We reference durability frequently in this article—everyone wants their investment to last. The most common way of measuring fabric strength is denier (D), and the higher the rating, the tougher the fabric will be. All deniers are not created equal, but this gives you a general idea of how two duffels stack up to each other in terms of toughness. When available, we’ve included the denier rating of each bag in our handy comparison table above, which range from 1000D for a bag like The North Face Base Camp down to 420D for the Eagle Creek Load Warrior. It’s worth noting that the manufacturers sometimes provide two numbers, which refer to the different panels (usually the highest number is the bottom of the bag that is exposed to the ground, whereas the lower number are the sides and top). This number may not be the definitive factor in your buying decision, but it certainly can help tip the scales when choosing between two close competitors.
If you know coolers, chances are you know the YETI brand. And it’s no surprise that the company entered the duffel market with a splash. Many models on this list are water resistant, meaning they can withstand wet ground and the occasional rain shower, but the Panga is fully waterproof. You’ll often spot this thick and submergible duffel on rafts, fishing boats, and pretty much anywhere where people want the ultimate level of protection for their gear. Made with laminated high-density nylon that feels like rubber, a burly EVA bottom, and a waterproof zipper that locks firmly into place, this duffel is as water ready and air tight as you’ll find.
Almost all the non-wheeled models we selected for this review have decent daisy chains and grab loops. Two Top Pick winners are almost entirely devoid of daisy chains. The external profile of both the Yeti Panga and Bago Travel are almost entirely devoid of lash points. The Patagonia Lightweight Black Hole is similarly lacking in lash points. The rest of the non-wheeled bags have good options. The Gregory Alpaca, with its robust reinforced daisy chains, stood out. The daisy chains ran the full length of the bag, and its large grab loops made it easy to attach to almost anything, whether that be a sled or llama. The North Face Base Camp and the Patagonia Black Hole weren't too far behind, as both offer ease of transport. We feel wheeled duffels are great for traditional travel and duffels are better for non-traditional travel or for trips where getting every ounce possible without going over the 50-pound limit is of the utmost importance.
There’s a reason this bag has been a favorite for over half a century: it’s sturdy (that canvas is tested to hold up to 500 pounds), tastefully spare (those contrasting straps always look good), and offers just the right amount of customization (liven things up with a bright color or a monogram, or stick to the classic navy). And at only $50, you can buy in bulk and still not blow your budget.
The weekender bag is a practical, versatile piece of luggage designed for short trips. Large enough to fit a few days’ worth of clothing, yet compact enough to stow in the overhead compartment, these smart accessories deserve a special place in any traveler’s arsenal. They are easy to carry around and come in all styles, colors, and materials to suit everyone’s needs.
Make sure you have everything packed and organized with a duffel bag from our selection. Large duffel bags with spacious capacities offer larger main compartments for storing your camping or sporting gear and equipment, while smaller bags and backpacks are great for storing just a few items on your way to practice or a game. Look for additional storage features as well, such as exterior or interior pockets, lined valuables pockets or wet and dry, ventilated storage compartments, so you can have a specialized place to put all your gear.
Enter the unsung workhorse of every traveler's luggage collection: The weekender. The ideal pick is not too big (or it'll weigh you down) and not too small (or you won't be able to fit extra shoes), sturdy enough that you won't need to baby it, and stylish enough that you'll feel confident hauling it to beach bungalows, mountain cabins, city apartment rentals, and wherever else your weekend travels take you.
It’s worth noting that Marmot did decide to use thinner materials on the current Long Hauler. With a burly 1,000-denier fabric, the older version was prized for its toughness and durability. Unfortunately, Marmot downgraded the bag to 600-denier while adding a side pocket. 600D certainly isn’t bad, but it’s now thinner than competitors like the Patagonia Black Hole and The North Face Base Camp while the price remains similar. We still like the Marmot, but it just doesn’t stand out like it used to.
We’ll start by noting that we initially had our hesitations about the Filson Field Duffel. To start, the Tin Cloth fabric is rather distinct and has an Indiana Jones-type feel (not necessarily in bad way, but that was our first impression). Upon further inspection, this bag is exquisitely made and looks and feels the part. The thick canvas has a water repellant finish (oil-finish wax can be applied for added protection) and we love the silky interior liner. The Field Duffel certainly is more formal than others on this list, but we love the build quality and unique design.
When choosing a duffel, consider how much you’ll want access to your belongings as you travel. The most streamlined models feature one large compartment with no internal organization (the REI Roadtripper, for example), while more fully-featured designs include handy external pockets for small items or padded compartments for a tablet or computer. Rolling duffels such as the Osprey Shuttle are downright luxurious, with numerous external pockets and internal dividers to help you organize your clothing inside (it even includes an expandable external pocket so you can separate dirty clothes or hiking shoes from the rest of your belongings). For travelers, we think that at least one external pocket is nice to separate out your smaller essentials.
This workhorse bag counts lifestyle bloggers, moms, and T+L editors among its devotees. With interior and exterior pockets for organizing your stuff, a drop-strap that makes hauling it around easy, and a bottom zip compartment for keeping shoes or dirty clothes separate, it’s a practical pick for long weekend excursions. The relaxed-chic look in a range of shades is just the icing on the cake.
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Of the full-sized duffels, the Patagonia Black Hole is impressive for its size. At three pounds three ounces, this proved to be the lightest model in the larger volume range. Comparatively the The North Face Base Camp was the heaviest, ringing in at four pounds one ounce for the 90-liter size. One pound more for the greater organizational and durability attributes of the Editors' Choice winner is well worth it.
This Knomo bag marries form and function, with a rectangular shape made for comfortably toting around laptops sized up to 15.6 inches. There's also a trolley slip sleeve that fits over the handle of your wheeled luggage for easy carrying. Plus, travel without worry: The RFID-blocking liner will protect your credit cards and passport from wireless identity theft.
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The Base Camp Duffel from The North Face is a fully-featured bag and a direct competitor to the Patagonia Black Hole above. It’s similarly tough and water resistant, offers easy access to the inside, and can be carried as a backpack, which we love. Both bags offer comparable organization pockets, but the Base Camp’s medium and large models add an exterior compartment on one end that allows you to separate dirty clothes and shoes. The Base Camp comes in more colors and designs than we can count, and is available in capacities ranging from 31 liters (XS) to a whopping 150 liters (XXL). For everything from a carry-on to an expedition workhorse, this is one of the most popular duffels on the market year after year.
These are all incredibly good tips. Security is one of the most important issues for me when traveling, so I have to admit I loved these bags. I definitely need one. One tip I haven’t seen here is to make copies of all your relevant documents (like passport, visa, etc.). If worst case scenario you have your stuff stolen, you’ll have copies that will help you get back on your feet.
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.
Look for models with daisy chains that have beefy bartacking between each loop and reinforced grab loops made of robust webbing. This can help make sure your duffel stays attached to your sled if you fall into a crevasse. Photo climbers walking on the Kahiltna glacier in the Alaska range each pulling a sled with a duffel tied to it. Shoulder straps and briefcase style straps are good things to thread when tying your duffel down - as long as they are beefy enough.
One travel tip I have is to pack two or three binder clips with you. They are small to pack but useful for securing hotel/hostel/accommodation curtains shut. This helps block out the light more and make it easier to sleep which is helpful when you are adjusting to a new schedule & overcoming jet lag. Another tip is to try to switch whatever toiletries you can to solids. There are great options for solid shampoo bars, body wash bars, face wash bars, lotion bars, etc.
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!
I travel to Asia almost every other month for 2-3 weeks at a time and needed something a bit larger that could replace my laptop roller bag and have room for clothes and carry my loaf of bread sized CPAP machine. So I did a lot of online research and chose the Nomatic travel bag which I purchased in Oct 17 and been using for about 5 months. I've been using the bag constantly and I'm pleased to say it's holding up great and I'm happy I purchased it. No visible wear due to the quality of durable material used in the making of the bag. Even with my CPAP machine on the bottom of the bag there's still a lot of room left for clothes and other things. Unfortunately, my laptop can't fit into the built in laptop sleeve so I still drag my laptop roller and carry the Nomatic bag. PROS: Made of durable materials, backpack straps that easily convert to duffel bag handles, storage space, accessory pockets, built in pass thru slot for telescopic luggage handle, fits in all major airlines overhead and even in the turbo prop and Gulf Stream jet type planes. CONS: Built in laptop sleeve doesn't hold my 15.6" Toshiba laptop. You need to really force it into the sleeve but then you have a heck of a time pulling it out so I don't use it, and no pen/pencil slots in pockets.