Editor’s Note: This is our first installment of a new series of editorial focusing on the Gear of the Decade (2000-2019). As overlanding continues to expand, there are products and services that stand the test of time—these are our favorites.
Red Oxx Bags
I still remember the first time I noticed a Red Oxx bag in the wild. It was early 2006 at the Atlanta airport, and this khaki-clad gentleman sat down next to me with a well-worn duffel. He had just returned from a safari in Africa, and the bag showed it, as it was dusty and faded. I asked him about the bag, and he launched into an impassioned speech about the merits of this Made in Montana piece of kit. Within a few years, I would have a set of Red Oxx bags myself, and I loaded them with all of the gear I would need for driving from Spain to Mongolia across the Silk Road.
My original RedOxx bags: this photo was taken somewhere along the Northern Route across Mongolia.
That original Flying Boxcar duffle and Big Oxx bag not only survived the trip across the Silk Road but eventually supported my adventures on all seven continents. If you were to inspect the bags today, they look hardly used, which reflects the 1000-weight, urethane-coated, Dupont certified Cordura brand nylon material and Made in the USA assembly quality.
Of particular note is that the owner, Jim Markel, is a passionate overlander and traveler, having explored the world extensively in Defenders and Toyotas. This allows him to design bags that meet our unique needs, such as by using 304 stainless steel hardware, which allows those loops to be used for lashing the bags in the vehicle or to a roof rack. The zipper is one of the largest I have seen on luggage, a #10 YKK self-locking one, with massive nylon pulls for gloved hands. In addition to using these bags for clothing and camping gear, I have also employed the Big Oxx for every Fly-in adventure motorcycle trip I have traveled for. It fits all of my moto kit, including the boots and helmet.
These RedOxx bags were with me on Safari in South Africa and during the crossing of the Namib Desert in Namibia.
Functionally, there are several things I really like about the bags, starting with the understated color palette and overall styling. You can order the bag in a wide combination of overlandy colors, or spec them all in the same color. I have done both but ultimately preferred using slightly different colors for each bag to help differentiate their purpose. For example, my recovery gear is in a different color than my camping kit.
My well-used Red-Oxx Big Oxx after crossing Antarctica with Expeditions 7.
My only reservation with these bags is prolonged use on a roof rack. While they are weather-resistant, they will start to leak under steady rain. Another attribute I appreciate about the bags is the shoulder straps, which are both removable and include a non-slip padded rubber shoulder pad. The straps don’t slip off your shoulders while running through the Nairobi airport. Their ultimate durability, timeless design, and suitability for long-distance overland travel are why they were selected as one of our Gear of the Decade choices. redoxx.com
When crossing the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan, the Big Oxx bag was strapped to the roof due to the requirement of a government minder for crossing this secretive country in Central Asia.