Gregory Long Haul Duffle Review

When it comes to outdoor adventures, the part that I like the least is packing. There is never enough room for everything, the gear weighs too much, and I worry about damage due to mishandling. And on some treks, I have to worry about rain soaking my gear as it is hauled from campsite to campsite by porters or pack animals.

While I have yet to find the perfect solution, the closest I have come so far is using the Gregory Long Haul duffle. The Long Haul duffle is a tough, water-resistant, and relatively light-weight duffle that can survive most adventures. Here’s some of the features I like best about it:

  • Long Haul duffles are available in five different sizes, making it easy to pick the size that best meets your needs. Compared to many similar size duffles, these bags are relatively light-weight, which can be important factor on some trips. The available sizes include:
  • S 22” x 14” x 12”, 3,696 cubic inches, 2 lbs. 0 oz.
  • M 26” x 15” x 13”, 5,070 cubic inches, 2 lbs. 4 oz.
  • L 30” x 16” x 14”, 6,720 cubic inches, 2 lbs. 8 oz.
  • XL 38” x 18” x 16”, 10,944 cubic inches, 2 lbs. 12 oz.
  • XXL 42” x 22” x 18”, 16,632 cubic inches, 3 lbs. 0 oz.
  • The duffles are made tough from 22 ounce Shelter-Rite, waterproof fabric. While the fabric is waterproof, the duffle bag is not. Seams are not sealed and the zipper is not waterproof. While the duffle is not waterproof, it is highly water-resistant, and for extra protection, you can seal the seams yourself using a seam sealing product. If you want a waterproof bag, then you should consider a dry bag.
  • For addition strength, and convenience when carrying the duffle, the handles on top are made of reinforced leather, and handles at the ends of the duffle feature strong webbed material. The webbed material also goes around the duffle twice, providing extra strength.
  • Unlike some other duffles, the Long Haul is designed to sit flat on the ground, and not roll over. When you sit it down, it stays put.
  • The zipper is extra strong and can be sealed with a small lock (you have to provide the lock). There is also a separate zippered pouch at one end of the duffle for storing small items.

It would be hard to find a duffle bag that is as strong and durable as the Gregory Long Hauls, especially given their light weight and very reasonable price.

Using the Gregory Long Haul Duffle in the Real World

I have been using the Extra Large Long Haul duffle for quite some time and have found nothing to quibble about. It is large enough to hold everything I want to bring, and is tough enough to keep my gear from getting damaged. Obviously, I would not carry sensitive electronic gear in the duffle, but other than that, your gear will be protected.

If I am expecting the bag to get rained on, I wrap the contents of the duffle in small light weight dry bags to keep any potential moisture that may enter the duffle from getting my gear wet. Besides offering waterproof protection, using small dry bags inside the duffle make it easy to organize my gear.

Recommendation

If you are looking for a tough, water-resistant duffle to transport your gear, consider the world class Gregory Long Haul duffles. Not only will they protect your gear, it will last for years.

Product Notes

The Gregory Long Haul duffles are available in five sizes and two colors: lava red (bright red) and black. Suggested retail prices range from $60 to $100, depending on the size.

Camelbak UnBottle 100 oz Review

Keeping properly hydrated while exploring the outdoors is one of the most important things you can do to keep you healthy so that you can enjoy the experience. Unfortunately, this message hasn’t gotten to all adventurers. On top of this, carrying water is one of the more difficult tasks to do. Water is heavy, it takes up a lot of space, and it can get too hot or cold (and freeze). While plastic water bottles are the most popular way to carry water, they may or may not be the best way to carry water.

To make carrying water easier, many companies offer hydration bags (essentially plastic bags designed to hold water). They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. They are often more convenient than the traditional plastic bottles because they generally weigh less, are easier to pack, and can be connected to a tube so that you can drink from them without having to stop and open a bottle to drink from it. Research has shown that it is better to drink a little water, more often, than drinking a lot of water, less often. The ability to drink while moving is one of the greatest benefits of hydration bags.

One of the best hydration bags on the market is the UnBottle from Camelbak. Essentially speaking, it is a plastic bag that fits inside an insulated protective cover, and comes with a tube to drink from. But this simple description belies these other important features that make the UnBottle world class. They include:

  • The UnBottle is virtually leak proof. Other than stabbing it with a knife, it won’t leak.
  • As mentioned before, the UnBottle has two layers. The inner, plastic layer, is where the water is stored. The outer layer provides insulation and protection.
  • The UnBottle can be stored in a pack’s hydration pocket, if it has one, or it can hang off the pack from D-rings that are attached to the UnBottle. There is also a handle to make it easier to carry. One of the advantages of a hydration bag like this is that carrying one in you backpack, whether it has a hydration pocket or not, is that is can fit into odd spaces, making it easier to pack.
  • The UnBottle has a very wide mouth. This makes it easier to add water, to add powered drink mixes, and to clean.
  • The tube that you drink from is long enough to reach from the UnBottle stored in your pack to your mough.
  • Excess tube length can be stored in the UnBottle’s insulation bag. To drink from the UnBottle, you bite down on the mouthpiece and suck the water. As an additional way to prevent water from leaking out of the mouthpiece, there is a valve next to the mouthpiece. In practice, you will leave the valve open while moving, and only close it when storing the water. The mouthpiece, by itself, prevent most water from leaking.
  • The UnBottle weighs just under 12 ounces, empty.

The Camelbak UnBottle is well-suited for hiking, backpacking, climbing, and trekking.

Using the Camelbak UnBottle in the Real World

Before using the UnBottle, I used hard plastic bottles to carry my water. They fit into mesh pockets at the sides of my backpack. Unfortunately, I had great difficult removing them from the pack while wearing the pack (my arms barely reached). It was even worse to put them back. Because of this, I would often not drink as much water as often as I should.

Finally, I broke down and purchased the UnBottle 100 ounce. It holds more than two standard hard plastic 32 ounce bottles I used to carry, essentially lasting all day without a refill.

I carry the UnBottle in the hydration pocket on my backpack. The backpack has a hole that allow me to run the drinking tube from the bottle to my shoulder, where I anchor it on a pack strap on my shoulder. This way, it is very easy for me to get access to water anytime I want without having to stop.

The insulation cover of the UnBottle is relatively effective. If I add cold water to it in the morning, it generally keeps it cool until about lunch time.

When you first use the UnBottle, the water has a plastic taste (which is very common for hydration bags). But if you wash it well with water and baking soda, and after a few uses, most of the plastic taste goes away.

Since this was my first hydration bag, it took me a little while to get used to drinking from the bite valve. Perhaps I am a little slow on figuring new stuff out, but once I got the hang of it, I didn’t have any problems.

Recommendation

If you also find drinking from hard plastic bottle a little troubling, you should consider the UnBottle. Ideally, you will want to carry it in a backpack that has a hydration pocket and a place for the drinking tube to get out in order to conveniently reach you. While the insulation cover is works, it is not good enough to keep water from freezing at extreme cold temperatures, like those you might find when mountaineering. In those cases, hard plastic bottles with insulating covers might be a better choice.

Product Notes

The Camelbak UnBottle comes in two sizes: 100 ounces and 70 ounces. The MSRP for them are $33.00 and $30.00 respectively.