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.
I love my Henri Bendel Jetsetter Convertible Backpack! I have the larger and smaller bag. I used the larger one during my trip to Amesterdam and Paris. It was large enough for a rain jacket, light sweatshirt, water bottle, and my normal purse items (sun glasses, wallet, etc.). The bag was definitely full but I was out all day and the temperature changed greatly from morning to night. It was nice having everything I needed to stay comfortable. A few museums made you leave larger bags at the bag check and they seemed to only ask people with backpacks to check their bags. I loved the ability to quickly change the backpack to a handbag and bring it into museums. I hate leaving my personal belongings in the care of someone else. I highly recommend them!
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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The oversize version of Madewell’s ever-popular Transport Tote has the same cool yet classic look but with plenty more space for your stuff and — at least for the canvas version — a lower price tag. The waxed finish is water resistant and gains a nice patina with age, and it’s lighter and more flexible than leather but still heavy duty enough to handle repeated overpacking.
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Arc’teryx’s sleek Carrier is not your everyday travel duffel, and it doesn’t look like one either. With taped seams, coated nylon, and a water-tight zipper with storm flap, the Carrier is about as close to waterproof as a water-resistant bag gets. And at only 1 pound 5 ounces for the 55L version (and a mere 1 pound 7 ounces for the 80L), it’s the lightest option on our list, handily beating out ultralight designs like Granite Gear Packable Duffel and the Gregory Stash, and packing down to an impressively small size.
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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Some want the best, while others will benefit from a niche Top Pick. Others want the best bang for their buck and are willing to go to the ends of the earth to find it. For all of the penny pinchers out there, we've compared overall score and retail price for all these bags. Figure out what your budget is, then choose a higher scoring duffel within that price range to maximize value.
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For most travel where you will be checking a bag but won’t be bringing bulky outdoor gear, a medium duffel in the 50 to 75-liter range is a good match. For this reason, the 60-liter version often is the best seller of all: it’s perfect for most trips ranging from short weekend excursions to one week or more. Of course, the right choice also depends on how much stuff you like to bring, but we find ourselves reaching for our 60-liter Patagonia Black Hole more than any other duffel in our closet.
A fully loaded duffel bag can be a heavy burden to bear, but a bag with wheels takes the weight off your shoulders. Ben Pundole, founder and editor-in-chief of hotel review site a Hotel Life and vice-president of brand experience at Edition Hotels, trusts his wheeled North Face duffel for lasting through years of frequent travel. “It’s my favorite because it’s indestructible,” he said. “Waterproof, durable, and most of all dustproof.” The 36-inch bag must be checked on flights, but a carry-on-size version, also featuring lots of useful exterior pockets, is available here.
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.
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.