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The North Face Base Camp Voyager Roller Duffel 29" Review

Attractive, well-sized soft duffel of dubious build quality designed to flow seamlessly between gear-heavy off-road adventures and casual biz-leisure trips to the city
the north face base camp voyager roller duffel 29" suitcase review
Credit: The North Face
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Price:  $280 List | $280.00 at REI
Pros:  Oversized treaded wheels, water-resistant features, organizational extras
Cons:  Questionable craftsmanship, no external compression option
Manufacturer:   The North Face
By Myrha Colt ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 27, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
63
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#12 of 13
  • Storage & Organization - 25% 5.0
  • Ease of Transport - 25% 9.0
  • Reliability - 25% 4.0
  • Weight - 15% 7.0
  • Style - 10% 7.0

Our Verdict

The North Face Base Camp Voyager Roller Duffel 29" lands on a sweet spot between sporty and urban casual, bridging the gear-hauling ease of a weather-resistant soft duffel with the versatility and understated adventure-ready good looks of a practical two-wheel roller. Beefy inline wheels are set to tackle every imaginable road experience, while hefty zippers, weather-resistant zip-flaps, and thick backside bumpers protect both bag and contents from the hazards of airline travel or offroad abuse, and a few bonus organizational extras give easy access to important items. Our biggest concern is durability and construction. Given the otherwise sturdy design of the bag, we were mighty surprised by the dubious performance of the duffel's pull handle, which dented and broke during testing. Deal-breaker? Possibly. For those who go hard, questionable craftsmanship isn't an option.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award 
Price $280 List
$280.00 at REI
$279 List$289 List
$289.00 at REI
$260 List
$199.00 at Amazon
$119 List
$110.24 at Amazon
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Pros Oversized treaded wheels, water-resistant features, organizational extrasSmooth ride, sensible features, excellent organization, great styleDurable construction, large capacity, rolls with ease across mixed terrainCavernous main compartment, scratch- and water-resistant, easy-roll spinnersInexpensive, rolls easily, large capacity
Cons Questionable craftsmanship, no external compression optionZippers could be smoother, low clearanceLimited interior organizational features, easy to overpackTough to transport on mixed terrain, easy to overpack, limited organizational featuresLow-grade materials, poor craftsmanship, sticky zipper
Bottom Line Attractive, well-sized soft duffel of dubious build quality designed to flow seamlessly between gear-heavy off-road adventures and casual biz-leisure trips to the cityA durable, stylish, and high-value suitcase suited for all types of travelThe perfect all-terrain rolling duffel with substantial storage capacity and useful organizational extrasAn oversized yet lightweight mega-bag with spinner-tight roll and control over smooth surfaces and surprisingly tough exterior constructionA low priced expandable suitcase with enormous storage capacity but dubious durability
Rating Categories The North Face Base... Timbuk2 Copilot REI Co-op Big Haul... Samsonite Omni PC H... Amazon Basics 30" H...
Storage & Organization (25%)
5.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
5.0
Ease of Transport (25%)
9.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
Reliability (25%)
4.0
8.0
9.0
9.0
6.0
Weight (15%)
7.0
6.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
Style (10%)
7.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
Specs The North Face Base... Timbuk2 Copilot REI Co-op Big Haul... Samsonite Omni PC H... Amazon Basics 30" H...
Measured Weight 9.1 lbs 9.4 lbs 9.6 lbs 10.3 lbs 11.6 lbs
Volume 94L 80L 109L 145L 127L
Liters per pound 10.3 8.5 11.1 14.1 10.9
Construction Zip open, duffel Clamshell plus topside u-shaped zip access, softshell Zip open, duffel Clamshell, hard-sided Clamshell, hard-sided
Measured Packed Dimensions 28.75" x 16.5 x 13.5" 26.5" x 14.5" x 13" 33.75" x 16.25" x 14" 30.5" x 20.5" x 13" 30.75" x 21" x 12
Expansion Zippers? No No No Yes Yes
Number of Wheels 2 2 2 4 4
Number of Large Interior Compartments 1 2 1 2 2
Interior Storage Features 1 mesh organizational pocket inside opening panel, 2 internal compression straps 2 mesh clam panels with 2 organizational pockets 2 mesh organizational pockets on inside of opening panel (one with key hook), 2 internal compression straps Elastic restraint straps in one-half clam, zip enclosure over opposite half; hanging zipper accessory pocket 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 exterior pocket, gear loops 1 pocket on top, 1 large sleeve 1 side exterior zip pocket. 1 small top zip pocket with piggy-bag strap attachment, plus daisy-chain gear loops None None
Compression System 2 internal compression straps No 2 external and 2 internal compression straps (4 in total) 2 elastic straps for restraint but no functional compression 2 elastic straps for restraint but no functional compression
Handle Height from Ground 42" 40.5" 42" Low: 36"
High: 41"
Low: 36.75"
High: 40.5"
Built-In Lock No No No Yes, TSA Approved No
Main Exterior Material Recycled polyester with recycled ballistic nylon Nylon and polyester Recycled 400-denier nylon/recycled 1,680-denier nylon (bluesign®-approved) Polycarbonate Extra-thick ABS, hard shell
Unique Features Oversized wheels, rugged chassis, ambidextrous handle collapse buttons; daisy-chain gear loops, water-resistant Liquids pocket and padded front pocket to fit 13" laptop; skateboard wheels 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 Built-in TSA-approved lock; large packing capacity; impressive water resistance, expandable, anti-scratch exterior 150D-polyester zippered clamshell enclosure, 3 organizational pockets

Our Analysis and Test Results

The water-resistant Base Camp Voyager is a perfect size and shape for nearly every type of escape and was an immediate favorite based on its crisp, sporty good looks and easy transportability. Rugged enough to cart heavy gear and organizationally simplified for carefree packing, this bag speaks to options and opportunity. But in the end, an unexpected failure of its pull handle in testing called all other design and performance merits of this otherwise sturdy suitcase into question.

Performance Comparison


the north face base camp voyager roller duffel 29" suitcase review - an attractive if not slightly sporty bag that can carry its weight...
An attractive if not slightly sporty bag that can carry its weight in city and outdoor environments.
Credit: Myrha Colt

Storage & Organization


94L is a lot of room, but this ready-to-roll North Face duffel doesn't feel overly large. The main compartment is a standard hard-base duffel issue, with a large u-shaped zip-access panel complimented by a single organizational mesh pocket, interior compression straps, a few external daisy chain links for gear, and an exterior easy-access zip-pouch up top.

Interior organizational pocket inside The North Face Base Camp...
Interior organizational pocket inside The North Face Base Camp Voyager Rolling Duffel - only one included.
Wheel base of the The North Face Base Camp Voyager Rolling Duffel.
Wheel base of the The North Face Base Camp Voyager Rolling Duffel.
Topside storage pocket on The North Face Base Camp Voyager Rolling...
Topside storage pocket on The North Face Base Camp Voyager Rolling Duffel.

Bottom structural supports may dictate the lay of the packing landscape inside, but if you travel with compression cubes and stuff sacks, or you like to toss or roll loose clothing into suitcases, the bag's interior will serve your packing style well. An optional organizational "zipper divider" for the central compartment is noted in the advertised listing, but we found no evidence of such a feature on the bag in practice.

the north face base camp voyager roller duffel 29" suitcase review - interior compression straps help to lock down gear and create...
Interior compression straps help to lock down gear and create balance in The North Face Base Camp Voyager Rolling Duffel.
Credit: Myrha Colt

Ease of Transport


A broad base with oversized wheels combine to make the Base Camp Voyager among the steadiest of the two-wheeled suitcases we tested. Solid corner wheel housings offer sturdy protection for the smooth-rolling mechanisms within. Combined with a thick plastic support stand/load handle at the bottom, walking and stopping was a breeze across nearly any road we set foot upon.

the north face base camp voyager roller duffel 29" suitcase review - traveling upstairs with the north face base camp voyager rolling...
Traveling upstairs with The North Face Base Camp Voyager Rolling Duffel.
Credit: Myrha Colt

A bright red retractable pull handle served well in street use tests, although the ambidextrous opening mechanism — activated by equally bright red buttons on either side — proved harder to use with one hand than any of the other pull handles we tested featuring only single-release buttons. But at a long 13.25 inches, it did allow for easy navigation in relatively crowded conditions with plenty of space to account for a casual gait even when tall.

the north face base camp voyager roller duffel 29" suitcase review - packed full, the base camp voyager rolling duffel is an ideal size...
Packed full, the Base Camp Voyager Rolling Duffel is an ideal size for trips of all lengths.
Credit: Myrha Colt

On larger suitcases like this, load handles also become critical components since you'll inevitably be grabbing and dragging the bag in and out of cars, trains, planes, and buses. Thanks to its generous handle placement, this two-wheeler is pretty well designed in this regard, with heavy nylon or support stand handles placed on all sides.

the north face base camp voyager roller duffel 29" suitcase review - haul handle on the north face base camp voyager rolling duffel.
Haul handle on The North Face Base Camp Voyager Rolling Duffel.
Credit: Myrha Colt

Spinner bags with swiveling wheels tend to take the prize for maneuverability in most urban settings. They can certainly turn on a dime and move comfortably right alongside you. Any bag with fixed inline wheels will, by default, require more space to travel and need more room for turns. But still, the Base Camp Voyager Roller Duffel rolled smoothly and comfortably on each trip and ended up one of our favorite bags in transit.

the north face base camp voyager roller duffel 29" suitcase review - large thickly treaded inline wheels on the the north face base camp...
Large thickly treaded inline wheels on the The North Face Base Camp Voyager Rolling Duffel.
Credit: Myrha Colt

Reliability


The rock-solid chassis and sleek recycled ripstop nylon fabric showed no signs of wear during our testing period. And the fabric's durable water repellent finish was a welcomed feature for a simple bag with rough and tumble aspirations. Although not fully waterproof, the slick TPU laminated 300-denier recycled polyester tarpaulin fends off light showers to keep your clothes dry, and the extended flaps over each zipper will provide a solid first defense for weaker exposure points where water might seep through. Just don't count on watertight security for your belongings in a heavier downpour, as this bag, like most all others, failed here in testing.

Water beaded on the outside of the water-resistant roller duffel...
Water beaded on the outside of the water-resistant roller duffel, The North Face Base Camp Voyager.
Water seeped into the interior of the The North Face Base Camp...
Water seeped into the interior of the The North Face Base Camp Voyager Rolling Duffel during heavy water testing.

All external zippers are large with sturdy toggles and extra thick nylon pull tabs, maximizing strength. Similarly, the oversized, heavy-treaded wheels seem both durable and easily replaceable using just a single hex key to the outside wheelhouse. The hard chassis also appears solid and ready for extensive road use out of the gate, which is encouraging. But after the results of our throw test (during which the suitcase's handle housing was dented, rendering the pull handle useless), any claims of durability and longevity seem highly diminished. Although we understand that one-off lapses in quality construction or production controls occur occasionally, it would be a gamble to assume such a repeat performance won't happen out on a tarmac far from home. So anyone with big adventure plans and risk aversion will need to weigh the odds accordingly and may be better off investing in a sturdier bag before takeoff.

Throw testing The North Face Base Camp Voyager Rolling Duffel.
Throw testing The North Face Base Camp Voyager Rolling Duffel.
The interior housing for the pull handle was damaged during throw...
The interior housing for the pull handle was damaged during throw testing, rendering the bag useless (as the handle would not extend).

Weight


At 9.1 pounds, you can pack the Base Camp Voyager with nearly 41 more pounds and still check it onto most airplanes. Yet, while the luggage is quite roomy, it's also not so oversized you are likely to run into the problem of an overweighted bag (unless perhaps you pack specifically small and heavy items). Still, it certainly isn't the lightest suitcase we tested, so a quick pass on the scale is always good practice. For road trips, we see no problems at all.

the north face base camp voyager roller duffel 29" suitcase review - the voyager rolling duffel has a great weight to volume ratio.
The Voyager Rolling Duffel has a great weight to volume ratio.
Credit: Myrha Colt

Style


The Base Camp Voyager Roller does a nice job of combining functionality with a sleek, sporty, urban outdoor look. It's not your typical business casual case nor a tactical gear hauler. Instead, it's got an understated excursion-ready charm that delivers just what you'd need for both work and play without a whole lot of extra fuss.

the north face base camp voyager roller duffel 29" suitcase review - backside of the the north face base camp voyager rolling duffel...
Backside of the The North Face Base Camp Voyager Rolling Duffel showing nearly full-length bumper protection.
Credit: Myrha Colt

Value


This suitcase is an investment, but one you could get enough mileage out of to justify the cost. Handle breakage incident aside, the bag's rugged overall construction is built to last, and its heavy-tread wheels and well-placed load handles make it very easy to use. Plus, with the brand's limited lifetime warranty, the resources should be available to address any unexpected material construction concerns — we would consider shipping our now damaged sample in for repair, without hesitation. Plus, the durable water repellent (DWR) finish on the bag is also non-PFC. That means it's not made with perfluorocarbons, which harm human health and our living environment. Buying a less toxic bag is better for your health, offering additional value to you.

Conclusion


This attractive, road-worthy wheeled duffel bag is one we'd be very happy to have at the ready for weeklong trips into the city or a month-long adventure into the wilds. No unnecessary frills complicate the design, so you're left with a simple yet flexible suitcase to meet your storage and transport needs with only a minimal amount of extraneous organizational support. You don't have to fear losing yourself in The North Face Rolling Base Camp Roller Duffel 29", but you can plan for a comfortable ride across airports, city streets, cobbled paths, and dirt roads bound for more exotic destinations.

the north face base camp voyager roller duffel 29" suitcase review - packed full of gear and ready to go.
Packed full of gear and ready to go.
Credit: Myrha Colt

Myrha Colt
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