Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Most carrying options plus a padded lid, internal and external compression straps, great lash points
Best Uses: Expedition climbing, road trips
The Gregory Alpaca Duffel Gregory Alpaca is one of the most fully-featured duffel bags we tested and has the most carrying options. Used as a backpack, briefcase or over the shoulder, this duffel is the only model we tested with a removable shoulder strap. The backpack straps are a decent size and the duffel also features light padding on its top, which keeps random objects from poking you in the back while carrying it. The Alpaca is above average in durability. Its large D-shaped opening is one of the nicer ones in the review. We like all its little features such as its internal pockets, external daisy-chain-like lash points and compression straps both on the inside and out.
The Gregory Alpaca gave The North Face Base Camp Duffel a good run for its money for the OutdoorGearLab Editors' Choice award. It came just short only because it was a little heavier and the compression straps and lash points weren't quite as useful. That said, the Alpaca was slightly more comfortable than the North Face duffel to carry in backpack mode and scored as the most comfortable in the entire review because of its padded lid. Its over-the-top compression straps, which we would rather have than not, we didn't like as much as those on the North Face or the Helly Hansen models. Regardless, the Gregory Alpaca is one of the best all-around duffels on the market.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Alpaca is the best in the transportation category because it has the most carrying options. We like each of its carrying options and found ourselves cannibalizing its removable shoulder strap (which comes on top of two additional shoulder straps) to put on our other duffels that don't have one. The shoulder straps are very comfortable and scored at the top of the review along with the Black Diamond Huey Duffel and the The North Face Base Camp Duffel. We like the Alpaca's padded lid that helps protect your back from random objects. It is in the the upper half of the review for weather resistance, being only slightly behind the Mountain Hardwear Expedition Duffel. As for toughness, it is about as burly as The North Face Base Camp Duffel. We really like how easy the Alpaca is to pack. Its large zippered opening is nearly the size of the pack itself and swallowed our possessions nicely. We liked its two daisy-chain-like features on either side, which gave it many lashing options for bus tops and glacier sleds.
There are not many major dislikes in the Gregory Alpaca but there are a few little things. While not the heaviest, it is on the heavier side of the duffels in this review. It lacks a little window pocket for your contact information, something all the duffels we reviewed had except both Gregory models. While we applaud the inclusion of compression straps, the Gregory's are not our favorite design. We didn't like them as much as the models with the compression straps on the sides and didn't use them as much. We also never used the internal compression straps.
This is similarly priced as its main competition: Black Diamond Huey, The North Face Base Camps and the Mountain Hardwear Expedition. It has many features that might cause some people to choose it over others, such as all its additional shoulder straps and padded lid. It also has internal and external compression straps and many lashing points, something that most duffels we tested did not. So if you enjoy the extra features, it is a good value.
Gregory Long Haul Duffel
— Ian Nicholson
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Most recent review: March 21, 2013
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