It had been a long week away from home and the only ride I could get from the airport dropped me off about a mile from my house. I had 60 pounds of gear split between two bags, one of them a Westwater Large Duffel by fishing gear company Fishpond.
I won’t say it was a happy walk, but with decent shoulder straps and thick fabric, the hike was doable.
I’ve used the Fishpond duffel on three airline trips this winter. It’s carried downhill ski boots, poles, helmets and a heap of clothing.
It has held up well other than a half-inch cut in the fabric, likely from the tip of a ski pole.
This is a solid, well thought out duffel. Highly water-resistant, it would be just as comfortable aboard an open-hull fishing boat as the belly of an airliner.
The Gear: Fishpond Westwater Large Duffel
Where To Test It: As checked luggage aboard a plane or for hauling gear on a boat or outdoors.
Who’s It For: Travelers who want a backpack-carry mode for their luggage (i.e., don’t need rolling features).
Important Specs: 5,065 cubic inches. TPU welded fabric construction, big YKK #10 water-resistant zippers with oversized rubber zipper pulls. Integrated and removable backpack straps. Lash points. Two sets of rod tube straps.
Killer! It’s “highly water resistant,” so gear can be left outdoors, in the rain, even in the bottom of a boat. The company stops short of calling it waterproof as it could leak if submersed with zippers not 100 percent closed, but it’s darned close.
Flaw: With no roller, this bag can get pretty heavy when loaded. Beef up those quads before carrying! This is definitely not a backpack and not at all designed for all-day hiking.
Who Should Buy It: Those whose airline travel leads to time aboard a boat or in the backcountry. Remember, this is a duffel, not a backpack, and not designed for hiking.
Contact Brand/More Beta: Fishpond
—Sean McCoy is managing editor. Our “First Look” column highlights new gear arrivals at GearJunkie.com.