Whether it's a spare set of clothing or thousands of dollars in camera equipment, it's important to keep your gear dry. I've used my share of cheaper duffel and tackle storage bags in the past, only to regret that decision when caught in rough seas or an unexpected deluge. Opening up a bag to find everything inside is damp or even soaked can be a simple annoyance or even a major setback!
Made in three sizes, the YETI Panga series of duffel bags aren't coolers, but they're designed for the absolute ultimate in gear storage and protection. How? By offering not only rugged but fully airtight and submersible construction, these bags are perfect for everything from transporting fishing necessities to protecting your valuables while whitewater rafting. The kind folks at YETI recently sent us a Panga 50 to get our take on its design and functionality. Let's go!
Dimensions: L 23 1/3 / 10" H / 14" W
Empty Weight: 5.2 pounds
Approx Capacity: 50 Liters / 3,050 cu inches
Shell Material: Laminated high-density nylon
Bottom Material: Molded EVA
Colors: Storm Gray
Everything I've seen and handled from YETI thus far has been of extreme quality, and our Panga 50 tester proved no different. Inside and out, construction is clean and concise with tight, straight seams, excellent stitch work, and quality components and materials. This bag commands a stout price, but the craftsmanship doesn't disappoint even slightly.
The main body of the Panga is a grey ThickSkin shell comprised of laminated high-density nylon. Running down nearly the full length of the top is the real secret to making this bag submersible, and that's the HydroLok Zipper. The end of the zipper comes equipped with a U-Dock which allows the zipper to firmly lock into place to supposedly seal out water. Great, but does it really work? More on that in a bit.
To secure gear to the bag or secure the bag to something, there's six QuickGrab lash points located on the ends and sides of the bag. There's also two small grab handles on the top, along with one on each side. Don't want to carry the bag by hand? With the included DryHaul carrying straps, you have the option of wearing the Panga 50 as a backpack, too. Connected to the bag with open/close Metallock hardware, these straps can also be disconnected without too much hassle.
Rounding out the features list are two small YETI logos along both sides, a rugged EVA molded bottom with large logo, and a blue interior with two zippered pockets to hold small items.
So the big question: was our Panga 50 absolutely waterproof? To truly put this claim to the test, I closed the zipper shut and took the bag in the swimming pool. Even before I could submerge it, I instantly knew it would pass the test with flying colors. How? The Panga was filled with air (and thus floated like a cork) and I could get none to escape. An airtight bag is a watertight bag!
I gave the Panga 50 multiple harsh dunkings while pushing/moving it around under the surface to see if I could work some water droplets into the bag. When I finally got out of the pool and opened the zipper there wasn't a single speck of moisture to be seen inside. This duffel is the real deal!
It's amazing to me a zipper can be fully waterproof as this one is. The HydroLok Zipper sports some pretty beefy teeth and a nice T-handle for an easy grip. The zipper's action is firm, but not difficult to move. As mentioned earlier, the end of the zipper features a U-Dock end. When pulling the zipper into the U-Dock there's a firm little "thud" to be felt which means the bag is now in full submersible mode. If not pulled into the U-Dock, the bag will not be 100% water and air tight.
Inside, there's plenty of space for gear and the two zippered interior flat mesh pockets allow you to separate smaller or more important items. The laminated high-density nylon ThickSkin shell is modestly stiff/rubbery in feel both inside and out, yet still allows for easy access to the interior when unzipped. The material and structure of the bag also allows it to hold its shape very well. When zipped up, our empty Panga 50 can be stored standing up on either end without toppling/folding over on itself.
The construction also seems very robust. The materials resist scratches and abrasions well, and pulling vigorously on various parts of the bag resulted in no separations or torn stitches. The slogan "Built For the Wild" definitely seems to apply here!
It doesn't come cheap, but for the ultimate in gear protection this bag is a winner. I currently own two other older gear bags (of other brands) that are made to be waterproof, however they aren't submersible. While they usually got the job done fairly well, their design and the way the zippers are laid out doesn't make them nearly as user-friendly or protective as this Panga 50. I can't wait to take this thing on many more future outdoor adventures. It may be overkill for much of what I do, but I'll never have to worry about what's inside—regardless of the conditions I encounter!
Other (larger) sizes include a Panga 75 ($349.99) and Panga 100 ($399.99). Each Panga includes booklets, complimentary stickers, and zipper lube to maintain function and longevity. Backed by a 3-year warranty.
Interested in YETI Panga Duffel Bags?
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