Review: Adventure Duffle Pack

I’m not a duffle person. There I said it. But this one has a bit of a twist, so grab a brew and let me unpack how the ADP_39 won me over.

My first encounter of a CDW pack was their Recon. Even though the X-PAC material was used for the main body, a combination of layered webbing and weighty hardware made it a heavy and, in my opinion, bulky pack.

This is no problem for motorcycle or travel carry, as it appeared to be geared up for. But not for hiking. After David Massey reviewed it for us, I passed it on to a buddy of mine who’s still getting great use out of it on his travels.

My first impressions of the Adventure Duffle started before I even opened the parcel! It arrived in a sturdy bubble wrap envelope and looked more like a parcel for a hoodie than a pack.

The Adventure Duffle is seriously compact! So much so that you can throw it in another pack, even a 10L GORUCK Bullet, as use it as backup capacity. It’s also lightweight and the X-PAC material really shines through with the conservative, yet useful level of webbing. I opted for MultiCam (my first MC pack) but of course it also comes in black.

Straps and handles

The straps are interesting on this one. There’s no real padding to the webbing but even after several weeks of carrying quite heavy loads, it didn’t seem to bother me. Admittedly I haven’t carrying it for much longer than an hours journey, so I look forward to testing that further.

You can’t be expecting super comfort due to the lack of padding, but for what they are the straps worked. Their design fit my body well and once they were on they stayed comfortable as I walked.

The straps attach to the webbing and therefore are super adjustable. A couple of times I found myself adjusting loop I had attached it to to account for different loads inside.

This feature makes the straps really adaptable, but because of that it also took me a while to get the security level right. The bottom clips of the straps are pretty secure as they loop through the webbing and attach onto themselves.

Personally I think the top clips needed this too as a couple of times they worked loose as I was taking it off. This created a bit of extra hassle, but happened as I was trying out different placements. Once I got settled they stayed in place ok.

Despite this I wouldn’t give up the versatility of being able to remove the straps completely or just use one to cross it from one side to the other for a duffle shoulder carry. I did this a few times and it worked really well in that configuration.

They have got the length right too, with enough strap to expand out if you want, but the design allows it to be cinched right up and the excess tucked into the webbing. Maybe they could have had some kind of webbing tidying solution, but if there’s one thing this pack is not it’s fussy!

Anything extra, cumbersome or unnecessary has gone, which makes for a really refined pack.

The sternum strap works well – much more intuitive than the last CDW one I tried. Maybe the end you use to tighten could be cinched down with some elastic, but it’s easier to adjust with gloves with a little bit of something to grab so I’m on the fence about that.

The handles on either end of the zip are brilliant. They are removable, but I didn’t consider that for longer than a second as I couldn’t see why you’d want to remove them!

They’ve been passed through a tube of webbing for reinforcement which is a clever idea. This looser fit seems to add a bit of cushioning, giving the pack a comfy, grab-able grip.

These handles work great for lifting the bag up from the ground or shifting it about. They are also the best place to grab the bag when it’s stood upright – which is very possible thanks to the flat end construction. In short they’re a solid feature.

In the centre of the webbing, on both strips, there are wider gaps between the bar-tacking. These form handles that allow you to move about the bag from a central top position, which is really useful sometimes.

They don’t really allow for single hand held carry. I tried it, but the unreinforced webbing feels uncomfortable and are not long enough to comfortably hold together with one hand. They are a secondary, momentary carry option, but are cleverly the right balance of easy enough to grab without getting in the way.

Material

This is my first real experience with the X-PAC Cordura material and it is impressive. At first I wasn’t sure with the shiny, slippery insides but a couple of times this allowed me to slide that extra item around the side without as much resistance as usual. Also, when the duffle is packed up well, stuff doesn’t slide around inside either.

It’s a great choice of material for something that’s likely to get thrown about a bit. This is especially likely when in the duffle configuration, where it’s often likely to be set down on the ground.

Build quality

The build quality is fantastic. The last Colfax pack (the Recon) I saw was a factory seconds, only provided in this way as it was for review, and that had a couple of minor visible issues. This one I can’t find fault with, so I’d be confident that their quality control is up to scratch.

The webbing chosen is the thick, durable kind – not the cheap stuff that some companies use to keep costs down. Metal ITW G-Hooks have been used on the straps in place of a plastic alternative. All in all it’s not going to fall apart, enough said.

Body

The main body of the bag is a big cavernous compartment. The full 39 litres seems to be a great amount of space for a truly usable duffle, plus the slight stiffness of the fabric helps keep its shape when you’re not using it all, so it always looks cool.

There is a weather guard YKK double zip running down the whole length giving plenty of access. The zippers have slim but effective cord ties that have a rubber shrink wrap finish which is great for grip.

Thinner webbing tabs have also been stitched into both ends of the zip to give you something to hold when operating the zip. These tabs are one of those simple features that make all the difference when companies bother to include them. Top marks!

Comfort

I quickly found out that if you’re using the duffle in a backpack carry position you should at least give some consideration to what you pack on top. As you’re effectively creating your own padding softer stuff seems the best choice, if nothing else care should be taken to avoid things that could poke into your back as you walk.

While it’s easy enough to throw a jumper on top of everything, it does feel perhaps a little prescriptive in how you should pack. But I do feel that this is an entirely necessary trade off to keep the versatility of the bag. If padding had been added it would definitely hindered access to the main compartment.

The reality is it’s not built for long treks – there’s no padding or frame systems built in. But the ability to switch from the classic one strap duffle carry to two strap back carry is something that truly earns this pack the title of adaptable.

On my first longer walk with the pack I decided pretty early on that classic duffle carry was not for me. Right there in the street I dropped it down on the ground, switched over the straps and was on my way within a matter of minutes. I was impressed.

 

Internal pocket

There is a low-profile internal pocket stitched into the same seam as the zip, that hangs down. It’s well put together and doesn’t get in the way of the opening or packing. It has a push button clasp opening which I wasn’t wild about. It took a fair amount of effort to open or close, but maybe it needed a bit more use to loosen it up.

I tended to throw smaller items in there, like keys, that I wanted quick access to. Even with a full pack I found I was able to slide my hand in and pull it out.

There is a large amount of opening either side of the clasp, and I was surprised that smaller items that I put in there didn’t fall out, even when held vertically for a time. I actually avoided use of the clasp by grabbing stuff from these openings anyway.

Overall it left me considering if there was a better closure option. Hook and loop would have been cumbersome and not in keeping with the durable, heavy duty style of the Colfax Design Works gear. Perhaps a zip would work better, but maybe I just needed to work on the clasp a bit more.

 

Pouch

The Adventure Duffle kit I received comes with a great little pouch that has two hook and loop strap attachments on the back. These work well on their straps or webbing strips, but could be easily attached to a webbing organiser or a belt or something else.

It’s a simple yet functional pouch with any ample sized loop handle. I did feel the need to add a bit of paracord to the zip (of course with a Ru Bead) as I really dislike a jangly zip!

Durability

The one area that I’ve not fully tested this duffle is durability. I feel that a good 7 months to a year of use is needed to truly start talking about how a pack is going to last. That said I did drag it across concrete, rocks, muddy fields and through woodland (roots and brambles included) just to see for myself how the fabric held up. All that was needed was a quick wipe clean, which left me suitably impressed.

Everything I’ve seen points to a pack that is, and will remain, tough as nails. To me the $230.00 price tag, while seemingly high, is well justified by the construction, materials, adaptability and the useful pouch. This is not a gimmicky Kickstarter project, it’s a lasting investment.

Conclusion

Colfax Design Works have smashed the brief when it comes to creating an adaptable duffle pack. Not only that, but they’ve executed it with high-grade materials to ensure this duffle will stick around for many years to come. If you’re hauling heavy gear around or need the flexibility to switch your duffle to a backpack, the ADP_39 is for you.

Adam from Colfax Design Works also got in touch to share an exclusive discount code for any Pack Config readers. Use “PACKCONFIG” at checkout to get 20% off any of their Duffle packs!

By Nat Wagstaff

Editor-In-Chief, more posts.

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