Durable, multipurpose duffel
I'm not super outdoorsy, but I do travel a lot and this duffel has been a great bag to use for a variety of trips. The duffel is really durable and has held up to being checked luggage several times with barely a scratch.
The backpack straps are pretty comfortable and I had no problem carrying it as a backpack while traveling by train, walking to a hostel, and walking around the airport. Using it as a backpack leaves my hands free for my purse and other stuff.
When I checked it for a flight, it was stuffed full of mostly clothes and weighed about 25-30lbs when I put it on the scale at the airport, so well within the 50lb limit you usually have when flying. It easily accommodated 12 days of clothes and a few gifts for friends. On the way back, it accommodated the same clothes plus some souvenirs I picked up. I never tried to take it on as a carry on because I always had it stuffed too full, though I think it would be fine if you weren't stuffing it to the brim like I was.
I have not (yet) subjected it to a downpour, but it did fine with some drizzle. After walking in drizzle for about 15 minutes from Metro to hostel, there was no evidence of any water leakage in to the bag.
The zippers seem very durable, opened and closed easily, and have held up well to my over-stuffing tendencies. I don't think that they'll have problems any time soon.
The only downside is the lack of internal organization. There is one mesh pocket on the zipper flap, which is ok for holding a few things, but I agree with a couple of other posters that a couple of other pockets would be a nice addition. However, I've used packing cubes and some of my own little bags to separate things as needed.
Overall, this is a versatile and durable bag that's super handy to have. I only wish I would have gotten it sooner!
Rugged! Reliable! Carry On!
I reviewed the large sized big brother to this bag and you can see my lengthy praise there. This one is just as tough but in a small easier to carry and even carry on capable bag.
I recently added the medium sized TNF Base Camp Duffel as a carry on option for luggage. I usually used the large as a checked bag but was getting tired of paying $25/each way for it. I had seen that the medium could be carried on-just do not stuff it too full.
The measurements work out to about 10" too much if you use the full bag. I packed a little lighter and then cinched down on the compression straps. Viola-carry on!
Now the revenue police...er I mean gate agents will likely want to make you "test" your bag in the luggage frame but both times it went in with just a slight push and they let me on.
Again, dont over stuff and do cinch it down.
I'll do this as my carry on from now on. Saves me $50 a flight -so it will pay for the bag in just 5 flight segments. It also saves me at least an hour per trip waiting for check bags to arrive from the plane. Finally since I have extra room I can fill it up and check it on the flight home if I picked up some extra gear or gifts on the trip.
All the TNF duffel toughness in a carry on. Love it!
Excellent All-Around Bag
I had wanted this bag for about a year. I had no idea just how versatile it would be until I actually had it & used it. (I bought the Medium size Yellow color bag). My wife & I load it up when heading out on the boat for the day, going to the beach, camping, climbing/bouldering, and use it for weekend & overnight trips frequently. My wife will occassionally load it on Sunday with her gym clothes, indoor lead climbing gear, iPad, extra clothes, food/groceries, extra SIGG bottles, and who knows what else - and she'll carry this all week without any fuss whatsoever. It doesn't seem to retain odors, so it can be used for a camp trip one weekend & a business trip the next. I bought the yellow color since I wanted it to be immediately identifiable, but they all seem to have this feature. Which is great when you're checking bags at the airport.
I have owned several other duffels from some of the larger/more prominent outdoor gear & travel manufacturers, but this is the best overall bag I have ever owned. Can't imagine I would have used anything BUT this when backpacking around Europe 8 years ago. I can now confidently repeat the line I have heard so many times regarding this bag: "If you spend time in the outdoors, you should own this bag". I am so glad I followed that advice.
Forget the price. Buy it.
I'm a novice review writer; I don't do a lot of free advertising for specific products, but this duffel is worth a mention.
I've owned it for just a month, but for two weeks it was thoroughly tested on a trip through Ireland and the UK. It traveled by plane (works as a carry-on), train, and automobile, and was also walked around a lot in backpack mode (which was actually more comfortable than expected)... it shrugged off a good amount of rain on the trip as well; everything stayed dry.
I can't speak to the longevity of the product, but after living with it thus far, I can't see how it would let me down.
I CAN vouch for the perfection in design though: the bag has the features you need and want, where you want them, and nothing superfluous. Compression straps were a God-send, the daisy chains were handy, the handles were appropriately placed and comfortable, and the backpack straps aren't uncomfortable... it's obviously not a hiking backpack, but my companions' rain-soaked rolly luggage tipped over constantly on cobblestone streets while I just walked along.
The two-tone green looks sharp too.
If I had to include one con: there's only one interior mesh pocket on the lid (handy), where there's space for two additional smaller ones on the top and bottom ends (lengthwise). I'd buy another if you added those, North Face...
Terrific bags -- almost perfect
I have several of these bags. My sense is that they are somewhat larger than you might think from the descriptions. The shape makes then imminently stuffable (even over-stuffable). I've had the medium bag (big enough for a month of clothing) and the small bag (which I use for a large volume of underwater camera equipment) for several years, and I just bought the extra-small bag (which is not tiny, despite the name, and probably good as a weekend bag, or for specialized gear). The small bag, fully stuffed, fits in the overhead rack of a plane end in, so it makes a great carry-on bag. These bags are all built very well, and are tough. Great travel bags. Not a backpack, but reasonably comfortable with the backpack straps (must be packed carefully to provide padding and comfort). My only complaint is I wish NF would make them truly waterproof, not just water resistant (which they are) -- they should keep exactly the same design, but add waterproof zippers (while keeping the flaps) and factory-seal the seams. (I know they have a separate waterproof duffel, but the base camp duffel design is the best, and it deserves waterproof seams.) These two little changes would make a great bag perfect.
Ill keep this brief as others have summed up everything else in reviews above. Pros:
Bag is strong, Water resistant (only a few drops dripped in through the place where the two zippers meet during a HEAVY rain storm) Lots of latches and straps to attach waterbottles and other bags to. Back pack like straps. + everything you read above Cons:
Only ONE giant compartment no small zipper pouches for your wallets and such (there is a tiny net mesh on the inside but its fairly weak) Clearly this is a bag for the long travel. Miscellaneous:
Bag is squishy. Im not sure if this is a con or a pro? When the bag is less than half full, the bag will sink down and deflate to lay on top of your things. Not really a problem but it does look ugly in this state. You could also roll the bag up and stick it in a small messenger bag when there is nothing in it however.
No hard floor, I guess you could add some cardboard or whatever to make a hard floor for your bag
As part of my job, I spend half a year camping in remote tropical islands. Luggage selection is a major issue since it needs to be (1) sufficiently versatile to facilitate constant/efficient movement between vessels, RIBS, rocky shores and camping sites, and (2) rugged enough to withstand constant abuse, occasional water splashing and heavy loads. This legendary duffel performs nicely under such demands and collapses adequately for storage. Plus, if you need to transport lots of gear, the different colour options for multiple duffels make luggage organization very easy.
Though notably rugged, the surface is easily scratched by rocks and other rough surfaces. This damage is NOT structural, only aesthetical, so it hasn't been a problem for me, but could bother look-oriented buyers.
If you are struggling deciding between the Medium and the Large, fearing that the Large might be too big, my advice would be to go for the Medium, which is surprisingly roomier than one would expect.
Great for overseas travel!
I use this bag as my main gear bag when doing medical volunteer trips to East Africa and Central America. It is very high quality, very tough, which is great as it ends up being crammed into dirty tight spaces, strapped onto the roof rack, put down on wet, dirty ground. I know my gear will stay clean and dry. It works great as a carry-on if not packed completely full, and should I need to check it, I know it can handle whatever the airline dishes out. Overall extremely pleased. I got the orange color. Just FYI, it is easier to find gear in the bag if the bag is a ligher color, as the inside of the bag is the same color as the outside of the bag. This is my second Base Camp duffel purchase - I also have the small which I use when I don't need a free standing mosquito net and supplemental food.
This is a piece of gear that sadly, I will most likely never use to its fullest extent. It's a no-frills, large capacity, go anywhere, bomber duffel. As long as it's not packed to the gills, the size M is perfect if you're looking for a carry-on piece of luggage; it will fit end to end in an overhead compartment which makes it easy to store and retrieve. the coated interior of the bag lends itself to be used as a water/mud resistant gear transporter after some soggy days on the trail. For max capacity, load the thing up and don't worry about the zippers holding; the YKK's are about the width of your thumb. As for carrying, duffels aren't always the easiest maneuver when heavy, but the padded shoulder straps give you the option to throw the bag on your back and be on your way. Get the duffel, it's a lifetime piece of equipment.
Only one gripe!
I use this bag for two fairly disparate purposes: travel and BJJ class. For travel, this bag holds everything I am willing to let TSA agents *try* to steal (cable lock method has proven highly effective), and for BJJ, this holds my gis (2), rashguards, first-aid kit, large container of sanitary wipes, large towel, toiletries, and a change of clothes.
Whether getting it to the airport or to the locker room, I really wish it had a shoulder strap. I don't like putting it on my back (which, although it has backpack straps, it truly wasn't designed for), which means I'm left carrying it in one hand, rather than slung across my body, thereby leaving two hands free for other uses. This would be a solid, 5-star bag if it just came with this one additional option.
Build quality is solid and it's a sharp looking piece. Hope they update it!