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Mountain Hardwear Expedition Duffel Review

A proper expedition duffel bag that is durable, comfortable, and has unique packing features, but comes at a high cost
Mountain Hardwear Expedition Duffel
Photo: Mountain Hardwear
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Price:  $240 List
Pros:  Comfortable backpack straps, unique features, internal organization system and compression straps, durable, extra-large opening
Cons:  Expensive, must attach straps together to make a grab handle, overkill for the everyday traveler
Manufacturer:   Mountain Hardwear
By Miya Tsudome ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 26, 2021
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73
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 16
  • Ease of Transport - 25% 8
  • Storage and Ease of Packing - 25% 9
  • Durability - 20% 7
  • Weight - 15% 5
  • Weather Resistance - 15% 6

Our Verdict

Not only an incredibly durable duffel bag, the Mountain Hardwear Expedition 100L has some of the most thoughtful features of any high-value expedition bag making it a great choice for the extreme adventure-seeker but a bit overkill for the everyday traveler. With contoured, padded foam backpack straps that make carrying heavy loads comfortable and manageable, a unique internal organization and compression system for innovative and easy packing, and materials made to withstand abuse from airplane to jungle to summit, this bag will make anyone who needs a serious adventure bag and is willing to shell out the money for it, quite content.

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Pros Comfortable backpack straps, unique features, internal organization system and compression straps, durable, extra-large openingRugged build, comfortable removable straps, variety of carry optionsDurable and weather resistant, comfortable carry options, convenient storage designEasy to pack, comfortable shoulder straps, excellent pockets, super durableLightweight, affordable, packs into own pocket
Cons Expensive, must attach straps together to make a grab handle, overkill for the everyday travelerOnly one small pocket, heavy, priceyShoulder straps are somewhat difficult to removeHeavy, not as comfortable as others, less refined styleLimited durability and weather resistance, no backpack straps
Bottom Line A proper expedition duffel bag that is durable, comfortable, and has unique packing features, but comes at a high costOur favorite model due to a heavy-duty build and versatile carrying systemsA fully-featured duffel with a sleek and durable design that's ready to tackle your next adventureThe longtime standard for expedition duffels that we have recommended for a decadeA light, packable, high-volume duffel with an affordable price tag
Rating Categories Expedition Duffel Sea to Summit Duffel Gregory Alpaca The North Face Base... REI Co-op Roadtripper
Ease Of Transport (25%)
8.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
4.0
Storage And Ease Of Packing (25%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
5.0
Durability (20%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
6.0
Weight (15%)
5.0
4.0
5.0
4.0
9.0
Weather Resistance (15%)
6.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
6.0
Specs Expedition Duffel Sea to Summit Duffel Gregory Alpaca The North Face Base... REI Co-op Roadtripper
Weight (Pounds) 3.8 lbs (100L one size) 4.3 lbs (90L model) 3.8 lbs (90L model) 4.1 lbs (95 L model) 1.6 lbs (100L model)
Volume Size Options (Liters) 100 Liters (one size) 45, 65, 90, 130 Liters 30, 45, 60, 90, 120 Liters 31, 50, 71, 95, 132, 150 Liters 40, 60, 100, 140 Liters
Material 840-Denier carbonate coated plain weave nylon 1000-Denier nylon tarpaulin laminate 900-Denier TPU diamond ripstop with additional bottom layer of 630-Denier nylon 1000-Denier phthalate-free TPE laminate body with additonal bottom layer of 840-Denier Jr. ballistics nylon 610-Denier coated Cordura polyester
# of pockets (excludes main compartment) 3 1 3 2 1
Backpack Straps Yes Yes Yes Yes No
D or I opening I D D D I

Our Analysis and Test Results

Our Analysis and Test Results


The Expedition 100 is made to carry heavy gear to remote corners of the world, and the evidence of this speaks for itself in its design that includes all the bells and whistles of a proper expedition bag. It shows great signs of durability and remains lightweight, making it the obvious choice for expedition travelers who want a bag that will last and won't weigh them down in the airport or in the mountains. For the serious adventurer, the features this bag provides will be worth its high price tag. But you can find durable bags for half the price, making it a bit much for the everyday traveler.

Performance Comparison


The Expedition 100L is easy to pack and comfortable to carry.
The Expedition 100L is easy to pack and comfortable to carry.
Photo: Miya Tsudome

Ease of Transport


The designers behind this duffel bag anticipated long flights and layovers to places with extreme weather, bumpy roads, high peaks or roaring rivers, and everything in between. This bag was made with ease of transport in mind, and it shows.

This bag stayed comfortable hiking up an approach trail full of...
This bag stayed comfortable hiking up an approach trail full of climbing gear.
Photo: Miya Tsudome

Its curved, padded, and ergonomic straps come already arranged in backpack style with an additional sternum strap but can be quickly adjusted to accommodate other carrying methods. Folding back a flap on each strap reveals velcro attachments, turning the backpack straps into a quick and easy grab handle.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Storage and Ease of Packing


The Expedition 100 also earns high marks for its unique storage and packing design, which allows you to keep the large duffel organized and make access and packing a breeze. The most intriguing aspect of this bag is its opening design, in which you unzip the main compartment with a single, straight zipper that extends all the way down and out to two wings that can be released from each side of the bag with nine-hook closures.

The Mountain Hardwear Expedition 100L zips open all the way to the...
The Mountain Hardwear Expedition 100L zips open all the way to the end of the wings on either side creating a large and accessible opening.
Photo: Miya Tsudome

Once the wings are released, the bag's opening becomes much larger, making it easy to access what's inside. There is also a stiff collar that can be folded out to give the bag rigidity and structure so you can easily pack and unpack with full, unencumbered access to the inside.

The collar of the bag folds over the top for easy access to the...
The collar of the bag folds over the top for easy access to the large interior.
Photo: Miya Tsudome

Bags with D-zip closures often have a floppy lid that can make it harder to really pack everything in the way you'd like. This unique system allows you to have full control over how everything fits in your duffel. Internally, compression straps allow you to organize your things into two different layers if you would like. You can put equipment or heavier things on the bottom, for example, cinch them down with the straps, and then fill the top layer with lighter items like clothing. Two grab handles allow you to pick up and move the bag around when it is open, making moving around base camp a simpler process.

Compression straps on the inside help keep contents in place.
Compression straps on the inside help keep contents in place.
Photo: Miya Tsudome

The interior also boasts two medium-sized zipper pockets on either end of the bag, one mesh and one nylon, for extra storage and organization.

Durability


While maybe not the highest-rated fabric out of all the high-end duffel bags out there at 840-Denier carbonate coated plain weave nylon, this bag is burly enough to withstand most extreme adventure travel. While the outside fabric is only 840-Denier (while other high-end expedition bags are typically 900 to 1000-Denier), there is also a bottom base fabric that is 1000-Denier Cordura nylon with a face coating to withstand abrasion and provide water resistance. The bottom of the bag is also reinforced with a layer of foam for more structure and extra abrasion resistance.

This might not be the most durable expedition duffel out there, but...
This might not be the most durable expedition duffel out there, but it is plenty strong with its 840D carbonate coated plain weave nylon.
Photo: Miya Tsudome

This bag is a quality product, and its price tag certainly reflects that. Our testers threw the loaded duffel around a gravel parking lot, lashed it to the top of our car, left it out in the rain, and wore it while bushwhacking through some manzanitas, and it came out with barely a scratch.

Weight


Our testers were surprised that a bag with so many bells and whistles could also be so light. Weighing in at a mere 3.8 pounds, the Expedition 100 is an excellent choice for those who want a durable adventure bag that is also lightweight. The comfortable backpack straps combined with the light weight of the bag itself are a winning combination.

The bag itself only weighs 3.8 pounds, and weight always matters...
The bag itself only weighs 3.8 pounds, and weight always matters when considering packs made for expeditions.
Photo: Miya Tsudome

Weather Resistance


The Expedition 100 provides good weather resistance, with its burly exterior and protective coating, tight seams, and a flap to protect the main zipper that can be cinched down to create a tight seal. However, it only has an 840-Denier exterior, which is still more fabric-like than the rubbery 1000-Denier of other expedition bags on the market. Its zippers and seams are also not treated to be completely waterproof, and we would not suggest submerging this bag or subjecting it to places where you might expect extended periods of heavy rain, as water will eventually get through.

This flap covers the main zipper and can be cinched down to create a...
This flap covers the main zipper and can be cinched down to create a seal against the elements on the Mountain Hardwear Expedition 100L.
Photo: Miya Tsudome

Value


The biggest downside to the Expedition 100 is its hefty price tag. Bells and whistles, durability, and lightness all come at a cost. Because we've tested other expedition duffel bags that are just as impressive at a quarter or even half of the cost, it is hard for us to say that this is a good value bag for anyone but the most invested expedition adventure-seekers.

Conclusion


Though this bag may be too expensive for the everyday traveler, it is a great choice for someone going on a long expedition to a far-off place where durability, storage, and weight are key elements for a bag that will have to keep up. Ultimately, we wish it were a more cost-effective duffel, especially since there are expedition bags out there that are more durable and weather-resistant at a much lower cost.

This duffel bag is on the expensive side but is a high-quality...
This duffel bag is on the expensive side but is a high-quality product for those willing to pay the price.
Photo: Miya Tsudome

Miya Tsudome