The Top Duffel Bags
When the going gets rough, these duffels will protect your stuff
Any shopping bag will hold your gear, but if you're rafting the Grand Canyon or packing gear into Everest Base Camp, you need something burly to keep everything protected and organized. So, we talked to our favorite river and expedition guides and asked them what duffels they rely on, day after day in their wild, wet offices. Here are their recommendations.
The North Face Base Camp ($145)
I've had a Base Camp Duffel for over a decade now, and it's one of my all-time favorite pieces of gear. Not only does it swallow everything I need for an expedition, it's utterly indestructible and weatherproof. One key feature is that it is soft sided with no frame or rollers, which means you can easily strap it to it anything from mules to zodiacs. I've packed mine on a mule in a rainstorm in the Sierra Nevada and strapped it on the deck of a yacht while sailing off the coast of Antarctica and I've learned to never question its durability or weatherproof qualities.
—Colby Brokvist, senior backcountry guide for Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides
Patagonia Black Hole 120 ($120)
This is the only bag that I use for long-distance travel. The thing is huge, but also super manageable thanks to the backpack straps, and durable as hell. I’ve taken it to British Columbia, Mexico, the Grand Canyon, weddings in North Carolina, and numerous camping trips in between and I've never had any problems with it.
Black Diamond Touchstone Haul Bag ($180)
I've had this bag for nearly 10 years now. It's what I use for guiding canyoneering and rock climbing trips and pretty much everything but alpine climbing. The reason I love it is because it's basically indestructible, it stands up on its own, and is easy to load from the top. I often time have a 70-meter rope, a giant rack of climbing gear, two pairs of shoes, a gallon of water, and a ton of other crap. It's got enough space and carries comfortably.
–Nate Syndor, climbing guide and owner of Moab Desert Adventures
Watershed Yukon ($160)
This 70-liter duffel kicks butt. I love it because when you open it up completely, you have access to everything. It's a simple feature but compared to most dry bags which you have to dump everything on the ground to find your toothbrush, it's crucial. It’s also totally waterproof and has comfortable handles for carrying heavy loads.
—Matt Volpert, president of Kern River Outfitters
NRS Purest Mesh ($50)
Most people think that you only need a dry bag when on the river and that's not necessarily true. My favorite bag for river gear is the 98-liter Purest Mesh duffel. It's the perfect size for all my kayak gear, and the half mesh design allows for lots of airflow and cuts down on mold if the gear hasn't been fully dried. It's proven to be durable and the price point won't break the bank.
—Kyle Allred, co-owner of Adventure Whitewater in Northern California