For Ease of Packing: The easiest models to pack and unpack were The North Face Rolling Thunder 30" and 36" models. Both of these duffel bags featured a large opening that still was easy to zip closed when the bag was full. The Patagonia Black Hole Wheeled was also extremely easy to pack up as well as all the more traditional non-wheeled duffels we tested. A rigorous criterion for them to even be selected for non-wheeled models was their ease of packing. Most of the duffels we tested have U-shaped openings. The Patagonia Lightweight Black Hole, Top Pick Yeti Panga, and Top Pick Bago all have straight "I-shaped" zippers and were subsequently harder to load and unload.
First some pluses: This is a spacious bag - could easily pack for up to a week in it. Even when it is quite full, the backpack straps are constructed in a way that it doesn't feel too heavy on your back (for reference I am ~5'5, so the bag is quite large relative to my frame but does not feel cumbersome to carry as a backpack at all, even without support straps). I love that it has a computer sleeve that fits a 15" laptop, a couple smaller tech pockets, and separate external pockets for laundry/shoes, as I primarily use the bag for days I want to go to the gym in the morning and straight to work for the day [sometimes with a run in the afternoon].
Anyone who has traveled a fair amount knows the value of a good tote. The workhorse of the travel bag ensemble, it’s the perfect carry-all for your essentials. You can toss everything in one roomy bag (we’re talking wallet, passport, phone, headphones, tablet, book, scarf, sweater, toiletry bag, water bottle, snacks — don’t forget the snacks!, and even a travel pillow), grab it, and go.
What would you recommend to avoid being robbed? One place I read, suggested a backpack. A backpack surely seems unsafe and you can’t see them going into your bag. I was in Egypt in 09 and a lot of people were robbed while sightseeing. Please advise as I’ll be traveling to South Africa (Johannesburg and Cape Town) soon and doing a lot of sightseeing. I like the idea of the anti theft one mentioned in your article.
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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.

I would like to say that cross body bags are targets for thieves. The three times I was robbed while living in south america involved cross body bags. For one, they are easy to rip off your body with enough force. That’s how I got robbed once. Someone just ripped it right off of me. I’ve heard of this happening to someone else. Someone on a bike rode by this woman and just ripped it right off of her. They also are easy for thieves to get their hands into without you looking so one that zips is essential. Thats how I was robbed the other two times – having a bag that didn’t zip.
With a capacity of 40.78 liters, the bag is roomy enough to handle extended trips, without having to check it in at the airport. Its interior is complemented by two large zipper pockets and lined with soft navy cotton twill to keep your menswear essentials and gear protected. Each order comes with a free tin of Martexin wax to extend your weekender’s life and maintain its waterproof qualities.

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.

All the contenders in our fleet are super robust. However, The North Face Rolling Thunder stood apart from the rest as a freaking burly piece of luggage (maybe bordering on overkill), with the beefiest materials in the review. Most of the bag is constructed of the same material as the tried and true Base Camp Duffel (1000D polyester laminate), which is still slightly thicker than most of the models in our review. To make this model even more long-lasting, it has been reinforced with 1680D nylon (compared to the Base Camp's mega burly 840D).

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Going on a trip around Europe this summer? Then, you might want to consider this 31-inch packing case by Tumi. This bag easily holds enough clothing/accessories to get you through a 7, 10 or 14-day trip. It has a durable and sleep hard shell and a main compartment that expands 2 and a half inches, ideal for accommodating those souvenirs. The bag has a zip-around closure, recessed 360-degree swivel wheels, a three-stage telescoping pull handle and is constructed of polycarbonate alloy.
Made of splash-resistant nylon and polyester, the “Code Alpha” duffel can hold a lot of gear, yet is easy to carry around. For starters, the bag is massive: it measures 33 x 17 x 13 inches and comes with a detachable toiletry kit on the side. Three rugged wheels make it easy to pull using the straps, but be aware that the bag doesn’t have a telescoping handle. The sturdy framework is designed so that the duffel keeps its form – whether full or not – and has a main compartment and mesh interior compartment. One drawback is that the bag doesn’t have many extra pockets for gadgets, but is an ideal choice for a checked bag.

I have so many packing tips… Using packing cells, using clip seal bags, taking a tiny pocket sized foldable backpack in case of unexpected purchases, downloading offline maps apps and translators and using dryer sheets in my luggage. But the best travel tip I have is actually a very simple one- look confident. I travel a lot and before I walk out the door each day I scan a map to orient myself, ensure I have an offline map just in case, put on some really reflective aviators and make sure I look like I know where I am going (even though most of the time I have no idea!) I find looking confident and purposeful means you don’t look like a tourist and makes you less of a target to anyone with ill intentions.
Don’t let the rain keep you from exploring. This Baggallini crossbody is also a stylish travel purse, light and water-resistant, so you can take advantage of wet travel days without worrying about your valuables and electronics getting drenched. It comes with a removable RFID-resistant wallet you can pull out of the middle of the bag. For me, this feels safer than having an outside zippered pocket for my cards.

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.


Keep in mind that the Hyperlite Dyneema Duffel truly is a specialty bag. The 140-liter capacity is excellent for hauling bulky outdoor gear in tough conditions, and this is one of the biggest duffels in this market in terms of interior space. But it notably lacks backpack straps, which would be a nice touch for those instances where you do actually have to walk with the bag over a good distance. In addition, the $525 price tag is by far the highest on this list—Dyneema is an ultra-premium and very expensive fabric. Travelers and urban backpackers should look elsewhere, but for the right people and uses, the Hyperlite is a serious, expedition-ready duffel.

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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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Here in late 2018, as an autumn expedition wraps and we plunge into holiday travels, our crack test team is sharpened up on travel. We spent the last few months initiating a transition in the test team (long-time OGL legend Ian Nicholson hands duffel review coordination off to fellow globe-trotting mountain guide Jediah Porter) and testing a couple of unique pieces of luggage. We grant two new Top Pick awards. The exciting Yeti Panga is fully submersible and has category-leading shoulder straps. For super-wet adventures, you won't do better. On the other end of the spectrum is the budget-friendly and user-packable Bago Packable. Supplanting the Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole, the Bago is our newest preference as a secondary duffel for adventure travel and day-to-day life.

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Keep in mind that the YETI Panga is overkill for most non-outdoor use. The bag is very pricey at $350, heavy at over 6 pounds for the 75-liter version, and has a thick, rubbery feel. In addition, YETI branding is strong with logos on each side and a very prominent imprint that runs the length of the bottom of the bag. All in all, this isn’t the optimal duffel for the average traveler or light outdoor use, but it’s hard to beat when you need waterproof protection for your gear (think water sports or protecting important belongings that can’t get wet). For a cheaper waterproof duffel option, see the SealLine WideMouth below.
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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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.
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