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.
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.
It loads from the top, but it also has a reinforced bottom compartment with bumper guards and ballistic nylon fabric to protect your delicate possessions. You can also access the bottom of the main compartment through the zippered curtain divider. The Alpha 2 Split Duffel also comes with two front U-zip pockets, a telescoping handle, and an adjustable shoulder strap.
Don’t be fooled by the affordable price tag: Herschel’s bags can stand up to years of wear and tear. This one is roomy enough for a weekend getaway, but not too huge to be impractical for everyday use — stash your work essentials plus a spare set of exercise clothes in the separate bottom compartment so you can take an impromptu spin class without lugging a gym bag around.
Though less comfortable than backpack straps over extended periods, a single shoulder strap is a quick way to carry your duffel short distances. In particular, we like shoulder straps on smaller duffels that don’t weigh a ton (they can start to get uncomfortable around the popular 60-liter range). Not all duffel bags come with shoulder straps, but we see them frequently on smaller capacity, travel-specific bags. Shoulder straps usually are removable, allowing you to streamline your duffel for transport.
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Trendy Swedish bag maker Fjallraven offers the Splitpack, a unique take on duffel backpacks that splits in half to become two roomy, easy-to-pack compartments rather than one gravity-sensitive backpack slot. Fill both compartments and zip them together for a densely packed duffel-bag backpack, and keep your accessories in the easy-access outer pockets. The inner walls include mesh compartments to organize smaller items, and the bag can hold about 35 liters.
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Most of the models in our fleet used 900D PU, PE rip-stop nylon, or polyester material throughout the duffel, with an additional layer of 630D nylon on the bottom, or other high wear areas, which help to maximize a given model's life. While these materials are straight-up burly and will last the vast majority of user's decades of abuse, the Base Camp Duffel has proven itself as one of the longest-lasting contenders out there.
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There are a lot of tough duffels out there, but The North Face Base Camp is among the toughest, as it uses the thickest fabric of any non-wheeled model in our review. Tester Ian Nicholson (not in this photo, he took it) has taken his on over 20 expeditions, including seven Denali trips and seven trips to South America and it's still going strong. Here one such Base Camp duffel on yet another adventure on Denali.
Cotopaxi also offers roomier active duffle backpacks: The thick canvas Chumpi Travel Duffel Bag can hold 30 to 50 liters and is designed to carry all your necessary gear. Use it for camping, road trips, or as a larger carry-on bag (it fits most airline’s carry-on dimensions) to protect all your personal items. It’s made to last (61-year warranty) and has large outer pockets and thick straps that will keep you both organized and comfortable while you’re carrying it.
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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.
The crossbody strap makes it easy to walk around hands-free and the slim look makes it elegant but not too noticeable – which is perfect if you're trying to blend in and not call too much attention to yourself. It's one of the best leather travel purses around. It's not cheap, but I've had mine for years and it only looks the better for wear. And it holds everything I need for a day of sightseeing.
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We love this bag from Issara — a small, socially conscious leather goods company in London — because of all the thoughtful, functional details for travel. It's got a full zipper closure to keep everything secure (and for stowing under the airplane seat without your belongings spilling onto the floor), multiple interior and exterior pockets to keep you organized, a roomy and sturdy interior (no collapsing in on itself while searching for an item), and a structured bottom with metal feet. As a major bonus, you can feel great about your purchase: the artisans Issara works with in India and Indonesia receive fair living wages, healthcare, and safe work environments, and all of the materials and processes used to produce the leather products are environmentally friendly.
A small percentage of people want waterproof protection from their duffel (think rafters, fisherman, and backcountry winter adventurers). The market is limited, but two bags on the list are waterproof: the YETI Panga and SealLine WideMouth. The Panga is a beast of a bag, with the shape of a traditional duffel but with extra thick materials and a fully waterproof zipper. The SealLine, on the other hand, is a roll-top bag that more closely resembles a dry bag. And it’s worth mentioning the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dyneema Duffel, which is not waterproof but highly water resistant and surprisingly tough.
Get a travel credit card with a limit on it. If it does get lost or stolen, it will prevent a lavish spending spree. Also carry a cc that doesn’t have charge fees associated with use, some cards will charge 3-5% per use. If two of you are travelling together, each person should have a different credit card in the event one gets lost/stolen and you need to cancel it, the other person has a different one for expenses. Do not travel with items you never want to loose, leave them at home.
For jet-setters going from a business meeting to a client dinner straight to a flight, this bag will keep everything in its proper place. The interior features padded slots for a tablet and a 14-inch laptop, plus dedicated pockets sized perfectly for your phone, wallet, subway card, sunglasses, water bottle, and even loops for your pens and lip balm. When you get home, find your keys in a cinch at the end of the built-in key leash.
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I received the bag a little over a week ago and it looked great when I opened it. The only problem was the smell. The smell was like rancid oil on leather. To fix the smell, I conditioned it with Mothers leather conditioner. After letting it sit overnight the smell of clean leather came back. The quality seems great so far the leather feels nice and feels good. I took it on a four day trip and had no problems. I'm taking it on another weekend trip this weekend too.
For most types of travel, from a weekend at the cabin to an international trip, a casual duffel will do the trick. You still get plenty of features with these bags: backpack straps are common (more on that below), many have a water resistant finish for protection from light precipitation and wet ground, and organization can be good depending on the size. If you’re strictly using your duffel for air travel, a roller duffel is a good option: it will allow you to move quickly through the airport without having to haul your bag on your back or shoulder.
The timeless popularity of L.L.Bean’s Boat and Tote bag is a testament to its quality and durability. But for those wanting a bit more organization and a little less Nantucket, here’s an alternative: the Everyday Lightweight Tote. Starting at just $35, this tote will last you many years even with daily use. Water-resistant nylon makes it great for the pool or beach and the reinforced handles can withstand heavy lifting. There's also an exterior slot, interior pocket, and key clip keep your phone, wallet, and keys at the ready without digging around.
A fully loaded duffel bag can be a heavy burden to bear, but a bag with wheels takes the weight off your shoulders. Ben Pundole, founder and editor-in-chief of hotel review site a Hotel Life and vice-president of brand experience at Edition Hotels, trusts his wheeled North Face duffel for lasting through years of frequent travel. “It’s my favorite because it’s indestructible,” he said. “Waterproof, durable, and most of all dustproof.” The 36-inch bag must be checked on flights, but a carry-on-size version, also featuring lots of useful exterior pockets, is available here.
Pros Easy to pack, comfortable shoulder straps, excellent pockets, super durable Highly weather resistant, easy to pack, dual mesh zippered pockets under the lid, comfortable shoulder straps Durable, waterproof, comfortable backpack straps Easy to pack, bomber construction, burly frame, internal dual-zippered mesh pockets, very maneuverable, highly water resistant Good pockets for organization and access, lightweight, comfortable to carry as a briefcase
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5. Wear your bag in a way that dissuades theft. Most often thieves look for an easy mark. A handbag across your chest (as opposed to hanging loosely over a shoulder) will look more challenging and less appetizing. Keep your bag on the inside rather than on the street side. Yes, there have been instances of women being dragged along by a thief on a scooter BUT seeing a well-protected bag should be pretty dissuasive. If this worries you, use a pashmina or a scarf over your shoulder. It won't hide your bag completely but it makes it more complicated for thieves - and they like to keep things simple.
Thank you for sharing a variety of bag options. I usually carry a Sherpani bag because it is what I have at home. My travel tip is to carry a small pouch of essential oils including peppermint and lavender. Peppermint comes in handy with car sickness and/or yucky fumes/smells on the plane and lavender is helpful for soothing sunburns or other skin stuff.
Larger than a camera bag or waistpack - yet smaller than a briefcase or laptop bag - it'll hold whatever you need, wherever your travels take you. A book, readers, an iPad®, cell phone, calculator, pens, pencils - and more! Gusseted zip-front organizer has pen and cell phone slots, a zippered pocket and organizational sleeves. Middle zip section has organizational sleeves, and gusseted rear-zip section has a neoprene sleeve to hold an e-reader or iPad®. Rear exterior pocket with snap-down security strap, two-way zippers with large zipper pulls, leather reinforcements and a detachable padded shoulder strap.