The offseason in Wisconsin is the ideal place to test a bag against some of the more extreme cold/wet conditions that the ultimate world has to offer. Even though it might be cold and wet in November, it reminds me a lot of the conditions I competed in during college ultimate. I have the potential to run through bags quite quickly with how often I train, I have seen the Heckler Ultimate Duffel on the internet for some time now and was very excited to get to test the new “2.0” version of the product against the conditions of the Upper Midwest.
Materials (4/5) and Features (4/5):
The outside material seems similar to the many bags I used to haul with me for volleyball and basketball and less like ultimate-related competitor bags. The specific shade of gray has resisted getting super muddy and dirty, which makes it a great choice over other lighter color bags. If needed, you can easily wipe off the outside material to keep it clean (if that sort of thing bothers you).
It is rather lightweight and comes standard with a shoulder strap. One of my pet peeves about bags is when the strap twists at the attachment with the bag, causing the strap to bunch up and lose functionality and comfort. This bag avoids that by having the attachment to the bag be a clip, so I never have to flatten out the strap in order to maintain usability.
I really like the features inside the bag, in terms of the extra pockets and storage. The side pocket has ample space and compartments for anything you want to keep out of the main area. I have been using it for personal items, an extra water bottle, knee pads, gloves, mini bands, a lacrosse ball, a softball, notepads, markers, and pens. I have yet to really fill it to capacity, because I already have all of the things I need in it. I have not really used the “quick access” pocket, but can definitely see the benefit to that (I don’t like to dig for anything when it’s cold outside, and clipped my keys on the outside for even easier access in the cold).
The idea to put mesh on the cleat pocket is genius. I like that my shoes no longer get everything else super smelly. This is especially clutch when I stop at the gym after work; my work clothes do not need to smell like my gym shoes, which is a huge win for my laundry. A note of warning: it will not fit your Men’s Size 14 shoes. I had a hard time getting a size 12.5 in (my size 9 Men’s fit nicely, by contrast). If you have feet that are bigger than a 12.5, you will have to finagle the orientation to get them in the cleat pocket if you want to attempt to zip them. If you are cool leaving the top open and zipping the sides, it is still secure, but you are definitely not going to zip the pocket entirely if you go bigger than a 12.5.
The main compartment is huge and the bag holds its shape. I love that when the two side pockets are jammed full, the main compartment still holds its shape, even if it’s not full. The fact that the bag does not collapse on itself when the side pockets are full means that I can find things quickly without missing too much of a training or practice session. In other words, when I need to go run to get a reversible after training and before goaltimate, I can do so quickly without having to dig through everything. In terms of sizing, I can fit my work laptop flat in it without any difficulty (there is not a laptop sleeve, but I hate carrying more than one bag if I can help it).
Bonus feature: I love the water bottle elastic strap in the main compartment. My favorite water bottle leaks a bit (I really need to replace the lid), and keeping it upright means it does not spill on my stuff.
The backpack straps mimic that of a disc golf bag. I do not use a disc golf bag, so the fit felt weird to me. I do understand that it is more ergonomic for my body and could get used to it with time. It isn’t a deal breaker for me, but it will definitely take some getting used to (so I just use the regular shoulder strap). I was not able to try biking with this bag, and have some hesitancies about how comfortable it would be if you need to bike with it; however, it seems like it could adjust quickly enough to bike with it so that it sits at the right height.
Last perk: the disc holder is so clutch. If you are like me, I often forget to grab a disc on my way from my car to practice (or to catch the bus). The fact that there is a disc elastic on the outside gives me immediate feedback if I grabbed one or two (Note: I have not tried putting in more than two in the disc elastic disc strap). I also love that it immediately communicates to the world that I play ultimate, which is pretty cool.
Two features that would have made this bag perfect:
- Mesh/zip pocket on the top flap of the main pocket (I love the mesh pockets of the Patagonia Black Hole or the Five Tournament Bag) and have become accustomed to them, that I missed it in this bag.
- Big enough compartment or strap that I could securely put an agility ladder in. The main compartment is not big enough for an agility ladder, so I resorted to sliding it in under a disc, which was not ideal. What I would have loved is a pocket on the top flap of the main compartment.
Although it seems durable, the outer shell is not waterproof. If you are looking for a waterproof bag, this is not it. You can clearly tell that the fabric is not waterproof, but if you are planning to be outside in lighter rain, your stuff should be fine for an hour in misty/drizzle conditions tucked away in the main pocket. If you are worried, you should add a rain shell or a garbage bag on the outside.
The lining of the bag appears to be resistant to snags and rips during what I would consider normal usage (I’m not storing anything sharp in there). That is important, as I have had other bags rip in the lining, only to compromise the overall durability of the outer shell.
The seams appear to be well-constructed in terms of the sewing. I do not feel like the side pockets are going to fall off the sides of the bag or rip. I have jammed it to its limits and added a lot of weight, and I feel like it could hold up for repeated use.
Where this bag loses major points is the zippers, which leave much to be desired. They are not very durable and comprised of zippers with small teeth, which meant that they split often, even if the bag was not very full. If you are not careful about how you use and care for the zippers, this bag may not last very long for you. I found that the closure issue would occur if I tried to zip too quickly. The problem would resolve by re-zipping more slowly. But if you’re not paying attention, your pockets could be completely open when you are wearing the backpack strap and dump out. So check the zippers before you start carrying, especially if you are using the backpack strap.
Another zipper-related issue, the attachment for the strap often gets in the way of the main compartment zipper. This catching could definitely compromise the integrity of the main compartment zipper over time, as well wear away at the shoulder strap material. The overall durability of the zippers pose a question about how long the bag will last with someone who is not as careful as I was with the zipper over the past couple of weeks.
I really like the color options available for the Heckler 2.0. Gray with black and color accents make the bag stand out from the sea of dark, plain bags. For someone that typically detests neon colors, I really like the neon green zippers in my model. It looks snazzy without being neon overkill. There are a wide variety of colors that could match your team uniform kit or express your individuality a bit more too: a bit of something for everyone.
The $80 price tag is a little steep, considering the bag is not waterproof (but to be fair, neither is the Patagonia Black Hole Duffel!). With all of the extra features and space, you can easily fit a garbage bag in to help combat the most intense deluge of rain you may encounter. The features are great and were designed with the ultimate player in mind, and that does matter. Where the “value” loses points for me is for an $80 bag, I would hope that the zippers would be more durable, but they are not; personally, I would expect the zippers to do what they’re supposed to, which is hold my stuff in the bag.
It is a bag made with features that an ultimate player would appreciate, including a side cleat pocket to keep your shoes/cleats away from things that may be clean. The bag has ample room for everything you would need for a tournament, practice, or training session. Although it is not waterproof, few bags out there with this type of price point are. If you are mindful of the zippers, it should last for a season or two (I have not had mine very long, so I cannot tell). The price point might be a bit high, but if you wait for a sale, could be a better deal.