Best travel tip: DO IT! Posts like this might make some think it’s better to stay at home, but it’s really meant to encourage you to travel. If you’ve wanted to travel, but just never figured out how to fit it into your life, get ready. If you want to go, there’s a way to do it. You might not be the most stylish (but you could!) or stay at the most luxurious hotels, etc, but you’ll be THERE! Wherever you want to be! Just Do it! (And read TFG for all the tips, not just the fashion ones!)
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.
Any bag with wheels naturally performs better than non-wheeled versions when it comes to transporting your luggage in the airport or on other smooth surfaces. There are a lot of good (and bad) wheeled bags out there. We looked at dozens of options and selected our favorite four, comparing them here. Among all of these top rolling duffels, a feature our gear selection team and review staff look for, and that all the models shared, is larger-than-average wheel size.
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 Bago Packable is built and marketed as what we'd call "secondary luggage"; it is a fairly lightweight, full-size duffel that can be folded and zipped into a small envelope when not in use. Whether it lives in your car for getting unexpected purchases into your 7th floor walk-up apartment or in your expedition luggage for moving groceries from Anchorage to the Ruth Glacier, a duffel bag like this is handier than you might first realize. It is closely comparable to (and snags this award from) the Patagonia Lightweight Black Hole. The Lightweight Black Hole is a little lighter (in absolute terms, for the respective sizes we tested) and more waterproof, but is only available in smaller sizes and doesn't have the organizational attributes of the Bago. When corrected for volume, the Bago is definitely lighter than the Patagonia.

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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.
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.
In addition to using them in the real world, we conducted a number of side-by-side tests in an attempt to measure each contender's overall weather resistance. We didn't weigh Weather Resistance as high as other categories like Ease of Packing and Comfort to Carry but it remains an important category never-the-less. Weather resistance is important when you want to keep your stuff dry as you take it out of the car on a soggy day or when it's being driven around on the tarmac. We also find it useful for travel to more exotic locations where it may spend longer periods in the elements.
The Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler is a nice option for travelers looking for a lightweight duffel with an assortment of carry options. It’s one of the more affordable duffels on the market at $99 for the 60-liter version, weighs less than 2 pounds, and even packs into its own end pocket. The bag is functional too: similar to the Patagonia Black Hole, the Cargo Hauler has a U-shaped lid, lash points and grab handles, a padded foam bottom, and padded and removable backpack straps.
When you’re looking to simplify your experience in the air, a well-sized, cleverly designed carry-on makes all the difference. Whether you’re after a designer brand or a straightforward roller, we’ve sought out the most innovative travel bags around, with plenty of outside pockets, internal zippers, and elastic straps, not to mention useful features like collapsible frames, magnetized wheels, and pull-out compartments.
This is the most user-friendly bag I have ever owned. Being a messenger style, it slips on and off very easily and is extremely lightweight, unlike my heavy leather bags. The main compartment is plenty big enough for my big (heavy) B-Mak wallet, and personal items, with room to spare. I love the see-through netted zipper compartment in the bag-I can actually see what is in there! I have yet to rummage through to find something, and that is highly unusual for unorganized me! The multiple outer pockets are so accessible, and I love the side pockets, which are expandable via zippers, making them even more versatile for not just water bottles. The quality is very good, zippers all work very smoothly, strap is very adjustable for any height/size of person (I'm only 5'2"). Yes, it is not a high fashion leather bag, and I ... full review
I have the Pacsafe City Safe 100 GII and although its not attractive like the previous comment its a great purse and holds a lot. I also use the DayMakers Convertible Backpack — they have a few different sizes, but its great as the zippers connect and there are lots of zippered pockets and the straps are adjustable to wear over one shoulder or wear as regular backpack.

For a timeless look and heirloom-quality construction, you can’t get better than duffels from American heritage brand Filson. The brand tests their gear on real-life customers who haul their bags hunting, fishing, and even dog-sledding, so this bag is guaranteed to weather every weekend trip you haul it on — and that leather will only look better with age. 

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This is the most user-friendly bag I have ever owned. Being a messenger style, it slips on and off very easily and is extremely lightweight, unlike my heavy leather bags. The main compartment is plenty big enough for my big (heavy) B-Mak wallet, and personal items, with room to spare. I love the see-through netted zipper compartment in the bag-I can actually see what is in there! I have yet to rummage through to find something, and that is highly unusual for unorganized me! The multiple outer pockets are so accessible, and I love the side pockets, which are expandable via zippers, making them even more versatile for not just water bottles. The quality is very good, zippers all work very smoothly, strap is very adjustable for any height/size of person (I'm only 5'2"). Yes, it is not a high fashion leather bag, and I ... full review
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
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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My #1 travel tip (besides an anti-theft bag) is a Travel Checklist. A spreadsheet with all the items you travel with. I separate things by category…toiletries, clothes, travel documents, etc. If I don’t need a specific item on that trip, then just cross it out. This keeps my husband and I organized and prevents us from forgetting things when we travel. We’re always adding to it and keeping it updated.
For a timeless look and heirloom-quality construction, you can’t get better than duffels from American heritage brand Filson. The brand tests their gear on real-life customers who haul their bags hunting, fishing, and even dog-sledding, so this bag is guaranteed to weather every weekend trip you haul it on — and that leather will only look better with age. 
More traditional duffels are also easier to carry anytime you are not on a smooth surface. While the wheels help on the pavement, they are a down-right hassle when the going gets rough. Wheeled bags typically offer limited, or no other carrying options (for instance, no bags we tested have wheels and backpack shoulder straps. We're working on testing products that do both), making traveling with them difficult in remote or exotic locations. It is often far easier to deal with non-wheel luggage when you are strapping your bag to jeeps, yaks, sleds, snowmobiles, llamas, rafts, or anything else that your adventure might require. Lastly, we've experienced flying in small 2-5 person "commercial" planes in both Africa and Alaska that wouldn't let us bring hard-sided luggage along.

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1. For a $200+ dollar bag, I would not expect to have so many problems with the zippers. The design of zippers around the top of the bag is such that they get stuck in the corners at the bottoms and it take a minute of rearranging the sit of the zipper tracks and jangling with the zipper to get it come unstuck and finally zip up. On my bag, this is a bigger problem on the right side corner as you are looking at it. Perhaps this could be remedied by simply using a slightly bigger zipper track or bigger zipper tag? Regardless, its an obnoxious tick.
But many standard totes tend to have two straps and a main compartment, and that’s about it. While they’re perfectly fine for day-to-day use, travel requires something that's far less prone to organization chaos. You don’t want to spend tons of time digging through the depths of your bag to find your chapstick (the ultimate in-flight essential), having your headphones and charging cords tangled in a mess with your keys, or even worse, holding up the security line as you rummage for your ID or boarding pass.

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Desperate for a new travel handbag! Have to admit, on my last few trips I’ve tried to go hands free and gone for a funky ‘bum-bag’ or money belt, but these look super cute!! I don’t travel an awful lot but I am addicted to this blog! The best tips I picked up were to pick a colour and go with it for my travel wardrobe… we applied this when we had 2 weeks glampling in the south of France last year and travelled hand luggage only! Amazing! I would never have thought this was possible! The tip that I would share with you all (that I don’t recall seeing) is possibly not necessarily space saving (!!!) but my husband and I NEVER travel without a pack of cards. Great entertainment and great for meeting new people.

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.
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.
The roller duffel is one of those “have your cake and eat it too” scenarios for travelers wanting the ease of wheeling their bag with the packing convenience. We’ll start by noting that roller duffels are quite popular, and particularly for air travel. You simply take the bag out of your car, wheel to check-in or your gate if it’s a carry-on, and you’re off. Roller duffels are ideal for those who don’t want to carry their bag on their back or shoulder, and some of the smaller versions (in the 40-liter range and under) are carry-on compatible.
The Patagonia Lightweight Black Hole most certainly lived up to its name and tips the scales at a scant 1 pound 2 ounces; this makes it the lightest model we tested. However, before we continue, we want to be clear that while this is the lightest-weight model in our review, it is also the smallest volume bag (45 liter, largest volume this the Lightweight Black Hole is made) of any option we tested. The Top Pick Bago Packable is a few ounces heavier but is much larger. Both the Patagonia Lightweight and the Bago come in different size options. The Patagonia is available in 30 and 45 liter versions. We tested the 1.1 pound 45 liter version. The Bago comes in 60, 80, and 100-liter versions. We tested the 1.4 pound 80-liter version. For almost twice the volume the Bago is only 27% heavier. When corrected for volume, the Bago is much lighter than the Patagonia Lightweight Black Hole.
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.

Bottom Line While the Base Camp Duffel faces stiffer competition than it used to, it remains the duffel that all others are compared against. A solid all-around excellent expedition bag, this model was built with remote adventures in mind. A burly, waterproof sack that comes in a few sizes, all with nice backpack straps; it has a narrow niche, but is the only product we’ve found that checks the boxes it checks. This model offers a top-notch blend that makes it easy to transport and highly weather resistant. A top-notch model that is slightly less expensive than others, without giving up much in the way of features, pockets, carrying options or overall durability.
I love reading all of your articles. Even if I’m not visiting that particular part of the world! A great travel tip: Purchase a pair of foldable flats. Everyone says to never walk around an airplane in bare feet or socks. The minute I sit down in my seat, I take off my shoes & put on these. When we’re starting to land, I remove them & put my shoes back on. They’re soft, comfy, very affordable, lightweight & fold up into a soft pouch to throw in your carry on. Many colors to choose from on Amazon.
For outdoor use and travel, there’s big demand for lightweight and packable duffels that can be easily stowed away at the bottom of another pack. The Granite Gear Packable Duffel is a prime example, weighing only 1 pound 8 ounces and coming with a separate case for easy storage. Despite the compact size, you still get plenty of features: the bag has a full backpack harness plus the regular assortment of straps and handles, a decently tough 600D shell fabric, and good access to the main compartment with a large U-shaped zipper. At only $60, there is a lot to like about this duffel.

I just ordered the Signature 3 Compartment Crossbody, based on your reviews!! I’m excited to get it and see if it will be just what I’m looking for. My best travel tip is to read about where you’re going to familiarize yourself – it helps with packing appropriately, knowing the local customs, and just an overall sense of respect for the place you are visiting. I enjoy seeing the sites, but living like a local. Immersing yourself and just taking it all in is the perfect idea of a vacay for me!!

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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.
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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!!
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.
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