The occasion was my parent's 50th wedding anniversary – and their gift to each other was to reunite their 13 kids, their spouses and their kids. So we got together this summer aboard the Holland America Westerdam Alaskan cruise ship to ride the waves along the Canadian coast up to Glacier Bay National Park. It was the first time all of us were together since Christmas in the early 80s.
The luggage would be put to the test – through many tests in fact – from a car ride to Denver International Airport, a wheeling across two airport parking lots and concourses, on and off shuttle bus luggage carriers, thrown into a giant heap of luggage on the ship's first floor – and back again in reverse. This would be the perfect testing grounds for Cabela's XPG Series Wheeled Vertical Duffel, considering it was designed for this kind of travel. It's a taxing experience for a person, but a much more rugged experience for a piece of luggage. If I were this XPG Wheeled Duffel, I'd be afraid.....
A FIRST-CLASS WORLD TRAVELER; well-designed features
No excess baggage –
Because it is lightweight, the XPG Duffel passed the Southwest Airlines weight restrictions with flying colors. Their maximum weight requirement before penalty is 50 lbs., and since the medium bag weighs only 9 lbs. empty, that gave me 41 lbs. of carry weight to work with. And with a 6,300-cu-in. capacity, I found there was more than enough space to fit bulky bootfoot fishing waders, binoculars, rain gear, clothes and shoes. With the amount of gear I packed inside, I expected to pay the additional $25 penalty for excess baggage. But it weighed less than 50 lbs. and that $25 got to hide out inside my wallet for a few days longer.
My luggage contents would have been heavy had I carried them on my back or across my shoulder, but the wheels on this duffel made transport effortless. It wheeled like a charm across the Pikes Peak parking lot, through the multiple airport concourses and along the concrete at the port check-in area.
I especially appreciated the smooth-rolling wheels upon my return to the airport shuttle parking lot. My directional deficiency got the best of me and I couldn't quite remember where I had parked – so I wandered the parking lot with duffel in hand, rolling over pebbles and concrete cracks without so much as a rattling grip on its handle. These heavy-duty wheels kept me light on my feet despite being tired after a week's worth of travel.
Other great features –
Although spacious inside, the duffel stored easily both under the compact bed and in the small closet in the ship's cabin. And the large-mouthed front-zip entry pocket made it easy to retrieve clothes and items.
I also appreciated both the internal and external compression straps. The inside straps kept contents from jarring around during transport, and the external straps compressed everything securely. I found the internal mesh pockets a great place to store travel documents and receipts. The zippers zipped smoothly, and the telescoping handle was easy to push in and pull out with just a click of a button. And the side-zip pockets came in handy for oddly shaped items, like shoes.
Stand-up toughness –
The 420-denier ripstop nylon has a stand-up-toughness that's much appreciated when luggage is being thrown and yanked from this side of town to the other. At one point, luggage was brought aboard the ship and thrown in a giant heap on the first floor before each was transported to their respectful owner's estate rooms. I'm sure this duffel was slung somewhere in the middle or at the bottom of that heap, but I'd never know for sure since it wore its wear well. I'm guessing the honeycomb frame had a lot to do with that, since it's made to absorb all the beating. The frame is made of a polyethylene sheet with cord pieces cut out to lighten the weight without compromising the structure's rigidity.
My takeaway –
This XPG Series Wheeled Vertical Duffel was created for the traveling life – and I'd say it paid its due diligence as a world-class traveler. It has a stand-up toughness that sets it apart from the rest of the pack. I give it two thumbs ups.
Medium - 30"L x 15"W x 14"H. 6,300-cu-in. load. Wt: 9 lbs.
Large - 36"L x 15"W x 14"H. 7,500-cu-in. load. Wt: 10 lbs.
Click this link to purchase: Cabela's XPG Series Wheeled Vertical Duffel Bag