Mountain Hardwear Camp 4 Review
Cons: Thinner materials than others, awkward interior pockets
Manufacturer: Mountain Hardwear
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Mountain Hardwear Camp 4 Duffel is a high-quality all-around performer, but gets outshined by products with more robust materials, more comfortable or versatile carry options, or more refined designs. Plenty durable for any adventure travel, the Camp 4 is lighter than most duffels of its size and conveniently stows away in its end pocket for secure storage when not in use. Its storage design and carrying methods are plenty capable but have a few small nuances that lead us to prefer other products.
Ease of Transport
The Camp 4 Duffel forgoes traditional briefcase-style duffel bag straps for a pair of adjustable backpack-style shoulder straps and a total of four grab handles. The shoulder straps are firm and thinly padded and do an excellent job of transferring the pack weight to your body. You can adjust the mounting position at the top of the straps with easily maneuverable webbing loops along the straps that clip back onto themselves. These clips also make it easy to completely remove the shoulder straps to stow away during air travel. Once you remove the top clips, simply slide each strap out of a girth hitch connection at the bottom of the bag.
The shoulder straps also have a wide range of length adjustment. Although you can lengthen them quite a bit, an over-the-shoulder sling style of carrying isn't practical because the padding of the fully extended straps doesn't align with your shoulders. The bottom of each strap's padding has a velcro patch where they can be joined together for a convenient briefcase-style carry. This carry option adds convenience and versatility but isn't as comfortable as traditional built-in briefcase-style carrying handles.
A small grab handle on each side of the bag provides the best option for a briefcase-style carry, allowing the duffel to sit comfortably at your side while holding it. Oversized grab handles on each end of the bag are convenient for lugging the duffel out of the trunk or off of a luggage rack and make a versatile attachment point for haul ropes. A strip of heavy-duty daisy chains on each side of the bag adds additional attachment points for strapping to a vehicle, pack animal, or climbing wall.
When your travels conclude, the Camp 4 Duffel conveniently stuffs inside its end pocket for a small footprint storage option, and also makes it easy to stow away in another piece of luggage on extended expeditions.
Storage and Ease of Packing
The main storage compartment of the Camp 4 Duffel is accessed with a heavy-duty U-shaped zipper that is of similar high quality as other high-end duffels. A pair of internal compression straps help minimize your contents in the main compartment.
Underneath the top lid are two zippered mesh storage pockets. Such storage pockets are always a convenient addition, but their orientation, in this case, makes them a bit awkward to use. You must fully open the top lid to access the second pocket and to avoid dumping the contents of the pockets when you open them. Accessing the pockets on the go is a bit inconvenient, and requires more deliberate attention when opening them.
Fortunately, the Camp 4 also includes a large external storage pocket on one end. While this doesn't provide precise organization for smaller items like the internal pockets, it's a great spot to stash wet shoes or dirty clothes separately from the main pack. Its convenient location and full opening zipper make it easy to access.
We tested the 95-liter version of the Camp 4 Duffel. Mountain Hardwear offers the same model in a 45, 65, and 135-liter volume.
The Camp 4 Duffel's 420-denier ripstop nylon construction is plenty durable for most applications but is noticeably thinner and lighter than most other duffels in this price range. Additional lining material on the ends and a more robust 840-denier ballistic nylon bottom layer add reinforcement, but still fall short of other products that have a 600 to 800-denier bottom layer in addition to a 900 to 1000-denier body material. This material should undoubtedly hold up to regular use for several years, but likely won't be able to withstand the type of extended abuse as other burlier models.
The Camp 4's construction quality is excellent. All of the seams are clean and strong, and there are extra reinforcement materials in all high-stress areas. The grab handles and daisy chains are constructed from a durable webbing material, and the shoulder straps are firm and strong. The overall fit and finish are high-quality; it just lacks the ultra-high-end material found on other bags.
Weighing in at 2.9 pounds in the 95-liter model, the Camp 4 is one of the lightest full-size duffel bags we've tested. While you're sacrificing a little bit of durability with the lighter-weight material, it strikes an admiral balance of performance and weight savings.
The Camp 4 again has dependable performance in this metric but falls just short of the top competitors. The 420-denier nylon material has a water-resistant coating that helps repel moisture, but similar to most other models in our lineup, the seams and zippers remain vulnerable. While a rain flap helps protect the main U-shaped zipper and a water-repellent cover fortifies the end pocket zipper, neither is entirely watertight and will eventually succumb to moisture. While this bag won't protect from a full underwater submersion or extended heavy rain, it is perfectly suitable to repel splashes and short bursts of precipitation.
Compared to the heavy-duty expedition duffels from all of the top outdoor manufacturers, this model is on the lower end of the price range. However, the majority of top-end duffels have a surprisingly small spread of prices. If the style and design of this bag suit your needs, then it would undoubtedly be a great value. Still, there are other options with more robust materials or more comfortable carry options that are similarly affordable.
The Mountain Hardwear Camp 4 Duffel has dependable performance that would be suitable for any type of travel, but lacks any noteworthy features to propel it into a higher ranking. It scores reasonably well across the board but gets outshined by other standout contenders.
— Nick Bruckbauer