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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A weekender bag is a smart choice for quick getaways. Pack a change of clothes and all of your toiletries before hitting the road. Zipper closures keep everything tucked safely inside, and large, comfortable handles make it easy to carry. Weekender bags also come with long straps, giving you the option of hands-free carrying too. Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, these bags can make your trip just that much more comfortable. With one of these bags in hand, you’ll always be ready to hit the road.
The No Matter What is made of bi-tech fabric that’s water and abrasion resistant. It also comes with compression straps to compress your gear in transport and #10 anti-theft locks. When you’re bag isn’t in use, it collapses into a “stuff pouch” so you can store it inside another piece of luggage to avoid the checked bag fees or to store in your closet clutter-free between trips.
A small percentage of people want waterproof protection from their duffel (think rafters, fisherman, and backcountry winter adventurers). The market is limited, but two bags on the list are waterproof: the YETI Panga and SealLine WideMouth. The Panga is a beast of a bag, with the shape of a traditional duffel but with extra thick materials and a fully waterproof zipper. The SealLine, on the other hand, is a roll-top bag that more closely resembles a dry bag. And it’s worth mentioning the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dyneema Duffel, which is not waterproof but highly water resistant and surprisingly tough.
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I always try to blend in like a local. I don’t talk loudly or draw attention to myself even when I am lost. I always keep my valuables in two safe places, one being a discrete Anti-theft mini cross body bag and had no problems all over Italy and Berlin last year. I have just purchased a Travelon messenger bag for an upcoming trip to Europe, where I will travel alone for most of it.
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
Our reviewers spent 15 hours testing one of the most popular duffel bags available. To get the most well-rounded results, our testers packed their things and toted it to and from their destinations for hours at a time. We asked our reviewers to consider the most important features while using this duffel bag, from durability to comfort. We've outlined the major takeaways here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.
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.
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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.
I’ve been carrying the Pacsafe for years, paired with the Pacsafe travel wallet. The wallet has anti-scan, and velcro and zippers (multiple subtle pockets mean I can hide most of my cash), and it clips to a loop in my Pacsafe bag. The stuff I use frequently (phone, wallet) go in one section while super important items (passport, tickets) go in a separate, locked by zipper clip, section. The bag is worn cross body (as I always carry my bags) with my arm resting on it and a hand grasping the strap.
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.
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What would you recommend to avoid being robbed? One place I read, suggested a backpack. A backpack surely seems unsafe and you can’t see them going into your bag. I was in Egypt in 09 and a lot of people were robbed while sightseeing. Please advise as I’ll be traveling to South Africa (Johannesburg and Cape Town) soon and doing a lot of sightseeing. I like the idea of the anti theft one mentioned in your article.
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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.
As phones get smarter, and my travel experience grows, I find I really don’t need more than a wristlet most of the time. It’s lightweight and I grasp like a clutch while I’m walking but can let it dangle on my wrist for a moment if I need both hands. The amenity bags my husband gets on business class flight for work make great wristlets–ones from KLM look like leather, are generously sized (for a wristlet), unisex designs and have no logos on them.
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From a short commuter flight to traveling deep in the Alaskan wilderness, we went all out to compare how each model stacked up in our ease of transport category. Photo: Topping out Heartbreak Hill, with the mighty North Buttress of Mt. Hunter Looming above, just below Kahiltna Base Camp, while dragging 50lbs stowed in duffel bags that are strapped to plastic sleds, Denali National Park, AK.
Wheels naturally make it far easier to move the bag around on paved roads or other relatively even surfaces, and for most air travel applications, they are much easier to manage and what we prefer for traditional air-travel. The significant advantage of more conventional duffels over wheeled versions is much-lower weight and their ability to be more easily taken to far more rugged environments and locations. Let's start with weight: wheeled duffels are always heavier, most often four to six pounds heavier, meaning you get to bring more of your stuff by going with a non-wheeled, non-framed duffel.
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I was so excited that you reviewed anti-theft purses! I immediately ordered a Travelon one for my 4-month overseas trip. Imagine my disappointment when the seams unraveled with less than a month into my trip! Sadly, I was not able to return it due to my lengthy adventure. Needless to say, I will NOT purchase this brand again. Now…what’s a girl to do?!
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.