Known for high-end coolers, YETI today revealed a ruggedized duffel bag.
YETI jumps into a new category and the luggage arena with its Panga Submersible Duffel. Last week, we tested a pre-release Panga on the down-low, dragging it across the U.S. on flights and then for a float on the wet and wild Snake River by raft. I’m convinced it’s unlike any other waterproof bag on the market.
How’s it different? The unique, ultra-tough fabrics and rigid base borrow from the company’s cooler design (details below). It has the requisite removable backpack straps, mesh interior pockets, and an air- and water-tight Hydrolok zipper in lieu of a roll-top.
YETI Panga Review
Upon receiving the Panga at home, I noticed one thing immediately — it’s a beefy, heavy-duty bag. Ultra-light fans be warned: This product is not for you. Between the double-layer “ThickSkin” shell and the EVA molded bottom (the same as found on the YETI Hopper coolers) this duffel can withstand a beating. More importantly, it will stay waterproof while being abused.
Talking with YETI ambassador and surfer Keith Malloy, I learned he’d spent the past few months testing his Panga. He dragged it through the sand, doused it in saltwater, and let it bake in the hot sun. The bag held up and had earned a spot on Malloy’s list of favorite gear.
It sounded good, but I wasn’t convinced until I got a test. Sure the backpack straps on the Panga 50 were comfortable and convenient. And, yes, it held all the gear I needed for a week, functioned as a carry-on, and fit into the overhead compartment (even on the small connection to Spokane, Wash.). But how would it hold up to a river trip on the Snake?
Panga Submersible Duffel 50
- Price: $299.99
- 23.5” x 14” x 10”
- 50 liters (3,050 cubic inches)
Panga Submersible Duffel 75
- Price: $349.99
- 28” x 15.5” 11”
- 75 liters (4,600 cubic in.)
Panga Submersible Duffel 100
- Price: $399.99
- 32.5” x 17” x 12”
- 100 liters (6,100 cubic in.)
YETI Panga River Test
On day one, belongings shoved in the Panga, I remembered the sunscreen buried at the bottom. And that’s when I realized the awesomeness of the zippered duffel style.
I’ve spent a lot of time on rivers. Gone are the days of pouring out an entire roll-top dry bag to reach the single necessary item at the bottom. In 10 seconds, I’d unzipped the Panga, dug out sunscreen, and zipped it back up. Boom, it was submersion-ready, just like that.
Speaking of zippers, it’s important to note a couple things: One, the bag is only as waterproof as your ability to properly zip it up. Be sure to give it that last little tug, locking it into the u-dock and ensuring things stay dry.
Number two, as with all water-tight zippers, you need to take care of it. Each Panga comes with a tube of zipper lubricant. Apply a bit after every few uses to keep your zipper in tip-top shape.
Tightly zipped shut, the Panga bag is completely waterproof. We tested it by submerging each duffel for 30 minutes underwater and ensuring an airtight seal.
To be sure, there are other waterproof zippered duffels. SealLine makes some nice duffels at a lower price, for example. But having reviewed them both I will say the YETI is at least as durable, carries better as a backpack, and is available in a larger size.
Wet Boats, Dry Gear
By day three on the river — after enjoying mile upon mile of record-high flows on the Snake River and a roiling class IV boat flip and swim — I had to admit, the Panga was standing up to the test.
My gear stayed perfectly dry, the backpack straps made for easy carrying across camp, the lash points made for quick boat tie-downs, and the zippered, duffel-style meant it was easy to dig out out the headlamp as dark set in.
I reviewed it hard for a week in the field. There isn’t anything I’d change. And while it surely is not for everyone, the Panga innovates the gear hauler market in a needed way.
A Heavy, Burly Waterproof Duffel
For anyone looking for a particularly small or light bag, there are other options. For people who never plan to submerge their bag or travel in adverse conditions, it’s probably unnecessary.
But for those needing to head out on the boat, hit the lake, float the river, or explore the beach, this is a fit. For adventure travelers who want to be ready no matter what, the Panga Duffel is a new, exciting, and tested option.
In short, this is a waterproof, airtight bag, without the hassle of traditional roll-top drybag design. It’s a tough duffel designed to withstand years of abuse without wearing out in the most used places.
It could be just what boaters, fishermen, and intrepid travelers have been looking for. And now that YETI has journeyed beyond the insulated cooler world with the Panga Bags, it begs the question: What’s next?
–Mallory Paige is a Storyteller and Adventurer. As creator of the Operation Moto Dog adventure, she spent a year traveling and camping her way across North America on a motorcycle-sidecar with Baylor the Dog, proving you don’t need to be fearless or perfect to live your dreams.