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.
The Long Hauler wins our OutdoorGearLab Best Buy award because it has all the features most folks are looking for in a burly duffel bag. It's great for expeditions or exotic travel as well as more traditional airline-oriented travel - all while being slightly less expensive than several of the models featured here.
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. This duffel 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.
The shoulder straps featured on the Long Hauler pull double duty to be used while hauling your bag more like a briefcase; they also execute a good job of it at that. To help make this more comfortable and less tiresome for your hand, the shoulder straps have a small cutout (for your hand) and a permanently attached piece of Velcro that wraps this cutout, which holds the straps together.
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.
We certainly used the shoulder straps on the Long Hauler a fair amount. We found them comfortable enough compared to most models on the market; however, with 50 pounds for extended periods of time they did okay, but could have offered more comfort, like those found on the Gregory Alpaca and The North Face Base Camp.
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. 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.
For expeditions and more exotic adventures, the Long Hauler features a host of fairly robust points when lashing your bag to jeep tops, llamas, or nearly anything else. There are four sets of vertically oriented daisies, burly grab loops on all four sides, and grabs/loops in the webbing that combines the grab loops and wraps the perimeter of the bag (shown here).
We also like the compression straps on either side of this model and felt like, when utilized, 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.
On the zipper side, the Long Hauler features compression straps with little plastic clips. We like this subtle but potentially trip saving feature, as they take some of the force applied to the zipper when utilized (making this less likely to "blow out" and break) and help hold your bag closed - in the unlikely event that it does happen.
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. It didn't "stand up" as well when unloaded, which makes packing smaller items trickier.
Similar to many other models in our review, the Long Hauler features a large "D" shaped opening that was easy to pack. The design helped us maximize every cubic inch of this pack when necessary (AKA cram everything in). Unlike a lot of other models on the market, the Long Hauler wasn't too challenging to zip shut thanks to its large gauge zippers and easy to grab zipper pulls.
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 that can be accessed externally on one end (one inside the other).
The Long Hauler features a mesh pocket underneath the lid that allows you to access the main compartment. While we certainly liked this feature and used it on every trip we took the duffel on, we liked models that divided this mesh pocket into two, like the Gregory Alpaca and the Patagonia Black Hole.
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.
We liked the externally access zippered pocket featured on the Long Hauler. It proved to be super useful, and all of our review team commented how great it was concerning the organization of the bag's contents. It was big enough to fit a pair of running shoes or something of similar volume, and you'll find a second (smaller) mesh zipper pocket inside this pocket. You can use this pocket to keep smaller items (that you may want to be easily accessible) from getting lost.
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.
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 Editors Choice winners.
The Long Hauler uses a 1000D TPE Polyester Laminate with 680d 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 (when compared to other models). For example, another bag in the test 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 680d 100% Nylon. Don't get us wrong, this bag is BURLY; but it's not quite as robust as the models that add rugged fabrics together for reinforcement.
Weather resistance is the metric in which the Long Hauler could improve the most. 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.
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, other choices will prove more weather resistant. Why? Mainly due to the 680d 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 Hauler is comparable in price 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.