I have always been a fan of duffel bags. They’re compact, more portable than a rolling suitcase, and perfect for overnight outings near home as well as weeklong getaways overseas. I’ve tried numerous duffels over many adventures and have found that not all duffel bags are created equally. One bag, in particular, stands out: The North Face’s Base Camp duffels. And if there were an all-star team for duffel bags, the newer Base Camp Voyager would make the first string.
In short: The Base Camp Voyager is very similar to the rest of the Base Camp series, with a slightly different and lighter body fabric with a bunch of recycled updates. Plus, it’s slightly better designed when it comes to an EDC, gym gear, or carry-on travel bag — there are more exterior compartments, including one for a laptop, and it’s easier to organize.
It’s also smaller than the smallest of the Base Camp standard duffel series (50L), making it carry-on-sized for most airlines. Despite the difference in fabric (The North Face went from 1,000-denier to 300-denier for the body), this bag held up super well over several months of testing.
- Materials 300-denier recycled polyester tarpaulin with non-PFC DWR, 840-denier bottom
- Compartments 5 (main compartment, laptop sleeve, 2 exterior pockets, 1 internal compartment)
- External lash points
- Removable backpack straps
- Dimensions 23" x 14.67" x 10.2"
- Volume 42L
- Weight 2 lbs. 5 oz.
- Price $135
- Carry-on size, unlike other Base Camp duffels
- Lighter-weight exterior fabric
- Wide zipper opening for easy packing
- More organization
- No shoulder strap included
- Not the most durable
TNF Base Camp Voyager Review: Tested on Land, Air, and Sea
Who This Bag Is For
At 42L, the Base Camp Voyager is compact but still has plenty of room to stash your things. It’s perfect for quick overnight trips and meets carry-on bag requirements for airplanes. And so far, it’s proved super durable, so it also doubles nicely as a gear bag for stashing climbing gear, surf supplies, or anything else.
We beat it up over a course of several months from flights and trips in the car, to use as a surf and gear bag at the beach.
Upgraded Recycled Materials
Designed with the environment in mind, one of the key upgrades from the Base Camp duffel is that the body is made from 300-denier recycled polyester tarpaulin with TPU laminate. Additionally, the boot is made from 840-denier recycled ballistic nylon with a non-PFC durable water-repellent finish (same as the rest in the series). Finally, The North Face finished the bag with recycled webbing, buckles, and mesh. The only part on the bag that’s not recycled is the zippers.
Carry-On Size Comfort
As the name suggests, the Base Camp Voyager was designed for…voyaging. So, we wanted to put all-day travel and its comfort to the test. The duffel sports padded shoulder straps that unclip and can be tucked away behind the back panel, so you can carry it as a backpack or a duffel. The bag also has side handles that help the bag sit away from your body, so it’s not constantly swinging into you as you walk.
Other thoughtful features include an external, secure-zip, padded 15-inch laptop pocket, an internal zippered pocket for stashing essentials, and a zippered exterior pocket. The duffel has an adjustable and removable divider in the main compartment to help keep gear organized. Lastly, the duffel has external webbing with multiple lash points for attaching extra gear.
When the Base Camp Voyager first arrived in the mail, I was worried it might be too small for my needs. But after sitting down with it and getting everything together that I needed for a trip down the coast, I found it was the perfect size. At 42L it can hold quite a bit, but it’s a manageable size that’s easy to carry and easily fits in an overhead bin should you be utilizing air transportation.
I tend to be the type of packer that throws everything in my bag without rhyme or reason and calls it good to go. I’m working on getting more organized and the Base Camp Voyager has proved to help immensely with that. I travel for work, so the padded laptop sleeve was perfect for keeping my laptop safe and sound. I liked that the divider in the main pocket was removable because I wanted it for some occasions, but not all. The external zippered pocket was perfect for storing quick-access items like my glasses, keys, wallet, and passport.
I’ve tested my fair share of gear, and was surprised by how durable this duffel is. I’ve only owned the pack for a few months, but I have no doubt it will withstand years of adventures, even if I’m not super gentle with it (letting it ride in the back of a truck on a drive down the coast, for example). The water-repellent finish makes the duffel water-resistant, which is perfect for me as I spend a lot of time in tropical climates where it rains frequently.
In addition to fitting clothing and other travel essentials, I found the Base Camp Voyager worked well for stashing my wetsuit and swimsuit after surfing and diving. I’m also a big fan of the option to convert between backpack and shoulder straps. When I found myself walking far, I simply transformed the duffel into a backpack, and I was good to go.
The Base Camp Voyager has everything I could want in a duffel bag. It’s lightweight, comfortable for hours, and has ample storage space for all my things. If you are already a fan of the Base Camp duffel series and are looking for more organization or something made with recycled materials that can be put through the wringer, the Base Camp Voyager is one duffel to consider.