BAG IT UP

Australian Geographic Outdoor - - Fave Gear - WORDS AND PHO­TOS JUSTIN WALKER

This Base Camp duf­fle has been dragged and/or car­ried from one end of the planet to the other, on ev­ery­thing from high-al­ti­tude treks to ca­noe jour­neys…

YEP, IT COULD BE viewed as ‘just’ a bag; which it is, of course. But The North Face duf­fle is also much more than that. This ro­bust, well-worn, al­ways re­li­able TNF duf­fle has been my con­stant ad­ven­ture com­pan­ion now for more than 10 years. And that’s not a decade of the oc­ca­sional trip here and there; this 95L (Large) Base Camp duf­fle has been dragged and/or car­ried from one end of the planet to the other, on ev­ery­thing from high-al­ti­tude treks in

Africa and South Amer­ica, to ca­noe jour­neys in Canada, through to re­mote out­back 4WD ex­pe­di­tions. In that time, it has been lugged by ponies, thrown in the back of 4WDs, and car­ried by porters (and my­self) - and has al­ways kept my cloth­ing and gear safe and un­dam­aged.

The duf­fle is tough: the outer lam­i­nated ny­lon ma­te­rial is thick and strong and the dou­ble stitch­ing and ex­tra bar tacks en­sure it won’t burst when over-loaded. Help­ing this are com­pres­sion straps, al­low­ing you to eas­ily cinch a full load down to a more man­age­able size. Con­ve­niently, it has shoul­der straps as well, so you don’t have to drag it around the ground un­nec­es­sar­ily. Even though you wouldn’t want to carry the duf­fel this way for a full day, for shorter lengths of time the straps have enough pad­ding to be rel­a­tively com­fort­able. The han­dles at each end are also handy for when you need to lift it in and out of ve­hi­cles. The zips are lock­able, there's an ID pocket for your busi­ness card or de­tails, and the mesh pocket in­side the lid can be used to stow any num­ber of items, such as keys, mo­bile phones, wal­lets, etc.

The only slight neg­a­tive for me is, when pack­ing (or search­ing for some­thing) it would be great to have a wider open­ing. Other than this one small com­plaint I have never been dis­ap­pointed in the Base Camp. This 95L Large model is prob­a­bly the op­ti­mum size, too; I have man­aged to fit enough gear in to cover mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary trips, such as a combo moun­tain bik­ing/ hik­ing ex­pe­di­tion. Bulky items such as my MTB hel­met and shoes, as well as hik­ing boots, etc., have all been jammed in there suc­cess­fully. I have also been able to cinch it down when lug­ging less gear, too.

The North Face Base Camp duf­fle is avail­able in a num­ber of sizes (I also have a 70L medium and 130L XL) all of which share the same bombproof DNA. The Base Camp has been in pro­duc­tion for 31 years now, and I am never sur­prised to see old, se­ri­ously beat-up ones do­ing duty in re­mote cor­ners of the world – they re­ally are that de­pend­able. I look for­ward to many more years of ser­vice from mine.

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