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Adidas Defender Small Review

A simple, lightweight sports duffel that's good for the gym or game and easy to like but might not hold up to heavy use over time
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Adidas Defender Small Review (The Defender is perfect for hauling the essentials to a game, practice, or the gym.)
The Defender is perfect for hauling the essentials to a game, practice, or the gym.
Credit: Hale Milano
Price:  $40 List
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Manufacturer:   Adidas
By Hale Milano ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 24, 2023
54
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#13 of 15
  • Storage and Ease of Packing - 30% 5.5
  • Ease of Transport - 30% 5.0
  • Protection - 15% 6.0
  • Construction Quality - 15% 3.0
  • Weight-to-Volume Ratio - 10% 8.8

Our Verdict

The Adidas Defender duffel bag is the perfect bag for those who want a small, lightweight, and easy-to-carry duffel and who don't have strong requirements for durability, weather protection, or overly heavy gear. When you're constantly lugging this bag in and out of cars, lockers, busses, or benches, you'll be thankful for its lightweight and small size. Although it's not the most durable duffel bag, it is able to resist a brief shower or wet grass thanks to a water-resistant base. Its main compartment has ample room for most needs, though we wish there was a laundry or wet-items pouch in addition to the two side pockets. We think that for your daily trips to the gym, grabbing basic equipment for a sports practice, or evening supplies for your next game, this duffel is up to the job. See how the Defender fares next to the competition in our duffel bag review.
REASONS TO BUY
Ultra lightweight
Small and easy to carry
REASONS TO AVOID
Not the most durable
Small shoe compartment

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Bottom Line This compact duffel bag is best suited for the gym or carrying gear to a sports practice but isn't the most durablePacked full of adventure-ready features, this versatile bag is ready to tackle your next adventure, whether it's across town or across the worldThis excellent duffel offers great features regardless of which size model you prefer and is budget friendlyThis budget-conscious bag still provides great organization features ideal for day tripsThis budget-friendly bag can haul a ton of stuff, but doesn't offer many additional features
Rating Categories Adidas Defender Small Patagonia Black Hol... Gregory Alpaca HYC00 Travel Amazon Basics Large...
Storage and Ease of Packing (30%)
5.5
8.6
8.5
6.5
5.0
Ease of Transport (30%)
5.0
8.5
8.2
5.5
3.5
Protection (15%)
6.0
8.5
8.3
4.5
5.0
Construction Quality (15%)
3.0
9.2
9.1
6.0
3.9
Weight-to-Volume Ratio (10%)
8.8
6.1
4.0
4.5
9.4
Specs Adidas Defender Small Patagonia Black Hol... Gregory Alpaca HYC00 Travel Amazon Basics Large...
Sizes Available Small, Medium, Large 40, 55, 70, 100 L 40, 60, 80, 100, 120 L 30 L 104 L
Material (Main Body) 100% polyester 900D polyester ripstop (100% postconsumer recycled) with TPU-film laminate 900D polyester ripstop (40% recycled) with TPU weather-resistant coating Nylon 100% nylon
Number of Pockets (Excludes Main Compartment) 4 3 3 4 7
Backpack Straps No Yes Yes No No
D or I-Shaped Opening D D D I I
Laundry Compartment No No Yes (partial) No No
Measured Weight 1.0 lb (43L model) 2.6 lb (55L model) 2.7 lb (40L model) 1.9 lb (30L model) 1.8 lb (104L model)
Calculated Weight-to-Volume Ratio 0.37 oz/L 0.76 oz/L 1.08 oz/L 1.01 oz/L 0.28 oz/L
Size Tested 43L 100L and 55L 90L and 40L 30L 104L

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Adidas Defender is a utilitarian bag that serves its purpose without stealing the show. If all you need is a bag to store some light equipment that's easy to carry and can resist the occasional light shower or puddle, this is a great option at an affordable price.

Performance Comparison


adidas defender small - we used the defender to haul soccer gear to the game and appreciated...
We used the Defender to haul soccer gear to the game and appreciated its light weight and side pockets.
Credit: Hale Milano

Storage and Ease of Packing


The Defender has a very traditional, but completely sufficient, pocket design. The main storage compartment is accessed by a large D-shaped flap, ideal for fitting and storing larger items. During testing, we had no trouble tossing in foam rollers, large water bottles, soccer balls, and extra clothes. Although the fabric is quite thin, the Defender held its shape well. When open, the flap stays out of the way, letting us easily load and access the equipment we tossed inside.


On either end of the Defender are two smaller zipper storage pockets. Both were accessed by a single zipper. We were thankful that these pockets had dedicated space — that is, not cutting into the space of the main compartment — enabling us to easily use them even when the main chamber was full. These pockets were just large enough to fit a pair of cleats, running shoes, or sandals. We do wish that they were just a tad larger, and closed with two zippers versus one.

adidas defender small - the external side pocket was large enough to fit a pair of cleats...
The external side pocket was large enough to fit a pair of cleats, but the single zipper design means you'll need to keep it closed completely or risk items falling out.
Credit: Hale Milano

There were two final small zippered pockets on the Defender, one inside the main pouch and one on the front side of the bag. Both these small pockets were ideal for organizing smaller items like sunglasses, keys, or headphones.

The Defender holds its shape well to allow for easy loading of a surprising amount of gear.
Credit: Hale Milano

Ease of Transport


The nicest part about lugging around the Defender is that its weight and small size make it easy to toss around and shove in small spaces. During our testing, we tossed it into the trunk, behind and underneath car seats, and under bleachers where it fit with ease.


Beyond that, there were not many features of the Defender that stood out. Similar to most traditional duffel bags, there are no backpack straps, though it does have both traditional suitcase-style handles and a single messenger-style shoulder strap. When the bag is heavier, the shoulder strap isn't the most comfortable to use and has no padding. Given the Defender's size, though, it's difficult to overload it. There are two grab handles on either end of the duffel, but they are so thin that we were hesitant to tug on them or carry the bag that way.

adidas defender small - the defender is easy to carry with an adjustable shoulder strap or...
The Defender is easy to carry with an adjustable shoulder strap or briefcase style handles.
Credit: Hale Milano

Protection


For as thin as the fabric on the Defender is, we were quite impressed with its results during our protection tests, like the high-pressure hose test.


Even after being sprayed with water for 15 seconds, the Defender kept its contents almost completely dry. It was only after an additional 30 seconds of spraying that water leaked into the bag. The bottom of the bag is lightly padded and has a water-resistant coating to help keep wet grass and puddles from soaking your gear. We found this worked well in the field, although the ventilation holes on the side pockets did let water in.

Water rolled right off the fabric of the bag, and kept our...
Water rolled right off the fabric of the bag, and kept our test-towels dry during the high-pressure hose test, though side pockets were not so lucky.
An additional 30 seconds of high pressure water proved too much for...
An additional 30 seconds of high pressure water proved too much for the Defender.
Though the Defender easily blocked 15 seconds of high-pressure water on the first go, an additional 30 seconds of spray was enough to soak through the zippers.

Construction Quality


Although we think this bag is a great option for daily use at the gym, we don't know how the Defender would hold up over years of use and abuse. The light fabric cuts some weight from the design of the bag but probably wouldn't stand up to really rough edges as it gets crammed and yanked in and out of spaces. That said, we didn't have any rips or tears during our testing period.


Like most value options, the hardware on the Defender is plastic — albeit a thicker plastic than others we tested. Again, we're happy that this saves on both weight and cost, but for a bag designed for athletes on the go, we'd be concerned about anything breaking over time. The seams on the bag are also questionable, especially on the thin grab handles on either end of the bag.

adidas defender small - the plastic hardware on the defender shaves ounces off its weight...
The plastic hardware on the Defender shaves ounces off its weight but doesn't inspire confidence in its longevity.
Credit: Hale Milano

Weight-to-Volume Ratio


The Adidas Defender is one of the lightest bags in our lineup, and with 43 liters of storage, it also has an excellent weight-to-volume ratio.


Weighing in at exactly one pound, this ultra-light bag shaves weight through its thin fabric and plastic hardware. We appreciated the minimalistic feel of the bag that let us focus on our gear and equipment, instead of hauling extra weight before and after a workout.

adidas defender small - the defender is small, light, and easy to toss under a bench or...
The Defender is small, light, and easy to toss under a bench or behind a car seat.
Credit: Hale Milano

Should You Buy the Adidas Defender?


If you're looking for a duffel bag that you can use for the gym, pool, or your next sports practice, the Defender is a great budget option that will get the job done. It's not the most durable over the long term, and doesn't have any fancy features that will stand out from the crowd, but neither will it hold you back from doing what you need to do.

adidas defender small - the defender is great for practice and can still fend off wet grass...
The Defender is great for practice and can still fend off wet grass or a brief rain shower.
Credit: Hale Milano

What Other Duffel Bags Should You Consider?


If you're in the market for a duffel that can also be used for weekend travel, day trips, or road trips, the HYC00 Travel is a budget-buy bag that has plenty of organization and storage features geared for on-the-go use. If you want a more rugged bag that can keep up with the demands of extensive travel — and comes in a wide range of sizes — the Patagonia Black Hole and Gregory Alpaca are both excellent options and worth the investment. The Black Hole is equal parts stylish, rugged, and user-friendly, while the Alpaca packs many of the same high-end features as other high-scoring adventure-ready duffels at a slightly lower price point.

adidas defender small - the defender has plenty of pockets but isn't the most durable...
The Defender has plenty of pockets but isn't the most durable feeling bag.
Credit: Hale Milano

Hale Milano