While prepping for a recent outdoor road tripping excursion around Iceland, I came across a gear dilemma, and settled it by deciding to bring my own. I wanted to have gear that I knew worked properly and would keep me warm. So my travel partner and I packed up our go-to sleeping bags, and sleeping pads, and heavy-duty hiking boots, and fast-boiling Primus stove, and shoved it all into one of Tepui Tents‘ Expedition Series Duffle Bags. Known for their rugged and sturdy rooftop tents, Tepui recently expanded their accessories line, and the duffle bag was born in all of its bright orange glory. (The bag also comes in black for anyone that doesn’t feel like bright orange brings out the color of their eyes.) This bag became our Mary Poppins bag. It seemed like every time we thought we had packed it to the brim, we found more space. It even has additional pockets on the outside to store smaller items. So we added camera tripods, and a giant box of Cliff bars, and lightened the loads of our own packs — zipped the whole thing shut — and handed it over to a seemingly trustworthy airline agent at Denver International Airport. In the grand scheme of things, the bag was a great idea. It’s design made it fairly easy to carry the large load through the airport. It made road-tripping through rugged and chilly parts of the country kind of comfortable. And after the airline lost the Tepui bag for three additional days after our return flight to Denver, the synthetic resin-coated polyester material held up to some heavy beatings while it journeyed to several random airports before finally landing back in Denver. It also masked the smell of our fermenting wet shower towels, which vanished pretty quickly after letting the bag air out for a few hours — just in time for us to repack it and take it fall camping in the colorful mountains of Colorado.
Pros: The Tepui Expedition Duffle holds a lot of stuff without feeling awkward to carry. The size is perfect for anyone who’s routinely unpacking and repacking their camping kits. The duffle makes it easy to store everything in one place and means less trips to and from the car to load everything up. The exterior material is pretty hardcore. It held up to the “checked bag airplane test,” but not without emerging with some battle wounds. After one trip overseas, this bag looked worse for wear, with scuffs all over the bag, but the material is fairly easy to clean and came away without any actual damage.
Cons: This bag is promoted as “rugged,” and it is, but throw a little water on this baby and you’ll have one massive mess to clean up in the bottom of the bag. While camping in Colorado’s high country in fast-changing fall weather, we got hit with a downpour that took everyone a little by surprise. By the time we grabbed the Tepui bag and got it inside of the tent, everything in the bag was already wet and a big puddle had accumulated at the bottom. Until Tepui springs for taped seams on the zippers, this bag will continue to be a good spend for casual campers, but will let the hardcore road tripper expecting to haul their gear on outside of their vehicle down at the first sign of rain.
Where We Took It: Road tripping around Iceland. Camping in Colorado.