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christos nicolaou

Mart-Mari Jansen van Vuren
Writer
Based out of South Africa Mart-Mari enjoys hiking, snorkeling, and surfing.

PRODUCT REVIEW

The North Face Base Camp Duffel Bag

Designed with outdoor expeditions in mind, North Face definitely put a lot of attention to detail into the Base Camp duffel, a line of bags that have been around for a while now but keeps improving through the years.

The Base Camp comes in XS (31L), Small (50L), Medium (71L), Large (95L) and XLarge (132L).

The simple cylindrical design and minimal trims give this bag a classic look that will never go out of style. The thick nylon material takes a while to get used to since it’s quite hard to expand, but this also means that your duffel will be strong and durable.

The wide entrance allows you to access every inch of your bag making packing and retrieving items from your bag easier than ever. The main compartment is large and spacious allowing you to pack everything you may need during your trip.

Our Overall Review

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

4.7

Reasons to buy

  • Its high-quality material is extremely durable and will last you for decades.
  • Can hold a large number of items with ease
  • It’s multi-functional, use it as a gym bag, camping bag, or travel bag.

Reasons NOT to buy

  • The lack of internal pockets makes it hard to keep your bag organized.

It’s easy to see that the large size of the Base Camp duffel, with 95L/25 gal capacity, was not meant to be used as carry-on luggage. This duffel is made for long trips traveling abroad or camping trips where you pack everything but the kitchen sink.

The medium and small sizes were great on shorter trips and even everyday commuting, subbing in as a gym bag with plenty of space to spare.

The Base Camp line has been around for many years with small tweaks being executed throughout the years. The best one is the pocket in the end of the duffel for those “need-to-use-often items”. Though this pocket has been included for the last several years, it has a much improved flap to guard against water infiltration.

As a pretty standard feature, the mesh bag on the reverse side of the opening flap to the main compartment does what most duffels in this class can. Pretty standard really, but nice.

Whatever does not fit inside the bag can easily be attached to the outside of the bag. There are daisy chains that run along the sides.

The great thing about this bag is that it allows you to pack your duffel to the brim and then transform it into a backpack without it feeling bulky. As most travelers know it’s much easier to carry your luggage on your back than trying to pull it over dirt roads but, having the option to carry this bag as a duffel through airport security is definitely a bonus. And it’s comfortable enough to manage without any problems.

These shoulder straps are simple items that have buckles instead of clips. While that means these things work the way they’re intended it also means the straps aren’t easy to remove quickly. And the biggest issue is that, when removed, the buckles remain exposed and could theoretically get caught in a conveyor belt or equivalent when flying.

None of us who have traveled with a Base Camp duffel ever experienced this, but it’s worth noting when comparing to Osprey or Eagle Creek models that have more complex designs to hide buckles and straps.

In fact, by sea, train and plane, in ínclement weather and over different terrain and across continents, the Base Camp duffel has proven to be reliable. Period.

And when it’s done it’s duty, it packs down nicely into a mesh bag that can also be used like a packing cube that fits upright in the end of the main compartment.

See the complete list of the best Duffel Bags here!

The North Face Base Camp Duffel Bag Side View

The North Face Base Camp Duffel Bag: Key Specifications

  • Best Suited For: Hiking, Day Trips, Outdoor activities, Travel
  • Material: 1000-denier phthalate-free thermoplastic elastomer fabric laminate/840-denier ballistic nylon
  • Volume: 95L
  • Dimensions: 15.75 x 27.56 x 15.75 inches
  • Weight: 4.1 pounds

Where to Buy:

Construction

Poorly designed and low-quality luggage can turn any trip into a nightmare. Don’t believe me? Try closing your bag with flimsy zippers, or carrying your duffel just for the straps to tear off completely. That’s why it’s so important to check out the construction and materials of your bag before you make your purchase.

The North Face Base Camp Duffel features oversized YKK zippers that open and close easily and won’t break even when your bag is over-packed with souvenirs.

The nylon fabrics’ water-resistant properties protect your belongings giving you peace of mind while traveling through wet areas or hiking a snowy mountain. On the other hand, the 1000D phthalate-free TPE fabric is on the heavier side, but that also makes it almost indestructible.

The double folded woven nylon handles are stitched for extra strength and won’t let you down even after enduring the usual travel abuse.

The North Face Base Camp Duffel Bag Construction

Storage

When you think about a duffel bag it’s one big area you can through all your stuff into. Well, the North Face Base Camp is no exception. Thanks to the strong material you don’t have to worry about what you throw into your bag but it also means that you won’t have a perfectly organized bag.

To compartmentalize your belongings try using packing cubes or smaller bags to store different items. This will allow you to find things easier but also keep your clothes neatly folded. The last thing you want is a wrinkly shirt with a shoe stain and leaked shampoo on it.

At 95 liters and with a large opening, this is an ideal packing experience for stashing and transporting a couple weeks worth of well thought-out items, including a sleeping bag and clothing.

We tested it on a two-week sailing voyage and it proved big enough and reliable. Combined with another everyday backpack and it’s more than sufficient–depending on one’s needs.

The Lid Pocket

This mesh pocket is ideal for small that can easily get lost in your duffel. The material is flexible enough to store anything from underwear to electronics. Be sure that your electronic devices have a protective case to keep them from damaging.

The North Face Base Camp Duffel Bag Storage

The Side Pocket

This pocket is easy to access and large enough to store wet or dirty clothes. Anything you prefer to keep separate from the belongings inside your duffel.

The North Face Base Camp Duffel Bag Back Photo

Summary

The North Face Base Camp duffel with its 1000-denier laminate material and 840-denier bottom layer make this bag rugged and dependable.

The water-resistant properties, zippers, and comfort level did not get compromised in the design process. Keeping its classic design and adding internal and external storage pockets took this bag from a regular duffel to a travelers dream bag.

What We Like

  • Its high-quality material is extremely durable and will last you for decades.
  • Can hold a large number of items with ease
  • It’s multi-functional, use it as a gym bag, camping bag, or travel bag.

What We Don’t Like

  • The lack of internal pockets makes it hard to keep your bag organized.

Buy This Duffel Bags If:

Is this bag perfect for everyone? Yes and no, if you want a durable duffel that will last you for years, this bag will not disappoint. As a Base Camp size LARGE this will be too cumbersome for shorter trips. The Base Camp medium or any other of the best duffels in the 60-70 liter range will be better when transporting fewer items.

It’s a simple bag with a classic design that can be used as a gym bag, travel bag, or packing all your camping gear into a bag that won’t tear.

However, although this bag is nearly indestructible it comes with basic straps and no hip belt. In other words, your bag may be able to carry a ton of weight but your back will definitely hate you for it if after more than a couple of miles walking. If you want a bag with hip belts and more internal organization this might not be for you.

See the complete list of the best Duffel Bags here!

Where to Buy:

Where to Buy:

FAQ – Frequently asked questions about The North Face Base Camp Duffel Bag

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