwatch. Use this space for items you’d want to grab quickly after arriving at your accommodation but not something you’d necessarily need to reach for constantly during transit; save those for the quick-access pockets on the outside of the pack.
On the opposing side, you’ll find two storage pockets. The bottom one takes up about three-fourths of the side and reminds me of an embedded packing cube. A zipper allows you to open up three sides, exposing an area of about 15 x 11 inches with a depth of 3 inches. Like the rest of the interior, it’s lined with light gray nylon for contrast and visibility. Above this is a stash pocket that runs the width of the bag. There’s a simple zipper on top and no organization inside. This pouch shares the same space as the front quick access, so if you stuff the front too much, you’ll lose space in this area. Luckily, Matador used a stretch material here, so you can have some extra breathing room.
Moving to the front of the pack, there’s a massive stash pocket in front. When I see a pocket like this, the first thing I think of is a sweater or jacket. Above it is the quick-access pocket with light admin organization. Unlike most quick-access areas, this actually has quite a bit of depth, and you can fit a surprising amount of items in here. As a test, I stuffed as many t-shirts as I could fit, and I topped out at five. The admin portion has some stretch nylon on the front with room for both small (pen) and thicker (flashlight, multitool) items. Two zippered compartments are behind this, one of which is attached to a key lanyard.
In the rear, against your back, rests an external access padded laptop pocket. I couldn’t find any specifications, but it easily swallowed my 16″ MacBook Pro. If you undo the side zippers used for harness storage (more on that later), you’ll expose a hidden smuggler’s pocket, perfect for your passport, identification, or some emergency cash.
And last but not least, yes, there’s a sizable water bottle pocket on the side. I was able to fit in a 24 oz Hydro Flask, though I am sure you could stretch this to 32 oz with the right bottle.
As you can see, the Matador GlobeRider45 has plenty of storage options and capacity, but what makes it stand out as a great travel pack? It’s the features that the Matador team packed into this bag. First is the clever way the hip belt and shoulder straps are stored. On each side, a beefy zipper runs down the side. Unzip this, and you’ll get access to space by the back panel. Look for the chevrons on the shoulder straps and each wing of the hip belt, and use the G-hook to connect them. Tuck this behind the panel cover and attach the zipper to transform the pack into check-in or duffel mode. Pro tip: the designers added in super handy grab loops to aid you with leverage and aligning the teeth on the zipper. I wish more bags would do this.
The GR45 also sports four V-Compression straps on the exterior. I am unsure why, but this seemingly simple design impressed me. It takes seconds to cinch all four corners right, and you can just as quickly loosen them up for maximum space when packing.
The sternum strap, load lifters, security loops on all external pockets, daisy chain in front, and reflective webbing details all contribute to better comfort, safety, and usability.
Designed for World Travel
The Matador GlobeRider45 may be the company’s first dedicated travel pack, but it’s not their first rodeo. The company has been making award-winning travel bags and accessories for years. They specialize in packability, lightweight materials, stability, and support. The GlobeRider45 is the culmination of their years of experimentation, user testing, and deep-rooted knowledge of what travelers need and want. The soft-side design maximizes volume while conforming to airline requirements and combined with beefy straps, a weight-bearing hip belt, a framesheet, and an aluminum stay, the bag is a joy to both pack and carry. And the small comforts like stowable straps, multiple storage compartments, a stash pocket, and compression straps make the Matador GlobeRider45 a pleasure to use.
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