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.”
Roller duffels do have their limitations. First, rarely do roller duffels come with anything more than carry handles, making them difficult to transport in areas without sufficient rolling surfaces (they lack backpack straps, which we love). Second, cheaper or ultralight duffels have a tendency to fall over when full, which is something to be aware of when making a purchase (heavier models like the Osprey Shuttle do not fall over, which makes them worth the extra cost in our opinion). Finally, roller duffels inherently have more breakable parts. Some duffels have replaceable wheels but many don’t, which is a quick way to lose all of that easy transport functionality.
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More than anything, a superior luggage set will elevate any on-the-go experience, allowing travelers to breeze through an airport, hotel, or conference center with ease. Our editor-approved travel bags take into consideration all the main concerns of anyone setting off for a big trip: dimension (no carry-on should be more than 22” x 14” x 9”), mobility, and functionality. At Travel + Leisure, we spend large amounts of time on the road—just like you—and know the importance of stylish, lightweight luggage with plenty of room for all your belongings.
This duffel has two front pockets to keep your valuable on-hand, as well as an expanding side pocket for storing dirty laundry or shoes while traveling. There are two hand straps and a detachable shoulder strap so you can configure it for easy carrying. It's available in seven different colors. Overall, the Hexin duffel is a large and versatile bag for a low price.
Drawing on the success of its soft-sided coolers, Yeti stripped out the insulation and used the thick, laminated nylon skin to create a highly puncture- and abrasion-resistant duffel called the Panga. Like many Yeti products, what appears run-of-the-mill is actually innovation genius. The Panga has easily removable backpack straps, lash points on all sides and haul handles on either end. Speaking of those ends, they’re sturdy enough to keep this bag standing upright, and the bottom is padded with EVA foam, similar to the stuff in running shoes, to keep things protected when you decide to give the bag a toss. The Panga is also fully submersible thanks to a TIZIP airtight zipper. One way to test it? Close it up when the bag is empty and stand on it — not even a gasp will escape.
It can be a little hard to close because there is a metal frame where the zipper is to keep it’s doctor bag shape. So if you overstuff the bag, you may not be able to close it. There are plenty of pockets inside to keep everything organized. The pockets for electronics are padded. (I love that there’s a pocket for my laptop and a separate for my ipad). The biggest plus to this bag and probably one of the main reasons i picked this bag over other ... full review
which are the best travel bags
The Base Camp Duffel from The North Face is a fully-featured bag and a direct competitor to the Patagonia Black Hole above. It’s similarly tough and water resistant, offers easy access to the inside, and can be carried as a backpack, which we love. Both bags offer comparable organization pockets, but the Base Camp’s medium and large models add an exterior compartment on one end that allows you to separate dirty clothes and shoes. The Base Camp comes in more colors and designs than we can count, and is available in capacities ranging from 31 liters (XS) to a whopping 150 liters (XXL). For everything from a carry-on to an expedition workhorse, this is one of the most popular duffels on the market year after year.
The D3 Traveller is made to take a beating, and go unnoticed. Why? Because when you’re traveling across borders where officers are more likely to request a bribe than a visa application, discretion is as important as durability. To the untrained eye, there’s nothing special about the unbranded black carry-all, but that’s the point. The bag is made from two layers of ultra-strong Dyneema composite fabric, allowing it to maintain a slackened look even when packed full. The D3’s detailing is in the same vein; the shoulder strap slider is machined from solid aircraft-grade aluminum, YKK zips are reinforced with water-resistant Uretrek. And, just to underline the brand’s thesis, the D3’s zipper pulls are accented with river stones from the Pamir Mountains, a vast and remote range located in a region where borders and laws are less tangible.
I purchased this bag to go out of town last minute for work. I wanted something leather for sure. I was looking around and found this. The size was right. It had a shoulder strap and I like the texture and grain of the leather. Bag is awesome. Seems like it will last for a very long time with some basic leather treatment. Only thing I would have like to have is the lockable zip pulls for when this bag has to be checked on a flight. I just used some strong zip ties to keep the zippers closed.
The Gregory Alpaca is a high capacity duffel that checks all the boxes. It has a large U-shaped opening, padded and removable backpack straps, and is made with a durable 900D ripstop nylon fabric with a water-resistant coating. Throw in storm flaps over the top zipper, plenty of daisy chains, and a sleek design, and you have another attractive outdoor/travel duffel to consider.