- Buyer's Guide
Drive By :: Arc’teryx Carrier Duffle 75
Despite the full wetsuit the waters of Lake Michigan, chilled by the briskness of the October weather, gradually bring up a bitterness deep to the bone. Shivering, I strain my eyes ahead. As the murky green waters begin to prevent any rays of sunlight from penetrating to these depths a jagged shape suddenly emerges from the depths. Only 10% of all the wrecks in the Great Lakes have been discovered and we’ve just stumbled on the 118-year-old Nahant.
Wreck diving in the northern Great Lakes is a daring prospect in these late Autumn waters. The endeavor is only amplified when you make it back to the surface. Frigid north winds from Boreas (no, not that Boreas) well below the temperature of the water miserably sting your body. Your hands numb. Your speech laggers. You need to move quickly to ditch the dive gear and get into something dry. Luckily I’ve got the best gear duffle around waiting for me onshore. The impressive Arc’teryx Carrier Duffle 75.
Who It Suits
Someone looking for a near bombproof duffle that can withstand any and all elements and is capable of swallowing epic proportions of gear. An alpinist, a diver, a climber, a Carryologist.
The materials of the Carrier Duffle ensure that your dry gear stays dry and your wet gear doesn’t dampen anything else.
When you’re out diving 50’ beneath the supposedly calm waters of Lake Michigan and an October gale suddenly stirs up, later that evening you’ll find yourself toasting to the designers at Arc’teryx for the Carrier Duffle’s ability to keep your critical dry towels and clothes free from Autumn sleet. Furthermore when you’re racing home to a hot shower, being able to toss soaking wetsuits, fins and buoyancy compensators into the bag and not worry about arriving home in a puddle of water is reason for a second round of beers.
A traveler going off the beaten path. The 75L Carrier Duffle tips the scale at a whopping 0.49 kg (1.08 lbs). It can carry all of your gear and then disappear when not needed. It’s great when you need to carry a fair bit of gear but a suitcase is out of the question and there’s no pavement for your rolling wheels (the humanity!). My back has gone out before any seams on the Carrier Duffle. Finally, its size aside, it’s a very discreet bag given that the striking white Arc’teryx logo wears against your back.
“The materials of the Carrier Duffle ensure that your dry gear stays dry and your wet gear doesn’t dampen anything else.”
Arc’teryx sells this duffel in a range of sizes, 35L, 50L, 75L, and a massive 100L (the 35L is in a sling pack configuration but otherwise the functionality is identical). I’ve hauled this bag around the world and found that with enough packing cubes the bag doesn’t turn into a bottom-heavy lump. Finally on close to 20 flights with the Carrier Duffle I’ve never once had to check it. Try that with a 75L suitcase.
Who It Doesn’t
Given the technical nature of the Carrier Duffle (and corresponding price point) some will find it overkill for casual activities. Fully loaded this 75L duffle clocks in at L29’’xW13’’xD12’’. If you’re not hauling a pile of gear to some remote place, there are more pocketed and less technically-materialed duffles out there.
If you need internal organization in your carry, the extremely minimal design (i.e. a sack) of this bag is going to take some getting used to. There is exactly one pocket with one zipper to carry things. The Carrier Duffle is first and foremost a gear duffle, not a piece of carry meant to conveniently hold your EDC and electronics. In my case it’s meant to hold exactly three items.
The material. Arc’teryx has put some serious R&D into materials and it’s extremely evident in the construction of the Carrier Duffle. The Carrier Duffle is one of several bags constructed using Arc-teryx’s Advanced Composite Construction (AC²) techniques.
“a near bombproof duffle that can withstand any and all elements and is capable of swallowing epic proportions of gear.”
Let’s get technical for a second. The fabric of the duffel is ultralight and highly water repellent N400r nylon 6 ripstop which is coated on both sides to create an air-impermeable, waterproof textile. All seams are taped with 15mm waterproof seam tape that prevents leakage. The only opening on the duffle is outfitted with a WaterTight™ zipper that has a storm flap for added protection from the elements. Practically this means that trying to compress air out of the Carrier Duffle when closed is nearly impossible. What you have here is the most lightweight and element-proofed duffle on the market.
The user-interface. Though the Carrier Duffle is about as simple in design as bags come, it’s one of the most functional bags I’ve come across. The bright white interior reflects light and makes it extremely easy to locate items in the cavernous interior. Four handles ensure the bag is easily moveable no matter the situation. The removable shoulder straps constructed out of Hypercell foam are minimalist enough to not get in the way, yet allow you to move extremely easily despite having 75L of gear on your back.
“The bright white interior reflects light and makes it extremely easy to locate items in the cavernous interior.”
The bag is simple, everything on the bag is there for a reason and nothing about the bag will ever cause you to shout profanities in frustration.
The Not So Good
The “duffle.” Despite being labeled as a duffle and functioning as a duffle in every other sense, the Carrier Duffle lacks designated duffle handles. You won’t find yourself struggling to carry this bag since there are four other handles on each side. This is only a problem if you’re trying to keep fragile items upright or at the top of the bag.
“Given the technical nature of the Carrier Duffle (and corresponding price point) some will find it overkill for casual activities.”
The shapelessness. As the Carrier Duffle is designed as a gear bag it works great when lugging around ropes or a wet suit. Carrying something heavy and pointy such as air tanks is not recommended. Know thy carry.
“If you need internal organization in your carry, the extremely minimal design (i.e. a sack) of this bag is going to take some getting used to.”
The straps. Along these same lines, while the minimal shoulder straps are great for light loads, your shoulders will be suffering when the scale starts tipping. Hypercell foam is great but there’s only so much padding ultra-thin shoulder straps can provide.
Others to Consider
Another lightweight, minimal adventure duffel with a more urban aesthetic, the Outlier Ultrahigh Duffle. Good luck finding it.
A more general purpose duffel, The North Face Base Camp Duffel.
A less technical but fully waterproof duffel, the Filson Dry Duffel.
“…while the minimal shoulder straps are great for light loads, your shoulders will be suffering when the scale starts tipping.”
If you’ve got serious technical adventures on your horizon and need to trust your gear with some of the best materials around, this duffle is the best of the best. The Arc’teryx Carrier Duffle 75 definitely has a niche user base given its technical materials, price point, and minimal design, but if you find yourself in this niche this bag is pure gold.