Be it a voyage, pilgrimage, or straight-up disappearance, the Expedition is ready.
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Mountain Hardwear Expedition Duffel Bag
The C-5 Galaxy of Gear Bags
I bought this on a friend's recommendation and have not been disappointed. This bag is BURLY! I have thrown it into the back of countless cars, airplanes, and trains and haven't seen so much as a single tear in the material. It will carry so much stuff that I have a hard time lifting it when it's packed to the brim. I will be taking a bunch of skiing/ climbing gear to Chamonix in a few days, this is the bag I will be packing it in.
Just took this to Hawaii for a week and no problem fitting things in there. Ended up checking it one way adn carrying it on the other way. Fit in over head no problem. and compression straps are awesome. Shoulder straps were perfect. Had to Take bus and Train and walk to airport and never felt heavy or rubbed wrong. Handles made moving it around easy to Grab in different situations. Outer pockets easy put little things need to get to fast and two inner mesh pockets perfect for toiletries and other little things to not get mixed up.
Huge, but awesome
It's massive. If you fill it, you better not have to carry it more than 20ft. It gets heavy. Very water resistant. Great if you throw your bag in the back of pickups in the NW.
The construction is solid. Despite being made in China from PVC material (not the greenest construction), I figure that's offset by the notion that it will last a very long time.
I got this duffel because i wanted a rugged and huge bag to carry all of my gear when i go off on hiking skiing or camping trips. Before I had this i typically would pack a backpack with whatever i needed for the trip (ski, hike, camp whatever), another back pack with whatever i might need at the end of the trip (clean clothes for the return to civilization, etc...) and then have a trunk full of loose gear (trekking poles, ice axes, stuff that i was too lazy to figure out how to get back into my backpacking bag...). Basically the weekend begins with a nice neat car and ends with a gear explosion that takes me till Wednesday to sort out. If you have this problem, then you owe it to yourself to pick up something along these lines. Complete mitigation of gear explosion. I'm hoping to use it as airport luggage, but have not tried this yet.
Onto some specifics. I got the largest size. In all honesty it was smaller than I thought it would be. However, i did manage to get virtually all of my gear into it, with some careful arranging. I say virtually, because depending on the specific trip, you won't actually take every item you own, plus you need to account for the items which you'd expect to be wearing/using at any given point in time. That said, with a bit of planning i managed to get a 55L pack, a down jacket, insulated pants, an ice ax, crampons, several pairs of gloves, ski goggles, trekking poles, two sleeping pads, a solo tent, ski boots, hiking boots, socks, thermals, a shell jacket, a fleece, climbing skins and probably a few other things. The point: it seems like anything you'd reasonably want to bring on a given expedition could be stuffed into this thing. The zippers became tough to close at this point, however the interior compression straps remedied this problem.
The components, including the external facing material, the zippers, the bottom, the straps, all seem plenty rugged for my purposes. The top and sides are a rubberized material. The bottom is a slightly rigid plastic. You won't be afraid to drag the whole thing out of the trunk and throw it down right into the airport/ski area/trailhead parking lot.
The handles on the ends come in handy when whole thing has slid to the back of the trunk and you can't reach the straps.
The daisy chains are well placed however they're tight. Don't expect to get anything too large threaded through the loops. Some small bungee cords would probably work, parachute cord definitely, and probably carabiners, but probably not any climbing ropes or anything of that caliber.
The top zippers are pretty tough seeming, however they are definitely not waterproof. The lid does have a large storm flap covering the entire zipper however any amount of wind would eventually force water into the main compartment. If you're hauling it on an expedition or throwing it into the roof basket you should be sure to dry bag anything that really needs to stay dry.
The straps do indeed double as back pack straps, but don't expect it to carry well for any amount of time. Its fine for dragging your stuff from the car to the hotel or across the airport, but the lack of a real frame, waist belt or sternum strap makes the whole thing generally unwieldy. Also on the extra large, i find the straps to be a tiny bit wide for my shoulders. (Sternum strap would have helped here.) I imagine virtually all women would find it too wide. I can't speak to the smaller models. The load lifters which detach from the straps and affix to the top end of the pack really help in converting this to a wearable pack. I mostly leave them in that configuration so it's always ready to go.
Finally i like the bold styling because it stands out in a sea of black luggage and duffels.
Summary: Huge duffel bags are a great thing and this one in particular seems to get the job done well.
Can't take off straps --- bad design oversight
I bought this for travel on airlines. The straps are not removeable-- so when you check it in at the airport they put the duffle in a huge plastic bag so straps don't get caught in loading equipment or baggage claim. Not very eco friendly (which mountain hardwear totes this bag as) and not a very convenient way to carry your luggage. So, back to the drawing board-- if they redesign this with removeable or stashable straps, it would be a 5-star.
Through hell and back
Dragged two of these bad boys all over AK this spring and the bags were great. Very durable and waterproof for glacier travel. I like the sewn on daisy chains for attaching to a sled and quickly securing other gear.