This article was originally published on Carryology by Frank Sedlar at http://www.carryology.com/bags/outlier-ultrahigh-dufflepack-drive-by/
The Outlier Ultrahigh Dufflepack. Honestly, on first glance, I nearly mistook this bag as a prototype because it’s so different than any other bag I’ve played with. But while it’s very different it turns out to be very refined. Perhaps not surprising coming from the team at Outlier. A group that consistently gets the most out of any material they work with.
We reviewed Outlier’s first venture into large backpacks/duffle carry, the Ultrahigh Duffle, a few years back (full review here). The Dufflepack while similar in appearance is a very different bag as it’s first and foremost a backpack. I ran with the Dufflepack for three months to figure out how it works. It’s certainly an elegant bag but is it the bag to lust your carry appetite over?
Who It Suits
For someone doing a lot of plane to taxi to hotel type travel, the Dufflepack shines for this. It’s big enough so you can fit all your gear but not feel like you’re hauling luggage around town.
And for someone into the technical menswear world, the Dufflepack is required carry. Between the Ultrahigh Dyneema Composite, the Gucci Mane level of metal that adorns this bag, and the numerous ways this bag can be used, the Dufflepack is a highly versatile piece of carry. It’s perfect for someone on the move in an urban environment.
“For someone doing a lot of plane to taxi to hotel type travel, the Dufflepack shines for this. It’s big enough so you can fit all your gear but not feel like you’re hauling luggage around town.”
Who It Doesn’t
Someone who is hoping to venture far off the literal beaten path. While the Dufflepack is a strong and durable bag, its access points and suspension make it ill-suited for the great outdoors. Likewise, while it’s a great bag for travelling, long-term travellers and people who have trouble zipping up their bulging luggage will struggle with the Dufflepack.
“While the Dufflepack is a strong and durable bag, its access points and suspension make it ill-suited for the great outdoors.”
If you’re someone looking to carry a laptop on your back, the Dufflepack isn’t your bag.
And let’s get the elephant out of the room right now: the Dufflepack costs $750.
There is a lot to like about the Dufflepack. I’ve used the bag for weeks before realizing the full functionality that Outlier built into this bag. It’s these subtle details that make the Dufflepack such an elegant piece of carry.
Part of the allure of the Dufflepack is in the different ways it can be carried. The Dufflepack’s first order of business is as a backpack. The straps boast some of the beefiest padding that’s ever graced my shoulders. Made from Zotefoam and Ultrasuede, they’re comfortable and gently grip to your clothes. They’re also fully adjustable and decked out with two flat-lying metal carabiners and aluminum slide buckles (did I mention how much metal is used on this bag?).
“Part of the allure of the Dufflepack is in the different ways it can be carried.”
With both straps removed, one can be reattached to carry this bag over a shoulder or across the body. When worn this way it makes sense to have the bag open, what Outlier has termed “stylist mode.” If I’m running through business around town “stylist mode” has become my preferred way to carry the Dufflepack as everything is literally at my fingertips.
The bag stands up and keeps its shape at all times thanks to three healthy doses of Armordon baseplate. This is a super light and flexible sheet of plastic that distributes your load so you don’t end up with lumpy bag syndrome. There are two pouches on the front and back of the bag and a generous zippered pocket on one side with a Dyneema key loop. Can you become addicted to Dyneema? I hope so.
The nature of the Dyneema and the height this bag stands open make for a very accessible grey crinkly hole from which to work from. I’ve found it much more convenient having the Dufflepack next to my desk than a backpack or briefcase when working out of it. When fully opened the Dufflepack is a hefty 78 liters. With simple interior organization and a load of space to work with I’m very impressed with the workability of this bag.
“The nature of the Dyneema and the height this bag stands open make for a very accessible grey crinkly hole from which to work from.”
The exterior of the Dufflepack is sewn with lots and lots of black Dyneema composite. Using this much Dyneema means the Dufflepack won’t stretch when loaded. It also weighs next to nothing (around 1 kg/2 lbs) and is really good at shaking off the elements.
On one side there’s a zippered pocket with a BEEFY zipper-pull that opens to the inside of the bag. It runs nearly the length of the bag so you’ve got some good access to the interior. On the opposite side there’s a tweave stash pocket. This pocket works great for quickly holding things on the go.
“It also weighs next to nothing (around 1 kg/2 lbs) and is really good at shaking off the elements.”
While a rolltop configuration is deceivingly simple, Outlier has nailed the Dufflepack’s rolltop design. The rolltop allows you to comfortably work with an adjustable 15 – 35 liters of bag, which can be pushed to 50L when full and engulfs to 78L when open in “stylist mode.” To get a secure close with the rolltop it only takes about two rolls, which is significantly less than most other bags I’ve used.
A line of Biothane plastic is stitched on either side of the rolltop with two magnets sewn in. This means the Dufflepack stays shut when not rolled down. When using the bag in “stylist mode” this is excellent for keeping the contents covered but quickly accessible.
“The rolltop allows you to comfortably work with an adjustable 15 – 35 liters of bag, which can be pushed to 50L when full and engulfs to 78L when open in “stylist mode.””
To cinch down the rolltop Outlier has employed a fast cam compression slide. This is a quickly adjusted buckle that doesn’t require webbing to be inched along to get the proper tension. Beneath this compression slide is a stronger piece of webbing that works as a great handle when picking up the Dufflepack from either end.
The Not So Good
Most of the issues I’ve had with the Dufflepack stem from the fact that it’s designed to be a versatile bag that has to carry in different configurations.
First is the suspension. While the shoulder straps are very wide and there’s a rigid baseplate against your back, there’s not much of a system to transfer the load from the bag to the shoulder straps. The straps are looped around thin pieces of biothane webbing which don’t pick up the load particularly well. After a few city blocks I was feeling the loaded Dufflepack more than I would have liked.
“While the shoulder straps are very wide and there’s a rigid baseplate against your back, there’s not much of a system to transfer the load from the bag to the shoulder straps.”
Second, there’s not a secure (i.e. zippered) exterior pocket. On one side there’s the stash pocket but I disliked putting my phone or wallet in this zipperless, exterior pocket. On the other side of the bag is a zippered pocket but it’s only for accessing the interior of the bag.
Third, while the Dufflepack can be carried in different ways, there’s no comfortable way to carry it at your side as a traditional duffle bag. Yes it would require an additional carrying mechanism but I continually found myself shortening up the shoulder straps to carry it as such.
“…it’s tough to access much on the Dufflepack without taking it off and opening it.”
And finally because Outlier spoiled us with metal hardware throughout the rest of the Dufflepack, the plastic used on the fast cam compression slides immediately seems flimsy. I don’t doubt that Outlier has put some serious thought into these components, but it would be a shame for a broken plastic buckle to ruin such an expensive and well-thought-out bag.
Outlier’s Ultrahigh Dufflepack is a brilliant and elegantly designed bag. It’s perfect for jaunts around the city with its understated style, functionality and top-end material. While the Dufflepack trades a bomber suspension for versatility in how it’s carried I think this is fine if you keep your travels short and slow. So that said, and let’s not forget the price tag, the Dufflepack is definitely for a niche audience. But for this audience Outlier’s Ultrahigh Dufflepack is in a class of its own.
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