We bought the Nike Max Air Vapor Duffel during our trip through Asia. It replaced a £5 canvas duffel that we bought in the Cotswolds. The canvas duffel’s zippers had fallen off within a week of purchase but we were able to mend it back to functionality for the rest of that trip. We were optimistic it would hold up through this year’s Asia trip but it proved too much to ask. We needed a spacious, carry-on friendly duffel to replace it and after much deliberation, we chose the Nike Max Air Vapor Duffel in a size Medium. In this review, we take a look at why we decided to get this Nike bag and how we like it after traveling with it for nearly a month.
Nike Max Air Vapor Duffel Video Review
Like all of the bags we cover here on Tekuben, we’ve made a video of this Nike duffel that you can watch on our YouTube channel Tekuben Prime, or below:
Our videos are made to give you a closer look at a bag that you may be considering purchasing. If we miss a feature you’re curious about or if you have any questions, please send us an email or leave a comment below.
The Nike Max Air Vapor Duffel bag won us over with its overall design. Let’s look specifically at the elements of this bag that make it a winner for us.
It’s important to us that our bag can pack a lot while still being compliant with most airline carry on size limits. The canvas duffel that fell apart was near the maximum size allowed on most airlines but it still wasn’t quite big enough to pack our things so we knew we wanted something a tad bigger.
At the listed dimensions of 24″ L x 12″ W x 13″ H, the Nike Max Air Vapor is too big to be a cabin bag on paper. In person however, we approximated it to be right at the limits of allowance. If it had been an inch or two bigger in all directions, it would’ve failed the “eye-test” and been restricted to a check-in only bag.
We flew with the Nike Max Air Vapor duffel on 8 flights, carrying it onto the cabin on 7 of them. The one time we checked the bag was a personal choice, not an airline mandate. In each case, we were never asked to place the duffel in a size cage either. By not checking in this bag, we saved over $100 USD in baggage fees. The airlines we flew were Air Asia X, Air Asia, Thai Airways, New Zealand Airlines, Jetstar and Qantas.
The weight of the bag is about what we expect for a duffel of this size, which means it’s considerably lighter than an upright wheeled suitcase that provides a similar storage volume.
Nike did a good job overall in making the Max Air Vapor Duffel easy to handle and carry around.
Let’s start with the namesake “Air” feature. In Marketing terms, the duffel’s shoulder pad has pockets of air to make it supremely comfortable on the shoulder. In reality, the duffel’s air padding is about as comfortable as any thick foam padding would be. We’re happy to have the cushion that the air bubbles provide, but it’s only unique in aesthetics (and really just a marketing feature, not necessarily a benefit).
What we really like is the size of the shoulder pad. Short and narrow pads can dig into the chest or shoulder but a long and wide pad like the one on this duffel spreads out the weight and makes it more comfortable to carry. Since we intended to use this as a carry-on luggage, the shoulder pad is one of the features that made us choose this bag.
In addition to the long, air-cushioned shoulder pad, the Max Air Vapor duffel has a handle on one end of the bag that is very useful when moving the bag in and out of cabinets. The duffel also has a nice thick, comfortable neoprene-like foam padding that holds together the main carry handles.
Altogether, these elements made traveling with this duffel as a carry-on luggage easy to handle.
Duffel bags don’t vary too much in appearance or design. It’s usually oblong and its main compartment may be complemented by small external pockets. Nike delivers the duffel experience we expect with the Nike Max Air Vapor duffel.
The design lends versatility to the bag, allowing it to be used for trips to the gym or adventures abroad. You’ll find both a reflective Nike swoosh logo on the long side of the bag, as well as a retro looking (at least to us) reflective ‘Nike’ logo on one end. The color combinations available for this duffel are striking. We had a choice between a few of them and decided to go with the Black/Volt combination that really stands out in our eyes. The interior lining of each pocket is bright. We like it because it provides contrast inside the pockets and makes it easy for us to find the items we pack.
The Nike Max Air Vapor Duffel offers a good variety of pockets to help organize contents.
The main compartment is spacious. The wide c-shaped opening makes it easy to access. There is a pocket on one end of the duffel that has a line of ‘laser-cut’ holes for ventilation. This pocket extends into the main compartment, making the space ideal for items you want to store separately from items in the main compartment. Dirty clothes, shoes and game ball(s) comes to mind. The pocket extends what we estimate to be about 40% of the way into the main compartment, which means even if you pack it full, there’s still a good amount of room left in the main compartment.
There’s a long, shallow pocket running along the length of the bag that we found to be a good place for storing small items such as receipts, boarding passes, and occasionally our phones. It’s easy to access when wearing the duffel on your shoulder or chest.
On the other end of the bag, opposite the perforated pocket, is a mesh pouch that we rarely used. The few times that we did use it was enough to stretch out the elastic binding on top of the mesh. You may find it to be a good place to store quick access items that won’t fit into the long shallow pocket such as water bottle(s) and/or snacks. This is the end of the bag where you’ll find the side handle.
There is one small pocket inside the main compartment. You’ll find it dangling from the edge. We didn’t find it particularly useful, but if you need a place to store keys or cards, it can work.
We’re happy with the organization that the Nike Air Max Vapor Duffel offers.
We like the overall quality of materials as well as the fit and finish of this Nike Max Air Vapor duffel. The nylon material feels light, yet durable. The strap hinges are plastic but they’re holding up well. We appreciate the metal zipper pulls and we like the smooth track of the zippers. Overall, the quality of the bag meets our expectations of the Nike brand.
We are guilty of over-packing our bags and it was no different with this duffel. The seams seem to have some give when we packed it full. We can see some of the stitching through the seams when our clothes expanded the bag, but we weren’t concerned about the bag falling apart like the canvas duffel we had. Through it all, the Max Air Vapor Duffel handled the load well and we expect it to keep up with our travels.
We can’t ask for much more from a sporty, versatile duffel bag than this Nike Max Air Vapor Duffel provides. It’s interesting to compare this bag with the Nike Max Air Vapor 2 duffel to see what improvements Nike thought were needed. The new duffel bag has revised styling and an additional side pocket on the long side. Though it appears it comes at the expense of the padded carry handle. We’re happy with our purchase. If you’re in the market for a good looking, easy-to-handle-and-use-in-multiple-environments duffel bag of great quality and carry-on compliant size with a budget of $60, we can recommend this bag to you. Look for discounts and sales to get this duffel at our target price of between $40 and $50.
If you are interested in this duffel, please consider shopping on Amazon for it with this link. Any purchase made will go towards supporting our work here at Tekuben.
Rating (relative to other bags in its class)
The Nike Max Air Vapor Duffel is a quality bag that met our expectations and needs while traveling. We like it, and think you will too.