Hands down, the easiest duffels to pack, unpack, and rummage around in are those with a large, U-shaped opening. Duffels such as the Patagonia Black Hole feature this design: a zippered flap extends around three of the four sides of the top of the duffel and opens to reveal most of the contents. These bags provide easy access whether in a hotel, tent, or on the road. Other bags, such as the Filson Field Duffel, open in a more traditional style, with one zipper that extends across the top of the bag. With a smaller opening, access to the contents is more limited, and especially when full (this means more rummaging and disorganization). If you’re looking to prioritize convenience above all else, large roller duffels like the Osprey Shuttle offer the most rigid structure and largest opening for packing and unpacking.
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A small percentage of people want waterproof protection from their duffel (think rafters, fisherman, and backcountry winter adventurers). The market is limited, but two bags on the list are waterproof: the YETI Panga and SealLine WideMouth. The Panga is a beast of a bag, with the shape of a traditional duffel but with extra thick materials and a fully waterproof zipper. The SealLine, on the other hand, is a roll-top bag that more closely resembles a dry bag. And it’s worth mentioning the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dyneema Duffel, which is not waterproof but highly water resistant and surprisingly tough.
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.
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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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.
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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.
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.
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Along with the YETI Panga, SealLine’s WideMouth Duffel is the only other waterproof duffel on this list. These two bags are quite different, however: the SealLine is made with vinyl instead of the YETI's thick nylon, resulting in a significantly lower weight and profile. Further, the roll-top design means that it can't be fully submerged but it does pack down nicely to accommodate any size load. And perhaps most importantly, the WideMouth is less than one-third the price of the Panga.
If you know you'll be carrying heavy equipment, choose a duffel bag with straps and handles with comfortable features. Our assortment includes options with adjustable shoulder straps, dual carry handles and padded straps and handles, so you can carry your gear with ease. If you know that your load will be too heavy to carry, choose a rolling duffel bag or a wheeled duffel bag. Find even more travel bags and accessories from our entire travel and luggage assortment.
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.
On my last trip to Indonesia, I realized that duffel bags can also be great for short trips as long as you don’t have to walk much. On that occasion, I was traveling with a group (I was working as a guide with a Spanish travel agency) and some people brought duffel bags. It was a backpacking trip but transportation was well organized, so we didn’t walk long distances. We took buses and shared taxis between towns, from the hostel to the terminal, etc. Another advantage is that many of these travel duffel bags have wheels, which is great when you are carrying a heavy bag.
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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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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.
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.
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Made of splash-resistant nylon and polyester, the “Code Alpha” duffel can hold a lot of gear, yet is easy to carry around. For starters, the bag is massive: it measures 33 x 17 x 13 inches and comes with a detachable toiletry kit on the side. Three rugged wheels make it easy to pull using the straps, but be aware that the bag doesn’t have a telescoping handle. The sturdy framework is designed so that the duffel keeps its form – whether full or not – and has a main compartment and mesh interior compartment. One drawback is that the bag doesn’t have many extra pockets for gadgets, but is an ideal choice for a checked bag.
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Planning a trip? Visit eBags travel store for your must buy travel bag and accessories. Flying by plane? Choose from the best carry-on luggage available that fits the airlines specifications and size. Hiking? Purchase durable camping gear; strong tents, sleeping bags, and a hiking backpack from brands like Swissgear and The Northface. eBags was started by pioneers and takes pride in continuing to spearhead innovative solutions across all demographics. Thinking travel? Think eBags.
It’s not travel approved for me. This has no durability! But ya cute and it’s foldable. It’s paper thin material. This is more for light very light packaging I’m saying like a notebook and a pen packaging. Too much weight will break this bag in half. It can work for you but not for me I’m Hispanic we overpack and the duffel bag always carries the heaviest items like jeans! 😉