This is an excellent duffel with many advantages such as its durability, light weight, weather resistance and a long and easy-to-pack shape. It weighs only 2 pounds 10 ounces, (the lightest in our review). When you first pick it up, it doesn't seem like it's going to be super durable. Both during our tests and during side-by-side comparisons, it out-performed the field for weather resistance. Great for climbers, skiers or anyone who needs to store their duffel outside for a while. This duffel also feels way, way bigger than 110L the Cilo Gear claims; it feels more like 140L. It has a simple design and doesn't feature any of the extras like padded shoulder straps or smaller zippered pockets — this could be a downside for some. The other main disadvantage to the Cilo Gear duffel is that it's expensive; at $180 it's the most expensive duffel in our review. What you don't get in features you get in nicer fabrics, fantastic performance and superior build quality with a duffel that's still manufactured in the United States.
Cilo Gear Duffel Review
Cons: No comfortable backpack straps, expensive.
Manufacturer: Cilo Gear
Our Analysis and Test Results
Ease of Transport
While it excelled in several categories, it scored lower for Ease of Transport. It features two big carrying straps that are a little long for carrying the duffel fully loaded for any sort of distance, but great for just grabbing the duffel and throwing it around in the back of a truck. The two carrying straps are big enough to be used as backpack straps but when it's heavily loaded they aren't that comfortable to carry for long distances and will dig into your shoulders. The two end grab handles are easy to grab and comfortable. This combined with being one of the toughest duffels in the review means instead of wearing it like a backpack we thought it was easier to simply drag this thing around, one end on the ground, through airports and bus terminals. We thought the performance for Ease of Transport of the Cilo Gear Duffel was about the same as the Wild Things Mule but better than the Gregory Long Haul.
Ease of Packing
Along with the Gregory Long Haul and the Wild Things Mule the Cilo Gear Duffel is one of the longest duffels in the review. It doesn't have any pockets other than the main compartment; folks who are into a lot of organization might want to look somewhere else. The long I-shaped zipper is easier to pack than most others we tested and it was surprisingly easy to zip closed even when it's full.
When you first pick up the Cilo Gear Duffel its relatively light weight suggests that it's going to be super durable. But after more than 10 expeditions we at Outdoor Gear lab are blown away with how tough this thing is. One on or two trips riding on mules, being dragged in sleds and just general travel there are often holes worn in other duffels. This one still looks nearly brand new. Along with the Black Diamond Huey and the Wild Things Mule we thought the Cilo Gear Duffel was among the most durable in our review. The Cilo Gear Duffel and the Wild Things Mule are the only two duffels we tested that are manufactured in the USA.
At 2 pounds, 10 ounces it's the lightest duffel in our review. Despite being the lightest it is also one of the toughest duffels we tested, so you are not giving up any durability or water resistance. This duffel saves weight buy using nicer fabrics that are durable yet light, and by its simplicity. It has no extra pockets and no padded shoulder straps. If you are someone who regularly pushes the airline 50-pound limit then this is a duffel worth considering.
The fabric on the Cilo Gear Duffel is incredibly water resistant. It performed fantastically, both during our "lab" hose tests and in real world applications. This bag rode on a mule for eight hours in the rain but when we arrived in camp the fabric was never wet through. We thought the Cilo Gear Duffel was a little more weather resistant than some of our other top performers, the Mountain Hardwear Expedition and the Black Diamond Huey.
At $180 the Cilo Gear Duffel is the most expensive duffel in our review. Its one of the most durable duffels we tested and most people will get dozens of expeditions worth of abuse out of it and years of travel. Of course part of what you are paying for is getting a duffel made in the United States. The Clio and the Wild Things Mule Duffel are the only two duffels we tested that are manufactured in a first world country.
On the flip side, for a $180 you don't get a lot of extras, no padded shoulder straps or extra small zippered pockets, but maybe you'll make up for it in the absence of excess baggage fees.
— Ian Nicholson