Jun 17 2012

Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Duffle Bag Review


I am not really a “just in case” or “what if” kind of packer. While not a religious about it, I do try to streamline, minimize and I have even been known to weigh things to see where I stand. After all, an ounce is an ounce and they all add up to pounds!

For the last couple of trips, I have been tossing a little Sea to Summit Duffle Bag in my luggage.

At less than three ounces, it is pretty easy to justify tossing it in and since it stuffs into its own captive pouch you will barely notice it is there. Packed in, it is about the size of my fist.

Stuffed in its captive sack and shown with a USB stick for comparison.

The secret to its balance of strength and airy lightness is the fabric. Ultra-Sil is a Cordura brand fabric with a very light weight yarn but a 240 thread per inch density. They then coat the fabric with a silicone elastomer to make it waterproof but still have enough “give” that the fabric does not break like many polyurethane coated fabrics would.

Sea to Summit quotes that this combination allows this incredibly thin fabric to hold up to 250 pounds of weight! All of the key stress points are bar tacked for additional strength. This is the telltale zigzag stitching pattern you see on stuff that you can’t afford to have break on you!

At some point, the handles become less than comfortable and I wouldn’t want to use the bag for a long basis with much more than 20 pounds in it. It is encouraging to know that it will take all that weight if I need it to.

Bar tacking in all of its criss-cross glory!

The impressive thing is that the Duffle expands out to hold 10.5 gallons of volume (40 liters) so you can stuff an impressive amount of kit in there! Do keep in mind that awesome tensile strength does not necessarily equate to great abrasion resistance. While you could carry a couple of bowling balls (literally!) in the Duffle you wouldn’t want to fill it with steak knives, or drag it behind your car.

The bag also features a pair of YKK zippers (the best zippers in the world IMHO). The pulls loop through to keep them from jangling noisily and make them easy to grab. Since there are two zippers the bag can open either direction. This is handy if it is stuffed in an overhead and you are trying to wiggle something out of it without taking it down.

The bag that the Duffle stores itself into is attached to one of the seams of the bag and it ends up inside of the bag when you zip it closed. This actually makes a convenient place to store a set of keys if you are pressing the duffle into service as a gym bag.


On this last trip it truly saved me! I was sent back from a sales meeting with 10 polo shirts to take back to my sales staff. While I am a good packer there is no way I was going to cram that into my existing luggage! I put the shirts and my carry on bag into the Duffle and walked on my flight with just two bags.


Light, strong and useful enough to find a space in any travelers repertoire the Sea to Summit Duffle is perfect for when you have packed yourself into a corner. The material is so wispy it does not seem like it should be able to perform the way that it does.

The high-tech fabrics do add a price tag to the Duffle which comes in at $39.95. If you are an extreme sportsman or a one bag traveler counting every ounce, this is the kind of bag that is worth every penny.

If the Ultra-Sil fabric intrigues you Sea to Summit puts it to hundreds of uses even including the kitchen sink! Click through to their website below and check out some of the other option…

Sea to Summit
3550 Frontier Ave, Unit D
Boulder, CO 80301
Ph: (303) 440-8977


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  1. Russ

    You mention carrying this in your travel bag. My question is, just what is your usual/favorite travel bag?

  2. Jeff Mac

    My current favorite travel bag is the Tom Bihn Tristar which I reviewed here. I have written about it a fair amount. It really suits the kind of travel I do very well and I like its combination of flexibility and organization.

    What is your favorite travel bag?

  3. Russ

    Thanks for the reply, Jeff. I currently have an eBags TLS Weekender Convertible. I like it but keep thinking I want something smaller. I like the TriStar but wonder if there are too many pockets for me. Maybe the Western Flyer…

  4. Jeff Mac

    Materials are not quite as nice but this from Timbuk2 might be an option….

  5. Tina Ingle

    Great duffle review! We’re proud to have our durable CORDURA® Ultralite fabric featured by our loyal brand customer, Sea to Summit.
    Tina Ingle
    CORDURA(R) Brand
    Account Manager

  6. Jeff Mac

    Thanks for dropping by Tina. I am a fan of several of your loyal customers!

  7. Jeff Mac

    I have done it but it doesn’t provide any protection so I would limit it to clothes or something like paper that you don’t care if it gets crushed…

  8. Gene Williams

    Great find Jeff!! Where can I buy one?

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