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PADI Scuba Instructor
Hunter Bierce is a PADI Scuba Instructor and multidisciplinary outdoor professional.

PRODUCT REVIEW

Jack Wolfskin Expedition Trunk 65

We in continental America live in a bit of a vacuum of influence when it comes to our outdoor equipment. Occasionally, I’ll have the chance to take a look at gear from European manufacturers- in this case it’s Jack Wolfskin’s 65L Expedition Trunk, a sensibly priced alternative to “adventure duffles” employed by travelers and explorers alike.

This heavy-hitting German retailer has one foot in the outdoor sporting world and another in urban “athleisure” wear. A closer look at the trunk reveals it’s firmly rooted in this dichotomy- taking aim somewhere between an overbuilt gear bag and a versatile valise. For a weekend at the cabin or living out of it for weeks at a time, the duffle certainly merits further investigation.

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.5

Reasons to buy

  • A reasonably priced, medium-volume expedition bag
  • Simple and serviceable internal storage system
  • Crossover travel and adventure utility

Reasons NOT to buy

  • Water-resistant coating only cover the top portion of the bag
  • Comparatively inefficient shoulder strap/carry system
  • 65L is the largest size available

Overview

Adventure duffles like Jack Wolfskin’s 65 Liter Expedition Trunk aim for the sweet spot between travability and adventure tolerance. To phrase it differently- the ideal adventure duffle should be something you can carry around the airport with ease, and confidently drag out to your basecamp.

Theoretically this aligns very well with Jack Woldskin’s corporate identity, so you’d expect their duffle to take special considerations for the expedition and urban traveller attitudes.

I’ve come to the conclusion that, while the Expedition Trunk is serviceable both in the airport terminal and loaded with gear in the backcountry, it lacks extra amenities that would allow it to excel in either purpose.

Not to say that it’s unworthy of your consideration, but if you have a type of travel that you favor or a specific purpose for the bag then you may want to look elsewhere. However, if you’re in search of a reasonably affordable, general-purpose, tough-as-nails tote–you’ll be well-served by Jack Wolfskin.

See the complete list of the best Duffel Bags here!

Jack Wolfskin duffel bag expedition trunk

Jack Wolfskin Expedition Trunk 65: Key Specifications

  • Stowable padded shoulder straps
  • Large and lockable D-zip
  • Reinforced webbing carrying handles
  • External gear loops
  • 3 Meshed internal compartments
  • Water-resistant external pocket
  • 1680D fabric construction

Where to Buy:

  • Amazon with worldwide shipping

Weatherproofing and Durability

1680D fabric is no joke. For some context, the individual strands of fabric that make up Jack Wolfskin’s duffle are nearly twice as thick as certain leading competitors. There’s no direct correlation between denier and durability (particularly between different fabrics), but you can certainly say that the body and base of the Expedition Trunk are just as tough as any alternative on the market.

It probably resembles the Base Camp by North Face, in terms of thickness. It certainly feels more heavy-duty than the Patagonia Blackhole duffel, but at the cost of a little extra weight too.

Reassuringly reinforced carry-straps round out the Trunk package, but the backpack shoulder straps make me hesitate.

The issue stems from their carabiner clip attachment points. Though there’s a certain convenience that comes along with the option to store them With the bag fully loaded full of outdoor gear, I have my doubts about the long-term viability of both the rings and attachment loops.

We’ll test the survivability of the clips as we use and abuse the bag and update accordingly.

In regard to weatherproofing and water resistance, the bag’s body has a PU coating tried and trusted through the industry to keep things dry when exposed to splashes or precipitation. The one thing that the Expedition Trunk won’t do is keep water out soaked or submerged.

It’s rare that you’ll find anything 100% waterproof regardless of style, but one of my biggest criticisms of this particular model is that the PU laminate doesn’t cover the base. Water can easily work its way into your gear if there’s appreciable moisture on the ground.

This feels like a pretty glaring and manageable problem in what otherwise is a tough and capable duffle. Particularly when you realize the unlaminated bottom is exposed to rain if you choose to wear it as a backpack while the waterproofed portion is tucked against your back.

jack wolfskin weatherproofing

Internal Storage and Packing Features

Regardless of how tough and water-resistant your bag may be, it won’t do you much good if you can’t efficiently stow your clothing or gear inside. Jack Wolfskin’s Expedition Trunk continues the theme of pared-down features that favor versatility.

A water-resistant D-zip opening isn’t by any means innovative in this category of duffle, but it is a highly serviceable means of accessing the entire contents of the bag at once with minimal layering. In contrast to many alternatives, the Expedition Trunk forgoes any internal divider organization system you’d expect from travel-focused bags, leaving a bit of a cavernous void.

If you’re planning a single bag trip where on-the-go organization is important, I want more internal structure so I’m not rooting around my camera lenses for a pair of socks. If you use packing cubes then there are no worries.

For storing and hauling single sport gear like dive equipment or bulky outer layers, having a single undivided space allows you to cram more into the bag in as creative a manner as you please. It’s also worth noting that if you plan on using the bag as a piece of luggage rather than living out of it, a compartmentalized organization system is much less important.

Main body aside, there are two meshed internal pockets running lengthwise along the walls of the bag, as well as an additional pocket integrated into the top flap. I’ve found pockets like these are great for smaller essentials like charging cords, documents, sunglasses cases, and books. Their utility is limited beyond compact and lightweight items due to their size and the uninspiring integrity of the mesh. Overall it’s a nice feature but nothing you won’t see in the competition, and certainly not a deciding factor for most people.

In addition to the internal compartment and pockets, there’s a smaller water-resistant zippered pocket running along the top of the bag for quick access items. In a similar vein, gear loops run along the bag’s side panels at either end, allowing you to store items with carrying handles or otherwise lash more to the top of the bag in a pinch.

jack wolfskin packing features

Transport Configurations

The Jack Wolfskin Expedition Trunk also features the full array of carrying configurations standard in this style of bag. The most notable difference between the Expedition Trunk and your run-of-the-mill duffle bag is the removable shoulder straps. This feature is pretty ubiquitously employed by anything hoping to claim the moniker of “travel bag” or “adventure duffle.” But compared to other models, the Expedition Trunk’s backpack carry feels lacking.

We already mentioned our durability concerns, but there are also some issues when it comes to functionality: the dreaded bane of all backpacks–strap slippage. When the bag is fully loaded in backpack form, the straps tend to lose tension over time as you’re gradually pulled further backwards. While there’s certainly appeal to the modular, stowable approach that Jack Wolfskin employs, function always comes first in my book and it certainly seems to suffer when you push the weight load.

Setting aside the shortcomings of the shoulder straps, the other two carry points have a much more reassuring look and feel. The top-centered carrying handles are made of palpably durable webbing, reinforced along the entire height of the bag. Taken into consideration with the fore and aft handles, there’s nothing exceptional about the design, but it’s well-executed and dependable for carrying around large amounts of gear.

It’s worth looping back around for a final look at the gear loops as well. If you need to tie the duffle down anywhere such as a secure spot on a boat, or the back of a motorcycle the loops can double as a lash point you can run multiple lines through.

jack wolfskin transport

Value

Though there are feature-rich and high volume alternatives out there, the Jack Wolfskin 65L Expedition Trunk is still a decent deal for what you’re getting. Typically it will run you around $150, but in recent times has seen significant markdowns that make it a much more appealing. For context, you can expect to pay twice this amount for a smaller, top-grade luxury model and the price quickly grows as you go up in volume from there.

Depending on who you ask, the staunch practicality of this bag is either a major drawback or its greatest asset. World nomads will likely be put off by the lack of travel amenities in the same way that serious adventurers may want more of a focus on water resistance along the bottom panel. Viewed as a high-utility, knockabout option unflappable in the face of any adventure- I’d peg the Expedition Trunk as quite the deal.

jack wolfskin value

Other Models

As noted at the start of the review, Jack Wolfskin is primarily a European retailer with plenty of more recognizable competitors for those based in North America. It’s no stretch to find online, but for more niche applications you may have better luck looking at models like the Mountain Hardwear Expedition Duffel for hauling gear, or Samsonite’s Andante Wheeled Duffle as an idealized airport option.

The Yeti Panga bag has earned a reputation as one of the only truly waterproof duffel bags available, while Patagonia’s Black Hole is arguably the most sleek and urbane take within the category. In any case, if you’re curious about the state of the industry at large, and how these models and more stack up in a side by side comparison, take a look at our Top 20 article for the details.

Summary

Criticisms aside, you’ll have a difficult time finding a bag that can stand up to the Jack Wolfskin Expedition Trunk in unadulterated toughness and utility. It’s not a very specialized option, but I tend to see this as more a feature than a fault–it’s something that would be appropriate for a weekend away in a new city just as much as it is a receptacle for all of your worldly possessions during a liveaboard.

See the complete list of the best Duffel Bags here!

What We Like

  • A reasonably priced, medium-volume expedition bag
  • Simple and serviceable internal storage system
  • Crossover travel and adventure utility

What We Don’t Like

  • Water-resistant coating only cover the top portion of the bag
  • Comparatively inefficient shoulder strap/carry system
  • 65L is the largest size available

Where to Buy:

  • Amazon with worldwide shipping

Where to Buy:

  • Amazon with worldwide shipping

FAQ – Frequently asked questions about Jack Wolfskin Expedition Trunk 65

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    Is Jack Wolfskin a good brand?

    Jack Wolfskin is a well-renowned manufacturer of outdoor gear with more than enough experience making technical equipment to have earned their mettle. That being said the brand also caters towards an alpine clique community that is more interested in the appearance of ruggedness than they are performance. Nonetheless, from outwear to tents, Jack Wolfskin has plenty of serviceable products out there any enthusiast should consider investigating.

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    What are the best duffel bags?

    Duffel bags come in a vast array of styles and are commonly specialized to serve a specific end. With all the variation in size, shape, and features it can be difficult to sort out what the best option is for a given purpose. To help parse out exactly what it is you need, our Top 20 List offers a comprehensive comparison of the best options on the market. Here’s a quick glimpse at some of our favorites-

    Best duffel bags:

    • Patagonia Black Hole 55
    • Thule Chasm 70L
    • Jack Wolfskin Expedition Trunk 65
    • Yeti Panga 75
    • North Face Base Camp Duffel
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    Are duffle bags good for traveling?

    Duffel bags have grown steadily in popularity both as an alternative to traditional luggage and as a means of hauling gear around. With this we’ve seen the emergence of a unique category of travel duffels- heavily reinforced and packed with features designed for the outdoor and international portals alike.

    Duffel bags built specifically for travel tend to have features like lockable zippers, internal organization systems, and even discreet wheels to save you the hassle of carrying your clothing and equipment. For a side-by-side comparison of the best duffels currently available, take a look at our Top 20 page to help narrow your search.

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    How to efficiently pack a duffel bag?

    Packing a duffel bag properly largely depends on what kind of trip you’re packing for. Some travel duffels have internal compartmentalized storage systems to help you stay organized for extended trips. Regardless, there are some best practices to follow regardless of the type of trip.

    How to pack a duffel bag:

    • Put shoes and other bulky items along the bottom of the bag with a layer of clothing
    • Place delicate electronics or other fragile essentials on top of the layer of clothing
    • Sandwich valuable between an additional layer of clothing, and try to pack in as much volume as you can

    As mentioned, not all duffels are built to the same ends. For more on the perfect bag to travel with, take a look at our top 20 list.

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