- Buyer's Guide
Arc’teryx V-Series Rolling Duffel V110 Review: Drive By
We’ve been wheeling the Arc’teryx Rolling Duffel V110 behind us for several months now. From surf trips to the tropics, to family snow trips in the Australian high country, it has hauled salt-crusted snorkelling gear, slightly musty snowboard boots, leaking sunscreen and even kids’ skis to our adventure destinations and back again.
Forming part of the V series, the V110 (along with its smaller companion the V80) is set for a Spring 2018 release. But you can get an insider peek and a feel for whether it’s right for you below…
Who It Suits
The Rolling Duffel will appeal to those traveling with gear, especially during air travel. Think mostly adventure seekers such as skiers, climbers, scuba divers and other outdoor athletes who need to haul a lot of gear and want the convenience of wheels.
Who It Doesn’t
This duffel isn’t a great option for anyone who’s going to be covering rougher ground in order to reach their destination. You still need some sort of road surface to use this duffel effectively, so if the terrain will be getting gnarly, look to a backpack instead. Gear trashers and dirtbags with no coin should also look somewhere else. This isn’t a cheap luggage option, with a planned retail price of US$450.
First off, the Rolling Duffel exhibits the supreme build quality that we’ve come to expect from Arc’teryx. The bag is constructed with a combination of 630D high tenacity nylon for the body and 390D reinforcement in areas of high wear. The frame is anodized T6 6061 aluminum, and the bag also features Arc’teryx’s WaterTight zipper. All in, the duffel weighs 3.5 kg (7.7 lbs.).
Like most duffels, it deals well with big loads in a non-fuss way. The sealed seams resist rain, sand and crud excellently, and the interior can be wiped down with ease. The large diameter wheels are awesome for rolling over bumps, through hard-packed snow, rumble strips and alike.
The design also focuses on incorporating replaceability (which Arc’teryx is excellent at), from removable and replaceable wheels to an easy-access exterior frame that can be separated from the duffel body. So if an element happens to fail, it’s easy to fix so you can keep on rolling without having to replace the whole bag.
This is also a great-looking duffel, with an accomplished blend of stealth and rugged refinement that exudes quality. You’ll struggle to find nicer. The handle is a definite highlight too. The offset design makes it comfortable to walk beside, complemented by a coated and soft feel and a bomber activation button.
Additionally, the duffel suits a wide range of user heights so shorter and taller folks should both find it comfortable to use.
Another solid aspect of the bag is the capacity and access. By using an exterior frame rather than an interior one, you get increased capacity without having to add in extra material, which in turn would increase the bag’s weight. That exterior frame also helps avoid material wear and tear that an interior frame might cause.
The U-shaped zipper opens wide to give you complete access to gear throughout the bag, so you don’t need to rummage and repack when hunting for a specific item. If you need to pack a lot of soft goods there’s an internal compression panel on hand to help cinch down the load and reduce pressure on the zipper. And with a volume of 110 liters, you’re good to go on multi-day trips or serious load day excursions.
The Not So Good
While there are a lot of good points to the duffel, there are some downsides too. The v110’s length is an issue. It was sometimes a challenge positioning the bag in airport transit bus racks or working it into the boot of a taxi or over-snow transport.
Being two-wheeled, the bag also has the restricted manoeuvrability of a tipper, where it can’t be wheeled sideways like spinner (4-wheeled) luggage can. That makes it tricky to squeeze through tight spaces like between cars in long-term car parking. When fully packed with gear, the user’s strength is another consideration here in order to keep it from tipping flat. If smooth and easy movement is a priority, look towards spinner luggage instead.
Nitpicks: the zips are light but small, so beefing these up would be a nice future improvement. And the frame does scuff quickly, taking away from the stealthy all-black looks.
Something else to bear in mind, the duffel lacks impact protection for your contents if bumps occur from above and below. This is a soft duffel, so it won’t protect helmets or holiday trinkets in the way that a hardcase will. Perhaps this won’t matter depending on your trip, but it’s worth considering if your gear is going to take a lot of hard knocks.
The tires are not ‘hard’, but they could afford to be just a touch softer. Dropping the durometer a smidge, while keeping the resilience, would create an even smoother ride over irregular ground.
Others to Consider
The Ortlieb Duffle RS is probably the superior concept for how to do a wheeled duffel. It’s more compact, with nothing external to get dinged. It ain’t nearly as pretty though (nowhere near, ha).
Other good options to consider include the Lowe Alpine AT Wheelie, the Patagonia Black Hole 120L Wheeled Duffel, the Eagle Creek No Matter What Rolling Duffel XL and the Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler Rolling Duffel 120L/XL.
This is not a single solution to all your luggage needs. If you’re like us, you’ll still want a soft duffel for carrying over rough terrain or shoving into tight spaces. And you’ll still want a large-wheeled hardcase spinner for effortless travel over smooth surfaces.
Instead, the V Series Duffels fit an inbetween need – where you need some wheeled ability to ease the strain, but things aren’t so remote that wheels stop working.
If this is your third bit of luggage, you might fall in love. Hauling ski boots and gear, lugging wetsuits and snorkelling kit, or dragging your base camp setup to the bottom of a mountain along a hard-packed road. For those sorts of trips, this is epic.
It comes with compromises, of which the major two are its length (which gets in the way in car boots, airport buses, and over-snow transport (probably not the case for the smaller V80), and its lack of protection for more fragile contents.
Overall this is a niche product, executed superbly. It’s a bit of a splurge, but it has now become my go-to for snow trips. And I’d happily recommend it to any globetrotting adventurer partial to a pilgrimage to the high country.