The Product Review: United By Blue Mt. Drew Duffle

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Taking the Mt. Drew Duffle from United By Blue around the country. Leather luggage tag by Owen & Fred.
Taking the Mt. Drew Duffle from United By Blue around the country. Leather luggage tag by Owen & Fred.

The more you travel, you more you realize that it just pays to have the right gear. That goes for simple, smaller things like your toiletries kit, all the way on up to the right pair of shoes  or sturdy outerwear. It goes without saying then, that the bag with which you transport all this gear is pretty essential. And like other considered areas of your outfit, a great weekender bag can add a solid, reliable touch to your travel ensemble — seriously. It’s an area that should be overlooked, so when you find one that gets the job done, you should hold onto it. I’ve been traveling quite a bit in recent months, from a Christmas trip to Florida to a work trip to Utah, and a nice bag has proven critical to get from point A to point B. With that being said, the United By Blue Mt. Drew Duffle that you see here has been more than up to the task of handling all of my style essentials.

Ready to hit the road with the Mt. Drew Duffle. Natural chambray shirt by Todd Shelton. Chocolate Suede Scout Chukka Boots by Thursday Boot Company. Adventure Log by Word Notebooks.
Ready to hit the road with the Mt. Drew Duffle. Natural chambray shirt by Todd Shelton. Chocolate Suede Scout Chukka Boots by Thursday Boot Company. Adventure Log by Word Notebooks.

United By Blue should be a familiar name if you read this blog regularly — they’ve popped up in our ongoing Style Q&A series, and they craft everything from the duffle pictured here to responsibly made shirts, henleys and swim trunks. And as with any purchase, you can feel great about picking it up — they remove one pound of trash from oceans and waterways for every product sold, and they bring along their employees as volunteers to do it. So it’s no ordinary company you’re buying from, and that’s a very good. Namely, it means the quality and craftsmanship of this bag can stand up to the commitment they’ve promised.  And it means that no matter which of the five available colorways you pick up, you’ll be getting the same quality (for the record, I ended up going with the Moss option).

Brass hardware pairs well with the dark brown genuine leather straps.
Brass hardware pairs well with the dark brown genuine leather straps. The waxed canvas should hold up quite well, too.

If you’re going to be lugging this around the country as I’ve been, durability is going to be crucial. Luckily, the 18oz. organic waxed canvas is a huge plus — the bag has so far stood up to being jammed in overhead compartments and carried around on the subway, and it hasn’t shown any signs of ripping or giving out (pretty critical with how much gear I’ve packed into it at times). Now, it’ll certainly see lots more use going forward, but initial signs are quite promising. Another big aspect of that durability component is the hardware, as you can see from the above photo. The brass hardware teams nicely in terms of aesthetic with the genuine dark brown leather, but it also feels quite sturdy when picked up, too.

That is, it doesn’t feel like the leather handles are going to give way on you, or like the shoulder strap (also padded with that dark brown genuine leather) is going to suddenly break off. These are all big bonuses, and signs you should check out right away when grabbing your own bag. The leather handles, while sturdy, aren’t too stiff to carry the bag with — while the leather isn’t buttery-smooth, with repeated use, they’ll stand up to carrying while looking quite nice. So overall, this bag definitely has solid durability going for it.

Enough space for two pairs of sneakers side-by-side (plus gear not shown).
Enough space for two pairs of sneakers side-by-side (plus gear not shown).

Space is also a key when packing up a bag for weekend or long-weekend getaways. This bag packs a surprising amount of room (pun intended). I’ve repeatedly been able to fit two pairs of shoes (one pair of suede chukka boots and one pair of sneakers, for example) inside, along with various other knits, sweaters and pants. Compared to my Navali Stoway Weekender Bag, it definitely feels roomier inside, which is somewhat surprising given that the Navali Weekender utilizes more interior pockets and compartments. Note that the official measurements on the United By Blue bag are 24” Wide x 15” Height x 11” Diameter, compared to that Stowaway Weekender, which measures 22″ Wide x 12″ Height x 8 1/2″ Diameter). So this is really more like a three-or-four night bag as opposed to just a weekender bag (that is, if

Fit to carry all kinds of seasonal accessories. Leather luggage tag by Owen & Fred. Buffalo Bobber Leather Gloves by Iron & Resin.
Fit to carry all kinds of seasonal accessories. Leather luggage tag by Owen & Fred. Buffalo Bobber Leather Gloves by Iron & Resin.

 

One drawback might be that if you like things ultra-organized inside your bag — that is, divided up by compartments or sections — this bag doesn’t quite have that. There is an interior zipper pocket however, but that’s it. But given the bag’s roominess, I’ve always found that my gear fits in comfortably without things getting too jumbled up. As with any accessory you’re going to be bringing with you lots of places, looks are absolutely key, too. I’ve found the rich Moss color of this weekender to be a neutral complement to all sorts of travel outfits (again, style’s in the details!). It strikes the right balance between being unique yet not too outlandish. Any of the five other color options currently available would do much the same thing — particularly the rich Nutmeg color or the handsome Chocolate color. The lighter shade of tan even calls to mind a Filson bag.

Which brings us to a key differentiator between an expensive weekender and this one — price (not too hard to figure out there, ehh?). For a bag of this quality and styling potential, the price is just right. That’s particularly true when you consider that the Navali Weekender runs about $30 more expensive. It’s critical that this bag provides more space, more color options and a thicker waxed canvas (not to be overlooked when searching for something long-lasting). Keep in mind that if you were looking for something more smaller and more like an overnight bag, J. Crew Factory is currently offering up its Carson Duffel Bag for just $68.50. And on the slightly more casual front, J. Crew’s Harwick Weekender Bag is going for $148 (but that piece features nylon versus waxed canvas). Were you to go for something on the pricier side of things — like a true Filson weekender — know that the price is going to hop up significantly.

So when it comes to combining craftsmanship, quality and price with the right kind of looks, it’s tough to go farther than this United By Blue Mt. Drew Duffle. The Moss color in particular is rich and eyecatching, the hardware is solid and well-crafted, the leather straps and detailing will break in nicely over time, and the price is on-point for what you’re getting. Heck, you might yourself making more excuses to use this bag than you thought.

Do you own the Mt. Drew Duffle from United By Blue? Or is it on your Wish List?

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3 thoughts on “The Product Review: United By Blue Mt. Drew Duffle

  1. I have an odd question. I’m thinking of purchasing this duffle (I have one of United’s backpacks and i love it) but the one thing that is kind of annoying to me is that my backpack won’t hold it’s shape when it’s empty. Sometimes it can be difficult to search for something inside because the canvas (thick as it is) won’t stay open by itself. Will this duffle hold it’s shape somewhat while empty? For example, can you prop it open while packing it or do you need to hold it open?

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