Hands-on Gear Review

Wild Things Mule Duffel Review

A Wild Things Mule Duffel
By: Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Mar 19, 2013
Price:  $115 List
Pros:  Bomber, Lightweight
Cons:  straps aren't as comforatable for heavier loads
Manufacturer:   Wild Things
84
OVERALL
SCORE
  • ease of Transport - 20% 7
  • Ease of Packing - 25% 7
  • Durability - 20% 10
  • Weight - 20% 10
  • Weather resistance - 15% 8
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Our Verdict

We gave our Outdoor Gear Lab Best Buy Award to the Wild Things Mule Duffel. It was a tough call between it, the Helly Hanson duffel and the Gregory Long Haul. All the three of these duffels are close in price and weight. What set the Wild Things Mule apart was durability, it was just straight up one of the most durable duffels we have ever used. We have used the Mule duffel for over 10 years of expedition travel around the globe and it looks better than some duffels after 3 or 4 trips. All the Wild Things duffels, the Mule, Burrow, Goat and Carry On are all 100 percent made in the USA. They are also nearly the lightest in the review — only slightly heavier than a Gregory Long Haul Duffel but more than a pound lighter than the next closest model and over two pounds lighter than the heaviest duffel. The Mule Duffel is the longest bag we looked at, making it a good choice for people with abnormally-sized items or someone who needs a duffel that holds longer two-section trekking poles. This duffel has a clear information window and an external pocket but otherwise does not have many bells and whistles. These duffels are not they easiest to haul around because they lack shoulder or backpack straps. We used this duffel on more than 20 trips, proving it is durable and well made. If you are looking for a lightweight, burly, long duffel for extended climbing trips or expedition travel and don't need all the bells and whistles, then the Wild Things Mule, Burrow, Goat, or Carry On could be a great option.


Our Analysis and Test Results

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Likes


The Wild Things Mule, Burrow, Goat and Carry On are nearly the lightest duffels we tested, and are only marginally heavier than the Gregory Long Haul. They are also the only duffel bags we tested that are made in the USA. The large, clear information window pockets helped it stand out while in a pile of bags. At first glance the Wild Things Mule Duffel appears not as tough as some of the others because it uses ballistic nylon material versus the now more common urethane or coated vinyl. But after extensive testing on dozens of trips we found these bags to be extremely durable. We didn't love the fact that there is only one strait-across zipper (we prefer a D-shaped zipper opening). But because of the narrower profiles of these bags, the straight zipper works okay. We do think that the Wild Things models are slightly easier than the similarly zipping Gregory Long Haul duffel. We also like it that volume options for the Wild Things duffels range from 42 to 144L.

Dislikes


The biggest drawback is that there isn't a good way to turn this bag into a backpack for longer distance carries; you can use the handles as shoulder straps but they dig in with heavier loads.

Using the grab handles as shoulder straps on a Wild Things Mule
Using the grab handles as shoulder straps on a Wild Things Mule

The side pocket is a little hard to access when the bag is full, but at least it was accessible without having to break into our commonly over-packed bag. The Wild Things duffels are near the bottom of our review for water resistance. That said, we used them on glacier sleds in the Alaska range where they worked fine because of the cold temps and only having to deal with snow.

Value


Compared with the similarly priced non-shoulder/backpack strapped Gregory Long Haul Duffel, it is only $10-$15 more expensive, size to size. The Wild Things Mule is less expensive than most of the duffels we tested and is one of the toughest. It is a good, no frills duffel that is super tough but still lightweight, all for a good price. If you need a dependable long-lasting duffel but don't want to break the bank and are willing to sacrifice a few luxuries, then the Wild Things duffels are good models to check out.

Ian Nicholson

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Most recent review: March 19, 2013
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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 (4.4)

100% of 3 reviewers recommend it
 
Rating Distribution
6 Total Ratings
5 star: 33%  (2)
4 star: 67%  (4)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Climber

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   Jun 12, 2011 - 06:11pm
JaidieLei · Climber · New England

Great review…but I have to say, I've had mine since the 90's and have used this more than my luggage while traveling. It may not have a shoulder strap but I never had a problem wearing it as a back pack with the carry straps. The straps are wide, don't dig in and that bag carries more than any backpack I could have used. So again-great review, I just disagree you can't use it as a backpack, in fact, that is one of the reasons I have continuously used it!



Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.

Climber

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   Feb 26, 2011 - 08:37pm
Grayarea · Climber · CA

Had this duffel bag for about 20 yrs now, has been to three continents, and many, many road trips!! Very bomber zipper which is important lashed on top of your ride or in a airport. Too bad some large African rats chewed into it on the way to Kili, Fortunately they didn't chew my Sleeping bag.



Climber

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   Apr 1, 2010 - 04:40pm
Morgan · Climber · East Coast

I have four of the Wild Things BURRO Bags. Two since the 1980s. They're great and still going strong. Used them on lots of trips. And they are a very good size. Haven't used a MULE bag, but I can fit in one. They're big!. They also make a GOAT bag, which is made from the same materials, but smaller than the BURRO. The ballistics nylon, seatbelt webbing and extra beefy zippers are all bomber. Something you will appreciate. There are some other duffels out there which are a little more sophisticated (Black Diamond Huey, North Face Expedition Duffels, etc.) These are good as well and stand up a little bit better when you are packing because the materials are stiffer and the cut is more sophisticated, but if you want to strap your load to a Yak, you won't be disappointed with the burly Wild Things gear.




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   Apr 1, 2010 - 04:30pm
apogee · Climber

I currently own three Mule Bags, one of them for about 20 years, and it's still crankin'. I use for work and play, and they have all seen a lot of air travel over the years. They are big (a small person will fit in it), simple, and very tough- I prefer a bag with fewer features, personally. The bag will crush and pack when empty, much moreso than other bags with haulbag material exteriors. Careful packing is necessary as it doesn't have much protection. Though it doesn't have true backpack straps, I have frequently slung the webbing handles over my shoulders, backpack-style- not very comfy, but do-able for short distances.



Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.

Climber

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   Apr 1, 2010 - 04:24pm
slabbo · Climber · fort garland, colo

These seem as tough as the old ones and that's tough ! I had my first mule bag for 15+ years and still use it for bulk dry storage. The waterproofing is shot, but over 15 years so what. Bomber.



Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.


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