For uses like travel where you’ll be moving around a lot—think backpacking through Europe—we prefer non-roller duffels. They’re easy to grab and throw on your back, and you don’t have to worry about the surface (if you’ve ever tried taking a roller duffel down a cobblestone street, you know what we’re talking about). If you’re primarily an air traveler and moving your bag long distances by vehicle, a roller duffel is a fine option, and you do get the added benefit of one hard side for protecting your belongings. For the purposes of this article and the picks above, we’ve included a handful of our favorite roller models, and some of the standard designs have wheeled versions available.
Whether you’re traveling light or looking for the best way to pack, our selection of travel bags are stylish solutions for beach vacations, time-off, errand-running, or just a trip across town. From carry-on bags, to toiletry bags, travel totes, purses, backpacks, and more, we have a variety of ways to embrace the journey. Rolling bags offer quick travel to and from terminals, and laptop totes boast plenty of room for your computer. Removable RFID-blocking wristlets keep your essential information safe during trips, and passport crossbody bags offer a fashionable solution to storage.
What the Rolling Thunder is not, however, is a fully-featured piece of luggage for business travelers. It lacks the organizational compartments of some premium roller bags, with only one internal mesh pocket and two small external zip pockets. Further, some users have reported that over time, the internal support bar has worn through to the base of the bag. For the most part, however the Rolling Thunder can take a licking and keep on ticking better than most rolling duffels. For those who want more space, The North Face makes two other sizes of this bag (80 liters and a whopping 155 liters). And for a similar carry-on option, see the Patagonia Black Hole Wheeled 40L.
Why is the Gregory Alpaca ranked here? First and foremost, it lacks a shoulder strap. This isn’t a deal breaker for us as backpack-style is the carrying method of choice for a bag of this type, but a shoulder strap is great for short hauls and moving the bag from place to place. Second, the Alpaca lacks outside pockets for small items, which is a simple feature that adds a good deal of convenience. When you throw in the fact that the Alpaca is roughly the same price as bags from other top brands, it’s a solid duffel but not a standout.
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A weekender bag is a smart choice for quick getaways. Pack a change of clothes and all of your toiletries before hitting the road. Zipper closures keep everything tucked safely inside, and large, comfortable handles make it easy to carry. Weekender bags also come with long straps, giving you the option of hands-free carrying too. Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, these bags can make your trip just that much more comfortable. With one of these bags in hand, you’ll always be ready to hit the road.
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Duffels that are 75 liters or larger are heavy haulers for longer trips, multiple people, and outdoor equipment (boots, backpacks, tents, etc.). When we fly to go backpacking, we love our 100-liter REI Co-op Roadtripper duffel: it can fit multiple empty backpacks, bulky footwear, and all of our extras. It’s worth noting that these bags can get heavy fast depending on what you stow inside of them, so keep an eye out for total weight as you’re packing. Clothing and most regular items should keep you below the 50-pound checked bag limit, but if you’re packing anything particularly heavy, it can be an issue. And for serious outdoor and expedition use, duffels like The North Face Base Camp are made all the way up to 150 liters.