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.


As mentioned above, a few duffels on this list take it a step further. The YETI Panga and SealLine WideMouth are waterproof, and the YETI can even be submerged (no guarantees, but your stuff should stay dry). In addition, the Dyneema fabric used on the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Duffel is naturally water resistant and does a really nice job in this regard. All things considered, a waterproof duffel is essential for water sports but overkill for travelers who stick to land.
Smaller than a suitcase, bigger than a tote, the classic duffel is a perfectly sized carryall for a long weekend. Peer out at a train platform full of city dwellers fleeing town on a Friday afternoon and you’ll see all varieties of duffels — from waxed-canvas bags harking back to the style’s military roots to luxe versions in buttery leather. To discover the best travel duffel bags out there, we asked frequent travelers — including writers, photographers, and a hotel exec — to recommend their favorites, and then sought out more bags that fit the experts’ requirements across a range of styles and price points.

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"As a video producer for Travel + Leisure, I often need to get to remote locations and carry everything on my person. The Osprey Farpoint has a break-off day bag that functions as a camera bag — I can fit my camera, microphones, a tripod, and my laptop all in one bag, and leave everything else back at the hotel. It's rugged and stands up to the weather, and is still relatively comforable fully loaded. The entire bag can be carried on most planes, as the backpack converts to a duffel and the day bag becomes a 'personal item.' If you've got expensive equipment, multiple connections and don't mind carrying everything on your back, this is the bag for you." — Tom Grahsler, Video Producer
Smaller than a suitcase, bigger than a tote, the classic duffel is a perfectly sized carryall for a long weekend. Peer out at a train platform full of city dwellers fleeing town on a Friday afternoon and you’ll see all varieties of duffels — from waxed-canvas bags harking back to the style’s military roots to luxe versions in buttery leather. To discover the best travel duffel bags out there, we asked frequent travelers — including writers, photographers, and a hotel exec — to recommend their favorites, and then sought out more bags that fit the experts’ requirements across a range of styles and price points. 

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I am a minimalist. That doesn’t mean I live like a monk; I do enjoy the good things in life. It just means I don’t buy a lot of stuff because I learned a long time ago that everything you own owns you. So I have very few material possessions. But the few things I do own are the finest things money can buy. In my closet, I have two suits, a wardrobe of 7 pants and shirts, and three pairs of shoes. I even have one sofa in my 1,000 square foot condominium that will outlast me, because it is the last sofa I will ever purchase (and I’m only 41 years old). You get the picture. So that is why I consider this to be the last gym bag I will ever purchase. It has plenty of room for my running shoes, workout clothes, towel, and the No. 2 shaving kit. What else does a guy need? Nothing as far as I’m concerned. And if you get sticker shock, think about all the $50 gym bags that you would have purchased over the next 50 years.

Made of durable, abrasion-resistant ballistic nylon, this tote is great if you're traveling with kids or pets (and may have to deal with spills and scratches) or if you’re just going somewhere where rain, sleet, and snow may be unkind to leather. Luggage-maker Briggs & Riley really thought of everything when they designed this tote: a waterproof pocket for a water bottle (or baby bottle), several exterior and interior pockets, and a sleeve for slipping this over a luggage handle for easy transport.

In terms of capacity, the duffels on this list range from 25 liters to a whopping 150 liters, so there’s a bag to match every activity and intended use. For solo travelers on overnight and weekend trips where you won’t be bringing a bunch of gear, a smaller duffel in the 25 to 40-liter range should do the trick. A good number of these models are carry-on compatible, saving you the time and the potential cost of checking a bag. For U.S. airlines, there isn’t a universal carry-on size, but 22 x 14 x 9-inch is quite common (at the time of publication, these are the maximum dimensions for Delta, United, JetBlue, and others). It’s worth noting that almost all carry-on compatible bags will advertise themselves as such, but the general cut-off is right around 40 liters.

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We understand that you need a travel bag that will go the distance and stand up to anything, which is why each bag is created with soft, long-lasting material and brass hardware. Different silhouettes fit your different moods and destinations, giving you plenty of options on the go. Whenever the travel bug bites, our worldly travel bags for women will be at the ready.
Your travel bag needs minimal styling—it goes with just about everything. Want to travel in ultimate comfort? Try pairing your all-black activewear look with a black leather weekender for a cool and comfortable look that is always appreciated. If you want to travel in style, pair your skinny ankle jeans, chunky knit, and booties with a cognac leather travel bag for a casual and timeless look.
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).
If you know coolers, chances are you know the YETI brand. And it’s no surprise that the company entered the duffel market with a splash. Many models on this list are water resistant—they can withstand wet ground and the occasional rain shower—but the Panga is fully waterproof. You’ll often spot this thick and submergible duffel on rafts, fishing boats, and pretty much anywhere people want the ultimate level of protection for their gear. Made with laminated high-density nylon that feels like rubber, a burly EVA bottom, and a waterproof zipper that locks firmly into place, this duffel is as water-ready and air-tight as you’ll find.
NOMATIC was born and raised on Kickstarter. We have successfully funded and delivered 5 projects through crowdfunding. In 2014 we launched the BASICS Wallet, in 2015 the BASICS Notebook, in 2016 The NOMATIC Travel Bag, in 2017 The NOMATIC Backpack and Travel Pack, and the beginning of this year The NOMATIC Messenger and Laptop bag. All of these past products are available at www.nomatic.com
On the road, the items you carry depend on your traveling purpose — whether you're a seasoned explorer or a visiting tourist. Our men's leather luggage and travel accessories speak for themselves, no matter where your travels may take you. Combining luxury with convenience, Bosca duffels and backpacks are spacious enough to carry all of your modern conveniences, while still retaining the Old World grace of hand-stained Italian leather. And with our precise and durable craftsmanship, your new leather travel bag will soon become a welcome companion for your next journey.
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