REI Co-op Big Haul Recycled Rolling Duffel 34" Review
Cons: Limited interior organizational features, easy to overpack
Manufacturer: REI Co-op
Compare to Similar Products
REI Co-op Big Haul Recycled Rolling Duffel 34"
$289.00 at REI
|$279 List||$260 List|
$199.00 at Amazon
|$250 List||$119 List|
$110.24 at Amazon
|Pros||Durable construction, large capacity, rolls with ease across mixed terrain||Smooth ride, sensible features, excellent organization, great style||Cavernous main compartment, scratch- and water-resistant, easy-roll spinners||Ultra-lightweight, large wheels, useful organizational features||Inexpensive, rolls easily, large capacity|
|Cons||Limited interior organizational features, easy to overpack||Zippers could be smoother, low clearance||Tough to transport on mixed terrain, easy to overpack, limited organizational features||Small storage capacity, jiggly awkward handle, dubious longevity||Low-grade materials, poor craftsmanship, sticky zipper|
|Bottom Line||The perfect all-terrain rolling duffel with substantial storage capacity and useful organizational extras||A durable, stylish, and high-value suitcase suited for all types of travel||An oversized yet lightweight mega-bag with spinner-tight roll and control over smooth surfaces and surprisingly tough exterior construction||An ultra-lightweight roller duffel great for road tripping but less useful for airline travel||A low priced expandable suitcase with enormous storage capacity but dubious durability|
|Rating Categories||REI Co-op Big Haul...||Timbuk2 Copilot||Samsonite Omni PC H...||Osprey Ozone 75L Wh...||Amazon Basics 30" H...|
|Storage & Organization (25%)|
|Ease of Transport (25%)|
|Specs||REI Co-op Big Haul...||Timbuk2 Copilot||Samsonite Omni PC H...||Osprey Ozone 75L Wh...||Amazon Basics 30" H...|
|Measured Weight||9.6 lbs||9.4 lbs||10.3 lbs||5.2 lbs||11.6 lbs|
|Liters per pound||11.1||8.5||14.1||14.4||10.9|
|Construction||Zip open, duffel||Clamshell plus topside u-shaped zip access, softshell||Clamshell, hard-sided||Zip open, duffel||Clamshell, hard-sided|
|Measured Packed Dimensions||33.75" x 16.25" x 14"||26.5" x 14.5" x 13"||30.5" x 20.5" x 13"||26.5" x 17" x 12"||30.75" x 21" x 12|
|Number of Wheels||2||2||4||2||4|
|Number of Large Interior Compartments||1||2||2||1||2|
|Interior Storage Features||2 mesh organizational pockets on inside of opening panel (one with key hook), 2 internal compression straps||2 mesh clam panels with 2 organizational pockets||Elastic restraint straps in one-half clam, zip enclosure over opposite half; hanging zipper accessory pocket||Compression panels with 2 straps||One-half clam with elastic restraint straps, one-half large zip enclosure with 2 zip mesh pockets, hanging zip accessory pocket|
|Number of Exterior Pockets||1 side exterior zip pocket. 1 small top zip pocket with piggy-bag strap attachment, plus daisy-chain gear loops||1 pocket on top, 1 large sleeve||None||1 liquid pocket, 1 media-sized slide pocket, 1 small top containing tuckaway carry-on strap||None|
|Compression System||2 external and 2 internal compression straps (4 in total)||No||2 elastic straps for restraint but no functional compression||2 external compression straps, 1 internal panel set||2 elastic straps for restraint but no functional compression|
|Handle Height from Ground||42"||40.5"||Low: 36"
|Built-In Lock||No||No||Yes, TSA Approved||No||No|
|Main Exterior Material||Recycled 400-denier nylon/recycled 1,680-denier nylon (bluesign®-approved)||Nylon and polyester||Polycarbonate||210-denier nylon honeycomb plus 450-denier packcloth||Extra-thick ABS, hard shell|
|Unique Features||Oversized wheels, rugged chassis, full-length bumpers, 2 internal and 2 external compression straps, stopper-stand, carry-on piggyback clip, 6 haul handle options, daisy chain lash points, water-resistant||Liquids pocket and padded front pocket to fit 13" laptop; skateboard wheels||Built-in TSA-approved lock; large packing capacity; impressive water resistance, expandable, anti-scratch exterior||Ultralight, large, treaded wheels, exterior slide document pocket, carry-on tuckaway strap||150D-polyester zippered clamshell enclosure, 3 organizational pockets|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Big Haul offers an admirable 109 liters of storage with a host of protective, functional, and useful design features to make it one of our favorite bags in the suite. It stands out as the most durable, versatile, and rugged choice among all, as ready to haul gear off into the Himalayas as it is ready to squish into the trunk for a Thanksgiving family road trip.
Storage & Organization
Let’s talk stuff. ALL the stuff. This is a suitcase prepared to absorb whatever you throw at it without great thought to weight and bulk. The soft top opening and structured base make toss-and-go packing a breeze, with room for whatever multi-season basics and good-time extras you might be inclined to carry along. The spacious main compartment is also ideal for travel cube organization, with a large opening panel making it easy to layout a full trip wardrobe across its entire length and a couple of extra mesh organizational zip pockets inside that flap to bump up your ready-access options.
Going big? Take advantage of the two interior compression straps to restrain and reduce gear and clothing to the back of the bag, leaving space available to toss in final toiletries and other last-minute essentials across the top. When bulkier gear and seasonal supplies are involved (think winter boots and that puffy extra coat), you’ll appreciate the addition of four external compression straps as well, with hefty latches to secure the bag’s final contents into a more streamlined and balanced two-wheeled ride.
Outdoor enthusiasts who rely on technical gear or engage in activities on the go will appreciate several exterior features. To start, a zip pouch found along one length of the duffel is a handy addition to toss in small items for easy reach. A deck of cards, phone charger, small book, and/or snack items are perfect use, even if not much more will fit when the main compartment is maxed out. The addition of a piggyback clip at the top of the bag is helpful for securing your carry-on while in motion. And if you’re a real activity hound on travel days, you may just find a use for the daisy-chain links sewn around the bag’s middle seam, making easy lash points to temporarily carabiner loose and in-use items.
Given its substantial volume, uncluttered access, and relatively unstructured organizational design, the Big Haul is THE big bag to choose for a weekend ski trip or a month-long jaunt through Europe, with plenty of room for necessities and some extra space to “pad up” with souvenirs along the way. But there’s a catch: if you are boarding a flight, be sure to pull out your scale and verify as you go, or you could easily overshoot that 50-pound checked baggage maximum on most airlines. Want all the versatility but in a slightly less oversized form? Check out the more accessible 30-inch, 87L version. It will be far less likely to surprise you with overweight fees at the airport.
Ease of Transport
The mighty oversized inline wheels — a whopping 4-inches in diameter and more than 1 inch thick — installed in the rugged chassis of the Big Haul impressed us over every type of terrain we tackled. Rolling effortlessly over sidewalks, concrete driveways, and lawns, and even navigating gravel and rocky roads with comparable ease, this multipurpose two-wheeled suitcase generated the most confidence of any bag in our test suite when the trip ahead was rough or unknown.
Composed of heavy plastic and featuring a single smooth, rubberized center strip sandwiched between the thick tread of the outside edges, this pair of inline wheels are well-equipped with sufficient clearance and endurance to tackle the most unexpected and uneven surfaces of rural, beach, or mountain destinations. Yet we felt just as well supported when pulling the suitcase along between airport lounges and downtown hotels, appreciating the lack of notable vibration while in motion and the in-hand comfort of its sturdy retractable handle.
Even fully loaded we were able to maneuver the Big Haul through crowds, up stairs, and around corners with ease. In scenarios in which hauling was necessary — say airport baggage claim, rental car buses, car trunks, or tightly placed mountain cabin stairs — we became instant fans of the five well-padded loading handles found on each side of the bag and across the soft-sided front. A sixth haul handle is also found at the bag’s base, where a thick plastic stopper is placed to keep it upright and stationary and then plays double-duty when loading begins. No matter what angle you come at the suitcase from, nor how overpacked you may be, you’ll always be able to get a grip and muscle the thing into position. If our test period is any indication, the Big Haul will deliver an above-average ride for travelers and gear, whether your trip plan carries you across town, up mountains, onto a beach, or anywhere in between.
The exterior of the REI Big Haul stands strong and primed to face aggressive baggage handlers, inclement weather, or whatever rutted road adventures may come in between. A mix of super-tough 1,680-D water-resistant ripstop nylon is built around its structured hard-plastic base with a more pliable 400-D recycled nylon around its duffel top. This ensures the bag won’t easily tear when bouncing from plane and train to automobile but has the flexibility to stack and smoosh-pack tightly into non-standardized spaces. Set more fragile or bulky items toward the hard rectangular bottom, leaving room for softer clothing and personal items to provide padded protection from above.
An extended bumper runs across the full length of this suitcase to protect the already burly ripstop nylon from hazardous trips up and down stairs, and long tosses from baggage truck to tarmac asphalt. While the Big Haul did have disappointing results under the heaviest flow conditions of our water tests (as did nearly all other bags in the suite), the duffel’s water-resistant exterior with extended zipper flaps repel water reasonably well on the whole. So we believe it’s well set up to provide basic protection under light rain or short-term exposure. We found it’s only when the zippers or pull-handle housing were hit by a downpour that one needed to have more concern.
Bomb-proof zippers, a super sturdy pull handle, padded loading grips, and massive oversized wheel housings demonstrate significant thought was given to creating an all-purpose adventure suitcase suitable to a myriad of scenarios any weekend warrior or long-distance expeditioner might scratch out on a to-do list. The effort worked and appears to have delivered a bag with significant durability to span a long lifetime.
The Big Haul won our vote with a simple recipe: high-quality materials, smart design, and solid craftsmanship. And REI’s easy return policies plus limited warranty agreement for manufacturing defects in REI-branded products make it easy to trust you’ll have the brand’s full support if future issues arise (outside of normal wear and tear, of course).
Weighing a mere 9.8 pounds, this is a reasonably lightweight piece of luggage with a whole lot of hauling power. Expect to stuff 40.2 pounds of gear into the Big Haul before the bag is full, so be careful if you need to stay under 50 pounds for the airline. Or, stretch that capacity maximum well beyond for road trips and other vehicle travel.
No matter how full you pack, this bag allows for a balanced distribution of weight from top to bottom using both interior and exterior compression straps to streamline the fit. When used appropriately, the straps also ensure no problems with tipping so the case can be left standing independently and out of hand.
This REI roller suitcase is neither fashion-forward nor substantially out of date. It offers an outdoor activity-appropriate aesthetic, without dialing up the tactical or sport-specific vibes, and could easily sub as a business casual suitcase or a toned-down city roller.
The muted mustard color of our test case stood out on the carousel at luggage claim but became notably more dingy with continued use over time. If your needs require a suitcase with greater resistance to the marks of travel, opt for the more classic black colorway instead as it is far less likely to show discoloration or wear in the immediate.
A great bag at a great price? That’s the definition of value in our book. And this is an easy-rolling big bag that delivers durability, versatility, and an understated casual appeal for urban and outdoor travelers alike. But it’s the middle-of-the-road pricing paired with top-tier performance that ultimately nabbed the REI Big Haul award winner status in our book.
The REI Big Haul Recycled Rolling Duffel is a great choice for anyone looking to streamline their packing and hauling experiences into one big, flexible go-to bag. Its thoughtful outdoor-friendly design features set it up to easily serve the needs of anyone who rocks casual style and needs the versatility to bounce from a gear-heavy backcountry expedition to a quick mid-city business trip or an extended family road trip, all without losing a beat.
— Myrha Colt
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