Our team of travel experts will teach you how to optimize your packing experience, and get the most bang out of your luggage set. Using tricks like the “roll-up squeeze,” or the layer cake technique, find out what packing style makes the most sense for which trip. Our packing shortcuts and hacks will amaze you when it comes time to pack, making the whole process go more smoothly.
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.
Thanks to Everlane’s transparent pricing model, this ethically made leather-and-twill weekender costs a fraction of what it would at a traditional department store. Both the all-black and dipped versions are gender neutral and suited to a range of styles, and the size is just right for hauling all the stuff you’ll need for a short getaway while still fitting easily in the overhead compartment.

I leave all of my “nice” jewelry at home. I wear a simple wedding band that if taken or lost will not make me cry. While in Buenos Aires a few years ago, my sister in law almost had her arm taken off when someone tried to take her Rolex watch off of her wrist. A guy ran by her, grabbed her wrist and attempted to unlatch the watch. My niece quickly realized what was happening and hit him in the face with her fist. His accomplice drove by on a motorcycle out of nowhere and he hopped on and sped off. My sister in law was bruised and a local shop owner gave her a bag of ice for her arm. All of this happened in a matter of seconds and we were in broad daylight among people! So now ALL jewelry stays at home except for a simple pair of unassuming earrings and my simple gold wedding band.

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I have so many packing tips… Using packing cells, using clip seal bags, taking a tiny pocket sized foldable backpack in case of unexpected purchases, downloading offline maps apps and translators and using dryer sheets in my luggage. But the best travel tip I have is actually a very simple one- look confident. I travel a lot and before I walk out the door each day I scan a map to orient myself, ensure I have an offline map just in case, put on some really reflective aviators and make sure I look like I know where I am going (even though most of the time I have no idea!) I find looking confident and purposeful means you don’t look like a tourist and makes you less of a target to anyone with ill intentions.
"My Calpak spinner totally converted me from a duffel-toting, backpack-wearing traveler to a serious fan of the hard-shell suitcase. And with the Wandr carry-on, Calpak solved my only qualm: there's an easy-access front pocket for my laptop and necessities. I see no reason to ever swap out my suitcase again." — Melanie Lieberman, Associate Digital Editor
We’ve all been there: clumsily dragging our bag across the airport lobby and cursing ourselves for not purchasing something with wheels. And if you’re looking for a bag in the 60-liter range or larger, know that when it gets full, it’s going to be heavy. The good news is that duffel manufacturers have gotten creative with designing bags that can be carried in a multitude of ways. Below are the main carrying options, and some fully-featured bags offer all four.
But many standard totes tend to have two straps and a main compartment, and that’s about it. While they’re perfectly fine for day-to-day use, travel requires something that's far less prone to organization chaos. You don’t want to spend tons of time digging through the depths of your bag to find your chapstick (the ultimate in-flight essential), having your headphones and charging cords tangled in a mess with your keys, or even worse, holding up the security line as you rummage for your ID or boarding pass.
I figured I would share this gem. This bag is one of the best investments that I have ever made. It literally holds my life in there! The inside is perfect with a large amount of space, one zippered pocket, and another deep pocket along the backside of the pack. These two pocket are perfect to store stuff in that you don’t want stolen. This bag has large straps that can’t be cut, and it also very stylish for even the fashionistas out there. I can’t wait to get another before my trip to Spain!
I just ordered the Signature 3 Compartment Crossbody, based on your reviews!! I’m excited to get it and see if it will be just what I’m looking for. My best travel tip is to read about where you’re going to familiarize yourself – it helps with packing appropriately, knowing the local customs, and just an overall sense of respect for the place you are visiting. I enjoy seeing the sites, but living like a local. Immersing yourself and just taking it all in is the perfect idea of a vacay for me!!
This Knomo bag marries form and function, with a rectangular shape made for comfortably toting around laptops sized up to 15.6 inches. There's also a trolley slip sleeve that fits over the handle of your wheeled luggage for easy carrying. Plus, travel without worry: The RFID-blocking liner will protect your credit cards and passport from wireless identity theft.
The timeless popularity of L.L.Bean’s Boat and Tote bag is a testament to its quality and durability. But for those wanting a bit more organization and a little less Nantucket, here’s an alternative: the Everyday Lightweight Tote. Starting at just $35, this tote will last you many years even with daily use. Water-resistant nylon makes it great for the pool or beach and the reinforced handles can withstand heavy lifting. There's also an exterior slot, interior pocket, and key clip keep your phone, wallet, and keys at the ready without digging around.
Cotopaxi also offers roomier active duffle backpacks: The thick canvas Chumpi Travel Duffel Bag can hold 30 to 50 liters and is designed to carry all your necessary gear. Use it for camping, road trips, or as a larger carry-on bag (it fits most airline’s carry-on dimensions) to protect all your personal items. It’s made to last (61-year warranty) and has large outer pockets and thick straps that will keep you both organized and comfortable while you’re carrying it.

Why isn’t the Thule ranked higher? The shoulder straps are functional but not as comfortable as many of the options above, not to mention they have such a simple attachment system that it has tendency to wiggle off while in use. And another small issue: the U-shaped lid that dips well below the top of the bag can be difficult to zip shut when the bag is fully stuffed. But these are small gripes about an otherwise solid duffel, and we hope Thule continues to make strides with its bags.
We’ve all been there: clumsily dragging our bag across the airport lobby and cursing ourselves for not purchasing something with wheels. And if you’re looking for a bag in the 60-liter range or larger, know that when it gets full, it’s going to be heavy. The good news is that duffel manufacturers have gotten creative with designing bags that can be carried in a multitude of ways. Below are the main carrying options, and some fully-featured bags offer all four.

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All the contenders in our fleet are super robust. However, The North Face Rolling Thunder stood apart from the rest as a freaking burly piece of luggage (maybe bordering on overkill), with the beefiest materials in the review. Most of the bag is constructed of the same material as the tried and true Base Camp Duffel (1000D polyester laminate), which is still slightly thicker than most of the models in our review. To make this model even more long-lasting, it has been reinforced with 1680D nylon (compared to the Base Camp's mega burly 840D).
This is a very nice quality travel bag and I absolutely love it. The leather is very nice and feels good to the touch. The bag is spacious and has many compartments for organization. I like that it includes zip compartments as well which is a nice feature. This bag is perfect for a weekend trip or as an extra carrying bag for a night. I use this bag to travel back and forth from school and it is very durable. The adjustable strap is comfortable and useful for carrying. I think the water resistance feature is helpful especially since I usually store electronics and books in the bag. Overall, I’m really happy that I found this travel bag, and it has become my go to for whenever I need to travel.
I just fell in love with the Travelon backpack, especially in the gray color. My travel tip is to pack everything in a carryon that can fit under the seat 💺 I dread the hustle of snatching and stressing for overhead space. Since I get cold easily, I wear lots of layers on the plane, which means less items to pack in my bag. Plus the bag I have is convertible and can either be a backpack or shoulder bag. It can serve several purposes. In my case, I travel for work so I also use it as my work bag as it fits my 15” laptop
Well, I must admit that I love the crossbody / shoulder bags more too. Threre are always tons of items I need to carry, Perfect for me as I’m mother of 2 children (1 and 5yo) and we all know that it is impossible to pack yourself into small clutch with this all additional kids stuf. Im looking for something for myself – a nice and big shoulder bag like mentioned here http://thewomansbag.com/cross-body-and-shoulder-bag/ would be perfect but didn’t decided yet.
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).

For wheeled models, The North Face Rolling Thunder and the Patagonia Black Hole Wheeled Duffel were the most water resistant. Waterproofness may be essential to you, or it may be inconsequential. Everyone needs to move their luggage around and needs for it to survive rough treatment, but not everyone needs their duffels to be waterproof. Choose according to your needs and demands.
Traveling can be challenging, particularly at those times when you are trying to get around with all your belongings. To help take some of the unnecessary hassles out of your adventure, we loaded up our duffels and our experts and sent them packing. After determining each model's overall performance, we found something unique about each of the models we selected, for one reason or another. To find out more about each competitor's performance, we encourage you to browse the individual reviews. To further your purchasing experience, visit our Buying Advice for more tips and tricks on choosing the best duffel for your adventures.
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 leave all of my “nice” jewelry at home. I wear a simple wedding band that if taken or lost will not make me cry. While in Buenos Aires a few years ago, my sister in law almost had her arm taken off when someone tried to take her Rolex watch off of her wrist. A guy ran by her, grabbed her wrist and attempted to unlatch the watch. My niece quickly realized what was happening and hit him in the face with her fist. His accomplice drove by on a motorcycle out of nowhere and he hopped on and sped off. My sister in law was bruised and a local shop owner gave her a bag of ice for her arm. All of this happened in a matter of seconds and we were in broad daylight among people! So now ALL jewelry stays at home except for a simple pair of unassuming earrings and my simple gold wedding band.
Photographer Nicole Franzen loves her Voyager 2 bag, which stands out both aesthetically and functionally. “I like good pockets for organization, and tend to go leather and black because it’s effortless, goes with anything, and ages well,” she said. Made from soft Italian leather, this sleek bag features a front pocket with compartments for storing your phone, passport, pens, cords, and other items you’d like to have easily accessible — and even more pockets inside.

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Most duffels have carry handles of some sort, whether they’re dedicated straps or a simple padded handle connecting the backpack straps to each other. Carry handles are useful for picking up a bag and moving it a short distance, and they’re great for carrying small capacity bags in one hand. Some duffels like the Osprey Transporter omit carry handles altogether­ in favor of shoulder and backpack straps. This can make sense for big, heavy bags, but we still prefer having the option. 

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Realize the limitations of the Bago Travel Bag. The lightweight construction is not durable. With rough treatment and hard contents, holes could form in the Bago in minutes. We wouldn't hand this duffel off to the airlines or to donkey drivers and we also wish that the Bago had backpack straps. The only reasonable ways to move the Bago are in briefcase mode or over one shoulder. For big loads and longer distances, this isn't ideal. Basically, all the other bags we tested can be backpacked or wheeled longer distances.

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Unlike many of the more ruggedly designed duffels on this list, the Gregory Stash is constructed with a little thinner 600D polyester on the body and 840D on the base. Additionally, Gregory kept things simple and did not include lash points or grab handles. As a result, this duffel is less outdoor-ready than we’d like—even a cheaper design like the REI Roadtripper offers more features (though without the backpack straps). That said, if you like the sleek look and low price, the Stash is a fine choice.  

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What are the downsides of the Granite Gear? With a 600-denier shell, it’s reasonably durable but not quite as thick or water resistant as the non-packable options from Patagonia and The North Face above (more weight equals more thickness). In addition, the bag does a fine job at carrying your gear but doesn’t offer much in the way of structure. And for an even lighter packable option, the Mountain Hardwear Lightweight Expedition weighs 6 ounces less but does not offer the U-shaped opening, backpack straps, or durability.
The Mission Duffel sits firmly in between backpack and duffel. As such, its shoulder straps aren’t an afterthought but a fully fleshed-out component that draws on the brand’s success with everyday and expedition packs. The straps are padded for comfort and equipped with a sternum harness. They also stow away neatly into a flap on the bottom of the bag. In addition to that, the Mission contains a main compartment that feels bigger than it looks and is home to multiple mesh organizing pockets. Like the Base Camp duffel, the Mission offers a separate section at one end for wet, dirty, or bulky items.

Compromise on any one of the Panga's above qualifiers, and you can spend half or less. The Panga is super expensive, and there are products available that come very close to the performance of the Panga at a fraction of the price. We'd say that price is the primary drawback to the Panga, for what you get. However, it is indeed the only thing going that meets its descriptions, at any cost. The other drawback is the straight zipper through the stiff fabric. This makes it difficult to pack and unpack, as compared to the U-shaped zipper of something like either Editors' Choice winners. We tested the 100-liter version, but Yeti also sells 50 and 75-liter versions with all the same pros and cons.
Second of all, a lot of people are complaining about the inside zippers being busted but the supper just separated, which is an easy fix. All you have to do is zip it back and forth one time and fixed! My backpack came with “busted zippers” but I literally just zipped it once and back and it was fixed. It’s like these people don’t even try to zip it before they go online to complain.
Much as we'd all love to be jetting off to Europe for 10 days at a time, the average American — yep, that includes T+L editors — doesn't have the time (or vacation days, or, let's be real, budget) for more than one or two major getaways a year. Weekends, on the other hand? Those we can do. But even the chronic overpackers among us (ahem, hi) can admit that nothing feels sillier than schlepping your roll-aboard along on a 48-hour trip.

“I look for a bag that can sit on top of my carry-on, fit a lot of items, and that’s easy to store when not in use,” said Daniela Velasco, creative director of Drift and Ambrosia magazines. She likes Longchamp’s Le Pliage totes because they carry her camera, laptop, chargers, and more, and are water-resistant, so she doesn’t have to worry about rain damaging her expensive gear. This duffel version is made of the same durable nylon and fits everything you’ll need for a few days away.
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.

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Thank you, I have the Travelon cross body bucket bag, I love it and use it every day when traveling, a would be thief was foiled on the Paris metro, as I had clipped the zips closed, and I love the mini light that comes with the bag, helps with finding items at night especially. I rave about this bag to anyone who will listen. My number one travel tip is to wear in the shoes that you plan on taking travelling, don’t keep them ready for the trip, you will smile at the end of every day if you do.
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