For the last few years, I have been on a mission to find my perfect day-to-day carry. The one bag that makes all other bags obsolete. One of those days was finally realized some weeks ago when lululemon sent me their new 37L duffel in blue and orange (the colors of Hawaii).
Lululemon, the athleisure behemoth, has before pleasantly surprised us. So we’ve been looking forward to trying out the lululemon Command The Day Duffel 37L.
At first sight, this duffel seems to have everything you want in a duffle: plenty of room to stuff your clothing, a sleek, professional appearance, and plenty of organization.
Aesthetics & Materials
The lululemon product designers chose to keep things simple, precisely what we want to see. One of our favorite aspects of this duffel is its unassuming appearance. The logo is subtle, the form is classic duffle, and it’s currently only available in one colorway: black.
When traveling with a duffel, you disappear entirely into the crowd. Of course, at Pack Hacker, we think it’s a good idea to blend in with the public (drawing attention to oneself as a tourist doesn’t always work well). This duffel is probably not for you if you prefer to stand out.
In this situation, simplicity also equals adaptability. The Command The Day Duffel is appropriate for the gym, a business meeting, a hostel, or wherever else a duffel is required. When you can visit all three of the locations above in a single day, this is undoubtedly a bonus for travel.
The materials used in the duffle are less noteworthy. Nylon is used for the body, while polyester is used for the lining. Nylon is recognized as lightweight and durable, so you should be OK. However, since lululemon doesn’t specify the denier or anything else about these textiles, we can’t tell much. We would have anticipated more information regarding the materials available at this pricing range.
The bag’s body is soft. However, it attracts a lot of lint, dust, and pet hair. Lint, dust, and pet hair stand vividly against the black background. It’s so awful that if you have a shedding dog, cat, ferret, or other creature, you may want to choose a different duffle.
The nylon is water-repellent—but lululemon doesn’t say what it’s made of—and wipes off easily. We put the duffle to the test in a rainy San Francisco, and everything inside remained dry.
Unbranded carabiner-style connectors connect the crossbody strap to the duffel. Unbranded hardware makes us nervous, and for a good reason. While we haven’t had any problems with these clips, we’ve heard from several people who say theirs have cracked after just a few months of usage. That’s not good news. However, we’re not shocked to listen to this since the clips don’t look to be very strong. They don’t instantly shut when you open them, indicating that the spring isn’t powerful.
On a good note, the zippers are all made by YKK, a well-known Japanese company. So they should, at the very least, last.
Components from Outside
Externally, there’s not much going on, which reinforces the minimalist approach we stated previously.
You may carry it with briefcase-style handles or optional shoulder/crossbody straps in the traditional duffle shape.
The handles are smooth and comfortable to hold. They’re also buttoned together for a secure grasp. When the buttons are pressed, you may use the main zipper; however, this makes it impossible to reach your belongings within the main compartment. It’s not a massive problem since unbuttoning them is as simple as it sounds.
The Command’s personality, The Day Duffel, is also smaller than other duffels available. It will sit closer to your body when carried by the handles, which is always a plus.
However, unless you have potent hands, carrying the duffel in briefcase mode is awkward after it’s been loaded. We’ve found that the handles are useful for moving the duffle around—grabbing it from overhead bins, pulling it from Uber trunks, or when there isn’t much within the duffel.
The crossbody strap is mediocre at best. It’s just as smooth and silky as the handles, and it’s a decent breadth as well. It does not, however, contain any cushioning. With a 37L capacity, this bag may grow heavy, and cushioning on the strap would prevent it from pressing into your shoulder. It’s not bad if you’re not going to carry your duffle about much, but it’s not ideal if you’ll be carrying it for long periods.
It’s detachable, which means you can put it inside the duffel or leave it at home when you’re not using it.
The contents of the duffle
One of the nicest aspects of this duffle is lululemon’s interior structure. It achieves an excellent balance between too much and too little. However, we wish the inner cloth had been a brighter hue. The dark inside and the fact that these compartments have a lot of depth make it difficult to find your belongings. More miniature goods are easily misplaced.
Let’s begin with the grab-and-go pocket. While it isn’t a “hidden” pocket per, it blends in with the fabric and nearly seems to be a fold. It’s big enough to comfortably hold a phone, keys, and wallet. However, it goes relatively deep—basically all the way to the bottom of the bag—which may be aggravating. Smaller objects get jumbled together, and the dark inner fabric makes it difficult to see what’s happening. However, it isn’t a major issue if you just use it for a few things.
The laptop compartment is located on the other side of the duffle. Now, this will only fit a 13-inch laptop, and even that is a tight fit. We tried it with a 13-inch MacBook Air from 2010 that didn’t have a cover, and it’s tough to fit it through the zippered hole (there’s more space once it’s inside the compartment). It usually takes a minute or more, as well as yogi-level patience.
It is padded, but not to the extent that we would have desired. Especially considering we doubt a 13-inch laptop with a heavy shell will fit. Furthermore, we nearly had to gate-check this luggage when testing it on a domestic airline due to a packed flight. We realized how little we trusted this container to safeguard such a valuable gadget when faced with that scenario.
Because the compartment is somewhat more extensive than the little entrance, you may stuff a jacket or sweatshirt inside for further protection. We slid a puffer jacket underneath the laptop and on the exterior-facing side for extra security.
OK, let’s go on. Then there’s the zippered water bottle pocket, or “protein shake” pocket, as Lululemon refers to it. This item is one of our favorite pockets. Because it has its volume, you can stuff a lot of stuff within it without obstructing the main compartment. It’s worth mentioning that it won’t fit tall water bottles. The YETI water bottle, which holds 18 ounces, can only fit diagonally.
While it’s named a protein shake pocket, it may be used for various purposes. Because it has a zipper, everything you put inside should be safe.
The shoe compartment is just across from it. We put it to the test using Xero Shoes Prio running shoes, assuming that carrying them would stimulate exercise (which it did not), and we’re delighted to report that they didn’t take up much room in the main compartment. It does a little amount, but not nearly as much as other bags we’ve seen. And it’s because of the way it’s been built.
The extra fabric is held to the side of the bag by a clasp on the inside. If you need extra room, undo the snap; otherwise, leave it alone. We didn’t need to release the grip to suit the Prior, although that depends on your foot size and shoe design. This is also a perfect place to store filthy clothing to prevent them from smelling up the main compartment.
The main compartment, on the other hand, is fantastic. It’s a bit floppy at first, but it becomes more structured as you pack it out. As a result, it’s much simpler to pack. It’s as though there’s a positive feedback loop going on.
On one side, there’s a zippered pocket, and on the other, there are two colossal mesh divider compartments. We’ve left the zippered pocket open to store a handful of notebooks, but you may use it to organize anything. One of the mesh pockets has been utilized to arrange equipment (headphones, phone charger, and a colossal MacBook charger), while the other has been used to store socks. We realize it’s a bit of a coincidence.
A large bucket takes up the remainder of the room. You may bring a lot here, good or bad, since it can grow rather heavy. You may use packing cubes to arrange this section if you want to be extra orderly. However, we tried it without packing cubes and were blown away by how well everything stayed organized.
You may line up your clothes in a row down the bottom of the bag if you roll or fold them Marie Kondo manner. Your garments will remain folded and in a row thanks to the construction of this device, even if you’re flinging it about in an aircraft, Uber, or whatever. It’s a beautiful feature!
On top of the garments, we’ve placed a Dopp kit. It’s in a fantastic place for it, and it’ll be quick to grab as you pass through security.
Testing & Durability
We’ve been carrying the lululemon Command The Day Duffel 37L across Southeast Michigan for two weeks and even took it to San Francisco. It’s a perfect size for medium-sized vacations, with a capacity of 37L. However, we believe it is unsuitable for one-bag travel since carrying it over long distances becomes unpleasant for more extended periods. We prefer backpacks that distribute the weight evenly over both shoulders, although this is more of a criticism of duffle bags in general than the Command The Day Duffel.
It’s been holding up great so far, except for the fluff, filth, and dust. We aren’t confident, though, that it will stay. The carabiners that attach the crossbody strap to the bag’s body are a concern, especially because many reviewers claim that they break after a few months. So in the Usage Timeline below, we’ll keep you updated.
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