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. 

how to pack bags for travel


Patagonia’s Black Hole line helped made duffels cool, and we think the 60-liter version is the best all-around bag on the market. Starting with design, Patagonia is known for premium build quality and trendy colorways, and the Black Hole fits the bill perfectly. It’s beautifully constructed from end to end, and you get multiple color options from simple black to blaze orange. And the Black Hole is tough: the fabric is 900D ripstop nylon with a DWR finish to fend off moisture. This duffel is not waterproof like the YETI and SealLine models below, but should keep your gear dry in light rain just fine.  

where to buy cheap travel bags


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!!
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.  
My favorite tip is to be organized and prepared but still willing to be spontaneous. When going new places, my husband and I research the top places to go, get recommendations, and decide what general areas we want to go to. We make sure to hit the top things on our list and then just wander to see what else we can find. When we went to Tokyo, we found the best ramen place and a beautiful little park just by wandering around.
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. 

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.
Compression straps, both internal and external, can help make a duffel’s load more compact. Internal straps remove strain from the zipper and compress your gear inside the duffel to keep it from shifting during transit. We see these on models like the Patagonia Black Hole and Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dyneema Duffel. External compression straps can be on the ends (such as with the Gregory Stash) or sides (The North Face Base Camp) and tighten the duffel after the zipper has been shut. External straps are especially useful on large duffels that might not be stuffed to capacity, and they help make your bag less unruly for travel. Additionally, if you plan on frequently carrying your duffel as a backpack, we encourage you to consider a model with compression straps—it makes the whole operation a lot more comfortable.

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.
If retiring your ratty old gym bag took a real toll on your psyche, try replacing it with this gym bag-adjacent duffel from United by Blue. The elevated carry-all features interior and exterior pockets for easy organization and a removable crossbody strap. PS: the bag comes with a lifetime manufacturers warranty, so you can send it in for repairs years from now.
I have been using PacSafe travel bags for over 10 years. Travelling the world for work as I do, and travelling to some areas where personal safety is not to be underestimated, I suggest only the smallest sized cross body you can find. Wear it under your jacket if necessary and keep the colours dull or in line with your wardrobes. No red or bright coloured bags. Don’t take it off to eat, go to bathroom, or sit in cabs/cars. etc.
Compression straps, both internal and external, can help make a duffel’s load more compact. Internal straps remove strain from the zipper and compress your gear inside the duffel to keep it from shifting during transit. We see these on models like the Patagonia Black Hole and Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dyneema Duffel. External compression straps can be on the ends (such as with the Gregory Stash) or sides (The North Face Base Camp) and tighten the duffel after the zipper has been shut. External straps are especially useful on large duffels that might not be stuffed to capacity, and they help make your bag less unruly for travel. Additionally, if you plan on frequently carrying your duffel as a backpack, we encourage you to consider a model with compression straps—it makes the whole operation a lot more comfortable.
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].
We have used this easy-to-pack model on several expeditions around the globe and love its array of pockets, outstanding lashing options, and organizational oriented features. Other bags might be just a little bit more durable and weather resistant but not by much, and the Marmot Long Hauler can often be found for $80, a fraction of what other bags in this review cost.
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 Yeti Panga is basically the definition of our Top Pick award winners. It excels in a narrow niche; in fact, in the narrowest of niches it fills it is the only thing on the market. We've looked long and hard and have found no other submersible, durable, zipped duffels that have backpack shoulder straps. This is a narrow description, we realize. However, it is a valuable construction that will certainly have wide appeal.
In our Ease of Packing category, we compared how easy it was to load each bag with both typical travel items as well as oddly shaped things that many people might want to include. We also compared how simple it was stay organized using smaller pockets and compartments and how much of a hassle it was to search both in these pockets as well as the main compartment and then the difficulty of zipping everything shut again when we were finished.

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.


Backpacks are a tourist’s best friend because you can carry all of the items you need for the day on your back as you wander around town and explore exciting new destinations and historical sites. Cushioned pockets protect your electronics so you can travel with your laptop or tablet and keep all those delicate electronics protected. Small pockets in the front hold your wallet, keys and other important items. Personalized backpacks feature your name or initials, making it easy to distinguish your bag from others’ things.
×