- Buyer's Guide
YETI Panga Duffel: Drive By
When I got my hands on YETI’s new (and first) piece of carry, the Panga, I knew it had to be thoroughly tested. Not just a typical test carrying it around town for a few weeks, but really testing it to see if its rugged vibes are more than just show.
The Panga duffel is a dry, fully submersible bag. It’s decked out in the laminated nylon exterior I would expect from a dry bag, but relies on a zipper instead of a traditional roll top design. ‘That’s cool, let’s hope it works,’ I thought to myself as I zipped up my clothes and a towel in the YETI Panga and tossed it into the North Atlantic in December.
Who It Suits
Someone not just hoping their gear stays dry, but depending on it. In my case I’d be jumping into 40 degree (F) water chasing after the Panga, with my dry clothes and car keys hopefully staying dry inside.
Who It Doesn’t
Someone looking for a travel duffel. There’s a ton of water-resistant duffels out there that will keep your gear sufficiently dry and don’t weigh 5 pounds. Unless you plan to have the duffel submerged, it’s probably overkill.
The Panga is a simple bag but decked out with carry goodies.
First, this bag is one of the most durable pieces of carry I’ve come across. The entire exterior is constructed from laminated, high density nylon. It’s totally waterproof, even after being dragged across rocks and a parking lot. The bottom is EVA molded which is even more durable than the rest of the bag and gives it some structure.
Carry-wise the Panga can best be described as ‘thick’. As I raced to pull the Panga back to shore, my rapidly numbing fingers could still easily work with the bag. On either end and the top of the bag are hefty grab handles. Between these are a pair of detachable backpack straps with MetalLock hardware.
‘That’s cool, let’s hope it works,’ I thought to myself as I zipped up my clothes and a towel in the YETI Panga and tossed it into the North Atlantic in December.
These straps can be attached to any of the 6 lashpoints on the side of the bag. Again, super easy to use with numb hands and it gives AustriAlpin buckles a run for the coolest bag hardware out there.
I could only marvel at the MetalLock hardware for a moment though as I remembered I was freezing and a dry towel hopefully waited for me in the depths of the Panga. Grabbing the HydroLock zipper I was immediately surprised with just how tactile this zipper pull was. The HydroLock boasts a zipper pull that is nearly 2 inches long and one of the most durable (and loud) zippers on the market.
Pulling open the zipper I was greeted by a perfectly dry towel and change of clothes. Like the exterior, the interior of the Panga is simple. Aside from two mesh zippered pockets on either side and a metal strap to keep the bag partially closed, there is just 50L of pure, unadulterated, dry space. The Panga also comes in 75L and 100L sizes if you’re really looking to stay dry.
The Not So Good
Given that my freezing hands didn’t open up the Panga to find a bag full of cold ocean water, any negatives with this bag seem rather trivial. If you’re depending on your gear to remain dry above all else, most of these negatives will be a mere afterthought. That said…
At 5 lbs, the Panga is a heavy bag. Add to that the very tubular shape and I felt like a scuba diver with a tank of air on my back when I was walking around. Additionally the Panga isn’t very packable because of the heavy-duty material the bag is constructed with.
As I raced to pull the Panga back to shore, my rapidly numbing fingers could still easily work with the bag.
And finally, the mouth of the bag doesn’t open very wide. Not a big deal when I was pulling out a towel, but I couldn’t fit some more exotic shaped items into the Panga.
Given YETI’s legendary toughness, the Panga doesn’t miss a beat. As I warmed up and regained feeling in my body I looked over at the Panga doing the same in the seat next to me. This is one of the few bags which live up to its tough and durable looks (and marketing campaigns). At $300 for the 50L the Panga isn’t cheap, but when dry gear is required I would feel reassured spending that kind of money on the YETI Panga.