IT IS THE UBIQUITOUS piece of adventure luggage: the duffle bag. This load-lugger has been around for many, many years and has remained the popular choice for adventurers to carry their gear. Duffle bags are popular for several reasons: their basic design; cavernous volume (for minimal weight); and tough build and fabrics. You will see duffle bags as the load carriers of choice for any expedition, whether it is while being tied to a yak or donkey for a climbing/trekking adventure, thrown in the back of a 4WD for an overland road trip or, in my case, the load-carrying choice for the family Christmas getaway down the coast.
Numerous brands have duffle bags in their luggage range, and they all follow a very similar design DNA: a cylindrical space with a small enclosure (lid) up top. So it is interesting to see highly regarded Aussie outdoor brand Sea To Summit (STS) about to enter the competitive duffle bag market with its Nomad Duffle.
The Nomad is still a couple of months away from going on sale but AG Outdoor has had a prototype on test for the past few months and have come back impressed. The designers at STS have definitely done their homework with the Nomad, addressing a number of design points in a duffle and aiming to improve them.
The most obvious new design feature – and one that we reckon most people will applaud – is the oversized lid on the Nomad. For those used to shoving their hands in the (often) smallish opening of their duffle, and vainly scrabbling around to find that particular item of clothing or gear, having this large clam-shell-type lid that opens up to expose most of the space inside makes access far simpler. This is made even easier by the simple design tweak of using a brightly coloured fabric inside to allow gear to be more easily spotted.
The Nomad is constructed using heavy-duty material and also features a padded base and lid. There are external compression straps and lash loops for securing the duffle to anything from a yak through to the roof rack of your 4WD. The lid is also built tough; a dual-zipper ensures it won’t break when pulled or tensioned (or if you have over-packed the duffle) and it also aids in upping the security of your gear inside. The handles can be attached/detached to suit three different carrying options for when you’re out in the field: a backpack-style harness; an over-the-shoulder set-up; or just carrying it with the two straps like a piece of carry-on luggage. Two small magnets in the handles mean you no longer have to fiddle with Velcro tabs to secure them together – they just snap together once each handle is close enough to the other. It’s simple but it really does make a difference.
The Nomad has proved faultless over the past few months. Nothing much can go wrong with a duffle bag anyway, but the little things like faster joining of straps for carrying, the three-way strap/harness system, and the awesome large lid have been much appreciated. The blue colour is also pretty special – I am slightly paranoid about getting it dusty and dirty!
The Nomad will be available in four sizes – 45L, 65L, 90L and 130L – and in three colours (blue, orange and charcoal), and is due for release in March 2017.