Monday, July 27, 2015

Gear Closet: Fishpond Westwater Carry-On Duffle

Duffle bags have been a staple of adventure travel since before it was even deemed a category. For decades climbers, explorers, and hunters have carried duffles on their expeditions, thanks in no small part to their ability to provide a convenient way to carry a lot of gear to places where normal luggage isn't suitable, or simply wouldn't survive. In recent years, the duffle bag has evolved dramatically, incorporating some welcome new features, while retaining the classic design that has made them so popular amongst travelers for decades. That is exactly what you get from the Westwater Carry-on from Fishpond – a classic duffle bag with modern sensibilities that extended its functionality in new directions.

At first glance, the Westwater gives the impression that it is simply another travel duffle bag amongst the hundreds to choose from on the market. But upon further inspection, you'll start to see all of the great features that help to set it apart from the crowd. For starters, the bag is made from Fishpond's proprietary CLYCLEPOND fabrics, which are not only incredibly durable, but provide a high level of water resistance too. In fact, it is safe to say that this bag is built to keep your gear dry in the worst conditions imaginable. With extremely high quality zippers, welded seams, and water-repelling materials, the Westwater is duffle that is made for being around the water, or at the very least surviving heavy rainstorms with its contents completely safe and dry.

The Westwater's ability to resist moisture is just the tip of the iceberg however, as this duffle also takes some cues from more traditional luggage that help to make it an even better travel companion. For example, Fishpond's designers have incorporated a set of rugged wheels, as well as a hide-away telescoping handle, that make it a breeze to roll this bag through the airport when rushing to catch your next flight. And if you're in a real hurry, you can actually pull out the built-in backpack straps and throw the bag across your shoulders if you like. These multiple ways of transporting the Westwater come in vary handy depending on the situation, and are a good example of how versatile it can be.

Inside, the Westwater has a gigantic main chamber that is the equivalent of a 53-liter backpack. That is a great deal of space when you also consider that it meets most airline specifications for a carry-on. For those of us who don't like to check their bags, this is a great option for being able to take a lot of gear with us on our trips, without ever letting that precious cargo out of sight.

The interior of the bag also has a organizational pocket that is perfect for keeping small items close at hand. The designers at Fishpond wisely made this pocket from transparent plastic materials, which not only protect from the elements as well, but allow us to see exactly where certain items are at any given time.

Putting this duffle bag through its paces on recent trips I've come to appreciate how durable and versatile it truly is. The CLYCLEPOND fabrics aren't just great for keeping moisture out, they can also take just about any punishment you throw at the bag too. On top of that, the spacious main compartment, combined with zippers that open wide, allow for easy access to all of your gear stored inside. Add in the multiple ways of transporting the bag from one destination to the next, and you have duffle that is right for just about any adventure.

If I had one complaint about the Westwater it would be that it is on the heavy side, particularly when you are generally use to traveling with a backpack. This duffle tips the scales at 5.75 lbs before you even begin to load it up. For those who like to travel fast and light, that extra weight will most certainly be a turn-off. But when you consider the high level of protection the bag provides – particularly from moisture – you begin to understand that a bit of extra weight is a trade-off that will be more than worth it for those who need this level of water resistance.

All in all, I am extremely impressed with the Westwater duffle bag. With its bomb-proof construction,  versatile design, and ability to repel moisture, it is a great option for those traveling to remote destinations where protection from the elements is a chief concern. The bag was originally designed with anglers in mind, but it performs so well that any adventure traveler would be happy to have it in his or her gear closet. This is a convenient way to carry your gear to just about any destination, both on the water and off.

The Westwater Rolling Carry-On comes with an MSRP of $239.95, which makes it an expensive option when compared to other duffle bags. But again, if you factor in everything that it brings to the table, it is – in my mind – priced accordingly.

If you're in the market for a new piece of luggage to carry with you to demanding places, the Westwater should be on your list to consider. It will haul all of your gear with ease, and make sure it stays dry at every step of the journey. There simply isn't much more you can ask for from your travel bags.

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