The North Face Base Camp Duffel Review
If you’re constantly traveling like I am and need a tough bag that can squish into areas, holds a ton of gear, and can be carried like a backpack then you need to look no further. The North Face’s Base Camp duffel is a tried and true companion for the well traveled adventurer.
I’ve owned the Base Camp duffel (medium) for almost 4 years now. My wife and I bought it using a gift certificate given to me for our wedding in 2014, so we bought this (I believe from Backcountry.com) for about $20.
In hindsight, I would gladly spend full price for this bag time and time again.
Here is our The North Face Base Camp Duffel review.
The North Face Base Camp duffel is a well designed cavernous bag that can help much more than you ever think possible. Because it also converts into a backpack (there are two backpack straps that are also removable, though we’ve never taken them off) it is easy to transport as well if you’re lugging it to trains or airplanes as you go.
Made out of 1000D phthalate-free TPE fabric laminate and 840D Jr. Ballistic s nylon, this bag is as rugged as they come. There’s a reason why when The North Face sent seven of their athletes to Antartica for a month to scale some of the continent’s biggest peaks and report back, they all packed Base Camp duffels (image via Jimmy Chin):
I’ve taken this bag to Europe multiple times, Costa Rica, and on many many ski trips to the Sierras and Rockies. It has never allowed the gear inside to get wet, packs down well and can be crushed into small spaces, and hasn’t let me down yet. And almost four years in, it looks almost like new.
As noted above, the Base Camp duffel has an incredible amount of storage. We have the Medium size, which is advertised at 71 liters of available volume. Over the years we’ve thrown everything you can imagine in there.
On our most recent long trip to Europe (one month in Barcelona, Switzerland, and Chamonix) we packed it as full as it could go. We had:
- Two pairs of ski boots;
- Two pairs of ski pants;
- Two ski shells;
- Some wine on the way back;
- Clothes packed in the ends of the duffel to pad everything;
- Three sets of base layers for skiing.
My wife (5’3″) carried it as a backpack while in transit. When set up correctly with soft things in the top and heavier/bulkier things padded, it’s fairly comfortable for a mile or so walk.
Storage grade: A
As mentioned, the Base Camp duffel is coated in a heavy duty fabric laminate over nylon, so it is basically indestructible. I’ve thrown this thing in puddles, had it in the pouring rain of California and the snows of Chamonix and Switzerland, and it has stood up to every test with style.
Some duffel bags and other cases really fall down with the zipper, but that is where the Base Camp shines. Its zipper is heavy duty and has never snagged nor felt in danger of bursting even when the bag was maybe a little bit too full.
Durability grade: A++
The Base Camp duffel has backpack straps for carrying as well as a side handle and a handle on each end of the bag to allow for easy carrying.
The Base Camp duffel has two main storage areas:
- The main section, which is oblong in shape;
- A zippered pocket in the top flap
The main area, as mentioned above, can carry a ton of gear. We easily put our AT ski boots inside and had a ton of space left for the other gear mentioned.
The top zippered pocket comes in handy when checking the bag, as you can use it for sharp things (like a Swiss Army knife) as well as softer things like bandanas and scarves. It’s a great catch-all as well for those things that could get lost in the main area, and thus you want to keep them separate.
The only thing that would improve the Base Camp duffel’s pockets would be a zippered pocket in one end of the bag on the inside for things like tshirts or other soft pieces that you want to keep separate from gear.
Pockets grade: B
Here are some images of the Base Camp duffel, direct from the manufacturer:
Sexiness grade: A
Here are the official specifications for the medium bag from The North Face’s website:
- AVG WEIGHT (medium size): 3 lbs 8.09 oz (1590 g)VOLUME (medium): 4211 in³ (71 liters)DIMENSIONS: 13.98” x 25.4” x 13.98” (35.5 cm x 64.5 cm x 35.5 cm)FABRIC: 1000D phthalate-free TPE fabric laminate, 840D Jr. Ballistic s nylonSOURCE: ImportedGUARANTEE: Lifetime Warranty
And the specifications for the small:
- AVG WEIGHT: 2 lbs 11.39 oz (1230 g)VOLUME: 3051 in³ (50 liters)DIMENSIONS: 12.8” x 20.87” x 12.8” (32.5 cm x 53 cm x 32.5 cm)FABRIC: 1000D phthalate-free TPE fabric laminate, 840D Jr. Ballistic s nylonSOURCE: ImportedGUARANTEE: Lifetime Warranty
And the specifications for the large:
- AVG WEIGHT: 4 lbs 0.9 oz (1840 g)VOLUME: 5797 in³ (95 liters)DIMENSIONS: 15.75” x 27.56” x 15.75” (40 cm x 70 cm x 40 cm)FABRIC: 1000D phthalate-free TPE fabric laminate, 840D Jr. Ballistic s nylonSOURCE: ImportedGUARANTEE: Lifetime Warranty
Does Single Geared recommend the Base Camp duffel from The North Face?
We unequivocally recommend the Base Camp duffel if you are an itinerant traveler and adventurer looking for a bag that can stand up to anything.