on March 26, 2012
I bought this bag to replace a tent bag that had ripped. Wow, I really underestimated the size of this bag! I was able to put in not only my tent and poles, but also the tarp and the air mattresses and I STILL have room for more! It seems to be very rugged and durable, a great bag for the price. I'll definitely be ordering another one, maybe two!
on February 16, 2014
I bought this bag to use as a soccer referee back in 2012 (Update: Still going strong in May 2016). I'll give you the bad first. Since this is a 5-star review, it can't be that much of a deal-breaker!
Well, the shoulder strap snapped on my bag within two months of purchase. There are two plastic pieces between the shoulder strap and the bag itself: (1) the clip that connects to the shoulder strap, and (2) the "triangle" piece that connects to the bag itself. These two plastic pieces hook to each other to connect the shoulder strap to the bag. On one side, the "triangle" piece snapped. I simply connected plastic clip (1) directly to the bag, and moved on with my life. Then, not very long after that, plastic clip (1) snapped on the OTHER end of the shoulder strap, thus precluding any further use of the shoulder strap. At this point, I started using the hand straps on the top of the bag as shoulder straps, and carried my bag that way. Not too comfortable, but at least I could still carry the bag. To be fair to this bag, EVERY bag I've ever purchased for refereeing has also snapped in the same spot, so this is not a unique gripe.
By the way, I have now been able to avoid the strap breaking issue by attaching carabiners (those keychain hook things...I didn't know what they were called either!) between the fabric portions of the strap and bag, skipping the plastic completely. I added a photo to the product page to show what I mean. It's a cheap, easy way to reduce pressure on the weakest part of the bag.
Now, on to the good, and the great:
1) This bag is HUGE! It is the first bag I've ever used as a soccer referee that could actually fit my flags. My typical loadout is as follows: Assistant Referee flags, 10 referee shirts (5 colors, long and short sleeve), extra shorts and socks, waterproof blanket, set of communication radios + accessories, gallon of water, 3-inch binder, clipboard, and a bunch of small stuff, like whistles, sunscreen, towel, ball pump, etc. Everything fits with plenty of room to spare, which is something I could never say previously with any referee bag. I could even fit my folding chair in the bag, but that just made it too heavy! I use pencil cases and space saver bags to separate the different items, and to provide some extra water protection.
2) Besides the shoulder strap, the bag is very durable. The stitching on the hand straps, the two ends of the bag, and the zipper looks very strong, and has held up just fine despite my attempts to load my entire life into the bag (see #1).
3) Customer service is fantastic! I was skeptical at first, since they don't have an email address on their webpage (I only found a phone number by doing a site search using Google). But if you look at the various 3-star reviews on Amazon, you will often find that a Northstar rep replies to the review with a customer service email address. I contacted that email address (customerservice 'at' northstarbags 'dot' com), and a rep named Doug responded very quickly. Despite the fact that I bought this bag nearly 18 months ago, Doug went out of his way to understand the problem, and provide a fix free of charge that I considered to be above and beyond what he needed to do.
Considering the three points above, it's easy to forget that this bag costs about the same as an entree at Applebees (and provides FAR more value!). I'd consider this bag a good value even at double the price. If you don't believe me, then check the "Best Seller" list for Duffel Bags. This one is currently #4, but look at all the other items in the top 10. They all cost double what this bag costs! That speaks volumes, in my opinion.
I can't recommend this bag enough. Buy two!
on July 17, 2015
Boy Scouts are tough on gear, and so are airlines! We took 21 Northstar duffel bags stuffed with backpacks and other gear through 4 flights and 6 trips through baggage handling equipment with zero problems. Customer service during purchase and shipping was personable and very helpful. I used the precursor to this bag for the same group trip 3 years ago with some minor handling damage to one bag and was happy enough to buy again. This new duffel is even tougher, and the new zippers held up to overstuffed, yank hard Scout abuse! The included shipping strap will make for more compact storage until the next use. This is a 5 Star product for backpack transport!
on November 24, 2012
I ordered two for my week long camping trip to Oahu with my Girlfriend. All our gear, and backpacks fit nicely with room to spare! Our supplies made it through the airline's baggage handling just fine. No noticeable snags or rips. A couple of odd stains but I think it will wash out.
Was concerned that this bag might be considered over-sized luggage, but the airport gave us no trouble.
Lastly, they fold/roll up nicely (not tiny mind you) and sat in the bottom of our backpacks while hiking around.
Good product, would order it again.
on June 24, 2015
I purchased (2) of these - (1) for each of my younger daughters for their annual 4-day field trips. In past years, I had to load them down with multiple bags and packs for their trips due to the school's supplies requirements. This year, I was hoping to find a better solution so I started searching for new duffle bags. I found that most were too small and/or inordinately expensive but I eventually found these. I was concerned that they would be cheaply made as they cost significantly less than many other bags but decided to try them as time was running out. When they arrived, I looked over the construction and was pleased that it is sewn well. The fabric felt lightweight, though, for the size of the bag and I was once again concerned about how it would perform under strain. Needless to say, I stuffed them full and the bag performed flawlessly. Each bag held a down, adult-sized sleeping bag, standard size pillow, (6) days clothes (extras were required), snow parkas, a lighter jacket, boots, extra shoes, (2) sets heavy pajamas, a robe, slippers, multiple bags and trash bags,shower shoes and a full toiletry set (and I am probably forgetting a few things). One daughter was required to bring snow clothes so her clothing pile was bulkier with all of the under-layers that she needed. Long story short, the bags held all of their stuff and there was enough room for a few additional items if we had needed it. When they got home, I checked the bags again to see how they had survived and both were in perfect condition. As it tuns out, the fabric that the bag is made of may be lighter-weight, but it is definitely strong and rugged - a real plus when lugging around so much stuff! These are definitely great bags. So much so, my husband has asked me to pick him up one, too.