Yeah, you’ve seen them being hauled on yaks, headed for Everest Base Camp on the North side. Perhaps it was that die hard climber you saw in Kennedy Airport on his way to some far off climbing destination and as he weaved his way through the suits a base camp duffel was his companion, carried like a backpack. For a split moment you pictured yourself, sans briefcase and suit, swapping places with the unshaven yet striking figure. Wherever you may have seen one, if you’re like me, you’ve come to realize that when it comes to duffel bags that can take whatever you can dish out the Base Camp Duffel from The North Face is the standard.
So I finally picked one up a couple of months ago. Now I, like that climber in Kennedy Airport, can toss all my cams, a rope, a harness, change of clothing, down jacket, et al into the duffel and head out on an adventure. Or, like the two weeks ago I can put my Scarpa Spirit 3 ski boots, my crampons, and the rest of my ski mountaineering gear into the duffel and head out to Mt. Hood to climb and ski the WyEast face. Regardless of the trip I get the feeling that this duffel is going to last me a LONG time.
The Ins and Outs of the Base Camp Duffel (BCD)
Let’s get into the details. The BCD comes in 4 different sizes and the in the large size which I have it weights in at 4lbs. The weight primarily is due to the PVC tarpaulin material that is very thick and water/wind/stain/everything you don’t want inside proof. It’s as bomber as it looks. The bottom of the bag has a tough cordura outer layer.
The zipper is big and tough. It’s two way and will allow for a lock. I’m not too psyched on the “D” opening, not because it’s big and wide but because it doesn’t allow for smooth zipping on the corners. I can’t imagine that I’m the first person to find this annoying but hey, when you’re The North Face I guess you just make stuff and people buy it, end of story. It’s really not that big of a deal, but enough that I’m spending too much time talking about it.
For carrying the bag there is a padded shoulder strap or if you’re headed to the climbing crag just toss it on your back using the alpine-cut shoulder straps – converting this duffel into a “pack”. Other features include a daisy chain, an internal mesh pocket on the flap that I found convenient for small stuff, twin haul handles on each end and four compression straps. Basically, it’s not your basic duffel. Grandpa would be impressed.
- Plenty of size – Large=5600cu in and 28″ x 16″ x 16″
- Alpine-cut shoulder straps (read: real backpack straps)
- Bomber construction with cordura bottom and PVC tarpaulin material
- North Face guarantee that it will last or they’ll replace it
More killer gear and athlete footage from the team at The North Face: