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.
I haven’t traveled much, but my husband will be retiring soon so we will definitely be traveling more in the near future. I learn so much from you, Alex, and all readers that follow you. The one trip to Japan, last year, made me realize that although I LOVE the RM Julian backpack, it was not practical when taking the train so often. A crossbody is more practical. Not only in having to get your ticket out and your usually rushing, but when you’re inside the train. Whether you’re sitting or standing, you’re always taking off and putting on your backpack. Kind of a slight inconvenience. With a crossbody, it stays in one place and everything is at your fingertips. I still love my RM for walking around because it feels better to my shoulders. Thank you again for all that you offer to all of us. I really appreciate it. Have a great day!
Wherever you’re going, get there in effortless style with a quality crafted travel bag. At Sole Society, we know that that best part of traveling is snapping that perfect weekend-warrior pic and just wait for the likes and comments to pour in. That’s why we’ve hand selected every bag you see in our travel bag collection to ensure you always look your best, without having to compromise on space.
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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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!
I just fell in love with the Travelon backpack, especially in the gray color. My travel tip is to pack everything in a carryon that can fit under the seat 💺 I dread the hustle of snatching and stressing for overhead space. Since I get cold easily, I wear lots of layers on the plane, which means less items to pack in my bag. Plus the bag I have is convertible and can either be a backpack or shoulder bag. It can serve several purposes. In my case, I travel for work so I also use it as my work bag as it fits my 15” laptop

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I was on the search for an anti-theft bag recently that wasn’t ugly and wasn’t too big. I was set on one of the ones shown here, but when I arrived at a local luggage shop, I found the Travelon Anti-Theft Signature E/W Shoulder Bag in black. It is the perfect size so that I didn’t feel weighed down or look too touristy, and because it has various zippered compartments and decent depth, I was able to also use it for as a camara bag for my compact-system camera with extra lens. It’s a good price at around $40 and comes in different colors ebags.com/product/travelon/anti-theft-signature-ew-shoulder-bag/276982
For any long distance your kit must be transported, the Base Camp's shoulder straps made it one of the most comfortable models to carry "backpack-style". The latest iteration, released in Fall '15, features an extra externally accessed zippered pocket, which adds much welcomed organizational capacity. Overall one of the easiest models to load and rummage through, the Base Camp is also among the most weather-resistant and most durable models tested. It also comes in a large variety of sizes and colors. Our only wish is that it was lighter for the same durability and function.
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. 

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It can be a little hard to close because there is a metal frame where the zipper is to keep it’s doctor bag shape. So if you overstuff the bag, you may not be able to close it. There are plenty of pockets inside to keep everything organized. The pockets for electronics are padded. (I love that there’s a pocket for my laptop and a separate for my ipad). The biggest plus to this bag and probably one of the main reasons i picked this bag over other ... full review

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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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.

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
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.

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.
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. 

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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.
Photographer Nicole Franzen loves her Voyager 2 bag, which stands out both aesthetically and functionally. “I like good pockets for organization, and tend to go leather and black because it’s effortless, goes with anything, and ages well,” she said. Made from soft Italian leather, this sleek bag features a front pocket with compartments for storing your phone, passport, pens, cords, and other items you’d like to have easily accessible — and even more pockets inside.

The right bag can make all the difference when you’re traveling, no matter if you’re heading across the country or to the other side of the world. Personalized overnight bags allow you to keep all of your belongings organized for quick trips and long excursions alike. Mark and Graham monogrammed bags are both stylish and functional. Include your name or initials right on the front of the bag so that you can quickly pick it up from baggage claim and be on your way.

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The Cenzo Duffle Bag is the perfect 1-3 night weekender. It is made in Italy using Italian calfskin leather, brass zipper, smart contrast stitching, durable 8 oz cotton duck canvas lining, and brass hardware. The vegetable tanned leather looks better as it ages. One characteristic of our vegetable leather is that it has large pores and absorbs smell - so you might detect a sweet nail polish scent when you remove it from the plastic for the first time. Please take note of this characteristic. This new leather smell is the result of the leather edge paint and clear stain coating - it fades after 24 hours in fresh air. Weight is 4.5 pounds 

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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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I am traveling with my Travelon bag now and it is wonderful. My best travel tip is to use a tether to attach your smart phone to your bag. I tuck the tether into the bag when I’m not using the phone for a camera. Admittedly it does not quite pass muster as stylish but if I have to choose between stylish and not losing my phone, I will choose not loosing every time!
Great for a trip to the gym, this sturdy duffel from Elite Sports keeps all your gear in one place. The bag is composed of a heavy-duty material called Cordura, a high-grade ballistic 1200 denier that’s used in military gear, so it’s super durable and can handle being thrown in the trunk. The Warrior Series has plenty of storage, including a waterproof beverage pocket, a jacket strap, a secure internal pocket for valuables and an exterior pocket for shoes that keeps dirt off the rest of your gear. Plus, it has a ventilated mesh compartment for dirty gym clothes. But what really takes this bag to the next level is its convertibility — a pair of retractable shoulder straps transform the Warrior Series into a backpack in seconds. It is available in both medium (20 x 9 x 11 inches) and large (11 x 23 x 12 inches) sizes, and comes in six different colors, from neutral black and gray to bright pink and red.
The shortcomings of the Osprey Shuttle mostly relate to the design itself. First, you are not throwing this duffel over your shoulder and strolling through the airport or walking through a major city. It’s big and heavy at over 8 pounds empty, and must be transported almost exclusively on wheels. In addition, when packed to the brim, you may find yourself pushing the standard 50-pound checked baggage limit, and particularly if you go with the 130-liter version (we’ve been okay with the 100-liter but have been close on occasion). Finally, we’ve been surprised at how much wear and tear shows on the Osprey Shuttle. We got ours in bright red but would recommend the black instead.
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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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!
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.
Size Duffels come in all sizes, from an overnight carry-on to bags that can hold a week’s worth of gear. Envision your likely load, and think about sizing up a bit to give you some additional space. If you want an easy-to-carry bag to bring souvenirs home from a trip, look for ones that collapse into themselves so you can stash it in your other luggage and pull it out for the trip home.
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