Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Lots of pockets, very durable
Cons: Zipper is hard to close when full, backpack straps not great, heavy
Best Uses: Casual travel and expedition travel
The Mountain Hardwear Expedition duffel is maybe the most full-featured duffel bag in our review. It has more pockets than any other duffel we tested, including four zipper pockets on top of the large main compartment. It features internal compression straps, a clear information pocket and aluminum rings on either end of the grab loops that make it easy to drag around. It was one of the most water-resistant duffels we tested. Its only drawbacks are the fact it is the heaviest duffel we tested and has slightly sub-par shoulder straps.
This was one of the most fully featured duffels in the our duffle bag review. It offers more pockets than any duffel we tested, internal compression straps, metal tubes on the end grab straps and more. Along with the Black Diamond Huey it was the most weather resistant duffel in the review. It wasn't as nice to carry in backpack mode as similarly priced duffels, but if you are looking for organization in your duffel then the Mountain Hardwear Expedition duffel could be a good option.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Mountain Hardwear Expedition duffel is one of the most weather-resistant duffels in this review. We sprayed it with a garden hose and found it was slightly better than the Helly Hanson, Gregory or North Face models and only slightly behind the Black Diamond Huey. The Expedition also has the most features of any duffel we tested. While some might find the aluminum tubes on the end grab handles over-kill, we found them pleasant to pull on. For those into a little more organization, it has two internal zippered pockets and two external zippered pockets in addition to its main compartment, which is more pockets than any other duffel we tested. We especially liked the two internal pockets at each end that are great for little items you don't want getting lost but don't need to have super handy. Think pens, pencils or a toothbrush. (My climbing partners claim I have lost my toothbrush on nearly every expedition I have been on). This is a superior system compared to other duffels that feature a large zippered pocket underneath the lid. The information window was nice, easy to use and never lost a business card.
Of all this duffel's features, the one we didn't use was the internal compression straps. We liked other duffels with external ones, which we know are supposed to be more prone to catching while in transit. But we never had a problem on more than a dozen trips with The North Face Base Camp Duffel and half a dozen plane flights with the Gregory Alpaca. The Expedition's backpack straps had load lifter type buckles but they were a poor excuse for backpack straps when we tried to use them as such. That said, they were better than none at all. While the fabric was durable as a whole, it snagged on sharp edges a bit more than other duffels. A friend had slight problems with the main zipper and he thought the aggressively shaped curve of the zipper was the reason it got stickier quicker. However, we never saw any sign of this.
The cost of this duffel is in line with the Black Diamond Huey, The North Face Base Camp Duffel and the Gregory Alpaca Duffel. All of these feature backpack/shoulder straps, big D-shaped openings, are fairly water resistant and are very taut and built to last. The Mountain Hardwear Expedition sets itself apart in features and water resistance and falls only slightly behind in durability.
— Ian Nicholson
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: March 21, 2013
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