Aspen Times Weekly: Red Foxx Manufacturing
In 1986, Red Oxx Manufacturing made its first products from decommissioned military-surplus webbing. It was burly stuff, the kind of material that could last for decades and, despite being destined for destruction, the company thought it needed to see new life.
Today, the Montana-based bag and luggage maker continues to cut a unique path. Its gear remains burly, almost clunky in cases, including extra-thick nylon, oversize zippers, stainless steel rings, reinforced stitching, and funny monkey-knot pulls that adorn zippers with a spherical head of cord.
Made in America, in a facility in Montana, and with the backbone of a military ethos that comes from a veteran-owned brand, perhaps some overcompensation is expected.
You pay for it, certainly, with prices that start north of $200 for many of the bags. But you get a lifetime warranty, solid design, and construction that I’ve seen first-hand will last.
Indeed, I got a bag from Red Oxx more than a decade ago. My dad later adopted it as a do-all hauler, and, last I checked, despite a lot of abuse, the bag looked mostly like new.
This month, the company shipped me a newer product, the Big Bull Roll-Up, to put to a test. The bag is a strange beast, a pocket-adorned duffel built for situations as varying as TSA airport checkpoints to archeology field work. Another use pegs it for 4×4 truck “overlanders” in need of a soft-side tool organizer that drapes over a seat-back.
I filled mine up with camping gear. My test was a weekend at a cabin with odds and ends, from headlamps to bug repellent products to knives. The Big Bull Roll-Up functioned as a mega organizer, its see-through pockets — six in total, each accessed by a big-tooth zipper — giving enough capacity for all the small and mid-size gear I needed to take.
Made of a thick ballistic nylon, the bag measures about 20 x 8 x 8 when rolled up, making it usable as an airplane carry-on. The pockets are accessed by unfurling the duffel, with two big buckles unclasping to let it roll flat.
You then get a big palette of exposed pockets, everything easy to grab. No digging required, and because of the mesh used for the pockets everything you pack is immediately visible and in reach.
On the outside, a briefcase handle offers a grip. The bag’s main strap, which clips with metal buckles to metal V-rings, has a rubber section that sticks on your shoulder.
In the end, the Big Bull Roll-Up is a neat idea, but it costs too much. At $285, I found this price tag hard to justify, despite the made-in-Montana bag’s double stitching, stainless steel pieces, thick fabrics, and lifetime warranty.
The product works as advertised, a one-of-a-kind rugged, rollable compartmentalized duffel. Maybe you have a direct need for this level of organization in the outdoors or for work.
Check out Red Oxx as a brand if nothing else, its line ranges from specialized to general-use, each product built to last for years.
Stephen Regenold writes about outdoors gear at http://www.gearjunkie.com.
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