The Helly Hansen Duffel Bag 2 is the updated version of the Helly Hansen Duffel. It keeps the same basic design but makes a significant fabric upgrade that has proven far more durable and weather resistant. Adding to the increased durability, the stitching around the shoulder straps are reinforced beyond that of the older version. The only downside of the new bag? It's no longer a crazy good deal, as it has increased by around $30; it's now about the same cost as most of the other models in this review. Despite the price increase, if you are looking for a 90-liter or smaller travel bag, the Helly Hansen holds its own and is a solid contender in all of our performance categories.
Helly Hansen Duffel Bag 2 Review
Cons: Larger size would be appreciated, shoulders straps could be better, not as durable as we expected
Manufacturer: Helly Hansen
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Ease of Transport
The Duffel Bag 2 sports some features that make it easy to carry (and drag) around. First off, it has two backpack-style shoulder straps that our review team found above average for comfort, even for extended periods. Our review team liked how easily these straps unclipped and tucked away into their specific pocket (very similar to most haul bag designs). Not only did we find this feature beneficial while checking the bags at the airport but it also meant we never had to look for them once we picked this bag up off the luggage carousel or at a train stop. These straps weren't quite as comfortable as The North Face Base Camp Duffel which used higher quality foam and softer feeling face fabric; this difference was even more noticeable when we had on a tank-top or a thin shirt.
Helly Hansen makes this great duffel in a variety of versatile sizes. Check out all the options that come in the Helly Hansen Duffel Bag 2; 90L, 70L, 50L, 30L. Whatever size you need, this duffel has got you covered for whatever adventure you're on. We only wish it was also made in a 100+ Liter size.
In addition to the shoulder straps, there are two grab loops on either end of the HH Duffel Bag 2, which help facilitate dragging the bag anytime it's needed or while pulling it off a luggage rack or baggage carousel. Similar to all the other models in our review, it also sports two shorter briefcase style carrying straps that are relatively thin and attach with plastic buckles that didn't break during our testing.
Ease of Packing
The Duffel Bag 2 has a large "U" shaped opening that is easy to pack and search for items in. It features a large mesh zippered pocket under the opening which was handy for easily lost items, as well as a single internal zippered mesh pocket that our testers found extremely useful. Overall, the HH Duffel Bag 2 was as easy to pack as any of the highest scoring bags and but it featured less overall pockets and less organizational options as several other models, like the Marmot Long Hauler or The North Face Base Camp Duffel.
The HH Duffel does feature a small zippered pocket on the exterior of the bag that is nice but wasn't super easy to get into while the bag was completely full. We liked the ease of packing of the previously mentioned models much better.
While a small thing, we do really appreciate the small business card sized window which helps identify your bag, making it less likely that someone else will walk off with it by mistake. Think it won't happen to you? It happened to us last year, but we did get it back once the person got home. The HH Duffel Bag 2 also comes with a nice compact storage sack that helps it to fit in a relatively small place when not in use, which is great for folks in apartments or those that don't have a lot of room.
The Duffel Bag 2 is more durable than the previous model though slightly below average among others in our fleet. It offers less overall durability than the Yeti Panga, Gregory Alpaca, Patagonia Black Hole, or Marmot Long Hauler, but is more durable than a majority of models on the market. We certainly abused ours, and it does have the scars to show it.
While we think the new fabric has undoubtedly proven itself as being more durable, as do the stitching on the backpack straps, we witnessed two separate failures with the straps blowing out. The new beefy reinforced bottom portion of the Duffel Bag 2 has also proven itself more durable and is a significant improvement. While ours hasn't failed yet, we do wonder how long the plastic buckles holding the primary briefcase style straps will last.
Just like with durability, Helly Hansen significantly upgraded their weather resistance with the new fabric on the Duffel Bag 2. It's as water resistant as The North Face Base Camp and the Patagonia Black Hole and performed better both in real-world use and in our direct side-by-side testing as the Marmot Long Hauler.
The HH Duffel Bag 2 is ideal for most travel applications or some expedition use. The largest size, at 90 liters, is a little small for bigger expeditions or extended trips. It was just the right size when we had a few heavy items; a 70m rope and rock protection plus clothing fit perfectly, but if we primarily had bulky items like sleeping bags, boots, or big down jackets, it was a little small feeling before we hit 50 pounds.
At $140 for the 90L size, $120 for the 70L, $110 for the 50L, and $90 for the 30L, we no longer think this duffel is the insanely good deal that it once was. It's now more closely in line with most other similarly designed duffels, at least price wise. Compare the similarly sized The North Face Base Camp medium (69 liter, three pounds eight ounces). The medium Base Camp is about the same price at $139 or $149 for the size large (95L (5797 in³) 4lbs). We like this HH duffel, but for the price, we like most of the other competitors in this review slightly better.
The Helly Hansen Duffel 2 is no longer the crazy good deal it once was. However, with recent updates to its fabric, additional stitching around the shoulder straps, and just generally dialing-in small features, this model certainly holds its own against others in our fleet. While it's no longer the excellent deal it once was, it's also not unreasonably expensive. It is a well-performing duffel at a reasonable price.
— Jediah Porter & Ian Nicholson