The North Face’s Base Camp Duffel is one of their trademarks, and we’d even hazard a guess that it’s probably one of the best-selling duffel bags ever made. But does that mean it’s the best out there?
Available in a number of different colours and in sizes ranging from the 50-litres to a whopping 150-litres, we decided to choose the 71L Medium for testing. It’s a size that’s a little too big to be a carry-on bag for flying so if you want one to fly with, you’ll want to consider the size S.
All of the sizes come with two removable shoulder straps with the same ergonomic shape that you’d expect on a good backpack. They’re adjustable and have a good deal of padding as well – meaning that long journeys with this duffel are definitely manageable.
On this particular version of The North Face Base Camp Duffel, the main compartment is accessed via a lengthways D-shaped zip and this is two-way so there’s potential to apply a lock to fix the two pulls together. Open the compartment up and you’ll find a large mesh pocket in the flap plus a smaller one tucked inside the bag. These pockets are both ideal for storing small items or for keeping your dirty clothes tucked away (but still ventilated!).
"the padded handles on on each end and side of the pack are double stitched and bar tacked for extra strength"
At the top end of the bag there’s one more zipped compartment which gives loads of extra storage space, big enough for, say, a used towel and a couple of books. None of the zips are waterproof, but the ones on the outside of the bag do have flaps covering them to keep all but heavy rainfall out.
Onto durability. This is one of the The North Face Base Camp Duffel 95L's best attributes. It’s made from a 1000 denier TPE fabric with a a 840 denier nylon on the base for extra reinforcement. What this means is that you’d really have to try very, very hard to tear it or damage it whatsoever.
A laminate is applied for water resistance, and this will do a good job of keeping the contents inside the bag protected when it’s placed on wet ground or when it’s raining, however, as I’ve already pointed out, the zips will let moisture in when over exposed.
Also worth mentioning are the padded handles on on each end and side of the pack, all of which are double stitched and bar tacked for extra strength. Along with the extra webbing hoops across the bag, these handles are useful if you want to lash the duffel onto the roof of a car or perhaps when you’re climbing and want to haul it up a cliff face.
A simple, but very reliable duffel bag that will last a long time.
The North Face Base Camp Duffel 71L
- Price: £110
- Weight: 1590g
95 litres / Removable shoulder straps / four padded side handles / D-zip opening / 1 side pocket, 2 interior mesh pockets / water-resistant ID pocket / 1000D phthalate-free TPE fabric laminate, 840D Jr. ballistics nylon / 40 cm x 70 cm x 40 cm.