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Matador GlobeRider45 Backpack Review

Jun 01, 2023Jun 01, 2023

It's always an interesting introduction to a brand when your first experience with its "high performance travel equipment" is through a couple of reusable toiletry tubes and a pill container rather than a traditional bag. But to Matador's credit, all three of those items did perform—and outperform—as the tubes and pill box have now become an indispensable part of my out-of-town excursions, no matter where I’m going.

The Colorado-based brand is more known for a lineup of small- and medium-sized backpacks and duffels (including the FreeFly 16 that won an award in our roundup of the best daypacks), all with a certain subtlety that seems to be fading in today's everyday carry (EDC) race for color and boldness in design. All of Matador's offerings (save for a couple of collaboration items) come in a single color choice with the brand's simple, classic cursive logo adorned somewhere on the façade.

The Matador GlobeRider45 wowed us with its simplistic yet helpful set of features.

The GlobeRider45 Travel Backpack is Matador's top-line offering, tied for the most available volume at 45 liters, while featuring the most comprehensive range of features and capabilities across its lineup. The carry-on, sub-50-liter bag category is an ultra-competitive space, so I was naturally curious to see how the GlobeRider45 would stack up compared to some other personal packing favorites. Read on to see how the bag fared in cross-country travel and a couple of less rigorous car trips as I tested the range of its potential.


Price: $350 | Volume: 45 liters | Dry weight: 4.5 pounds| Dimensions: 22 x 11 x 12.8 inches | Main materials: 420D Bluesign nylon (reinforced ripstop, PU waterproofing), 420D Bluesign recycled nylon (PU waterproofing), 100D Bluesign ripstop nylon, EVA foam padded back, shoulder straps and hip belt

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If you were to take a passing glance at the GlobeRider 45's design, you probably wouldn't notice much, but up close, you’ll find that a lot of time, energy and thought went into the bag's design.

There are plenty of connectors, loops and straps where you need them, with just enough zippers and enclosures to keep things organized without feeling redundant or overwhelming. What I especially appreciated was the reinforced bottom third of the bag—a trademark of well-built carryalls—as this section of the bag often holds the most weight and endures the most brute force during transit. There's an easy-access pocket across the face of the bag and the backpack straps fold very neatly into a zipped enclosure (more on that below).

Inside, there's the main clamshell opening where most of your goods will go and two separate enclosures on the opposite side for smaller items. I found these side enclosures to be especially handy for tucking away chargers and the like, with protection from soft items in the main area and some padding on the exterior of the bag. For example, I put my bike computer in one of these pockets after a long ride, and had zero concern about it making it home safely.

Further, my fiancée and I packed the bag down flat and stowed it for a recent cross-country trip to have a spare bag for our return, and found that the bag is laid out in such a way as to fit quite nicely on top of everything else in a larger checked bag.

The GlobeRider45 features a sturdy, wide interior for all sorts of storage.

I test a lot of bags, and there are few that have figured out an acceptable, non-mind-bending way to operate back strap enclosures, but I was thrilled to discover Matador conquered this challenge and then some. The two straps fold neatly into a pocket built into the rear of the bag, then become almost fully enclosed by two separate zippers on either side. Not only did the zippers stay put through the airline baggage check process across the country on our return leg, but it turns the bag into an almost-perfect rectangle, which you can build around in the trunk of your car and/or stash in the overhead bin.

My one complaint, which happens across many bags with a weatherproof zipper seal, is that the seal makes the zippers hard to move. You have to pull with a bit of force to get them open or closed, and the way the lock loops are set up on the GlobeRider, it's almost impossible to get the zippers to their end point so you could lock them appropriately. This is a bit use-case specific, but something to note if you’re looking to secure valuables in transit. All that being said, the seal is tight and you get a certain level of peace of mind knowing what's inside will probably stay dry under most travel conditions.

While this isn't a bag I would take on a backcountry backpacking trip, it is comfortable enough that I would consider it for a weekend air travel trip, especially when I have connections or need to trek between train stations. The strap padding and hip belts are comfortable and widely adjustable in a way that makes sense, providing less back strain over longer hauls.

The exterior padded pocket fits a nice assortment of items, or, just your laptop. However, the ... [+] zipper pulls can be hard to open and close.

Taking any bag through cross-country air travel puts the materials and engineering to the test almost immediately. The GlobeRider not only arrived just fine when compressed into another larger bag, but it also survived the return leg checked on its own. It arrived back home with a few general scrapes from being tossed through the baggage system, but free from scratches and wear otherwise. I’d imagine that this would continue to be the case over time (and would expect nothing less from a $350 bag).

I also appreciated Matador's commitment to using less impactful materials and processes. While using Bluesign-certified and recycled materials are not the finish line, they do show consideration in producing these types of items with the environment in mind, and more durability, which is perhaps the most "sustainable" option an end user can consider when purchasing gear. It's now clearly proven that certain sustainably-derived materials perform just as well or better than their traditional counterparts, and it should be a bare minimum for any gear brand serious about "sustainability" and the claims that go with it. Matador also offers an extensive repair policy, which should keep the bag in service well beyond the time other bags would head for the donation bin.

My first thought was to compare the GlobeRider45 to my beloved Baboon to the Moon Small Go-Bag, which is five liters less in volume, but essentially brought new life, color and patterns to the carry-on EDC category. I love that bag for a wide range of reasons, and it is the piece to which I compare most other non-technical, sub-50L backpacks. The GlobeRider stands alongside the Go-Bag, albeit for different reasons as described above.

It's probably fairer to compare the GlobeRider to something like Peak Design's own 45L Travel Backpack on style alone, but Peak caters a bit more to the photography crowd, and their larger bags are built more to support an ecosystem of creative-specific add-ons.

I could go on forever comparing the merits of what all amount to generally good bags in the EDC space, and Matador's GlobeRider45 is certainly up there with the best. It's definitely one of the most expensive in its class, but you get serious utility and durability for the investment, and it's probably the last sub-50L bag you’ll need to buy.

It's not only a bag built to last, but one that you could adjust over time as your travel needs change and it’ll still be a trusted companion right there on your journeys. It's functional, looks great and performs even better—and you know that it will continue to outlast trends and outcompete much of its class.

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