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The North Face Base Camp Duffel Review

By: Kelly Burgess on October 26, 2016

Bottom Line

The North Face Base Camp Duffel's waterproof fabric may be made for adventure travel, but a number of owners use it for airline travel too. The padded, contoured backpack strips are a huge hit, and everyone loves the wide variety of available colors and patterns.

Pros

  • Light
  • Spacious
  • Backpack straps
  • Extremely durable
  • Comes in wide variety of sizes; colors

Cons

  • No wheels
Our Analysis
Specs
Read Amazon Reviews

Breaking it down

Features

Tricked out -- for a duffel. Like most duffel bags, The North Face Base Camp Duffel is fairly simple, relying on compression straps and an internal mesh organizer to keep your belongings straight -- something Joe Jackson at OutsideOnline.com is a fan of because it holds smaller items. He also appreciates the clear compartment on top of this duffel for slipping a business card in to ID the bag. A large, D-shaped main opening is easy to get into. Contoured, padded backpack straps give you the option of carrying this loaded duffel on your back -- good thing, since it doesn't have wheels. It also has regular duffel-style handles, twin haul handles on the ends and dual daisy chains you can use as attachment points or tie-downs. Experts and owners agree that the zippers are easy to use, with an easy glide

Convenience

Plenty of size options. The North Face Base Camp Duffel comes in six sizes: extra-small, small, medium, large, XL and XXL. The large duffel offers 5,495 cubic inches of storage space, measures 28 by 16 by 16 inches and weighs just 4 pounds. The beauty of this bag is that the variety of size and color options make it appropriate for a wide variety of uses. Editors at OutdoorGearLab.com note that this duffel is good for everything from expedition climbing to traveling in a variety of destinations, from urban to exotic

Appearance/durability

A lifetime purchase. The North Face Base Camp Duffel may seem a bit pricey, but its value is undeniable thanks to its extreme durability. It's made from 1000D polyester with a PVC-free thermoplastic elastomer coating; the fabric is waterproof, but the zipper is not. The editors of Backpacker magazine say this fabric "has proven virtually indestructible over a collective decade of testing"; most owners agree that this duffel is surprisingly durable, whether you've lashed it to a roof rack, to the back of a mule or checked it through with the airline. It comes in a wide variety of different colors -- although they vary depending upon the size you choose -- to satisfy anyone's taste, whether that's camo or couture. The Base Camp duffel comes with a lifetime guarantee, but it's unlikely you'll ever need it.

Our Sources

Ian Nicholson, Sept. 8, 2015

After intensive testing, The North Face Base Camp Duffel edges out seven other models for the top spot here. It also earns the Editor's Choice award. It gets kudos for ease of use, durability and comfort.

Joe Jackson, Aug. 24, 2015

Joe Jackson names The North Fact Base Camp Duffel XS his "main go-to for domestic travel." He says it's practically indestructible and he's a big fan of the organizational options.

Editors of Backpacker magazine, March 2012

The North Face Base Camp Duffel is included in this roundup of essential gear for adventure travel. Editor's note that it won a Gold Award in 2009, calling it a "staff favorite, again and again."  Links in this brief review lead to a more thorough review of this duffel bag.

Contributors to Amazon.com, As of October 2016

Nearly 140 owners give The North Face Base Camp Duffel an overall rating of 4.5 stars out of 5. Although this refers to it as a "men's" duffel, these reviews actually cover a wide variety of colors and sizes. In addition The North Face Base Camp Duffel is sold by a number of sellers elsewhere on this site and receives similar or better ratings.

Contributors to BackCountry.com, As of October 2016

More than 50 users rate The North Face Base Camp Duffel at BackCountry.com, giving it a near- perfect 4.9-star rating. It gets raves for its durability and capacity. Many say it's the perfect size for a carry-on bag.

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