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.
Swedish company Thule is a popular brand in the biking and car rack world, but it is relatively new to travel. Nevertheless, the Chasm is one sleek-looking duffel with great access and durability. We love the extra large U-shaped zipper, which is among the most generous on this list in terms of sizing, along with the 1,000-denier water-resistant outer fabric. The shoulder and backpack straps are removable, as are the carry handles (a rarity among duffels). For everything from air travel to the outdoors, Thule has done a nice job with the Chasm.
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Size Duffels come in all sizes, from an overnight carry-on to bags that can hold a week’s worth of gear. Envision your likely load, and think about sizing up a bit to give you some additional space. If you want an easy-to-carry bag to bring souvenirs home from a trip, look for ones that collapse into themselves so you can stash it in your other luggage and pull it out for the trip home.
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The North Face Base Camp featured highly contoured backpack shoulder straps with high-quality foam that didn't collapse under loads. Both the Base Camp and Black Hole could be worn for extended periods and over distances with only minimal discomfort. Not that we'd recommend this, but a good friend of ours who doesn't own a large pack hiked all the way into the Bugaboos (a 3-4 hour hike, 2,300 ft of elevation gain) with massive loads in a Black Hole Duffel. This isn't ideal but is a testament to both his toughness and to the comfort of some duffel bag shoulder straps.
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.
The weight of a piece of luggage is important but exactly how important mattes a lot on the user. Folks who either travel light or go to places where they don't need a lot of clothing or equipment can often take a heavier bag because they rarely find themselves approaching an airline's 50-pound limit. However, for colder climates or for folks embarking on more remote adventures, that 50-pound limit often arrives a little too quickly; thus, having an additional 1-5 pounds (not eaten up by a piece of luggage itself) is quite valuable (literally).
If you’re planning a long weekend getaway, the “Plambag Unisex Canvas Duffel” is a stylish-looking bag that is also functional and affordable. It's made of cotton canvas material that comes in grey, coffee, army green or dark grey, and it also features classic, attractive zipper pulls. Wear it on your shoulder or leave the strap and carry it like a tote. There are three layers of lining, rubber grips on the bottom (so if you set it on something wet it won’t seep through the fabric) and plenty of pockets. When fully expanded, it measures 24.4 x 9.8 x 11.8 inches otherwise it is 20.8 inches long – a great size for a short trip.
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.”
I have had my eye on the No. 1 Grip for several years and have purchased other Colonel Littleton Products leading up to this purchase for an upcoming trip. I have come to appreciate the design, quality and craftsmanship of Colonel Littleton Products and could not have been happier than the day I opened my package to reveal the No. 1 Grip. The hardware, the stitching, the quality of the leather is what I was looking for when I ordered this bag. I am looking forward to packing it for my trip to Kauai…… Thank you Colonel for your commitment to vintage craftsmanship and quality.
Ive spent a great deal of time in Mexico on missions trips. Unfortunately, due to an autoimmune disease, I have a true allergy to the sun, so I am covered head to toe. But this actually helps me with safety. I keep a small crossbody purse hidden under my long, flowy blouses for valuables, then a bigger crossbody tote over my clothes that carries my medical supplies, water, and a small amount of cash in a small wallet attached by strap on the inside. I also look for maxi dresses or light pants with deep pockets or pockets that snap closed. Ive never had my things stolen, even in the most sketchy places. I also shop at second hand stores for travel clothes and accessories, that way, I wont be that upset if things are stolen.
I haven’t traveled much, but my husband will be retiring soon so we will definitely be traveling more in the near future. I learn so much from you, Alex, and all readers that follow you. The one trip to Japan, last year, made me realize that although I LOVE the RM Julian backpack, it was not practical when taking the train so often. A crossbody is more practical. Not only in having to get your ticket out and your usually rushing, but when you’re inside the train. Whether you’re sitting or standing, you’re always taking off and putting on your backpack. Kind of a slight inconvenience. With a crossbody, it stays in one place and everything is at your fingertips. I still love my RM for walking around because it feels better to my shoulders. Thank you again for all that you offer to all of us. I really appreciate it. Have a great day!
Duffels that are 75 liters or larger are heavy haulers for longer trips, multiple people, and outdoor equipment (boots, backpacks, tents, etc.). When we fly to go backpacking, we love our 100-liter REI Co-op Roadtripper duffel: it can fit multiple empty backpacks, bulky footwear, and all of our extras. It’s worth noting that these bags can get heavy fast depending on what you stow inside of them, so keep an eye out for total weight as you’re packing. Clothing and most regular items should keep you below the 50-pound checked bag limit, but if you’re packing anything particularly heavy, it can be an issue. And for serious outdoor and expedition use, duffels like The North Face Base Camp are made all the way up to 150 liters.
what travel bag
Who should buy the REI Roadtripper Duffel? It makes a great gear hauler for those who need space and protection without the bells and whistles. We’ve used the 100-liter version on a number of big trips including all the way down to Patagonia (4 flights) and came away impressed. The bag is well built, functional, and has withstood quite bit of use and abuse. At the same time, it’s definitely not a fully featured bag for travel. If you want things like internal storage, side compartments, and backpack straps, REI does make the pricier Big Haul below.
The Patagonia Black Hole Wheeled Duffel is our OutdoorGearLab Editors' Choice for the Best Wheeled Luggage because of its simple, but very easy-to-pack design. It also has a strong, abrasion-resistant and water-resistant construction. Icing the cake is the fact that it all checks in at an impressive light 7 lbs 8 oz. Our testers appreciated the Black Hole Wheeled Duffels above-average "off-road" performance on rougher terrain, as well as how easy it was to handle while maneuvering in crowded airports - thanks to its narrower wheelbase and good extension on its handle.
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.
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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.
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.
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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.
This was a gift for our son and he loved it. The canvas lining was nice and makes it look rugged. The only downside was the strap which is excessively long. Other reviews haven't mentioned that, so it may have an isolated instance. I did not notice any unusual smell. To me it just smelled like leather. He purchased a leather punch to allow it to be shortened. Even with that, I would purchase again.
Its a nice looking bag for sure. But after you use it a few times you notice its not really made that well. I know for $200 you can't expect much. For instance, the cloth on the inside of the bag is very thin and poorly sewn in. Also,the leather on the inside of the bag isn't treated and isn't double layered and sheds all over the inside of the bag every time you use it and so you have to brush off your clothes. (See pictures.) Also, the leather shoulder strap is so slippery it falls off just about every fabric you wear and so you will have to loop it over your head to get it to stay in place when walking through the airport or something.
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