For a timeless look and heirloom-quality construction, you can’t get better than duffels from American heritage brand Filson. The brand tests their gear on real-life customers who haul their bags hunting, fishing, and even dog-sledding, so this bag is guaranteed to weather every weekend trip you haul it on — and that leather will only look better with age.
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.
They are super helpful when I go climbing. I can pack my clothes, sleeping bag and other stuff in my backpack; then I bring a duffel bag in which I keep my climbing ropes, shoes and other gear. I also like to bring a duffel bag when I go camping somewhere close and don’t need to hike much, such as when my friends and I drive to a nice lake or hill and pitch our tents there. Duffel bags can be useful in those situations because you can carry a lot of things while keeping everything organized.
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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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.
If you’re on the go, nothing slows you down faster than a clumsy travel bag. Rushing off to the airport? Trying to pack for an extended, multi-city business trip? Or maybe you just like putting your organizational skills to use? A good travel bag—sturdy, efficient, stylish—can be worth its weight in gold, more as a necessity than a mere accessory. Travel + Leisure editors deliberate carefully over which luggage sets are ideal for bringing on a vacation, and make sure to feature only the best that money can buy.