Gadling Gear Review: Westwater Roll Top Duffel By Fishpond

Choosing the right bag for an active, adventurous escape can be a real challenge. On the one hand, you need something with plenty of room to haul all of your gear but then again you don’t want something too large and bulky either. It should also provide a good measure of protection for whatever you’re carrying inside while also shrugging off the wear and tear that comes along with travel itself. That pretty much sums up my experience with the Westwater Roll Top Duffel from Fishpond, a bag that delivers a lot of value to demanding travelers and outdoor enthusiast alike.

Fishpond isn’t exactly a company that is well known for making travel gear. In fact, their core market is in the fishing business where they’ve spent more than a decade building a brand that is well respected for its quality and innovation. Recently, Fishpond has turned its attention to the adventure travel market, however, bringing new additions to their product line that are sure to be of interest to those who like to travel light. The Roll Top Duffel is one of those products and it manages to deftly break new ground while still finding a way to honor the company’s heritage.The Roll Top is a modestly sized duffel bag that is capable of filling a lot of different roles for travelers. It features 55L of interior storage, which is enough for a weeks worth of gear depending on the type of trip you’re taking and how smartly you pack. In fact, that is actually 5L of storage more than my favorite backpack, which accompanies me on all but the most gear intensive trips. The Roll Top also has a small exterior pocket that is nice for keeping small items close at hand, but other than that, there aren’t a lot of other storage options available. This lack of organizational compartments may be a turn off to those who are use to a plethora of pockets and storage compartments on their luggage, but the customer that this bag is designed for will appreciate its simplicity.

Made from thick, durable fabrics, this is the kind of duffel you can use on a weekend escape to that B&B in the country or on a longer excursion to a far-flung corner of the globe. The bag easily resists damage and is simple to keep clean, making it appear new even after it’s been around the block (or the world!) a couple of times. It is clear that Fishpond put a lot of thought into the Roll Top’s design, employing TPU welded fabrics that will ensure a very long life.

The quality doesn’t stop with the fabrics, however, as just about every other aspect of the Roll Top is impressive as well. Everything from the zipper on the exterior pocket to the two padded nylon handles give the impression that the company spared no expense in building this bag. A sturdy and adjustable shoulder strap and two compression straps, complete with heavy-duty clasps, do nothing to dispel this image either.

The one feature that completely sets this duffel bag apart from the crowd is that when properly sealed it is absolutely waterproof. The roll-top from which it derives its name, opens incredibly wide, providing unprecedented access to the interior compartment. This makes it a breeze to pack and once you’ve put everything you need inside, the bag seals up as tight as a drum. Using a design that is common on dry bags that are typically used in sports such as kayaking or scuba diving, the top of this bag rolls in on itself, creating a surprisingly tight seal. Once the compression straps are locked in and pulled tight, it is virtually impossible for moisture to find its way into the interior of the bag. This means no matter what you put inside this duffel, you can bet it’ll be well protected from the elements.

This level of waterproofing makes the Roll Top a fantastic option for sailing adventures, camping outings and of course extended fishing trips. But even if you’re not heading to a destination where your primary activities center on water, this is a duffel bag that is versatile enough for use in just about any environment. Whether they’re rushing through a crowded airport or making their way to a remote mountain cabin, the Roll Top’s ability to easily carry a large load will no doubt make it a favorite amongst travelers everywhere.

As someone who likes to travel as light as absolutely possible, a duffel bag is my preferred piece of luggage whenever I’m not using a backpack. Often they can be used as a carry-on, which helps save a few bucks at the airport, although a fully packed Roll Top will push the boundaries of what is allowed by the airlines. I also like being able to toss the bag over a shoulder, allowing me to keep my hands free for other items. This duffel does all of that while also providing a level of waterproofing that is very impressive indeed. You may not need that level of protection from moisture, but it sure is good to know that you have it just in case.

Fishpond has priced the Roll Top duffel at $159.95, which seems like an excellent deal considering the overall level of quality that this bag delivers. If you’re in the market for a new duffel bag to accompany you on your next adventure, it is tough to beat this one in terms of durability and protection.