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Duffels and Packs

Outside magazine, October 1995

Duffels and Packs

The best in no-sweat cramming
By Bob Howells

Traveling is as much about carrying things as seeing sights. Whatever you're toting there's sure to be a better way. Good construction is a given with these bags--clever design is what sets them apart.

Eagle Creek Padded Travel Pouch
At $26, the handiest thing this side of duct tape puts all the necessities of travel life wherever you want them--in hand, over the shoulder, or at the waist. Closed-cell foam padding around the main compartment keeps a compact point-and-shoot protected along with a few rolls of film. Multiple pouches stow everything else: There's one each for sun-glasses, a wallet, passport, and plane tickets. Eagle Creek, 1740 La Costa Meadows Drive, San Marcos, CA 92069; 800-874-9925.

High Sierra Drop-Bottom Wheeled Duffel
An excellent solution for the chronically overpacked. High Sierra's brand new duffel ($125) has a 29 by 16 by 13 main compartment, gusseted side pocket, protective bottom board, low-profile wheels for easy rolling, and a removable (and hangable) garment bag in a bottom compartment. High Sierra, 880 Corporate Woods Pkwy., Vernon Hills, IL 60061; 800-424-7627.

Crater by Gregory Extruder Snowboard Pack
Backcountry snowboarding may or may not be a gear-thrashing experience: The Extruder ($100) assumes the worst. It will tote a board neatly via a grippy, rubberized front panel and two wide compression straps. The 2,400-cubic-inch pack is ideal for serious day trekking and is also a worthy ski carrier. Gregory Mountain Products, 100 Calle Cortez, Temecula, CA 92590; 800-477-3420.

REI Aquatrek Duffel/Pack
Put all that funky beach, river, or gym stuff inside this duffel-shaped, mostly mesh backpack ($35), and it's aired out and drained by the time you're back in the car. The 13-by-23-inch pack has 3,000 cubic inches of storage space--enough for a mask, fins, towels or a peck or so of tropical fruit. It loads via a drawstring-closing top or a full-length side zipper. REI, Sumner, WA 98352-0001; 800-426-4840.

Best American Duffel No. 8
When you simply must carry an expedition-load of stuff, our vote goes to the No. 8 bag ($110) from Best American Duffel (BAD). The beastly, 36 by 18 by 14, 7,800-cubic-inch bag has wrap-around compression straps, end handles for two-person carry, and two full-length inside pockets. All webbing and straps are seat-belt nylon and zippers are huge and strong. Best American Duffel, 2601 Elliott Ave., Suite 4317, Seattle, WA 98121; 800-424-2247.

Jansport World Tour Convertible Pack
In backpack mode, the convertible world Tour ($205) has all the trappings of a good internal-frame, Cordura backpack. But you can go "legit," too: Tuck away the shoulder straps and hipbelt and toss your 6,575-cubic-inch suitcase on the conveyer. Jansport, Box 1817, Appleton, WI 54913; 800-346-8239.

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