Internal organizer pocket with soft, padded sunglasses cell; dedicated shoe pocket; plenty of space for large helmets
Well organized, durable, and versatile
Shoe pocket could stand to be larger
I’ve never been one to organize much when it comes to tossing my riding gear into a duffel bag. Generally, a big main compartment and waterproof or water-resistant material is enough to satisfy my needs, and as far as I’m concerned, there hasn’t been much need to spend a lot of money on one. The Thule Roundtrip Duffel Bag is certainly well more than I would probably ever spend on a duffel, but it sure is very, very nice for the price — which is over $100, but still far less than some competitors from Rapha and Silca. It even got me organized.
The Roundtrip’s features
The best thing about the Roundtrip duffel is the internal organizer. If you’re like me, your first inclination will be to remove this thing (which you can do, quickly and easily) so that you can just have one big pocket. Resist that urge. I did, and I’m glad for it. The organizer pockets are sized just perfectly to stuff the right amount of goodies in each. This prevents you from basically losing track of that one thing you need right when you need it (in my case, it’s usually a single arm warmer).
There’s a padded pocket integrated into the Roundtrip’s organizer too, and it’s perfect for your sunglasses. The material here is soft, so it won’t scratch up your lenses.
The individual pockets work for several reasons: First, it’s easy to grab things that work together in one fell swoop. Just store your kit in one pocket and grab it all at once, for example. Second, it’s easy to see what’s in each individual cell, so you don’t spend your time fishing through piles of tangled leg warmers and knee pads and gloves and…you get the idea.
And third, not all the cells inside the Roadtrip’s organizer are the same size. That means you have options for how much stuff you stow together. It’s an easy to use layout that works wonderfully.
The Roundtrip also features a large section inside for your helmet. I’ve gotten every type of helmet in there, including my full-face mountain bike helmet. So rest assured you’ll be able to fit yours no matter how big it is.
And there are, of course, a few external pockets thrown in, too. It’s really easy to ignore these types of pockets on most duffels, as they’re often oddly-sized for what us bike geeks are generally carrying. Since the Roundtrip is built specifically for said bike geeks, these pockets are actually pretty functional.
On the front of the bag, there is a long zip pocket with internal organizers, a perfect place to store nutrition or tools. I even keep an extra pair of pedals in there.
The smaller zip pocket is where I stow my GPS computer. It can also fit a cell phone if you’d like to leave yours behind while you ride.
And finally, there’s an external shoe pocket that’s lined with a tarpaulin material to make it easy to clean out. (This same material is sewn into the lid of the main compartment; there’s a zip pocket in the lid, too, which is ideal for your stinky socks post-ride).
The removable shoulder strap is configured to be worn across your chest like a messenger bag, which Thule says will make it easier for you to carry this while riding a bike. I never really rode the Roundtrip on my bike; the duffel is usually the option I go for if I’m heading on a weekend trip in the car or if I have to drive to the trailhead. In that situation, I would have preferred a more traditional duffel strap that attaches to the center of the bag for more balanced carrying. This is by no means a dealbreaker, just not ideal for how I use the bag.
There’s also a center handle on the lid, which is easy to grab and hold the bag by (very much like a briefcase). I found myself using this more often than the shoulder strap.
Roundtrip verdict: great, with one complaint
I sure do love this duffel. the $120 price tag would probably be enough to put me off if I was just searching for something to haul my stuff from point A to point B, but if I was looking to stay organized and I wanted one bag that I could beat up for several years, the Roundtrip would fit that bill. I think it’s worth the $120.
That said, I do have one complaint: The shoe pocket isn’t big enough. It’s easy enough to wrangle a pair of road shoes in there, or even low-profile MTB shoes, but if you ride with any MTB shoes that have some bulk to them — a lot of Trail and Enduro shoes are quite large — you might have more trouble wrestling them into the pocket.
Otherwise, the Roundtrip has become my go-to duffel bag, especially for mountain biking, since I often have to drive to trailheads. I love the internal organizer and the rugged construction. And while I wish there was a bit more room for shoes, the tarpaulin liner is a nice touch.