I was heading back to Africa, first to Namibia to try my hand (and luck) at hunting leopard and then to Mozambique for two trips to the Zambeze Delta Safaris‘ Coutada 11. All the trips required a travel bag that was, simply put, form-fitting to limited space in Land Cruisers, helicopters, and small planes.
At the same time, I needed a large enough container to fit in all sorts of hunting equipment, including shooting rests, hard-sided ammo boxes, high-topped shoes for use in swamps, etc, etc. The bag would also carry quite a bit of equipment for the camera and video work for my wife and I. Not the cameras and microphones, but the tripods and other pieces of not-so-fragile paraphernalia.
What I needed was a duffle bag. I owned several, but nothing large enough for the Africa trips. I searched around the internet, and came across the SITKA Drifter 110L Duffle Bag.
The first hint that this duffle might be large enough for my needs – maybe even too large – came from the following line in the product description on the SITKA site . . .
Four side handles and one top carry handle provide numerous options for carrying, dragging and moving this beast on your next adventure.
OK, the bold type above is my doing. However, I appreciated the truth in advertising. It really is a large duffle, and I really did use those handles to drag the bag (see below), though I wouldn’t go so far as calling it a beast, unless you load it with rocks.
To protect the duffle and its contents from such rough treatment and from leaking like a sieve when exposed to puddles and rain showers, the main body is 150D TPU coated rip-stop fabric and the bottom constructed using 450D TPU coated rip-stop.
In case, like me, any of the rest of you don’t know what all those acronyms and numbers signify, here’s a brief explanation . . .
The number followed by ‘D’ reflects the yarn count. Denier a.k.a. ‘D’ is the common metric describing the filament count of yarn. The calculation for the denier uses a weight per unit length system, e.g., 9000 meters of yarn = 100 grams = 100 denier. The larger the denier number, the heavier, thicker, and more dense the filament yarn. As an example, for polyester clothing the D values are in the range of 50D – 150D.
‘TPU’ stands for thermoplastic polyurethane. For the duffle I would be dragging all over Africa, the thing to know about TPUs is that it is elastic (making the bag easier to grab and drag), resistant to oil and chemical solvents (for when I spilled my bore cleaner) and abrasion-resistant (for dragging).
Thankfully, the duffle was a perfect size for my 4StableSticks standing-model, (retracted) shooting rest. I carried several sets to give to my various PHs and for my own use, and they all fitted with room to spare, as did our tripods.
The duffle has an internal, zippered pocket that runs the length of one side. This is handy for keeping smaller pieces of equipment from becoming hopelessly mixed in with all the other clothing and gear you’re hauling.
The two deep zippered pockets located on the inside of the top flap served the same function.
So, here we are with the equipment and clothing for my trips. Would I still be smiling at the end of packing?
Fast forward, and here is the completed job. It was easy to get everything in for a three-week trip to southern Africa. I wasn’t packing insulated clothing for a winter hunt. However, there was plenty of extra space, so I could have.
The main body closes with a zipper that has a sizeable length of rubberized cord for something to firmly grab.
Once zipped, the nylon flap covers the zipper, protecting the contents from dust, rain, or anything else that could possibly creep through the zipper.
The top handles have a Velcro fastener.
In Namibia and Mozambique, the duffle bag found its way into the back of Land Cruisers (that kicked up storms of dust that settled on the bags).
They were also carried in small helicopters . . .
The SITKA Drifter 110L Duffle Bag comes equipped with removable backpack straps, and I posed for this type of carry option. Let me be clear, there is no way I would choose this method of transport with my aging back, but it’s a handy option to have.
I chose to drag the beast . . .
…while younger and stronger camp staff just threw the bag over their shoulders.
Regular tests of the waterproof and abrasion-resistant qualities of the duffle occurred through lots of contact with wet ground and, of course, being dragged everywhere by yours truly.
All-in-all, the two SITKA Drifter 110L Duffle Bags found themselves shoved into numerous land and air vehicles. They also endured a total of 18 commercial flights between the US and Africa.
After all I put these bags through and given their performance, I can confidently say that SITKA Drifter 110L Duffle Bags don’t suck.
Specifications: SITKA Drifter 110L Duffle Bag
Measurements: L: 30 in., W: 15 in., H: 13 in.
Welded and waterproof bathtub floor
Zippered pockets: Located on the top lid and one zippered pocket inside the main bag
Handles: 4 side and 1 top
Removable back pack straps
Available Colors: orange, covert green and lead
Mike Arnold writes for several outlets; you can find links to other articles here.
[All photos courtesy Frances and Mike Arnold.]