What the Rolling Thunder is not, however, is a fully-featured piece of luggage for business travelers. It lacks the sleek suitcase look and organizational compartments of the Osprey Shuttle, and some people have reported that the internal support bar has worn through to the base of the bag. But if you’re looking for a duffel that’s equally at home on the dirt roads of a far-flung village as it is at the airport, the Rolling Thunder can take a licking and keep on ticking.
The Gregory Alpaca is a high capacity duffel that checks all the boxes. It has a large U-shaped opening, padded and removable backpack straps, and is made with a durable 900D ripstop nylon fabric with a water-resistant coating. Throw in storm flaps over the top zipper, plenty of daisy chains, and a sleek design, and you have another attractive travel/outdoor duffel to consider.

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Robust daisy chains (webbing with loops separated by stitches) is the feature that best facilitates secure attachment of your duffel to various modes of transportation. Daisy chains are versatile and easy to use, provided enough slack is left, at manufacture, in each webbing loop. Large grab loops and shoulder straps are also particularity useful things to thread through when attaching your baggage to things.

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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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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.

Whether you’re traveling by air, driving up to a cabin for the weekend, or venturing across the world on an expedition, you’ll likely be using a duffel bag to get your gear from one place to the next. Duffels are popular among all kinds of travelers for good reason: they’re easy to load and carry on the road, and many are built to take a beating. Below we break down the best duffel bags of 2018, including top travel, outdoors, and waterproof duffels of both the standard and rolling varieties. For more background information, see our duffel bag comparison table and buying advice below the picks.


Larger diameter wheels help rolling luggage to be moved more easily over uneven terrain like gravel, grass or only very poorly paved streets far more efficiently. Even though the Patagonia Black Hole Wheeled Duffel wheels were just half an inch larger than The North Face models, all of our testers felt it performed better on more rugged surfaces. The Eagle Creek Gear Warrior Wheeled sported the most massive wheels, and while due to other factors wasn't as maneuverable, it was nice to pull over old cobbles, gravel roads, or different rugged terrains. Why not just make all wheely bags with giant wheels? Well, wheel size, in addition to the width of the wheelbase, or how far the wheels are apart, affected a model's maneuverability.
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.
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.
Exemplifying its motto of “fewer, better things,” Cuyana makes beautiful, minimalist products that instantly become wardrobe staples. This bag in a soft, luxurious Argentinian leather — and available in an array of muted, sophisticated tones — transitions from work to brunch to the farmer’s market perfectly. And while many classic leather totes have open tops, the zipper closure on this one is especially useful for warding off pickpockets on international adventures. Might we also recommend getting the Tote Organization Insert to add even more structure?
The crossbody strap makes it easy to walk around hands-free and the slim look makes it elegant but not too noticeable – which is perfect if you're trying to blend in and not call too much attention to yourself. It's one of the best leather travel purses around. It's not cheap, but I've had mine for years and it only looks the better for wear. And it holds everything I need for a day of sightseeing.
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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.
Of course, with weight, the most significant thing is what type of packer you are and the kinds of trips you like to go on. Its far easier to stay under weight going to a tropical climate than a cold one. So if you find yourself regularly battling with the 50-pound weight limit, going with a little lighter model can save you from a slight headache, excess weight fees, or extra weight in your carry-on. Among the wheeled duffels, the Patagonia Black Hole Wheelie is the lightest at eight pounds 10 ounces, nearly 1-1.5 pounds lighter than either size of The North Face Rolling Thunder.

If you need a dedicated bag for storing your gym gear, look no further than our selection of sports bags, which includes gym bags for men and gym bags for women. Our assortment includes sackpacks and other cinch bags, which typically have drawstring straps and closures. These small, lightweight bags are great for storing shoes or an extra change of clothes for the gym, and options with exterior storage pockets provide a separate place for smaller accessories or valuables. Sports bags made of mesh materials provide breathable, ventilated storage, while gym bags made of more durable materials offer long-lasting use.


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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We’ll start by noting that we initially had our hesitations about the Filson Field Duffel. To start, the Tin Cloth fabric is rather distinct and has an Indiana Jones-type feel (not necessarily in bad way, but that was our first impression). Upon further inspection, this bag is exquisitely made and looks and feels the part. The thick canvas has a water repellant finish (oil-finish wax can be applied for added protection) and we love the silky interior liner. The Field Duffel certainly is more formal than others on this list, but we love the build quality and unique design.
Within its weight class, the Cargo Hauler is comparable in function and design to Granite Gear’s Packable Duffel, but comes in 4 ounces heavier and lacks features like top carry handles and internal organization pocket. Both duffels are made with 600D water-resistant fabric, a less durable (yet lighter weight) material than many of the more rugged models on the list. And it’s obvious at first glance that the Cargo Hauler simply is not as burly and water resistant as a bag like The North Face Base Camp, nor is it as comfortable of a backpack (it has a tendency to droop even when loaded). But for a nice all-around travel duffel at a reasonable price, give the Eagle Creek a look.
Great for carrying sporting equipment and gear to a game or practice, our assortment of duffel bags includes a variety of different sizes, from small gym duffel bags for holding shoes and clothes to large equipment bags that can hold gear for an entire team. Look for options made of strong and sturdy materials with high deniers if you often use your duffel bag outdoors, or choose duffel bags with multiple carrying options, like shoulder straps or carry handles, if you know you'll be carrying heavy gear for long periods of time. Sport bags with additional exterior and interior pockets help keep your gear organized and easily accessible. For more sports and fitness gear and accessories, check out our vast fitness assortment.
Enter the unsung workhorse of every traveler's luggage collection: The weekender. The ideal pick is not too big (or it'll weigh you down) and not too small (or you won't be able to fit extra shoes), sturdy enough that you won't need to baby it, and stylish enough that you'll feel confident hauling it to beach bungalows, mountain cabins, city apartment rentals, and wherever else your weekend travels take you.  

This leather bag definitely is worth its price. It is large enough to be considered a weekender bag, fitting 2-3 days worth of clothes. It is also small enough to carry and look stylish. The durability of the leather is fantastic. I feel that it is thick enough to not tear easily, but soft enough to have that elegance. The redish brown color gives it a luxurious feel. I also like the inner lining, which whenever someone opens it, notices the fine detail.
If you traveled to far-flung destinations (or even sometimes not very far-flung), you've probably seen your luggage be attached to some form of transportation. If you are more commonly just looking at luggage options for catching buses, trains, and more typical commercial airplanes, then this isn't a super important factor for you. If you plan to travel to exotic locations or climb (or anything else) in remote parts of the world, you will undoubtedly need to strap your baggage to any number of things (and there can be a lot of different things and ways they will be attached).
I think Pacsafe bags are built much better than Travelon, though Travelon is definitely more fashionable. I absolutely loved having my Pacsafe Citysafe CS300 with me in Europe this summer. I used it to carry my camera (a6000), extra lens, gorillapod, and as a daypack. It even fits my iPad pro 10.5 in it’s logitech case. I felt totally confident on the metros and even my newly-made friends commented on it. Plus, the cranberry color is so cute! I even took it to the beach and was able to use a small cable to attach and lock it to my rented beach umbrella and/or chair while I went swimming. It really took a lot of stress out of the trip since I was traveling solo. 🙂

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Many airlines will ask you to remove your duffel's shoulder straps before checking it, so they don't get hung up on the conveyor belt. The Black Hole had shoulder straps that were the easiest to remove and re-attach, which is a bonus when wearing your duffel like a backpack all the way to the check-in counter. Similarly, the backpack straps of the Top Pick Yeti Panga are easy to clip on and off.

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We’ll start by noting that we initially had our hesitations about the Filson Field Duffel. To start, the Tin Cloth fabric is rather distinct and has an Indiana Jones-type feel (not necessarily in bad way, but that was our first impression). Upon further inspection, this bag is exquisitely made and looks and feels the part. The thick canvas has a water repellant finish (oil-finish wax can be applied for added protection) and we love the silky interior liner. The Field Duffel certainly is more formal than others on this list, but we love the build quality and unique design.

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It’s made from resistant polyester to confront the harshest weather. It offers internal and external zippered pockets. It packs into a bag, reducing its space, so you can easily store it when you’re not traveling. There are four sizes, from 30L to 90L. This could be a downside for those looking for a big 120L bag to store a lot of gear. Otherwise, 90L should be enough for most people.
Cotopaxi also offers roomier active duffle backpacks: The thick canvas Chumpi Travel Duffel Bag can hold 30 to 50 liters and is designed to carry all your necessary gear. Use it for camping, road trips, or as a larger carry-on bag (it fits most airline’s carry-on dimensions) to protect all your personal items. It’s made to last (61-year warranty) and has large outer pockets and thick straps that will keep you both organized and comfortable while you’re carrying it.
I love reading all of your articles. Even if I’m not visiting that particular part of the world! A great travel tip: Purchase a pair of foldable flats. Everyone says to never walk around an airplane in bare feet or socks. The minute I sit down in my seat, I take off my shoes & put on these. When we’re starting to land, I remove them & put my shoes back on. They’re soft, comfy, very affordable, lightweight & fold up into a soft pouch to throw in your carry on. Many colors to choose from on Amazon.
As far as organization goes, having a few zippered pockets goes a long way. The North Face Rolling Thunder offered the best level of organization, using a review high of eight compartments, which were all well thought-out. We granted our Top Pick award to the Eagle Creek Gear Warrior for its organizational attributes. Among non-wheeled competitors, our Editors' Choice The North Face Base Camp Duffel, offered up a sizeable external zippered pocket and an internal mesh divider. The Marmot Long Hauler also provided a similar design.

There are a lot of tough duffels out there, but The North Face Base Camp is among the toughest, as it uses the thickest fabric of any non-wheeled model in our review. Tester Ian Nicholson (not in this photo, he took it) has taken his on over 20 expeditions, including seven Denali trips and seven trips to South America and it's still going strong. Here one such Base Camp duffel on yet another adventure on Denali.

Another way to ensure duffel backpacks won’t weigh you down is opting for a smaller ultralight duffel-bag backpack. The North Face Flyweight Duffel is a great choice for packing light on shorter trips, or for budget airlines that limit bag size. It can hold 32 liters and has external pockets for easy access to necessities. Its sleek unisex design blends in anywhere. Wear it on your back or sling its long carrying strap over your shoulder.

I’ve looked at these bags before but have been on the fence about purchasing because of what other travelers have noted: I wish they were a little more fashionable. Love the features but the canvas just strikes me as a little too casual; I’d love to see the Signature 3 Crossbody (my favorite design so far) in a full grain black leather (like the Rebecca Minkoff backpack!). Now I am planning a trip to Peru and considering whether I feel safe enough carrying my Minkoff backpack…which I LOVE…or whether it’s time to pull the trigger. But, without your post I may not even have considered it so thank you!


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.

The benchmark of excellence! This bag is designed to be used and still be something that you want to keep for good. Quality construction, durable and made to last. This is where you get the expression that they don’t make them like that anymore….but they still do!!!! An investment worth every penny to people that can appreciate the craftsmanship and details needed to create these bags.

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Don’t let the rain keep you from exploring. This Baggallini crossbody is also a stylish travel purse, light and water-resistant, so you can take advantage of wet travel days without worrying about your valuables and electronics getting drenched. It comes with a removable RFID-resistant wallet you can pull out of the middle of the bag. For me, this feels safer than having an outside zippered pocket for my cards.

The Top Pick Eagle Creek features clam-shell design that our entire review team felt was challenging to pack once it was starting to get full. When overstuffed, closing the Eagle Creek Gear Warrior is a full-on wrestling match. The sides just weren't very high and as you piled clothing and other items in it was hard to judge just how full you could fill.
Thank you, I have the Travelon cross body bucket bag, I love it and use it every day when traveling, a would be thief was foiled on the Paris metro, as I had clipped the zips closed, and I love the mini light that comes with the bag, helps with finding items at night especially. I rave about this bag to anyone who will listen. My number one travel tip is to wear in the shoes that you plan on taking travelling, don’t keep them ready for the trip, you will smile at the end of every day if you do.
Priced at $80, the Gregory Stash is an affordable duffel with an attractive design. We’ll start with the Stash’s simple zipper opening that extends the length of the duffel, which is not our preferred closure (U-shaped is better). The zipper does reach the end flaps, however, allowing the main compartment to expand up and out when packing and providing better access than others of its kind. You also get generous padding on the straps and a large outside pocket for valuables.
The size is perfect for I'd say a two-to four-day trip, and it's absolutely the ideal carry-on. I just recently checked at the airport. It fits headlong or sideways into any larger plane's overhead bin — a major advantage — and will never rouse the contempt of flight attendants or gate checkers looking to cut down on carry on by forcing you to check your bag. At the same time, I was able to pack it for a week-long international trip recently (which is pushing it somewhat) but worth it all to skip the airport carrousels and keep all my important things close by.
When you're transporting sporting, camping or other gear and equipment, you want your bag to be able to hold a substantial amount of weight and stand up to a variety of conditions. Travel duffel bags and other bags in our selection of duffel bags are made of strong and sturdy materials, such as polyester and cotton canvas, with high deniers for durability and lasting use. Look for bags with water-resistant or weather-resistant coatings if you know you'll be using your duffel bag in the outdoors. 
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