- Buyer's Guide
I would not blame you if ULTRAOLIVE is still a new brand on your radar. The independently owned and operated company hails from Brooklyn, New York and their freshmen offerings are some of the classiest items I’ve seen this season. They generously offered to send over the duffel from their Pebble collection for me to review. Little did they know, my life would take a turn and I would put it through so much use.
To me, a weekender or duffel bag (I’ll use the terms interchangeably in this review), is an essential part of anyone’s carry repertoire. I rarely take long trips but I am constantly packing for an overnighter at my girlfriend’s or a weekend down in Los Angeles visiting family, or San Diego visiting friends. One to three nights is not a long time but a good weekender needs to carry everything you need for those days.
With just once glance, it’s obvious why the Pebble collection is so named. ULTRAOLIVE utilizes a type of Cordura 1000D that I haven’t seen before; it has a nicely textured surface and looks sort of like leather, without trying to look like fake (cheap) leather. The material is, of course, water resistant which is perfect for getting your bag from the Uber car to your hotel lobby during some early morning showers. YKK zippers round out the expected list of features, but it’s the extra thought they put into the other features that I think is more interesting.
Who It Suits
The Pebble is best suited for the weekend warrior who needs a simple, lightweight, overnight bag or something for the weekend. I personally can fit two nights of clothing including pajamas and a fairly large dopp kit. If I were to size down my toiletries, I could fit even more. I would say it’s pushing it if you want to pack lots of extras like an extra pair of (dress) shoes or swim trunks, plus three days’ worth of gear. I didn’t have any issues with the volume of the bag and was quite impressed at how much it held.
I also appreciated the pair of front pockets, the side pockets, and the large interior zippered pockets. I used them to fit anything from dirty laundry (to keep them away from the clean clothes), to charging cables, a MiFi, and portable battery pack and tablet. The pocket designs are nice but they are not as versatile as I had initially thought and I’ll speak more about that later.
Lastly, the design of the bag is quite professional but not stuffy. I think it would be right at home on a work or business trip. It would not feel out of place in the way that say an athletic gym bag would be.
Who It’s Not Best For
This bag is not suited for someone who needs to pack a lot of stuff (more than three days’ worth). Also, I don’t think this would be a very good bag for someone who is looking for a duffel to haul gear such as sports equipment, heavy tools, or large hard items with sharp corners.
The materials – As I previously mentioned, the use of Cordura 1000D all around means a nice, durable, weather resistant bag. The YKK zippers are perforated to reduce weight. While this is technically true, I thought it was a bit silly. I actually do think they look quite nice and are a unique feature but the weight savings are insignificant. They also don’t really help with making the zippers easier to grab or operate.
The size and weight – The bag is very light. I was actually surprised and grateful because I can’t stand carrying bags that are heavy even before I load stuff into them. The size is also perfect and actually naturally folds down flat, which makes it easy to store.
Shoulder straps – The straps are removable and easily stored in the main compartment or the area beneath the top flap. They attach with large buckles and while in use I’ve never felt the connection point was weak or insecure.
Choice of pockets – I like bags with lots of compartments so I can keep things modular and organized. The Pebble Duffel comes with two in front, two side pockets and one large one under the main flap. The front two are zippered and gusseted which is a nice touch but may actually not be that useful, depending on how packed the main compartment is.
Carry handle – Like most duffels, there are straps that attach together with a carry handle. The material is nice and soft, sort of a faux leather, which is comfortable.
The Not So Good
Side Pockets – In an interesting design move, the buckles for the shoulder straps sit inside the side bottle holder pockets. I actually think this is a good idea because it keeps the lines of the bag very clean. However, the huge buckles take up space so fitting anything besides a narrow bottle would be difficult. In addition, since there is a solid piece of plastic there, it would be a bad idea to place anything fragile in that area because if you bumped it against the edge of a table or a doorway (happens to me all the time), the item could break.
Front and Top Pockets – Though I love the generous pockets, their usefulness is limited by how much you pack in the main compartment. Take the front pockets, for instance. If you pack the main compartment full, anything you put in the front pockets will get crushed. I was very careful to put only small, hard objects in there (like a battery pack and USB adapter). On the other hand, because it’s gusseted, you get more volume/space than you would expect and it naturally “slims down” when you’re not using it. This would be ideal for storing soft items like socks, gloves, scarves, etc.
Carry Handle – Though I love the carry handle, it’s a pain to button and unbutton, often taking me a few tries and both hands.
Top Flap – I love the design of the main compartment cover, but it’s a pain to close. Opening is no problem, but two hands and a bit of finessing are required to close it.
Others to Consider
For the price point, I would say the main competitor to the Pebble Duffel is the Everlane Weekender. In fact, the Everlane is my go-to duffel as well as my girlfriend’s. However, I am digging the ULTRAOLIVE bag lately so that’s been getting all the use.
The ULTRAOLIVE Pebble Duffel is a fashionable, lightweight bag that can haul all your gear for a weekend of fun. It’s made of durable materials but has a luxe feel and boasts neat features like gusseted pockets and hidden shoulder strap attachment points. Priced at $150 and backed by a 10-year warranty, I feel that anyone looking for a travel bag for those quick getaways should seriously consider the Pebble.