Although we do like the Base Camp line and have used them for years, we prefer the Black Hole for a few reasons. First, the outer fabric on The North Face shows scuff marks more easily than its Patagonia counterpart. Second, at 3 pounds 8 ounces, it’s more than a pound heavier. Finally, we found the backpack straps on the Base Camp Duffel to be slightly more difficult to detach than those on the Black Hole, making your airport check-in a bit more frantic. But for a bit more versatility in terms of size and colors, the Base Camp from The North Face is a solid duffel choice.
In terms of capacity, the duffels on this list range from 25 liters to a whopping 150 liters, so there’s a bag to match every activity and intended use. For solo travelers on overnight and weekend trips where you won’t be bringing a bunch of gear, a smaller duffel in the 25 to 40-liter range should do the trick. And a good number of these models are carry-on compatible, saving you the time and the potential cost of checking a bag (although some airlines are now charging fees for carry-ons too). For U.S. airlines, there isn’t a universal carry-on size, but 22 x 14 x 9” is quite common (at the time of publication, these are the maximum dimensions for Delta, United, JetBlue, and others). It’s worth noting that almost all carry-on compatible bags will advertise themselves as such, but the general cut-off is right around 40 liters.
Another sporty duffel bag, this one from the makers of our all-time favorite cooler, can also be worn as a backpack and is made from thick, laminated nylon that’ll withstand any rough baggage handling. It’s also completely waterproof — the zippers tuck into enclosed docks — so there’s no need to fear a rainstorm or wet ground ruining your clothing or gear inside.
I am very impressed with this bag, thus far. I have only had it about a week, so we will see how it holds up to the weight of textbooks over time. It has excellent padding on the handle, straps, and on the back of the bag. I was concerned that it would not expand to fit my books and folders, but it has not disappointed! Once I stuffed all of my gear into it, it expanded to about 8” wide. The front compartment has odds & ends in it. The middle compartment has two 3 ring binders and a LARGE textbook in it. The back compartment has my iPad, several notebooks, and a wad of pens in it. Pics of all 3 compartments included. This bag holds A LOT! I haven’t even used the smaller outer compartments, and I fit a lot more in it than I thought I ... full review
how to travel with luxury bags
The collection of luggage and suitcases at Belk feature durable, expandable and stylish travel bags. Pack for your next trip in a convenient luggage set or keep your belongings close with expandable carry-on luggage. Choose from a selection of different colors and patterns as well as reliable materials like nylon or hard-shell suitcases. Browse luggage options with plenty of pockets and compartments to keep your belongings organized.
Hands down, the easiest duffels to pack, unpack, and rummage around in are those with a large, U-shaped opening. Duffels such as the Patagonia Black Hole feature this design: a zippered flap extends around three of the four sides of the top of the duffel and opens to reveal most of the contents. These bags provide easy access whether in a hotel, tent, or on the road. Other bags, such as the Filson Field Duffel, open in a more traditional style, with one zipper that extends across the top of the bag. With a smaller opening, access to the contents is more limited, and especially when full (this means more rummaging and disorganization). If you’re looking to prioritize convenience above all else, large roller duffels like the Osprey Shuttle offer the most rigid structure and largest opening for packing and unpacking.
For frequent air travelers, there is a lot to be said for the convenience of a wheeled duffel, and especially one that can be used as a carry-on. At 40 liters, the TNF Rolling Thunder is an optimal size for air travelers who don’t pack the kitchen sink. The wheels are large yet smooth and functional over a variety of surfaces, equally at home from the airport to far-flung villages. And while the bag expands nicely to accommodate full loads, compression straps help to keep the size within airline regulations.
One of my tips for traveling, especially if you’re traveling “carry-on only”, is to minimize your electronics. I always travel with a 7 inch tablet because it’s the perfect size for me to check my emails and search online. It also has a front & back facing camera with an internal speaker/microphone so I can take pictures and/or record videos. Plus, it’s so small that I don’t worry about it taking up space! My tablet has allowed me to leave my laptop and camera and all of their accessories at home which leaves me with more space and less to worry about. I love it!