Stab Magazine | Honest Review: A Military-Grade Bag That Doesn't Look Half Bad
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Honest Review: A Military-Grade Bag That Doesn’t Look Half Bad

Inspecting Rip Curl’s Cordura luggage and backpack.

hardware // Nov 29, 2019
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

The proverbial “they” say that the universe works in mysterious ways. 

I say man controls his own destiny (with the help of socioculturally-ingrained privileges and occasional good fortune). 

Whatever the case, I recently blew out a decade-old travel bag, leaving myself in need of wheeled luggage for an upcoming trip. After whinging about this to my girlfriend for a couple of weeks, an email was sent to all Stab writers:

“Who wants to do a review on some Rip Curl bags? You can keep whatever you get.”

While typically punctual with my responses, I don’t think my fingers had ever moved with such intention and speed.

“I’ll do it!” I typed, before smashing the send button and laying claim to this occupational “duty.” 

Once confirmed, I had a scroll through the abundant Rip Curl bag department and selected two pieces—matching, of course, because I prefer to keep my geese in a column.

The F-Light Global Cordura Luggage (seen directly below) and the F-Light Searcher Cordura Backpack (seen more below). 

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The F-Light Global Cordura Luggage. Light, durable, camouflaged on concrete.

Let’s address the elephant in the room. 

I received this bag (which I needed dearly) in exchange for an optimistic review—this is an interaction we’ve come to understand as quid pro quo. I am not so Presidential to pretend otherwise, so please save your calls for impeachment. They will fall on deaf ears.

But this raises the question: why should you—someone who surely doesn’t want to hear Rip Curl’s marketing jargon regurgitated in inferior prose—read this report? A crooked review is as morally bankrupt as it is pointless. 

Well, while I am technically beholden to Rip Curl in this gear review, I’ve come across quite the useful loophole: the bags are actually quite nice. 

Isn’t that convenient for both of us?

btrha1 gry 5

A not-so-secret substance slot.

Let’s talk about Cordura. 

Frankly, I’d never heard of this miracle fiber until Rip Curl slipped it in my drink. The fact that their Cordura bags sold for $50 more than their “normal” luggage told me that it was either a truly superior substance or a wonderful marketing gimmick. I was intrigued. 

Said intrigue led to a Google search. Here’s what I learned:

Cordura was first made in 1929 by the DuPont brand. The fabric was improved by the US military in World War II and used to develop tires. In its modern form, Cordura is constructed primarily of nylon but can include other materials like cotton and natural fibers. Cordura’s most notable characteristics are its resistance to abrasions, tears, and scuffs.

In other words, it’s durable. And as a person whose old piece of luggage had ended in tatters, that’s exactly what I was looking for. Defense against all dangers of transport.

As far as the bag’s functionality and design go, it’s a pretty straightforward affair.

The main zipper opens to dual luggage compartments separated by mesh flaps. Rip Curl says it holds 100 liters, I say there’s ample room for clothes, toiletries, surf supplies, and one industrial sex toy.

The front of the bag has a standard top pouch (big enough to hold five full-sized bananas) and a not-so-discreet drug pocket. I think you’re supposed to put a small baggy of weed there so the NSA doesn’t find the big one on the inside. But I could be wrong. 

The bag’s got a standard wheel and handle setup that, if arranged correctly, can be used to rig a surfboard bag on top. I did just that when my Uber dropped me off at Terminal 3 instead of Terminal 2 at LAX. It worked ok for this purpose, but the bag tipped over a couple times when the curb took a slant. In other words, it doesn’t defy gravity. 

Overall, this bag did exactly what it was meant to do: hold my things. It also didn’t look half-bad in the process.  

bbpwj1 gry 1

The F-Light Searcher Cordura Backpack. More pockets than a pack of otters.

Now, the backpack. 

Ironically, a bag that is several multiples smaller than the luggage has about 5x as many pockets and features. Shall we list?

On the outside, there are dual bungee straps designed for external storage of umbrellas, jackets, things of that nature. Just beyond the bungees are internal cooler pockets, meant to keep cold things cold and hot things hot. I’ve been using them for water bottles and mozzarella sticks.

The two front pockets are fleece-lined for your most delicate items (glasses, CD ROMs, etc.) and the bottom pouch is made to hold your funky foot caskets (so long as they’re size 12 or below).

Moving to the first “main” compartment, we’re greeted by a broad storage space flanked by mesh pockets—I’ve been keeping my boardshorts, fins, top, towel + wax in there. The second “main” compartment features a fleece sleeve for your laptop plus an extra space for whatever else you might be packing (I’d recommend: flatbread paninis). Between the two “main” compartments is a semi-secret pocket just big enough for your passport, wallet, and car keys. Thieves call this the ‘jackpot.’

All up, he F-Light Searcher has the most efficient space usage I’ve encountered in a backpack. It’s a tiny little thing, but in it, you can fit the world. Like Mary Poppins’ magic bag for the global traveler. 

It’s also lightweight, has great ventilation and a comfy back-feel, which are traits that can’t be overstated if you’re gonna take a bag on the road. 

Criticisms?

I suppose it could look less like my dad’s old camera bag, but what are aesthetics when you’ve got the world resting comfortably on your back?

bbpwj1 gry 2

Back sweat, be gone!

This was my Honest Review of the Rip Curl Cordura travel series. 

Despite being inherently compromised by a quid pro quo arrangement, I promise that all of the words above are my genuine thoughts and opinions. I didn’t lie—not even once. Doubt me at your peril. 

And buy Rip Curl’s bags here (Black Friday deals in Aus and Cyber Monday deals in USA should be available):

F-Light Searcher Cordura Backpack

F-Light Global Cordura Luggage

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