Here in late 2018, as an autumn expedition wraps and we plunge into holiday travels, our crack test team is sharpened up on travel. We spent the last few months initiating a transition in the test team (long-time OGL legend Ian Nicholson hands duffel review coordination off to fellow globe-trotting mountain guide Jediah Porter) and testing a couple of unique pieces of luggage. We grant two new Top Pick awards. The exciting Yeti Panga is fully submersible and has category-leading shoulder straps. For super-wet adventures, you won't do better. On the other end of the spectrum is the budget-friendly and user-packable Bago Packable. Supplanting the Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole, the Bago is our newest preference as a secondary duffel for adventure travel and day-to-day life.
The “black hole” duffel bag lives up to its name for travel writer and photographer Michaela Trimble, who has toted it all over the world, most recently to Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Madagascar. “It fit everything I needed for a nearly two-month trip with room to spare,” she said, “and it barely came back with a scratch.” Laminated fabric and water-repellent coating protect the bag from the elements and any damage that may occur in transit, while keeping it lightweight (under three pounds). Trimble also likes that it “comes with padded straps, so it can easily and comfortably be carried as a backpack.”
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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Accompanying its roomy interior are a handful of outside pockets to hold your magazines, tablet, or passport for easy access. Further special details include a built-in umbrella holder, locker compatible zippers, and a luggage tag with a detachable pen. The soft, comfortable handles and adjustable shoulder strap make this Stuart & Lau bag a pleasure to carry around.
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Updated 7/8/17: After my original review i was contacted by seller and asked if i wanted a full refund or a replacement bag. I wanted the replacement bag, as i really liked the bag. I did not ask them or enquire for them to do this. They did it on their own. Really impressed with the way they handled this issue. Customer service awesomeness ! I recieved several followup emails, as i dont check my email everyday. The new bag arrived and upon checking out the new bag, it appears there has been some quality upgrades made to make the bag a better product. Very happy customer, i changed my review to 5 stars because of the customer service. Unprevoked responce, ... full review
Second of all, a lot of people are complaining about the inside zippers being busted but the supper just separated, which is an easy fix. All you have to do is zip it back and forth one time and fixed! My backpack came with “busted zippers” but I literally just zipped it once and back and it was fixed. It’s like these people don’t even try to zip it before they go online to complain.
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No matter if you are planning a quick trip over the weekend or a longer holiday, most travel plans inevitably involve luggage. Choosing the right kind of luggage for your trip right from the start can make travelling much easier and more relaxed. Our luggage guide will help you choose the right leather holdall, weekender, suitcase, duffle or gym bag for your needs.
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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.
Pros Easy to pack, comfortable shoulder straps, excellent pockets, super durable Highly weather resistant, easy to pack, dual mesh zippered pockets under the lid, comfortable shoulder straps Durable, waterproof, comfortable backpack straps Easy to pack, bomber construction, burly frame, internal dual-zippered mesh pockets, very maneuverable, highly water resistant Good pockets for organization and access, lightweight, comfortable to carry as a briefcase
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.
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For uses like travel where you’ll be moving around a lot—think backpacking through Europe—we prefer non-roller duffels. They’re easy to grab and throw on your back, and you don’t have to worry about the surface (if you’ve ever tried taking a roller duffel down a cobblestone street, you know what we’re talking about). If you’re primarily an air traveler and moving your bag long distances by vehicle, a roller duffel is a fine option, and you do get the added benefit of one hard side for protecting your belongings. For the purposes of this article and the picks above, we’ve included a handful of our favorite roller models, and some of the standard designs have wheeled versions available.
It’s worth noting that Marmot did decide to use thinner materials on the 2018 Long Hauler. With a burly 1,000-denier fabric, the older version was prized for its toughness and durability. For this year, Marmot downgraded the bag to 600 denier while adding a side pocket. 600D certainly isn’t bad, but it’s now thinner than competitors like the Patagonia Black Hole and The North Face Base Camp while the price remains similar. We still like the Marmot, but it just doesn’t stand out like it used to.
Large tote bags for travel are crucial for carrying everything you need while on the go. This one’s spacious enough to hold just about anything — neck pillow, tablet, laptop, baby accessories, gym wear, you name it — but light as a feather so it won’t weigh you down in transit. The quilting adds a bit of signature flair to an otherwise highly utilitarian tote: it’s easily packable, washable, and holds up to wear and tear. It also comes with detachable interior zip pouches that are great for organizing knick-knacks, or to use as a clutch when you don’t want the take the whole bag.