Retro fashion can easily be carried to the extreme of parody, but when one concentrates on the old school elements of high-quality craftsmanship, it hurtles the world of too-skinny jeans and the tired routine of “ironic” t-shirts. Take the Cabin Duffle, which merges 20-ounce and 18-ounce waxed canvas with a supple leather bottom and trim to create one of the most functional, stylish duffles on the market. The zippered main compartment opens wide for easy access to 32 liters of storage space, and the mouth keeps its shape thanks to a structured frame that makes cramming the bag to the hilt almost too easy (external compression straps help as well). The topo-map graphics inside speaks to Mountain Khakis’ love of travel, and the small internal storage bag can be snapped out. There is one small external pocket, and a removable shoulder strap. This bag proved truly bomber on several weekend escapes (to cabins and otherwise), and while some may yearn for more internal organization, we loved how we could toss in a ton of gear, zip it up, and hit the road. Oh, and the leather lining the bottom is so soft-to-the-touch that that you will worry about scratching it, though that’ll happen fairly easily, which makes the bag look even better.
Show Me: Most Recent
Seminal luggage/travel-solution company Eagle Creek unveiled two new packs in their No Matter What series. The new models are made of the same rugged hardwear found in the rest of the bags in this line, with hyper-flexible buckles and metal-welded D-rings. But these new duffles also have wheels to help you bring really big loads through the urban environs. Coming in large (6,400 cubic inches, pictured) and extra-large (7,800 cubic inches), both packs boast 420D ripstop fabric, oversized wheels, end and center haul handles, a front-exterior zipper pocket for quick-grab documents, and removable shoulder straps. As with the other packs in the line, the new rolling duffle bags compress into small stuff sacks; this may not offer much on-the-road advantages, per say. But as anyone who has a rolling duffle knows, the ability to collapse the bag in to an eminently stowable size is a godsend for the gear-clogged closets of the world. And, as with the rest of the No Matter What series, Eagle Creek will fix or replace any damaged bag for free, even when airline handlers treat your prized new bag as an oversized hacky sack.
On market now.
Looking toward spring 2013, Arc’Teryx will continue to develop some of the best-performing products in the outdoor industry. And while their price points are some of the highest, our experience with their line has proven that you’re buying a jacket, pack, or a lifestyle piece that’ll last a lifetime, not just a season. Here are a few things that have us excited.
The bag line will expand next spring to include a variety of travel packs, which will appear in three sizes, from carry-on to checkable. The duffle-style Covert line will be made of 500D Cordura and a burly double weave for solid weather resistance, and come with stashable shoulder straps, strategically-placed grab handles, and light-colored inner lining to help you find what you need quickly. Meanwhile, the new Haku Rope Pack is destined to become a climber’s favorite crag accessory. The medium-sized shoulder pack incorporates a massive tarp at the bag’s mouth. When you’re ready to haul your rope to the next crag or hike out for the day, you spread out the tarp, dump the rope on it, pick up the tarp by the corners, lift, shake, and—viola—the rope drops into the bottom of the pack. Then you just fold in the tarp, roll the bag closed like a dry bag, and you’re ready to go. No more stuffing and jamming to fit everything in. (We also think it may offer great last-minute travel packing solutions for the less OCD-inclined.) On the backcountry side, the newly designed Aristo packs look interesting; they incorporate “wingman” side pockets at both sides of the pack base for easy, on-the-go access, which lets the pack ride against the lumbar for on-the-trail comfort.
On the apparel side, they’ll playing with a mixture of fabrics, employing patches of Gore-Tex Pro and Paclite in the Theta SL Hybrid Jacket for targeted, on-the-body performance, and mixing up cotton and poly in their 24 lifestyle line. We also love what we saw of the women’s Codetta (pictured), a three-quarter-length hooded jacket made from Gore-Tex, with a hem vent and fashion-forward storm flap over the zipper. This urban, travel-friendly jacket will run for $369.
www.eaglecreek.com, four pounds, 10 ounces
Rolled up for storage, the Eagle Creek Roll Away takes up less space than a brief case. But unroll the duffle and you’ve a seemingly bottomless pit for packing (and overpacking) everything you’d need for long vacation. The Roll Away 30 has two lightweight but super durable rubber wheels and a rigid, rubberized grab handle. When not in use, the duffle folds up into a compact, velcro-secured package that you can tuck pretty much anywhere. Open it up and a front-loading zippered panel reveals a main compartment that will fit a variety of gear and apparel. One tester flew from Portland, OR,to Palm Springs for some spring camping—her two-person tent, sleeping bag, pad, stove, and apparel fit in the pack with room to spare. The soft sides puff out like marshmallows when you’re overpacked, but can be cranked down via four compression straps when not needed. This is the bag you’ll pack for ski vacations, long business trips, or multi-day escapes to exotic ports of call. On the front is a long, zippered compartment that’s ideal for books, maps, or even dirty clothes. The body is a durable polyester ripstop that will vex gorilla-like luggage handlers with its resistance to bumps and scrapes. The bottom is an even tougher Hellix Ballistic fabric that thwarts anything short of bullets.
www.burton.com; 9.35 pounds
Burton tends to have some “creative” patterns, and their new series of luggage isn’t any different, but the garishness of the colors makes it super easy to spot your bag as it rolls around on the baggage carousel full of boring, black bags. Burton’s Wheelie Flight Deck is not super lightweight (weighing in at 9.35 lbs), but that heft lends the bag some undeniably durability. It also has stretchy material inside that feels just like neoprene, includes breathable zipper dividers, and sports these totally awesome skate wheels that will never fall off. The telescoping handle on this bad boy will probably outlast the bag and me, it seems so strong. The luggage has plenty of room for a weekend or even a week—but it may be too roomy, since it didn’t pass as a carry-on on my domestic Delta flights. Only other bummer? At the end of several trips, the bag exterior started to get pretty dirty…which reminds me why most people have that plain ol’ black suitcase.