WANDRD HEXAD Access 45L Duffel Review
In-depth, real-world review of the WANDRD HEXAD duffel bag by a professional photographer. Is this weird-looking duffel as good as they say? Find out here.
The WANDRD HEXAD Access Duffel is a unique design, filling a something of a niche but offering a surprising amount of flexibility – perfect for those occasions where you need to pack clothing or other gear alongside your camera equipment.
Its 45-litre volume makes it ideal for long weekends and short trips, fitting neatly into most airlines’ overhead baggage compartments and proving to be more comfortable than you expect when carrying it for extended periods.
The duffel design might not make it as pretty as other camera bags on the market, but it does make it incredibly functional through its rectangular design that makes the most of its internal volume.
As someone who takes a lot of short-haul flights and long train journeys, the HEXAD Access Duffel has proven itself as a valuable addition to my haul of camera bags.
Let’s take a closer look at the WANDRD HEXAD Access Duffel review to see how it stacks up in 2023.
WANDRD HEXAD Access Duffel Specs
- modular design keeps camera equipment separate from other gear
- surprisingly comfortable for a duffel bag
- maximum storage without exceeding cabin baggage restrictions
- easy access to equipment on-the-go
- lay flat packing is easy thanks to its clamshell design
- no external drinks bottle holder
- zips are fiddly and potentially vulnerable when navigating the bag’s various corners
- the rain fly is not included as standard
Dimensions: 22.86 cm (9 “) high, 35.56 cm (14 “) wide, 55.88 cm (22 “) long (carry-on size)
Weight: 1.8 kg (3.9 lb) without extras. 2.2 kg (4.85 lb) when fitted with one camera cube
Materials: Waterproof Tarpaulin and 1680D Ballistic Nylon with WR Army Coating. High-Quality Zippers
Build & Appearance
The soft, rectangular format and various straps and handles on the HEXAD Access Duffel are where the similarities to a traditional duffel bag end.
The clam-shell design is an innovative idea that means that each of the three main compartments has two zip panels: one is accessible from the bag’s exterior when you’re out in the field; the other is accessible when the clamshell is laid open and the bag is folded out into two halves.
Most of the bag is made from hard-wearing waterproof tarpaulin and 1680D Ballistic Nylon with WR army coating which, after almost a year of sustained use (more than 20 flights and countless rock climbing trips) is still looking relatively fresh.
[Related: WANDRD Veer review – lightweight packable camera backpack]
As a travel bag, the clamshell of the WANDRD HEXAD Access Duffel design is excellent. As a camera bag, it’s good but not perfect, though the compromises are all logical and well thought out.
The large zip panels on the side of the bag offer quick access, but do not expect to be able to remove more than just your camera. To grab lenses, you’ll need to open the clamshell and get the top-down access.
The overall design of the bag is definitely not as pretty as others on the market, but its functionality more than makes up for that.
(It’s not quite as refined in the details when compared to, say, the WANDRD PRVKE, but the plastic buckles and strap tighteners perform well and the choice of materials here keeps the weight down.)
There’s a handle on every side of the bag bar one, making it convenient to maneuvre, especially useful when hauling it in and out of a luggage rack or the back of a car.
The external zips stand up well to a little bit of rain but you will want the rainfly (bought separately) if you plan on being out in wet conditions for any period of time.
Given the size of the HEXAD Access Duffel and how sturdy it feels once it’s filled, it’s refreshingly light, weighing just 2.2 kg with one medium camera cube inside. For such a large bag, it’s definitely not heavy.
The design of the bag does mean a few compromises. There’s no external pouch for a bottle and the attachable waist strap proved to be fairly useless.
The zippered flaps that give you access on-the-go are large and I rarely struggle to find what I’m looking for.
The external compression straps on each side of the bag double as a means of stowing extra items such as a coat or a tripod.
There are no funky fasteners or attachment points — just simple plastic strap tighteners which are easy to cinch.
The clamshell design means that packing and unpacking your gear — whether it’s clothing or camera equipment — is effortless when the bag is opened out along its spine.
Large zip panels mean that everything is easy to spot, and organising your stuff is made to feel very manageable.
This can be a bit of a godsend when you’re tired from a long day of travel.
Another advantage of this layout is that the three main compartments of the HEXAD Access Duffel are divided, keeping your camera equipment entirely separate.
I frequently carry food and rock climbing equipment, and chalk is not a good companion when it comes to lenses!
The bag’s three main compartments divide as follows: one half of the bag is one large compartment, ideal for clothing, and complete with an expandable laundry pocket that can easily accommodate a pair of shoes.
This compartment also has a padded laptop sleeve (up to 15-inch) which is easily accessible on the go.
The other half of the bag contains the bag’s remaining two smaller compartments, each of which can accommodate a medium camera cube (bought separately).
One medium camera cube can hold a large ILC body and perhaps three large lenses (assuming none is telephoto). If you need to carry more than this, you’ll want to add a second camera cube.
The advantage of the camera cube system is that you can arrive on location, remove the camera cube, attach some straps, and use it as a satellite. If, say, you’re shooting an event where you can safely leave your main bag, this can work well.
The camera cubes could be a bit more rugged for this type of use to feel completely comfortable. They’re lightweight, which is great for travel, but don’t offer a massive amount of protection once removed from the main bag.
In addition to the camera cube, I can carry a couple of changes of clothes and an extra pair of shoes, as well as a drinks bottle, laptop, e-reader, snacks and a waterproof jacket. I travel very light and have spent a month on the road just using this bag.
Ease of Use/Comfort
The shoulder straps on the HEXAD Access Duffel are large and padded and despite being a duffel, the bag is comfortable even when fully laden. While it won’t compare to a dedicated hiking camera backpack, I don’t mind carrying it from one side of a city to another.
There are a handful of smaller zippered pockets, both interior and exterior, that give you opportunity to tuck away cables and knickknacks.
Once you learn your way around the WANDRD HEXAD Access Duffel bag, keeping your gear organised is refreshingly simple.
The number of panels and pockets means that it can take a few weeks of use before you can instinctively reach for the right zip. You might want to mark one or two with coloured tape to help you out.
Traveling through airports with the WANDRD HEXAD Access Duffel is a breeze. Packed correctly, everything is within reach and the various handles and large openings means that passing through the security check feels straight forward.
On the odd occasion that security want to see my camera gear, I can open the clamshell and reveal all of my equipment.
The various compartments mean that I feel comfortable packing one bag with camera gear, food, drinks, climbing equipment, dog snacks, and extra layers of clothing.
The cube keeps my camera and lenses contained, separate from anything that poses a threat, and the bag is more than rugged enough when it comes to being hauled across rocks.
One year on and with a quick wipe it looks almost new, despite some intense use.
Value for Money + Discout Code
Photographers will inevitably buy this bag with at least one camera cube, bringing the price to around $300 – see latest price here.
As a product that fills something of a niche, this is a decent price even before you consider how hard-wearing and well-designed it is.
WANDRD HEXAD Access Duffel Review | Conclusion
There are a few minor aspects that I would change. I’d like the camera cube to feel a little more sturdy, both externally and the dividers that organise its interior.
The zips could be a little chunkier to make them slightly easier to manoeuvre around the bag’s various corners, and I do miss having an external pocket for a water bottle, though I’m not sure how this could be addressed on a bag that is still essentially a duffel.
In my experience, zippers do not like going around corners, and this happens a lot on the HEXAD Access Duffel.
How well they will stand up to repeated use in the longer term remains to be seen, but WANDRD offer a lifetime guarantee on all of their products if that is a concern.