The Marmot Long Hauler is our OutdoorGearLab Best Buy award winner. It has all the features most folks are looking for in a burly duffel bag, making it ideal for expeditions or exotic travel - all at a budget-friendly price! It is one of the burliest duffel bags on the market, though it still wasn't quite as durable as some of the other contenders, like The North Face Base Camp, Gregory Alpaca, and The North Face Rolling Thunder. The Long Hauler does have some of our review staff's favorite overall pocket designs as well as some of the best features for helping you stay organized.
Marmot Long Hauler Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Good pockets for organization and access, lightweight, comfortable to carry as a briefcase
Cons: Not quite as weather resistant as other models, not as durable as other contenders
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Marmot Long Hauler is a top-notch duffel at a reasonable price. It is easily one of the more durable models out there and sports a majority of the features that most users are looking for. While it didn't have the most comfortable shoulder straps or the best weather resistance, it did perform well across the board; most folks would be quite happy with this model for expedition use, more traditional travel, or just going to the gym.
Ease of Transport
The Long Hauler has all the features you'd expect from a high-end duffel to make transporting your gear as easy as possible (sans wheels).
This Best Buy winner has two shoulder straps for carrying like a backpack, which also quickly and easily adjust at both ends so you can shorten them, which makes toting this model like a briefcase relatively simple. The shoulder straps even have a deep notch for carrying briefcase style, resulting in more comfort and less fatigue on your hand.
You'll also find grab loops on all four sides; at first, this didn't seem like a useful feature, but over time, our testers greatly appreciated them out in the real world. All of our review staff commented what an excellent addition they were, whether lifting their bags out of the luggage carousel, or off a bus' luggage cart, or just pulling it out of a pile of bags.
The Long Hauler also sports two sets of vertical daisy chains on each side to help facilitate strapping it to jeep roofs, sleds, llamas, or anywhere else you might need. We liked the full-length daisy chains on The North Face Base Camp and the Gregory Alpaca a fair bit better because their design was easier to use and they were both constructed with sturdier webbing and more bartacks, which leads to an overall more secure design. However, the Long Hauler's design is adequate and we would readily (and have, in fact) take this bag on trips where we knew we'd have to strap it down; we'd likely just incorporate some of the grab handles during the strap down process to ensure it stays attached.
We also like the compression straps on either side of this model and felt like when utilized, at least when our bag wasn't full, it kept our gear from sloshing around. The compression straps made the bag easier to handle, and it was far more comfortable when carrying like a backpack.
Ease of Packing
The Long Hauler features a large "D" shaped opening that is easy to pack.
The material is slightly softer than other models, which our review team found helped to facilitate packing more bulky, oddly shaped items.
The Long Hauler's pockets are above average. Besides its sizeable primary compartment, this award winner sports two internal pockets inside the central "D"-shaped opening and two more pockets which can be accessed externally on one end (one inside the other).
We appreciated this layout for staying organized. We used the mesh pocket underneath the lid for easy-to-lose items, and the longer internal zippered pocket was ideal for keeping dirty clothes or shoes separate or only just for additional organization.
Once off the plane after gaining access to our luggage, we found ourselves utilizing the end pockets extensively. Our testers loved the large pocket, with internal mesh pocket (that comes complete with key clip), for any items that we wanted easy access to.
One of the lighter expedition duffel bags currently available, this model checks in at 3 lbs 8 oz for the extra large/105-liter model. While this isn't quite as light as the Patagonia Black Hole (3 lbs 3 oz for the 90-liter model, it's about a half pound lighter than both The North Face Base Camp and the Gregory Alpaca. While this isn't a significant amount, every little bit helps when you're tip-toeing around the 50-pound weight limits.
This model is undoubtedly durable. It's easily one of the toughest options in our review and currently available on the market. But, its performance is still bested by the Gregory Alpaca and The North Face Base Camp.
The Long Hauler uses a 1000D TPE Polyester Laminate with 1680d 100% Nylon Ballistics reinforcement material on both the end and bottom; this is where looking at construction style and not just the numbers become essential (where comparing to other models). For example, take the Gregory Alpaca(both the TNF Base Camp and Patagonia Black Hole use a similar design) which uses a 900D TPU diamond rip-stop material throughout the bag, with an additional layer of 630D nylon on the bottom. Note that this is in addition to the layer of TPE, as opposed to the Long Hauler, where its either the 1000D TPE or 1680d 100% Nylon. Don't get us wrong, this bag is BURLY; but it's not quite as robust as the models mentioned above. It's on par with the Patagonia Black Hole and is far more robust than the Helly Hansen Duffel Bag 2.
Weather resistance is the only metric in which the Long Hauler could improve. When compared to the vast majority of models on the market, it's extremely water resistant. However, in our side-by-side testing, both in the field and with our garden hose test, its performance did not compare to other models, particularly the Gregory Alpaca and the Top Pick, submersible Yeti Panga.
We'd still easily take this duffel on an expedition in a heartbeat, but if mega moist conditions are in store for you and your duffel, the Patagonia Black Hole, Gregory Alpaca, Yeti Panga, and The North Face Base Camp all proved more weather resistant. Why? Mainly due to the 1680d Nylon Ballistics material on the sides and bottom of the bag. It is pretty water resistant (and durable), but not as weather resistant as the 1000D TPE Laminate Polyester that the rest of the duffel is constructed with.
The Long Haul is an awesome duffel bag for general purpose travel or expedition use. Other models perform better in wet conditions, but this Best Buy winner is suitable for most travel applications. Some users will enjoy it over other models, like the Gregory Alpaca or Helly Hansen Duffel Bag 2, while some folks will appreciate its pockets and organizational ability, which are among the best in the review.
At $159, the Long Hauler is comparable to other models of a similar size and doesn't give up much in the way of performance. While it isn't as water resistant or durable as others in our fleet, it's pretty dang close.
The Marmot Long Hauler is plenty burly enough for expedition or exotic travel-type uses. One of the primary reasons that folks might go with this model over others is the more subtle fabric, which is less stiff and easier to pack. It also features a top-notch user-friendly pocket design, which gave us plenty of places to keep small items, minimizing the chance they'd get lost. The different compartments helped us stay organized and were a major bonus.
Other Versions and Accessories
The Long Hauler is currently available in three volumes: 38, 50, 75, 110 liters.
— Ian Nicholson