This was one of the most fully featured duffels in the our duffle bag review. It offers more pockets than any duffel we tested, internal compression straps, metal tubes on the end grab straps and more. It was the most weather resistant duffel in the review. It wasn't as nice to carry in backpack mode as similarly priced duffels, but if you are looking for organization in your duffel then the Mountain Hardwear Expedition duffel could be a good option.
Mountain Hardwear Expedition Duffel ReviewPrice: $125 List Pros: Lots of pockets, very durable
Cons: Zipper is hard to close when full, backpack straps not great, heavy
Bottom line: A fully featured bag that is durable but heavy.
Size options: 3 (S-L)
Volumne size options (liters): 50, 90, 130
Manufacturer: Mountain Hardwear
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Mountain Hardwear Expedition duffel is one of the most weather-resistant duffels in this review. We sprayed it with a garden hose and found it was slightly better than the Helly Hanson, Gregory or North Face models and only slightly behind the Black Diamond Huey. The Expedition also has the most features of any duffel we tested. While some might find the aluminum tubes on the end grab handles over-kill, we found them pleasant to pull on. For those into a little more organization, it has two internal zippered pockets and two external zippered pockets in addition to its main compartment, which is more pockets than any other duffel we tested. We especially liked the two internal pockets at each end that are great for little items you don't want getting lost but don't need to have super handy. Think pens, pencils or a toothbrush. (My climbing partners claim I have lost my toothbrush on nearly every expedition I have been on). This is a superior system compared to other duffels that feature a large zippered pocket underneath the lid. The information window was nice, easy to use and never lost a business card.
Of all this duffel's features, the one we didn't use was the internal compression straps. We liked other duffels with external ones, which we know are supposed to be more prone to catching while in transit. But we never had a problem on more than a dozen trips with The North Face Base Camp Duffel and half a dozen plane flights with the Gregory Alpaca. The Expedition's backpack straps had load lifter type buckles but they were a poor excuse for backpack straps when we tried to use them as such. That said, they were better than none at all. While the fabric was durable as a whole, it snagged on sharp edges a bit more than other duffels. A friend had slight problems with the main zipper and he thought the aggressively shaped curve of the zipper was the reason it got stickier quicker. However, we never saw any sign of this.
The cost of this duffel is in line with the Black Diamond Huey, The North Face Base Camp Duffel and the Gregory Alpaca Duffel. All of these feature backpack/shoulder straps, big D-shaped openings, are fairly water resistant and are very taut and built to last. The Mountain Hardwear Expedition sets itself apart in features and water resistance and falls only slightly behind in durability.
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: November 4, 2015
50% of 2 reviewers recommend it
Great duffle. Not as clean and simple as my Patagonia Black Hole bags but the extra pockets ARE nice. I've beat the crap out of the Hardwear duffel and it's still going strong. My only complaint is that it's a little flashy…yellow straps, huge logo and the massive metal handles make it stand out in a crowd.
I have several duffles and have used them for climbs in the US and abroad including Nepal. I always preferred the NF duffle so this one never was used. This MH duffle has now been updated and replaced by a newer version. I had a new one of the original models and several of the North Face duffels. The MH one shown in this test that I have was unused and you can see by my photo how the coating on the entire bag was simply delaminating and peeling off. I returned it to MH 10/2015 and they just replaced it with the new model. The new model is much lighter weight #3-10oz as it is made with a much thiner material than either the old MH or the NF duffels. It also has exterior and interior color changes, no outside obvious logos, no aluminum tubes on the end handles, a new outside daisy chain, 1 outside side pocket, 1 business card holder on the side, a bright orange interior color, 2 interior end zippered end pockets, and the same type of interior compression straps. It also has a U shaped top zipper opening backed by velcro and a new design for the shoulder straps.
I'm hoping that the new design will be an improvement over the old one. I have had no issues with the NF duffles.
Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.
I've had one of these for three years now and am happy enough with it. Unlike the reviewer I find the internal compression straps invaluable, when the duffel is heavily packed, for pulling the sides of the bag in tightly so I can get the zip fastened up. The outer material scratches easily but the bright colours stand out from all the usual brands when we arrive on site and open the trailers.
Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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