Bottom Line While the Base Camp Duffel faces stiffer competition than it used to, it remains the duffel that all others are compared against. A solid all-around excellent expedition bag, this model was built with remote adventures in mind. A burly, waterproof sack that comes in a few sizes, all with nice backpack straps; it has a narrow niche, but is the only product we’ve found that checks the boxes it checks. This model offers a top-notch blend that makes it easy to transport and highly weather resistant. A top-notch model that is slightly less expensive than others, without giving up much in the way of features, pockets, carrying options or overall durability.
The Patagonia Black Hole is one of the best duffel bags you can find out there. Why? It’s super lightweight (one of the lightest on the list) and it has many pockets and a big main compartment. It’s super versatile, featuring padded shoulder straps, so you can carry it in many ways, like as a bag or even a backpack. If you don’t need the shoulder straps, they are removable.
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Although we do like the Base Camp line and have used them for years, we prefer the Black Hole for a few reasons. First, the outer fabric on The North Face shows scuff marks more easily than its Patagonia counterpart. Second, at 3 pounds 8 ounces, it’s more than a pound heavier. Finally, we found the backpack straps on the Base Camp Duffel to be slightly more difficult to detach than those on the Black Hole, making your airport check-in a bit more frantic. On a positive note, The North Face has brought back carry handles for 2018, which provide another easy way to haul around the Base Camp.
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.
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Some of the most prominent factors that contribute to how comfortable a bag is to maneuver are the width of its wheelbase, how stiff its frame and handle are, how far its handle extends, and how far it extends above the bag or load. With lighter weights, it makes only a little bit of difference; once a piece of luggage becomes more massive, the difference is more apparent.