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Favorite Duffle Bag for Air Travel

Original Post
John Vanek · · Gardnerville, NV · Joined May 2013 · Points: 0

What’s your favorite bag for climbing gear when flying domestic or international? Most flights have about a 50 pound limit before charging extra, so let’s keep the discussion about bags in this range. 

sandrock · · Colorado · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 115

green Army duffel bag.  I've heard many stories of people's bright yellow with huge North Face logo bags being stolen around airports, train stations, and mountain towns. Thieves know that a North Face / Mountain Hardware / Patagoina / etc bag has expensive climbing gear inside.

Get a plain colored bag with no obnoxious logos.

mpech · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 2

The Fish duffel bags are bomber , discrete, cheap.

Roots · · Redmond. OR · Joined Dec 2010 · Points: 20

No sure that you can equate volume to depends on what's in your kit.

What I like to avoid are bags with wheels as the frame, axle and wheels weigh too much. So I stick with bags that have backpack straps.

Also, as mentioned above, my trips are pretty much all different so I keep a nice inventory of different sizes. The more options the better.

Currently my main duffels are:

Marmot 60L
Rab 80L
BD Huey 100L

(all of these meet or are less than the 62" OA measurement)

As far as what I am looking for when shopping for a new bag in order:

Backpack straps
On Sale

If I could only have one duffel; it would currently be between a 80-100L TNF Basecamp or Patagonia Black Hole. I've used both models extensively and like both.

TJ B · · Lakewood · Joined May 2012 · Points: 26

Patagonia 70L Black Hole duffel with wheels is on sale right now for $230 (originally $330). I literally just bought one for summer travel five min ago

curt86iroc · · Lakewood, CO · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 69

marmot expedition duffel 90 L

Embarrassed to say · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 5

Problem is the wheel kit bags can weigh almost 8lbs....When you're already close to the 50lb limit, that adds up!

the schmuck · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 115

I am actually quite fond of the REI Wheelie Beast.  It is cavernous, has wheels, is relatively cheap, and I've been using mine since 2003 and it is still kicking.

SeƱor Arroz · · LA, CA · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 10

I own both a Marmot Long Hauler and a Patgonia Black Hole in size XL. They're both great but for air travel with gear I tend to lean toward the Marmot. I like that it compression straps on the sides to make it pack down a bit better. The Black Hole has gear daisy chains that I've never actually found useful.

BTW, REI Outlet seems to have the 105l Marmot on sale at a nice discount currently.​​​

Nick Andrasik · · Broomfield, CO · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 0

Big fan of the Black Hole. Ours fit a ton of stuff on a ton of domestic trips and a couple internationals. Durable, huge, and the backpack straps are a huge plus.

Brassmonkey · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2012 · Points: 115

Eddie Bauer 150L Maximus 2.0 Duffel.  Lifetime warranty and got it for $85

NegativeK · · Nevada · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 40

The Mountain Tools 120L World Tour has done me right.

Just be aware that while you can wear it on your back, it's not meant for distance.

jdejace · · New England · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 5

TNF Base Camp. Their best product. 

Brian in SLC · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Oct 2003 · Points: 15,693

Wheeled duffel only for me.  My back is probably wrecked from too many overloaded duffel bags without wheels.  That and heavy packs.  Take note, kids.

I have a Patagucci and a Gregory.  Wheeled.  Use them a fair bit, several times a year.  Climbing, skiing, canyoneering...

The Gregory is an older model that's probably pretty similar to their current split case roller.  Might be the Cache 28.  Got good volume.  I like the tension straps that sorta give some backup to the zippers (two per side).  Probably weighs nearly 10lbs empty, so, eats up 20% of your weight allowance per bag.  Seems well made.  Big wheels which handle curbs and rough surfaces fairly well.

The Patagonia model is pretty similar to the Black Hole.  Also like the straps that sorta back up the zipper.  I blew out one of the wheels and took it to the local outlet and they fixed it for free, while I waited.  Burly duffel.  Mines a bit older model and has that kinda waterproof zipper thing which seems strong.

For years I carried the older Wild Things duffels for trips.  Really loaded those rigs up.  A number of Alaska and Canada climbing trips with 80 to 120 pounds of stuff, back in the daze where the airlines would give you a pass at the curb on overloaded bags (especially with a nice tip for the curb check fellers).  Running with an overloaded duffle bag to make a flight in Argentina, Anchorage, Yakutat, Ketchikan, Katmandu...I can't imagine what damage I did to my back.  Cumulative for sure.  

Get wheels and ultralight gear.  Keep the weight off your back.  Especially asymmetric weight...(ie, a duffel on one shoulder).  YMMV.

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
Embarrassed to say wrote: Problem is the wheel kit bags can weigh almost 8lbs....When you're already close to the 50lb limit, that adds up!

Yes, yet they are so nice to drag through an airport instead of carrying them.

Caleb Schwarz · · Colorado Springs, CO · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 125

If I were going to pay full price for a new one, the fish bags are where I would go.
I have the old version of the 90L Marmot long hauler (more burly and heavier than the new one) and it's incredible.
I recently picked up the Arc'teryx v80 roller for less than 50% retail and it's super cool. Everything on it is easily replaceable, exoskeleton is super durable and protects the contents, rolls like a dream, etc. That being said, I wouldn't ever pay full price for it, and it's not as versatile as a traditional duffel. Weighs 2.5 pounds less than the rolling thunder from TNF.

E K · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2018 · Points: 0

Mammut cargo light is tough, has backpack straps, compression straps, lockable zippers and its collapsible. It comes in sizes 30-140L I think. Its specifically designed for air travel and mountaineering. Also backcountry usually has it on sale.

Graham Johnson · · Gunnison · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 0

For what it’s worth, my marmot long haul duffel bag fell apart after one trip. North face base camp duffle went on the same trip, is years older and still works great. The marmot is a pos.

I used to use Lowe alpine travel totes - super lightweight, big, last a few expeditions. Other companies make something similar. 

ChrisJohnsonMT · · Missoula, MT · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 55

Mystery Ranch Mission 90L

Very well designed and built (as all their products). Tried on all the major brands and found this was the most comfortable. Pockets where you want them.

caughtinside · · Oakland CA · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 1,450

Wheels cost a lot more, but boy are they worth it. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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