Review: Ultimate Direction Crew Bag

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Basic summary:  A spacious and versatile crew or travel bag with durable construction and thoughtful compartmentalization. It can be carried as a duffel bag, but does not have dedicated straps for this purpose; instead, it has adjustable backpack-style straps for wearing on your back. Dimensions of the bag are small enough to use as a carry-on for air travel, but small enough for a crew person to easily haul from aid station to aid station if needed.

MSRP:  $125

Features:

  • Weight: 1lb, 8oz / 690g
  • Dimensions: 13.4 x 21.3 x 8.7in / 34 x 54 x 22cm
  • Volume: 2441 cubic inches / 40 L
  • Materials:
    • 420D Nylon 1680D Robic Air Nylon
    • 420D Robic Air Nylon Ripstop
  • Exterior mesh compartment for wet shoes or clothes
  • Main compartment unzips fully for quick access to everything
  • Internal organizers for food, first-aid, and essentials
  • Top panel doubles as standing mat when unzipped
  • Exterior clear Visolon compartment to view contents

Deep dive:

Big races often involve big travel plans, either via airports or a long road trip. And when you’re traveling for a race, it’s comforting to know that all of your essential gear is well organized and easy to access. Ultimate Direction’s Crew Bag is made for both of these purposes: getting you to the race, and providing quick access to everything you need at crew stops during the event.

The most obvious design advantage of the Crew Bag is its compartmentalization, with one large main compartment and two separate zippered compartments on either end. There is also a small zippered pocket on the outside of the primary storage compartment, and two pockets on the front backpack straps: one is a cinch-closure, the other has a vertical zipper. The large primary compartment has three stash pouches on the inside flap, and the clear exterior end pocket is divided into three equal sections to separate items – this is particularly nice if you’re looking to grab small items without hunting around. The second end compartment is made of ripstop mesh, and is ideal for storing dirty shoes or sweaty clothes.

Material construction of the main compartments uses Robic Nylon, which is stronger and more durable than similar weight Nylon fabrics; typically up to 50% stronger with 2.5x the tear resistance. However, it remains quite lightweight, and the entire bag has a great volume to weight ratio. The shoe compartment has the same Robic Nylon in a breathable mesh weave that maintains durability despite allowing air exchange.

When the main compartments are fully loaded, the adjustable harness straps allow you to carry the entire bag as a backpack, which is great when travelling through airports. If the primary compartment isn’t entirely filled, there are dual cinch straps running across the top to secure the contents down. The primary design drawback we found is that if you are using the bag as a duffel, there isn’t a convenient way to grab it; you either wrap your hands around the backpack straps, or loosen the cinch straps a bit and use them to pick up the bag.

Conclusion

Ultimate Direction’s Crew Bag is a great addition to your gear inventory to help you keep all the rest of your gear in order. It serves an ideal dual purpose of helping you travel to races, and then accessing your items easily when you get there.

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About Author

Donald is a physical therapist, California native, barefoot aficionado, and father of three with more than 25 years of experience in endurance sports. He was a collegiate rower at UCLA, then dabbled in marathons and Ironman-distance triathlons before falling in love with ultras in the early 2000s. His favorite locations to run include Marin County, CA, and the Sierra Nevada mountains, and he loves exploring America's National Parks. When he's not training for ultramarathons, he enjoys hiking or slacklining with his family in Monterey County, CA.

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