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.

On my feet: shoes & boots I’m wearing this fall

Fall is a sad time for feet. After months of fresh air, getting shown off in flip flops and enjoying their day(s) in the spotlight sun, it’s now time to cover them up for cold and inclement weather. Inspired by our very own Pam Mandel’s post on her favorite boots for the season, I thought I’d pass along some tips of my own by sharing with you what I’m wearing on my feet this fall. When it comes to footwear, style and fit are subjective, but I feel pretty comfortable recommending these shoes to you because they’ve kept me and my feet very happy.Teva Mush Frio Lace Canvas

I wore the Teva Mush Frio Lace Canvas shoes (pictured above) during my time in Quito this summer. While it was May, it always feels like autumn in Quito (it was in the 40s and 50s most days). The Frio is based on Teva’s popular Mush flip flop, which also happens to be my favorite sandal of all time. Like its sandal sibling, the Mush Frio is incredibly light and fantastically comfortable while remaining supportive. I’ve spent hours doing urban walking in the Mush Frio and experienced none of the back and foot pain that I typically feel after a day of sightseeing. They pack down easily and weigh next to nothing, making them perfect for travel, too. They’re not waterproof, which is a bummer, but they are quite possibly the most comfortable closed toe shoe I have ever worn.

The Teva Mush Frio Lace Canvas shoes are $50 and can be found on Teva’s website or at outdoor retailers.

Keen Targhee II Mid

When you think of Keen, you probably picture the classic Targhee in your head. It’s the look that Keen is known for, with the rubberized bumper toe that Pam mentioned in her post. She’s not a fan of that style, but on that we differ (sorry, Pam!). I opted for the Targhee Mid II because I wanted a proper boot rather than a low top shoe. It’s been great for fall hikes, as well as walks with my dogs and helping my grandmother with yard work. It’s a practical hiking boot that can double as a work boot. They’re waterproof, which is perfect for fall, though they are not lined, so they won’t suffice as winter boots. That said, the deep and aggressive tread make trudging through mud a breeze and they’ve been incredibly comfortable no matter how I’ve used them.

The Keen Targhee Mid II boots are $130 on Keen’s website and can also be found at most outdoor retailers.

Tretorn Stråla

For rainy days in Ney York City when I need boots that keep my feet dry but also look good dressed up a bit, I love my Tretorn Stråla ankle boots. I don’t enjoy rain boots that go up to my knees. That’s why I love the Stråla’s low profile and the fact that I can continuously aim for puddles while I walk (just as fun as when I was a kid) and keep my feet dry. They’re not lined, so they will be retiring to the closet once the temperatures dip closer to freezing, but for now, they’re perfect for nights out on the town when the weather is wet but the event is more formal.

The Tretorn Stråla ankle boots are available for $65 on Tretorn’s website, as well as department stores and sites such as Zappos (where you can often find them on sale for under $50).

Blundstone 261

Lastly, when I’m dressing up, I still like to wear shoes that are durable and, more importantly, comfortable. I’ve had Blundstone boots before (they’re the Australian boots that aren’t Uggs). They’ve finally started selling low top shoes, so I jumped into a pair of the 261 suede shoes the minute I saw them. They’re fashionable, sure, but because they’re made by Blundstone they’re also designed to be supportive and comfortable no matter how many hours you stay on your feet. Blundstone is known for the slip on boots and these shoes maintain the same design. A pull tab in the heel makes them easy to get on and the elastic sides allow them to stretch as you move your feet. This flexibility makes them infinitely more comfortable than most dress shoes and means that they’re perfect for wearing all day and into the evening.

The Blundstone 261 suede shoes are $120 at REI and other retailers.

If you’re going to put your feet away this fall, you might as still make them feel special.

Four new travel friendly cameras from Olympus

Good tech news tends to happen in the middle of the night. Take for example these four new digital cameras from Olympus. Not only did they make four good looking shooters – they made four great new cameras for travelers.

Two of the new cameras offer ultra-zoom lenses, and two of them let you take your camera underwater for some fantastic photos of HD video. Best of all, two of them will be available later this month!

The four new cameras are:

  • The SP-800UZ 30x ultra-zoom
  • The SP-600UZ 15x ultra-zoom
  • The Stylus Tough-6020 waterproof / dropproof / freezeproof camera
  • The Stylus Tough-8010 waterproof / dropproof / crushproof / freezeproof camera

The SP-800UZ 30x ultra-zoom

The first of the new cameras in this lineup is by far the most impressive. Olympus managed to design the world’s smallest camera with a 30x optical zoom. The SP-800UZ makes photos in 14 megapixels, and video in 720p. Its 5.0 – 150mm (28 – 840 35mm equivalent) lens is built with 15 separate internal lenses in 10 groups.

Photos can be enhanced with a variety of “magic filters”. The filters include the following effects: Pop Art, Pin Hole, Fish-Eye and Drawing (creates sketch outline photos).

The camera features a built in pop-up flash, MiniHDMI output for watching HD content on your TV and 2GB of internal memory (memory can be expanded with SD/SDHC cards).

The SP-800UZ will be available in March for the surprisingly low price of $349.99.

The SP-600UZ 15x ultra-zoom

The new SP-600UZ offers most of the features found on the SP-800UZ, but with a 15x optical zoom and a 12 megapixel sensor. One other handy difference is its ability to operate off regular AA rechargeable batteries. It will also be available in March, for just $249.99.

The Stylus Tough-6020

Olympus has always been at the forefront of tough cameras – their waterproof, freezeproof (down to -14F) and crushproof cameras are world-renowned for their durability.

The new Stylus Tough-6020 shoots in 14 megapixels, with an integrated 5x optical zoom. This camera is also the first in the Stylus lineup to offer HD video recording (720p). It is waterproof up to 16 feet of water, and can survive drops up to 5 feet. Thankfully, the Tough-6020 takes SD and SDHC cards – I was never a fan of the xD cards used in previous models.

The Stylus Tough-6020 will be available this month for $299.99.

The Stylus Tough-8010

The Stylus Tough-8010 is the tougher brother of the Stylus Tough-6020. It takes waterproofing down to 33 feet of water, drops up to 6.6 feet and is crushproof up to 220 pounds of pressure. It also adds an extra gigabyte of internal memory (2GB).

The Stylus Tough-8010 will be available this month for $399.99.

Kodak tweaks and upgrades their pocket HD camcorder

Back in September, Gadling had one of the first real reviews of the (then) new Kodak Zi6 pocket HD Camcorder. Of course, as we entered a new year, new technology suddenly becomes old technology, and companies work as hard as they can to introduce upgrades to otherwise perfectly usable tech.

The new Kodak Zx1 has the same basic specifications of the Zi6, but adds some features that make it worth taking a second look at. For starters, the camera will include an HDMI cable, as well as a set of pre-charged batteries.

The most important upgrade though, is in the enclosure, and allows you to take the camera on your next adventure. The Zx1 is weather resistant, and should be able to cope with a bit of dirt, dust and water without turning into an expensive but cute paper weight.

The Zx1 will be available in April for $149.95 and comes in black, red, blue, pink and yellow. Optional accessories include a remote control (cool!), memory cards, a handlebar/helmet mount, and of course a lineup of batteries and memory cards.

(Via: Engadget)

Daily deal – Sanyo VPC-E2 waterproof digital camcorder for $199

My daily deal for today is for the Sanyo Xacti VPC-E2 digital camcorder. This 8 megapixel camera has all the features you’d expect from a digital video camera, including a swiveling screen, a 2.5″ LCD screen, up to 8 hours of video (on an 8GB card) and the ability to capture video in 60 frames per second in VGA resolution.

What makes this camera different, is the ability to work underwater – and not just “splashes of water”. The VPC-E2 is waterproof enough to work in up to 5 feet of water for 30 minutes. Of course, this does not make it your next best diving buddy, but you should be able to film some nice clips of your kids diving, or of the underwater environment on your next vacation.

The VPC-E2 comes complete with a rechargable battery pack, charger, Adobe Premiere Elements 4.0 (for video editing), a soft case and a hand strap.

The camera is on sale at for just $199, making it one of the cheapest true underwater video cameras on the market.