As a lifestyle and outdoor gear editor from the east coast but living outside Aspen, Colorado, my travel usually hits one of two ways: Either I’m road tripping and camping in nature out of the back of my truck, or I’m taking three connections just to get to big cities like Atlanta or New York to visit family, friends, or work.
I love a bag that can do double duty, but it’s near impossible to find a single piece of luggage that’s frustration free for both outdoor adventures and city travel. So, when the bright, fun duffel of Baboon to the Moon’s Go Bag popped up on my Instagram feed for the zillionth time, my interests were piqued. This duffel seemed to be not only durable, waterproof, and backed by a lifetime guarantee — ridiculously appealing for outdoor adventures — but also comfortable with backpack straps and TSA carry-on compatible for more streamlined flights. In other words, it was likely too good to be true.
I reached out to the brand for a test sample, and after one year of traveling almost exclusively with this backpack duffel through airports, road trips, camping trips, and river trips, I can say definitively: This is the only bag I’ll ever need for traveling again.
To buy: nordstrom.com, $189
The first thing that made me fall in love with Baboon to the Moon’s Go Bag is the vibrant, dopamine-releasing, monochrome colorway. I chose orange, which felt like it’d be the most expressive walking through an airport and the most eye-popping when outdoors, all while still being low risk for permanently dirty after camping trips compared to, say, the baby pink or white. The orange is monochrome inside and out, including handles and zippers, which adds a level of steeze and pure, childlike fun to the functional luggage. These monochrome, expressive colors also give the Go Bag a gender-fluid quality that’s refreshing in the outdoor space where most rugged, durable products are very clearly marketed toward men.
Aside from the color, this bag is downright functional and well thought through. It’s made from OM Stardust Ballistic shell material (read: really durable) and constructed with an alpine-grade universal double stitch, so it’s not going to fall apart as you yank the handle and toss it into a truck bed or unzip it a little too fast. The material is easy to spot clean when necessary, but seems to repel dirt and scratches for the most part; after abusing mine for a year, mostly outside and rarely (ever?) cleaning it, the worst damage is one loose thread and a small amount of scuffing.
This duffel also has a waterproof shell and lockable zippers (which keep it waterproof). It’s not fully submersible, but it has kept my belongings dry in surprise rainstorms while in the bed of the truck or while camping. I was happy to see the zippers are also easy to glide open and close — a rarity among waterproof gear. I also love how the zippers open to a full c-shape so the lid can flip back entirely and give you full access to the inside.
Then, there are the handles. The Small Go Bag has four external, reinforced handles, (more than its competitors like Patagonia’s Black Hole Duffel). That may sound excessive but they are truly the right amount when you’re throwing bags around and playing tetris to load up the car, or when you’re trying to quickly throw the bag up into an overhead bin on a plane. I also love the daisy chains, which are made from durable, phthalate-free PVC fabric. They add an element of core outdoors aesthetic to the bag, and when using the bag as my carryon, I use the daisy chains to hook a water bottle and stash pouch on the outside to keep my hands free.
There are also four pockets: two small side mesh pockets inside, one zippered across the inside of the lid, and one zippered stow pouch on the outside. I especially like the zippered lid pocket to keep dirty socks and underwear separate when camping, or for magazines and my laptop when I’m flying since they lay flat and the lid is what your spine rests against with the bag on your back.
Lastly, we have the backpack straps: They are lightly padded and ergonomically designed, and I really like how you can adjust the straps from both the top and the bottom, which is nice to get the right fit for your frame dimensions. I did find it a little confusing which side is up versus down the first few times I reached for my bag, but you quickly learned to recognize the slightly fatter part of the strap goes at the top of the shoulders. What’s more, these straps stay comfortable, even when I’ve had to run between terminals or wear the bag for collective hours after long days of flight delays.
Baboon’s Go Bag comes in three sizes, all of which are TSA approved carry-on size: the Mini (32 liters), the Small (40 liters), and the Big (60 liters). I have the Small (which is really the medium among the options — it’s confusing). Although I, like most, usually opt for as big a carry-on bag as possible, the helpful images on Baboon’s product pages show the bags on different people, and I quickly realized the Big could easily become uncomfortably large and heavy on my 5’4 self once I inevitably filled those 60 liters to the brim and tried to hoist it onto my back.
At 40 liters, the Small is Goldilocks for a discerning packer and can hold everything for a 3-5 day trip while still being light enough to not strain your back after long travel days. That size (which measures 10.5 inches high by 20.5 inches wide by 12.5 inches deep) comfortably fits one large packing cube and three to four small ones, plus space for a few pairs of flat shoes or a big sweatshirt. I would highly recommend packing cubes with this bag (or any single-compartment duffel, really) as the 40-liter hole can get messy, fast. And if you’re taller, have a hard time packing on the light side, or lean more toward 5-plus-day trips, I’d suggest opting for the largest size.
Overall, Baboon to the Moon’s Small Go Bag has converted me to trading in my hard-sided roller for life. Its size is more ideal for the tight overhead compartments of the small planes that fly into mountain towns like Aspen (they’re so small that I otherwise have to gate check my trusty Away roller); the backpack straps and overall ergonomics are life-saving when I have to run through the airport for a tight connection; and, with my orange baby, I can always find it among a sea of other gear and it pops in pictures.
Most of all, I love that I can use the same bag for outdoor adventures as city trips and trust that everything inside will stay dry while the outside of my bag won’t get torn up over time. It is almost $200, which isn’t nothing, but in the bigger scheme of durability and functionality — and, let’s not forget, it comes with a lifetime warranty — this bag is definitely worth the money, in my opinion, and the only bag I’ll travel with.