- Buyer's Guide
Drive By :: YNOT Viken Duffel
In case the previous reviews weren’t obvious, I’m a bit obsessed with duffels. I love the ingenuity and design decisions different companies make as they attempt to solve arguably the same problem.
YNOT’s Viken is definitely in a class all its own, being the perfect size for a quick weekend away (be it by plane, train or automobile) and rugged enough to take on whatever life throws your way. In fact, I found myself using this bag more as a messenger bag than a duffel with great results.
Who It Suits
Someone looking for a function-oriented bag that delivers ease, stowability and packability.
Who It Doesn’t
It’s a more masculine-styled bag that breaks away from what a traditional duffel is. While some may like this, others will not.
As I mentioned above, this bag is one of the best overall duffels I’ve tested. I’ve enjoyed each one for its own approach, but the Viken was different. This one was so much more than a duffel. In fact, I found myself using it almost as a messenger bag in lieu of my EDC (especially when I had a soccer game immediately after work). The reason was simple: it fit everything, maintained its shape (mostly) and was unobtrusive to carry despite its size. That’s quite a feat.
The details on this bag are on point. The external zipper pockets are easily accessible and are finished with water-resistant AquaGuard YKK zippers. The roll top is the ideal solution for packability and the compression straps (North American made ftw!) both across and on the ends enhance that. A detail that also has to be mentioned: the leather strap which is both easy to buckle and provides the support you would expect.
“This one was so much more than a duffel. In fact, I found myself using it almost as a messenger bag in lieu of my EDC…”
The two most striking things about the bag are the handsome waxed canvas (a 1000D Cordura option is also available) and 400D diamond ripstop nylon floating liner. Floating because of a fun little feature which I didn’t realize until recently: the inner zipper opens across the entire compartment so you can have a place for your dirty laundry that’s separate from the main compartment. No more plastic bags or laundry bags. Think of the bag as a two-for-one.
Last but not least, this bag carries a lifetime warranty. And given the near-daily adventures I’ve put it through, it looks no worse for wear. Now that’s how you do it!
“…the inner zipper opens across the entire compartment so you can have a place for your dirty laundry that’s separate from the main compartment.“
The Not So Good
My biggest gripe with this bag was with the shoulder strap system. While it’s natural to place the attachment points on opposite sides of the seam, it drove me crazy that no matter what was inside, the bag would crumple on itself. It couldn’t hold its shape which is, in and of itself, beautiful. While this doesn’t detract from the overall performance of the bag, it became bothersome from an aesthetic standpoint.
Additionally and arguably most importantly, for a duffel, the shoulder straps themselves leave you a bit lacking. I appreciate that it’s a Canadian seat belt, easy to adjust and attach, but it’s disappointing that there is no real shoulder support. When packed, the duffel can get heavy and tire your shoulder out. For a bag so thoughtful and designed, it’s surprising that they overlooked the strap system.
“…it’s disappointing that there is no real shoulder support.“
Others to Consider
This was a hard category to fill because I haven’t really come across a bag quite like it. Sure you can throw in a DSPTCH or Mission Workshop style bag for looks but that doesn’t quite fit the bill. Nor does a “traditional” duffle like Alpine Modern. In this case, I would say it’s more in a league of its own.
I feel like this bag has become an extension of me. I’ve been caught in rainstorms; it’s been stowed in tight spaces. There are few things this bag hasn’t taken on and it’s no worse for wear. It’s truly bombproof and the gripes are due to me wanting to find more ways to fit it into my life. If you’re looking for a traditional menswear duffel, this bag isn’t for you. But if you want a bag that looks great and goes above and beyond the call of duty, pick up the Viken. I was blown away by the bag and look forward to future YNOT tests.