I’ve destroyed some suitcases over the years. In my travels – especially internationally – and I’ve come to appreciate the importance of a good quality bag.
At the same time, I appreciate flexibility in my packing. I’ve often traveled for a month or more at a time, with three or four different destinations and environments. I’m thinking of the time when I went from exploring in a tea field and watching pigeon races in Indonesia to presenting at an academic conference in Hong Kong. Or the time I had meetings in Seattle and Mali in the same week.
I need a bag that can stand up to the journey with me. I’ve seen bags perform well and I’ve seen bags literally fall apart – suitcases, duffles, carry-ons, backpacks, cases, you name it. I finally crossed over into well-made luggage with a couple of Eagle Creek bags about four years ago, and they have done really well for me.
But one thing that I haven’t had until now is a good stowaway duffel. I always take along an extra bag – one that packs inside my other suitcases. An extra bag is important for overflow, bringing back gifts or supplies, side excursions and day trips, or for replacing a bag that didn’t make it.
I’ve had a few stowaway bags that have done ok, but they’ve all worn out. One of the weakest spots has been the zippers, which for some reason just don’t do well. And stowaway duffels just never seem to look like a quality bag.
Imagine my delight, then, when I found the Gregory Mountain Products Supply Duffel. This bag packs up into its own pocket – much like a Helly Hansen packable rain jacket. Even packed up, it looks good. There’s a useful carry handle at the top, and the brick red pocket case shows off the Kevlar bottom. There’s also a useful label printed across the side so you can quickly tell that this is the 60 liter Supply Duffel (it also comes in 40, 90, and 120-liter sizes). In the packed configuration, it’s only 11 x 9 x 3 inches and it only weighs 1.41 lbs.
Opening it into the full bag, I was surprised how sturdy and large the 2+ cubic feet duffel feels. My Eagle Creek garment folder fit right into the Kevlar bottom of the bag, and I was able to fit a couple of loaded packing cubes, shoes, books, and a jacket in without any problem. The heavy-duty lockable zipper closes easily. The pocket which the whole bag itself was in a moment ago transforms into a useful side zipper pocket, where I can put my travel documents, chargers, and more.
To carry the duffel, there are four different options. First off, the reinforced padded handle allows you to carry it at your side. The second and third handles at each end let you carry it vertically or pull the duffel out of a pile of bags. And the fourth handle is the shoulder strap.
I was a bit skeptical of the shoulder strap system, but it works well. The two ends of the strap slide into pockets to attach; no clips or springs to worry about. The nice thing is that these strap attachments are lightweight, flat, and have no moving pieces. The strap attaches and removes very quickly and easily. The shoulder strap itself doesn’t have padding, but it is adjustable and works well for both over-shoulder and cross-chest carry.
Of course, I don’t know right now how long this bag will last, but it looks to me like it is a durable and practical addition to any adventurer’s or traveler’s luggage.