Right off the bat, this bag has given me a great impression. So I opened up the bag, and it is huge. Obviously I bought this bag for a specific trip and wanted to be able to go on the trip using carry on only, and while this bag may be pushing the envelope a little bit, it should make it onto almost any flight I would be taking overseas. So my first test for the bag was just the feel. How does it feel? Do I think it feels durable? Well, yeah I do think its going to be durable as hell. The bag, from what I can find, is made out of the same material as whitewater rafts, and I've been on a whitewater raft that is going through rapids, slamming into rocks, and if it survive that, this bag should be able to survive whatever I can throw at it. Not to mention there are youtube videos of people out there comparing their 10 year old version of this bag to the new version. So I would say it is going to pass the durability test.
My next test was one I obviously had to do, knowing that I had a trip coming up I wanted to see how much space jeans would take up in the bag. So I ran around my mothers house and grabbed seven pairs of my and my brother's jeans to test out my theory on space, well not really a theory but more of a suspicion that maybe this bag isn't big enough and I will need to bring a real suitcase (would be a huge bummer). So... I hastily folded these 7 pairs of jeans and stacked them on one end of the bag. To my surprise I could fit at least another, if not two pairs of jeans on top of them still and I would be right up to the zipper, but they seemed to take up about half the bag if you don't include shoving stuff down the sides. Kinda a disappointment, but I was not going to be deterred easily, I have traveled before, I could do this! I did a crappy roll job on the jeans and lined the bottom of the bag with them, and I struck gold. The bag easily fit seven pairs of jeans across the bottom, and they seemed to take up about one third of the bags interior space. So the bag would easily work for my trip! Now I will just have to select how to pack a heavier jacket (which will probably get strapped to my backpack) for the trip, and then I can shove my boots, socks, and shirts right into this bag pretty easy.
The next thing that I was looking for in a carry on bag for this type of trip was I wanted it to be easy to carry. I know that I can get on a flight with two carry on bags, but if one is a duffel and the other is a second duffel style bag, its going to be a bad experience. Luckily for me, I found the GoPro Seeker backpack this fall and fell in love because it holds everything, is lightweight, has "secret" passport hiding spots for travel, and blah blah blah (read my review here). So that backpack is really easy to carry in my hand and not on my back, being so light. So when I found The North Face Base Camp Duffel, I knew I was in luck because its made to be carried as a backpack. Which meant no rolling a suitcase around Venice and breaking the wheels off, like what happened to my brother when we went. So that is a major plus for this bag.
Honestly, I cannot wait to use this bag, I have only test packed it to see if I thought it was going to work, and I really do think this bag will be the perfect travel bag for my upcoming trips to Europe, including my trip to Greece next fall, and even on my trip to Thailand. So I will be sure to update this blog post when I return in January!