Some want the best, while others will benefit from a niche Top Pick. Others want the best bang for their buck and are willing to go to the ends of the earth to find it. For all of the penny pinchers out there, we've compared overall score and retail price for all these bags. Figure out what your budget is, then choose a higher scoring duffel within that price range to maximize value.
Some travelers may not care about the weight of their duffel, but for others it’s a factor, and particularly with heavier rolling models. Most non-wheeled duffels weigh just a few pounds or less, which makes them easy to carry, throw in your car, and store when not in use. Rolling duffels, on the other hand, tend to get a bit heavy. For example, The North Face Rolling Thunder weighs 9 pounds 14 ounces empty for the 80-liter version, which already accounts for almost 20% of the standard 50-pound limit for checked bags. And the Osprey Shuttle weighs 8 pounds 3 ounces but has a larger capacity at 100 liters (and comes in a massive 130-liter version). We can tell you that a loaded Osprey Shuttle 100L with things like shoes can get awfully close to the 50 pounds: we’ve been in the high 40s on a number of occasions. It’s also worth noting that a 45-pound bag isn’t the easiest to get in and out of your car or up a flight of stairs.
Thanks for the info on these bags and ways to stay safe….my personal comments/tips: 1) I never, ever, carry a bag out when I will be in crowded public areas—I put my id, day cash, lip crème/mirror in an inside pocket of blouse/jacket or secure pants pocket. Sling a water bottle & umbrella if necessary…and go. You find out quickly what is vital……only carry those items in all possible situations. If I feel safer or absolutely have to carry a bag out–I make sure first that it is as small as possible and a cross-body style….that I can wear UNDER a light blouse, jacket, coat re weather conditions. These tactics keep me safer and prevent me from losing stuff….which I am prone to do if I carry too much!! There’s a sad story about Rx sunglasses and a sheep in Ireland!!
Thanks to Everlane’s transparent pricing model, this ethically made leather-and-twill weekender costs a fraction of what it would at a traditional department store. Both the all-black and dipped versions are gender neutral and suited to a range of styles, and the size is just right for hauling all the stuff you’ll need for a short getaway while still fitting easily in the overhead compartment.
In terms of features and carrying comfort, you get a multitude of ways to grab and carry the Black Hole Duffel. The backpack straps are more comfortable and functional than most, and the bag comes with a large detachable shoulder strap for throwing over one shoulder. Keep in mind that this duffel does not have a particularly rigid structure, so it doesn’t offer a ton in the way of protection for your fragile items. In addition, it’s one of the more expensive non-roller duffels on this list, but we think worth the quality is worth the extra cost. Patagonia makes the Black Hole in a variety of versions including with wheels, and the 40-liter roller version is carry-on compatible.
Keep in mind that with the Carrier, you don’t get the full-on waterproofing of the Yeti Panga or SealLine WideMouth, and the similarly water-resistant Hyperlite is made with tougher Dyneema materials. Further, the ultralight build means that you have to give up pockets and padding, and the bag lacks structure when unpacked. But you do get backpack carry straps and an expedition-ready weight for those trips when every ounce counts.
These recommendations are great! I need a travel bag for my upcoming trip to Italy, so this is super helpful. One travel tip I’ve heard over the years in the same vein that I think is really helpful is when you’re walking with a rolling suitcase to keep it either between you and your travel companion, or if you’re alone to keep the bag on the side of you closest to a wall. This applies to bags as well. That way it’s much harder for someone to swipe it as they go by, especially if they’re on a bike, Vespa, motorcycle, etc.
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Why do we have the SealLine ranked here? The YETI has more structure and is much easier to pack, not to mention the fully waterproof zipper system mitigates the common user error of creating a roll-top seal (SealLine also makes the Zip Duffel, which has a waterproof main zipper). Moreover, the YETI has backpack straps and therefore is easier to carry. The cherry on top: the extra thickness of the YETI means that it’s much more durable in the long term. But for those looking for a waterproof duffel without breaking the bank, the SealLine WideMouth is a nice option.
Who should buy the Filson? To be sure, this bag belongs more on a weekend cabin getaway than on an Alaskan glacier. Not only that, but it lacks backpack straps, organizational compartments, haul handles for easy transport, and is pricier than most other options in its size range. This means that it’s not our first choice for an outdoor duffel, but it’s a super classy option for travel.
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For more traditional air or bus travel, wheeled duffels are excellent, as they are just plain easier to get around with and their heavier weight is typically less of an issue. For expeditions or more exotic travel, we prefer traditional duffels because of their low weight, ease of transporting on non-smooth surfaces, and ability to be transported by non-traditional means (AKA strapped to animals, boats, snowmobiles, etc.)
This lightweight, quilted bag from Oliver Thomas — a new travel bag brand that's named after founder Sue Fuller's dog — pulls out all the stops. It's got water-resistant fabric, a sleeve that slides over your luggage handle, a clip that keeps the straps from sliding off your shoulder, and a bottom zip compartment that's perfect for keeping shoes separate from clothes. The brand also makes tons of patches with cheeky statements like,"more baggage than LAX," and, "aspiring retiree," that adhere in a few seconds with a hairdryer.
Thanks for a great article and reviews. I travel a lot to Africa and tend to keep it simple, never leave valuables lying around in plain sight, always carry bags across body, and keep it small. I have however been burgled at night while asleep and lost many digital devices (family trip) which were scattered around the house we were sleeping in. Since then I sleep with my cell phone under the mattrass and travel hand bag with passports and wallet tucked under the bed!
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Much as we'd all love to be jetting off to Europe for 10 days at a time, the average American — yep, that includes T+L editors — doesn't have the time (or vacation days, or, let's be real, budget) for more than one or two major getaways a year. Weekends, on the other hand? Those we can do. But even the chronic overpackers among us (ahem, hi) can admit that nothing feels sillier than schlepping your roll-aboard along on a 48-hour trip.
Patagonia’s Black Hole line helped made duffels cool, and we think the 60-liter version is the best all-around bag on the market. Starting with design, Patagonia is known for premium build quality and trendy colorways, and the Black Hole fits the bill perfectly. It’s beautifully constructed from end to end, and you get multiple color options from simple black to blaze orange. And the Black Hole is tough: the fabric is 900D ripstop nylon with a DWR finish to fend off moisture. This duffel is not waterproof like the YETI and SealLine models below, but should keep your gear dry in light rain just fine.
If you need a dedicated bag for storing your gym gear, look no further than our selection of sports bags, which includes gym bags for men and gym bags for women. Our assortment includes sackpacks and other cinch bags, which typically have drawstring straps and closures. These small, lightweight bags are great for storing shoes or an extra change of clothes for the gym, and options with exterior storage pockets provide a separate place for smaller accessories or valuables. Sports bags made of mesh materials provide breathable, ventilated storage, while gym bags made of more durable materials offer long-lasting use.
The $130-ish duffel market certainly is competitive, but another nice option for travelers is the Long Hauler from Marmot. This bag is well designed with just all about of the features that you need: detachable backpack straps, a U-shaped access to the main compartment, grab handles on the ends, compression straps, and end pockets for storing smaller items and valuables. Durability is good too: the bag is reinforced with 600D nylon, which should allow for a decent amount of rough use.
Many duffels on this list are made by big outdoor brands like Patagonia, The North Face, Osprey, and Marmot. Outdoor use can vary substantially, from throwing your bag in the back of a truck to hardcore expeditions (often tied to the side of a horse or put in a sled). The good news is that like many types of gear, many outdoor-oriented duffels are tough but versatile and cross over nicely into everyday use. For example, the Patagonia Black Hole, our top pick, can be used from anything from serious outdoor use to standard air travel (and looks the part for both). Because of this versatility, outdoor brands dominate the duffel market.
The Patagonia Black Hole Wheeled Duffel is our OutdoorGearLab Editors' Choice for the Best Wheeled Luggage because of its simple, but very easy-to-pack design. It also has a strong, abrasion-resistant and water-resistant construction. Icing the cake is the fact that it all checks in at an impressive light 7 lbs 8 oz. Our testers appreciated the Black Hole Wheeled Duffels above-average "off-road" performance on rougher terrain, as well as how easy it was to handle while maneuvering in crowded airports - thanks to its narrower wheelbase and good extension on its handle.
NOMATIC was born and raised on Kickstarter. We have successfully funded and delivered 5 projects through crowdfunding. In 2014 we launched the BASICS Wallet, in 2015 the BASICS Notebook, in 2016 The NOMATIC Travel Bag, in 2017 The NOMATIC Backpack and Travel Pack, and the beginning of this year The NOMATIC Messenger and Laptop bag. All of these past products are available at www.nomatic.com
My travel advice is to carry 5,10 or 20 dollar cash in and out pocket in case you are robbed at gun point as I was. I only had a straw wrapper and the robber looked nervous so I was afraid to remove my outer layers to give him my security pouch. My travel partner was being held up by his accomplice who did not have a gun so she handed him her pouch and they grabbed it knocking her down on the curb in the process. If I had cash n that outer pocket I could have handed over and they may have run off with that .