ProView – Big Agnes Stagecoach 125 L
For some reason, whenever I think of Big Agnes and their products, I think of lightweight, functional and durable gear. Maybe that is because if you do any kind of google search for lightweight backpacking camping gear, Big Agnes has a product that pops up with top ratings. Or maybe it’s because one of the Big Agnes puffy jackets I own is incredibly light and packs super small, or the AirCore Ultralight sleeping pad I own is equally as remarkable.
Either way this new Stagecoach 125L bag is no exception- For a duffel bag this large, it feels quite light, has some great features, and has held up very well to a lot of travel in these first two months of use.
I leapt at the opportunity to test out and review this bag because I had a few long trips coming up where I knew I would need the capacity this bag offers. Packing a LOT of mountain biking gear and clothes, daily travel clothing and necessities, and a slew of photographic gear for a two-week trip to New Zealand was no problem with this bag. At first glance, this bag doesn’t seem to be all that large as it’s lightweight, water-proof 410d high tenacity fabric allows it to compact down pretty nicely.
Once you start filling this baby up, you realize how much you can really pack in there, it is seemingly endless. Just to give you another idea, it was possible to fit a pair of ski boots, a ski helmet and all sorts of clothing for a week of skiing in BC (oh and a medium-sized tripod and a few other things) just after the trip to New Zealand- I was impressed.. AND it just came in at the 50lb weight limit.
There is a compression molded EVA bottom with aluminum framing for the pop-up trolly handle that provides excellent shape and support for packing your belongings. I am always a bit concerned with how airlines handle bags and typically I always try to pack by padding around the sides of my bags with clothes for some level of protection, so the firm base of this bag is a pretty nice feature in my mind. The only downside is for storage, you just can’t fully compress this thing to tuck it away, but it does lie pretty flat so it’s easy to stack.
Everything about the construction of this bag looks to be and has been pretty bomb-proof. From the welded seams, to big zipper pulls, waterproof membrane, stout extending and lockable handle, and wide rolling wheel-base, this bag is built for the long haul. Pulling this bag through the airport is a breeze, and multiple padded and reinforced grab handles made lifting and transporting the heaviest loads in this bag a dream.
The new Stagecoach bag has improved the balance point by adding the “kickstand” (basically an extra hard-plastic grab point to the bottom) that really does help keep the bag standing upright, no matter how awkward the load. The bag also has removable and adjustable padded straps to be configured as a backpack or shoulder strap. These are the one point of contention I have found- As far as I can tell, the way they are secured on top of the bag is just with some Velcro on either side of the padding on each strap. Not a big deal, but when checking this bag, the straps don’t always stay together on top of the bag. In other words.. the straps can hang off and flop around with potential to get snagged on who-knows-what behind the curtains of the check-in kiosks at the airport. The simple solution is to just easily remove them and store them inside if that is a concern. Otherwise, the other challenge is that a bag of this size and nature is just kind of awkward to carry as a backpack. I’m sure it works great on the smaller sizes.
Two other nice features are the Two Timer Pack and a large zippered interior mesh pocket that has a sealed exterior zipper for access to one part of the mesh pocket. The Two Timer pack is a detachable interior pack that can be used as a superlight day backpack/shoulder-pack around town, or as an internal organizer of sorts for maybe keeping all that dirty laundry isolated. Also of note is the deep base of the bag and that the main zipper is a full zipper offering very easy access to all of the bag. It is super easy to get to anything without having to shift too much around, this was super handy in New Zealand as we were constantly moving about and just living out of our bags.
- Unbelievable carrying capacity and ease of transportation
- Solid rolling wheels and stout, extendable and locking trolly handle
- Waterproofing and stout welded seams and zippers
- Two Timer removable daypack/internal organizing pack- This was awesome for isolating dirty laundry in my experience and/or keeping small hard goods like battery chargers, computer and phone cords all together etc.
- Internal mesh zippered pocket with a smaller sealed exterior zipper for access.
- This bag will actually stand up with a full load when unattended thanks to the “Kickstand”
Room for Improvement
- So spacious it encourages you to pack too much for the airline weight limits. (Not really a con, just be conscious you are packing more than you think)
- The adjustable (and removable) padded straps didn’t really work all that well to carry as a backpack in my experience and if they could somehow attach together better for times when you are checking the bag it might help prevent unnecessary damage to these straps during airline travel. The obvious and simple solution was to just easily remove these before checking the bag and pack the straps inside.
The Final Word
Long-story-short, this bag is probably truly one of the ultimate duffels as Big Agnes proclaims. After 14 flights in the last two months with heavy loads, this bag shows zero signs of wear and is only mildly dirty (really only visible because of the bright lime color I chose- which I also love because I can spot it quickly). I would highly recommend this bag, just be forewarned, the bag this size encourages packing excessive amounts of gear and pushing the allowable airline weight limits!
Dane Cronin began mountain biking in the woods outside of Boston in 1992 when cool anodized aluminum parts for bikes were all the rage. He knew Boulder was considered to be a mountain bike mecca and considered the University of Colorado Boulder as basically the only option for college. Over the years he worked in a number of bike shops in the Boulder area and taken full advantage of all the outdoor possibilities Colorado has to offer. Dane has been keeping the outdoor lifestyle dream alive by becoming a professional photographer shooting for a number of commercial clients in the outdoor and cycling industry mixed with a healthy dose of interior and architectural clients.