In overall scoring, the REI Roadtripper 140 is nothing special. It is only in specific, meaningful ways that it edges ahead. This is precisely how we grant our Top Pick awards; when a product tops the charts for a particular, niche use, it earns our Top Pick award. The Roadtripper is easily a Top Pick. When you need a simple, light bag for part-time or human-powered use, the REI product is what we recommend most highly. For use as regular luggage and in extended rugged travels, it lacks the durability, weather resistance, and carry options that the top performers have. For Denali expeditions and for tucking into the corner of your vehicle or main luggage for auxiliary use, the Roadtripper is our Top Pick.
REI Co-op Roadtripper 140L Review
Cons: Limited durability, carry options and water resistance.
Manufacturer: REI Co-op
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Top Pick award winners seldom score high on our overall chart. We build our scoring rubric to replicate how most people will use a product most of the time. With duffel bags that rewards durability, ease of packing, and some packing options. For the sorts of adventures the REI Roadtripper excels at, there are different and competing criteria. Mainly, for human-powered adventures, your bag has to be just durable enough, then as light as is possible. The Roadtripper 140 walks this delicate tightrope. We like it for certain types of travel.
Ease of Transport
No backpack straps, no wheels, no padding; this is a simple bag. Fill it all the way, and you're essentially dragging it or carrying it between two people. These things are no problem if you are dragging it in a sled, if you don't need to move it very far, or if you don't fill it all the way. The scenarios in which the Roadtripper excels are those that don't require any of the "traditional" carry methods.
Virtually every other bag we have assessed carries easier than the Roadtripper 140. The good news is that the REI bag is lighter than almost every other model. If you're going to wrestle with your gear through the airport, at least this Top Pick winner isn't adding much mass to that load. The shoulder straps of the Editors Choice The North Face Basecamp are much more comfortable. The wheels on the Patagonia Black Hole Wheeled bag make moving 50+ pounds, across level ground, a breeze. Drag many of the burlier bags like the Best Buy Marmot Long Hauler and you won't see much damage to the rugged fabrics.
Ease of Packing
The long, straight-shot zipper of the Roadtripper opens pretty wide for an "i-shaped" zipper but doesn't reveal all the nooks and crannies as our preferred u-shaped zippers do. Again, this ease of packing drawback is a tradeoff for lightweight and reaching a price point. For a wider central opening, you pay with weight and cost. You choose the Roadtripper 140 for its low cost and low weight, and you accept the limitations.
As compared to other bags with i-shaped zippers, the REI Roadtripper has a large opening. It opens much further, relative to the bag size than the Yeti Panga 100 and the Bago Travel Bag. The u-shaped openings of the Editors Choice The North Face Basecamp and Osprey Transporter are much easier to work with but add weight, bulk, and expense.
Simple construction goes a long way towards durability. There are precious few parts of the Roadtripper 140 to fail. Nonetheless, to keep the weight and packability low (attributes for which we grant this bag our Top Pick award), REI has kept the fabric and zippers relatively lightweight. This bag, packed carefully, will last through a few big airplane trips and countless human-powered adventures. It won't hold up to extensive luggage use and the heavy beatings that typical travel entails.
It is durability that sets the Roadtripper 140 ahead of the former Top Pick winner Bago Travel Bag. The Bago has more zippers, thinner fabric, and a less robust "feel." With neither bag did we experience any failures, but we are confident that the Roadtripper will last longer. As compared to other award winners, the Roadtripper durability is very low. It will wear out far faster than the Editors Choice The North Face Basecamp, the Best Buy Marmot Long Hauler, and the Top Pick Yeti Panga.
In the two specific contexts for which we recommend the REI Roadtripper 140, weight matters. Whether brought on a human-powered adventure or carried as auxiliary luggage, you want your duffel to be lightweight. The Roadtripper, on our calibrated scale, weighs 1.86 pounds.
The close competitor Bago Travel bag weighs less, but not by much. At that lighter weight, you lose a lot of space and durability. Similarly, the Patagonia Lightweight Black Hole is a little lighter, in absolute terms. But the Patagonia light bag is much smaller. In informal calculations of weight to volume, the REI Roadtripper is way ahead of the rest. The other giant bags in our review weigh 2-3 times as much as this Top Pick winner.
Like durability, weather resistance is compromised for light, packable and simple construction. The main fabric of the REI is coated and waterproof, but the seams and zippers let water right through. With use and time, the waterproof coating of the 610 denier fabric will wear through and further reduce weather resistance.
Virtually all the other bags in our test are more weather resistant. The Bago suffers from the same issues as the Roadtripper, but the other close competitor Pagatonia Lightweight Black Hole is way more waterproof. The Osprey Transporter is far more cartable, but is made with similar fabric to the Roadtripper. Its water resistance is similar. The vinyl type bags (like Editors Choice The North Face Basecamp and Best Buy Marmot Long Hauler) are more protective than the nylon bags like the Top Pick Roadtripper. For maximum weather protection in the wettest of climates, check out the other Top Pick Yeti Panga. The Yeti is burly and fully submersible.
This is the bag to choose for two distinct and unique scenarios. Most people will choose it as a giant duffel that is easy to store and move around when not in use. In this context, it is the best in our review. Secondly, this is the bag that the expedition guides on our test team recommend most for mountaineering expeditions that involve dragging a sled. This sort of use isn't common, but it is demanding. You want a bag that is light, simple, water-resistant, giant, and easy to get in and out of. Some of these criteria are conflicting. The REI Roadtripper 140 strikes the balance we are looking for. Even as compared to many much more expensive options, the REI Roadtripper is the bag that we will choose for spring Denali mountaineering expeditions
Not only is the Roadtripper high performing in specific instances, but it's also an excellent value. The price is low, the performance is optimized for certain situations, and the construction is durable enough to last through many memorable adventures.
Denali guides that have access to many different duffel bag options choose and recommend the REI Roadtripper 140. For regular use, others will be more durable and easier to move around, but when you need a light, big, durable bag, this is the one we suggest.
— Jediah Porter