Another feature to consider when assessing the quality of wheeled luggage is how stable it is and how easy it is to use when overloaded. We tested the ease of stacking another piece of non-wheeled luggage on the wheeled piece. This method gives our shoulders a break and can be used on a carry-on or 50+ pound non-wheelie duffel. In this sort of improvised luggage cart application, a single traveler can move well over 100 pounds of stuff (carry-on backpack, 50-pound wheely, and 50-pound non-wheeled duffel) fairly far. A wheeled bag that is robust enough to support and move more than its own contents is of great value.
Duffels advertised as “water resistant” are designed to keep your belongings protected from light rain and soggy ground. These models often cover their durable ripstop fabric with a laminate that keeps moisture from soaking in (often called a DWR treatment or something similar). A DWR treatment certainly is a nice feature for everyone using a duffel: the weather is unpredictable when traveling, you never know when your duffel might be sitting on the tarmac for a few extra minutes, and it’s super helpful for outdoor use. In addition, some bags have flaps covering the zippers, which can be a point of weakness. Water resistant gear does have limitations: it should work well in light to moderate precipitation but eventually will soak through.
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Much as we'd all love to be jetting off to Europe for 10 days at a time, the average American — yep, that includes T+L editors — doesn't have the time (or vacation days, or, let's be real, budget) for more than one or two major getaways a year. Weekends, on the other hand? Those we can do. But even the chronic overpackers among us (ahem, hi) can admit that nothing feels sillier than schlepping your roll-aboard along on a 48-hour trip.
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.
This lightweight, quilted bag from Oliver Thomas — a new travel bag brand that's named after founder Sue Fuller's dog — pulls out all the stops. It's got water-resistant fabric, a sleeve that slides over your luggage handle, a clip that keeps the straps from sliding off your shoulder, and a bottom zip compartment that's perfect for keeping shoes separate from clothes. The brand also makes tons of patches with cheeky statements like,"more baggage than LAX," and, "aspiring retiree," that adhere in a few seconds with a hairdryer.
While many companies advertise luggage as being “waterproof” they are often just water resistant – a major difference. For those traveling to rainy areas, the “Aqua Quest White Water Duffel” is fully waterproof (unless completely submerged underwater). The company is based out of the Pacific Northwest and knows the importance of keeping necessary items dry. The Aqua Quest weighs 1.6 pounds, measures 24 x 12 x 12 inches and can carry 50 liters of travel gear. Like other waterproof bags, it rolls to stay closed and is made of abrasion-resistant fabric. It can also be carried using handles or with a shoulder sling strap.
Models with handles attached via two bars (all current models in our review) are significantly easier to stack bags with. The dual bars lend stability to the perched second bag. Also, we have personally witnessed a second 50-pound bag bend and eventually break the handle of a wheeled piece of luggage. While we don't worry about that with any of the options we have chosen, its something to consider if looking elsewhere. This is where the Patagonia Black Hole Wheeled 70L and both sizes of The North Face Rolling Thunder particularly stood out, offering a stable and bomber platform to help manage another 50-pound duffel (as we wheeled it through an airport or wherever our adventure might take us).
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.
The Bago Packable is built and marketed as what we'd call "secondary luggage"; it is a fairly lightweight, full-size duffel that can be folded and zipped into a small envelope when not in use. Whether it lives in your car for getting unexpected purchases into your 7th floor walk-up apartment or in your expedition luggage for moving groceries from Anchorage to the Ruth Glacier, a duffel bag like this is handier than you might first realize. It is closely comparable to (and snags this award from) the Patagonia Lightweight Black Hole. The Lightweight Black Hole is a little lighter (in absolute terms, for the respective sizes we tested) and more waterproof, but is only available in smaller sizes and doesn't have the organizational attributes of the Bago. When corrected for volume, the Bago is definitely lighter than the Patagonia.
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.
I have so many packing tips… Using packing cells, using clip seal bags, taking a tiny pocket sized foldable backpack in case of unexpected purchases, downloading offline maps apps and translators and using dryer sheets in my luggage. But the best travel tip I have is actually a very simple one- look confident. I travel a lot and before I walk out the door each day I scan a map to orient myself, ensure I have an offline map just in case, put on some really reflective aviators and make sure I look like I know where I am going (even though most of the time I have no idea!) I find looking confident and purposeful means you don’t look like a tourist and makes you less of a target to anyone with ill intentions.
The Cenzo Duffle Bag is the perfect 1-3 night weekender. It is made in Italy using Italian calfskin leather, brass zipper, smart contrast stitching, durable 8 oz cotton duck canvas lining, and brass hardware. The vegetable tanned leather looks better as it ages. One characteristic of our vegetable leather is that it has large pores and absorbs smell - so you might detect a sweet nail polish scent when you remove it from the plastic for the first time. Please take note of this characteristic. This new leather smell is the result of the leather edge paint and clear stain coating - it fades after 24 hours in fresh air. Weight is 4.5 pounds
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Occasion & Durability: Travelling to a luxurious 5* hotel, going on a business trip or for a hike in the Alps? Not every journey requires the same luggage. Our luxurious leather travel bags and suitcases are perfect for weekend trips away, business trips, standard getaways or more sophisticated holiday destinations. Our bags are handcrafted from high quality, hard-wearing Italian leather in Tuscany and are able to stand the test of time and the demands of modern life and travel. Your Maxwell-Scott luggage will improve with age and gain a beautiful, well-travelled patina over time. All our luggage pieces are available in three colours, chestnut tan, dark brown and black. We are so confident about the best quality of our leather luggage bags that each bag comes with a 25-year warranty. However, we would not recommend taking our luxury travel bags for a hike or on other extreme journeys. You can take your baggage through the hold; however we cannot be held responsible for how the baggage handlers will treat your beautiful leather holdall.
I think the the tip that revolutionized my packing was being told I did not have to pack a new outfit for each day. I knew how to mix different pieces at home, with a wash and and a week in between re-wears, but realizing I could bring only three bottoms and four tops for a week (or more) by simply mixing and matching and planning ahead transformed the way I pack.
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Suitcases are the most popular choice for travellers, especially for longer journeys and holidays abroad for which we recommend a bigger leather suitcase. Our newest model and one of our larger travel pieces, the Maurizio leather suitcase, is ideal for long trips away. The luxury leather suitcase features a wide zip opening that allows you to open the bag completely, multiple pockets that offer you enough space for all of your belongings and interior straps that allow you to secure your luggage in place. Our Piazzale leather suitcase on the other hand is the ideal companion for business trips. Flying business class, the luxurious leather trolley is often classed as hand luggage and can be taken on board. Both suitcases are importantly available in three timeless colours, chestnut tan, dark brown and black.
The only thing that kept the Alpaca from being our Editors' Choice was The North Face Base Camp's additional pockets and organizational oriented features, which our testers thought helped it as a better all-around piece of travel baggage. However, the Alpaca provided a high level of durability and was burlier than most of the models in our fleet. In fact, it will be plenty durable for most users for many, many years.
An overnight bag that can hold 24 liters, Cotopaxi’s Nazca Canvas Overnight Duffel backpack is both water-resistant for outdoor use and stylish enough to double as a business-trip-worthy duffel backpack. The inner mesh packing compartments make it super organized, whether you’re camping or using it as a carry-on (its dimensions are fit for all airline size limits). As an added bonus, it has a 61-year warranty and could be the last overnight bag you buy.