Such an important issue to be aware of. Many years ago we were in Paris. My husband squatted low to ground to get perfect vantage point pic of Notre Dame when a man came behind him and started to reach out towards him. I yelled and the man backed away & left. Not sure what he was planning but my husband had no idea he was there. We were lucky in that I was far enough away he didn’t realize we were together & that he decided not to do anything.
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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For a more traditional women’s travel purse, Travelon has a large collection of styles in all shapes, colors, fabrics, and sizes. I particularly like the look of their “Signature” and “Heritage” Collections like the Heritage small travel purse featured above. I highly recommend these styles if you’re looking for a more “fashionable” theft proof purse.
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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This leather bag definitely is worth its price. It is large enough to be considered a weekender bag, fitting 2-3 days worth of clothes. It is also small enough to carry and look stylish. The durability of the leather is fantastic. I feel that it is thick enough to not tear easily, but soft enough to have that elegance. The redish brown color gives it a luxurious feel. I also like the inner lining, which whenever someone opens it, notices the fine detail.
I bought a fabulous cross body satchel in dark grey canvas years ago it has flaps and zippered compartments – and plenty of room for a rain jacket – trouble is it is so heavy that by the end of a long day my neck hurts. So last time we went to the US I bought a small shoulder bag I wear it cross body and it has my phone credit card some cash and passports on it. Hubby gets a back pack with my scarf, rain jacket and a water bottle. Best reveal tip – make the husband carry the heavy stuff lol
The Top Pick Bago Packable has four pockets in addition to the main compartment. Among lightweight bags, this is well above the competition. One of the Bago pockets is an externally accessed, large and variable volume "shoe/wet" compartment that sequesters dirty or damp things from the rest of your gear. Its volume is shared with the main compartment. If the main bag is full, you won't get much in the sequestered compartment. It is a clever and welcome design that we've seen in other bags and are happy to observe and use in this ultra-lightweight piece of equipment.

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Grab handles often are located on the ends or sides of a bag and sit close to the surface. Similar to carry handles, they are used to quickly lift or slide a duffel. Having a grab handle on each side is convenient when moving the bag around (think about grabbing it from the overhead bin of an airplane or the storage compartment on the bottom of a bus). We love grab handles: they are one the reasons that duffels are so versatile and easy to move around.

I have an upcoming weekend business trip where I go straight to a conference upon landing. Normally, I just travel with a backpack as my travel bag on such short trips. However, I want to up my travel luggage game, so I thought a nice leather duffel bag could be just what I was looking for. A travel duffel bag is still small enough to use as my carry on luggage, but big enough to hold enough clothes for a weekend easily. Plus, a nice leather duffel bag would cast a professional look. 


In 2018, as it has been for over half a decade, our testers' favorite burly duffel bag is The North Face Base Camp. This perennial favorite is great, but so is the competition. The Base Camp barely edged out the Gregory Alpaca and the Patagonia Black Hole for the win. While the Base Camp wins Editors' Choice and remains a measuring stick for the all burly duffels, its scores don't make it a runaway Editors' Choice. Some other models tested have slight advantages, like the low weight of the Patagonia Black Hole. However, the Base Camp still clocks top or near-top scores in every comparison category.


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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Alex, I’m so happy I found your site and watched all the Live events from LV. We are traveling to Europe during August and September this year and as you can imagine – coming from Australia will require some super packing and discovering handy tips is a bonus. We are going Sydney – Rome – up through Italy to Switzerland, France, Germany, Scotland, Norway – well I hope I haven’t forgotten anything…. anyway, it means lots of different weather… I love everything you have shown, especially a bag to keep your things safe!

Some of the most prominent factors that contribute to how comfortable a bag is to maneuver are the width of its wheelbase, how stiff its frame and handle are, how far its handle extends, and how far it extends above the bag or load. With lighter weights, it makes only a little bit of difference; once a piece of luggage becomes more massive, the difference is more apparent.
We designed this bag to take the hassle out of packing for the weekend or whichever days you’re away. Seriously, this tote’s easy-access opening makes getting everything in and out a breeze (no flashlight required). Plus, the bottom compartment is designed to keep your shoes, toiletries and travel essentials separate—you can even stash a hair dryer in there.  Bonus points: there’s a zipper-pocket on the back that becomes a trolley sleeve so it fits over your luggage handle. Hello, carry-on.
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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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 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!
I am very impressed with this bag, thus far. I have only had it about a week, so we will see how it holds up to the weight of textbooks over time. It has excellent padding on the handle, straps, and on the back of the bag. I was concerned that it would not expand to fit my books and folders, but it has not disappointed! Once I stuffed all of my gear into it, it expanded to about 8” wide. The front compartment has odds & ends in it. The middle compartment has two 3 ring binders and a LARGE textbook in it. The back compartment has my iPad, several notebooks, and a wad of pens in it. Pics of all 3 compartments included. This bag holds A LOT! I haven’t even used the smaller outer compartments, and I fit a lot more in it than I thought I ... full review
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.

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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.

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!)
Countries we consider in the Central & South America Region, we ship to for $55 USD. These countries are Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Falkland Islands, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Haiti, Martinique, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Paraguay, Suriname, El Salvador, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

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Coming in at $140 for the 65-liter version, the Osprey Transporter is a touch more expensive than the Patagonia Black Hole and The North Face Base Camp above. It’s also slightly less durable in terms of denier, and the lack of dedicated carry handles are a bit of an inconvenience. That said, we love the carrying comfort over long distances and think the other features are highly practical, making the Transporter our top non-wheeled duffel from Osprey.

Another sporty duffel bag, this one from the makers of our all-time favorite cooler, can also be worn as a backpack and is made from thick, laminated nylon that’ll withstand any rough baggage handling. It’s also completely waterproof — the zippers tuck into enclosed docks — so there’s no need to fear a rainstorm or wet ground ruining your clothing or gear inside.

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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.

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I’m a crossbody bag fan for sure, because I really like having my hands free. That said, there are times my shoulders begin to beg for a little relief. I’m seriously considering the Henri Bendel Jetsetter Convertible Backpack for my upcoming trip through the Czech Republic, because it can be worn so many ways…and I won’t have to transfer the contents from bag to bag!

Your travel bag needs minimal styling—it goes with just about everything. Want to travel in ultimate comfort? Try pairing your all-black activewear look with a black leather weekender for a cool and comfortable look that is always appreciated. If you want to travel in style, pair your skinny ankle jeans, chunky knit, and booties with a cognac leather travel bag for a casual and timeless look.

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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.
Made with beautiful full grain calfskin leather that has deep color tones and looks better as it ages. The vegetable tanned base creates the rich brown and red colors while the semi gloss finish helps prevent stains. Over time this leather will soften and develop a beautiful patina. Our 8 oz cotton duck canvas lining is made in South Carolina and very durable. The combination of Italian vegetable tanned leather and strong U.S. made canvas lining makes this bag an all time best seller.
Womens luggage includes various types of suitcases and women’s travel bags that combine style with practicality. Brands like Kathy Van Zeeland, Vera Bradley, and Diane Von Furstenberg offer luxury luggage and designer suitcases perfect for both leisure and business travel. Other types of women’s luggage include cosmetic cases (also known as beauty cases and train cases), travel totes, and weekenders.
Made by Boarding Pass in Brooklyn, NY, the Voyager Waxed Weekender is all at once practical, elegant, and adventure ready. Built from Martexin waxed canvas and adorned with exceptional leather detailing from the likes of legendary Wickett & Craig, it’s as suitable for a quick fall escape in the Catskills as it is for an epic sightseeing trip to Barcelona.
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.

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.

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.


In 2018, as it has been for over half a decade, our testers' favorite burly duffel bag is The North Face Base Camp. This perennial favorite is great, but so is the competition. The Base Camp barely edged out the Gregory Alpaca and the Patagonia Black Hole for the win. While the Base Camp wins Editors' Choice and remains a measuring stick for the all burly duffels, its scores don't make it a runaway Editors' Choice. Some other models tested have slight advantages, like the low weight of the Patagonia Black Hole. However, the Base Camp still clocks top or near-top scores in every comparison category.
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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