Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Gear Closet: Yeti Panga 75 Waterproof Duffel Bag Review

Yeti has built itself a reputation for creating products that are designed to survive in the outdoors while performing at an incredibly high level. Take for example its Tundra coolers, which are practically indestructible and can mange to keep ice frozen for days on end. The company's other products are held to similarly high standards, which has earned the brand a loyal following amongst outdoor enthusiasts and the general public alike. In July, Yeti took the wraps off its latest product, and true to from it is also over-engineered, tough as nails, and completely awesome. I'm talking about the new Panga duffel bag of course, which is a product that practically every adventure traveler is going to want to have in their own gear closet.

Recently I've had the opportunity to test out the Panga 75, which as the name implies has a 75-liter capacity for carrying gear. That is a surprising amount of space for hauling around everything you need for your next adventure, although if you still require more space, Yeti also offers the Panga in a 100-liter version, while a smaller 50-liter model is available too. All three are virtually identical in terms of features and build-quality, so it truly is a matter of selecting the one that offers the carrying capacity you need.

Made from an incredibly tough laminated nylon shell that resembles the same fabrics used in Yeti's line of Hopper soft coolers, the Panga is practically bulletproof. The duffel can shrug off just about anything you throw at it, and come away completely unscathed. The only wear and tear that my model shows is a bit of dust and dirt from being knocked around outside. Other than that, there are no abrasions, rips, cuts, or tears of any kind. And while it is early in the bag's lifespan, I suspect it will be a very long time before such blemishes appear.

Those fabrics, when combined with Yeti's patented Hydrolock zipper, make this bag completely waterproof. Yep, you read that right, it is waterproof, not water resistant. I once got taken to task my a PR rep for a brand for calling a competing duffel "waterproof" when in reality it was only water resistant, so I was careful to ask where the Panga fell on this sliding scale. I was told that the bag will keep all water out, even if it is completely submerged.

Perhaps most impressive of all is that the Hydrolock zipper seals the Panga up airtight without having to roll the opening as you do with so many drybags. You can simply open and close the zipper as needed and trust that it is doing its job. I especially appreciate this feature when I just need to access the interior of the bag quickly, and then seal it right up again. It saves time and is more effective than other types of dry closures.

My favorite feature of the Panga is probably its EVA molded bottom. This not only serves as extra protection from moisture in damp environments, but it keeps the bag from sliding around too. This extra thick material is incredibly strong, increasing the durability of the duffel in a place where many competitors first begin to see wear and tear.

Other nice features of the Panga include six grab points for picking the duffel up, including two straps that can be slung over your shoulder to wear the bag like a backpack. And while the interior may be spartan by design, it also includes two zippered mesh pockets for organizing smaller items that you want to be able to access quickly.

The downside of the Panga duffel is that it is on the heavy side. The 75-liter model tips the scales at 6.1 pounds (2.7 kg), which is a lot of weight before you even begin to add any gear to the bag. But, that is the price you pay for an over-engineered, durable, and completely waterproof bag. In fact, I would expect nothing less from Yeti. Their products tend to lean towards the heavy side, with materials and construction methods that provide their legendary toughness. The Panga is no different in this regard, and in the long run you'll probably love it all the more for it.

As with other Yeti products, the Panga is on the pricey side too. The 75-liter duffel runs $349.99, but unsurprisingly to fans of the brand it is completely worth it. If you need a duffel bag that can survive in some of the most remote places on the planet, and you want it to keep all of you gear safe from the elements, this is the new standard for other duffels to aspire to. Simply put, it is the best bag of its kind on the market today. I can't think of higher praise than that.

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