5/5 | Overall Rating
The North Face Base Camp Duffel was our favourite duffel bag of the bunch that we reviewed this year. Much like its predecessors, it’s a tough, feature-filled and versatile duffel bag that truly stands out among the crowd.
Because of its outstanding performance, we awarded this bag the Best Overall Duffel Bag Award in our best duffel bag buying guide.
So, if you’re looking to buy a new duffel bag for your next big adventure, then look no further than The North Face Base Camp Duffel. It won’t let you down, no matter what use you may find for it, whether that be a long hiking trip to icy conditions, or as carry-on luggage on a weekend trip to see your family.
There’s definitely a lot going for the Base Camp Duffel, from its timeless design to its extremely rugged materials. In fact, we were hard pressed to find any real faults with it. Because of its ability to perform well across the board, the Base Camp enjoys from a level of versatility that most products (in almost in category) would never dream of; you wouldn’t look out of place carrying this bag in the gym or at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro!
The Base Camp benefits from four compression straps that line the length and width of the design which, when combined with that extremely thick material, help keep that familiar shape the way it should be. This makes this duffel bag extremely comfortable to carry as a backpack; putting those padded shoulder straps to use. The daisy chains and grab loops that line the sides of this bag also make it convenient to tie onto transport, or just to be able to drag the bag around when necessary.
Probably the most outstanding feature that the Base Camp has is its durability and water-resistance. It is by far the toughest and most rugged duffel bag on the market, and will easily stand up to pretty much any task you can throw at it. However, that durability does come at a cost: the Base Camp is a fair amount heavier than most of its competitors, weighing in at 1590g for the 71L version. We’d argue, however, that it gets away with the extra weight because of how comfortable it is to carry with those padded shoulder straps.
The shoulder straps on The North Face Base Camp Duffel make this bag a dream to carry around when necessary, at least when compared to most of its competitors. We wouldn’t recommend replacing your hiking backpacks or daypacks with a duffel bag in any situation, but you could definitely get away fine with carrying this bag to and from your transportation to wherever you’re staying.
The biggest variance in ease of transportation that you’ll find in duffel bags comes from whether they’re wheeled or not. In this case, the Base Camp Duffel is not wheeled. It doesn’t suffer too much because of that, but it definitely doesn’t perform at the top of the class if you compare it to bags that are wheeled.
The Base Camp comes in a healthy range of volume options: 31, 50, 71, 95, 132, and 150 litres. What volume to choose for yourself is up to you, as it all depends on what use you’ll be putting the bag too. If you need something for a two-week hiking adventure, go for the 95-150L models; but if you just need something to get you through a weekend, then 31-50L will do fine. It’s all subjective, but we would generally recommend something down the middle for that added versatility; probably the 71L model in this case.
Be careful when you decide, it can make the difference between a comfortable carry and a nightmare. The last thing you want to do is to either have too little or too much space for your trip, as you’ll either have to take less gear or you’ll pack too much, in which case your bag can get unnecessarily heavy. Also, bear in mind that the larger bags do come at heftier prices, so do factor that in.
We don’t just mean “can you stuff this bag to the brim with everything you need?”.
While that is important, it’s also about whether the bag will hold its shape when you do. In the case of the Base Camp Duffel, it’s a resounding success. The thick material, when combined with the four compression straps that line the sides of the bag, help this bag keep its tubular shape even when packed as full as possible. All this means is that it’ll still be comfortable to carry and easy to store on public transportation. So basically it just makes your trip that much smoother.
The D-shaped opening and interior mesh pockets make this bag east to pack and keep organised. The zippered exterior pocket adds that extra bit of organisation to allow you to keep your dirty gear apart from the rest of your stuff, or just to keep something for quick access.
There’s not a whole lot to say here, this bag is just about as good as it gets when it comes to durability. The 1000D phthalate-free TPE fabric laminate, 840D Jr. Ballistics nylon material combination give this rugged bag a tough skin that’s not likely to let you down.
On top of that, it will protect you from all but the worst of weather, so you shouldn’t have much of a problem with water either. All in all, an extremely tough bag.
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