Alex, I’m so happy I found your site and watched all the Live events from LV. We are traveling to Europe during August and September this year and as you can imagine – coming from Australia will require some super packing and discovering handy tips is a bonus. We are going Sydney – Rome – up through Italy to Switzerland, France, Germany, Scotland, Norway – well I hope I haven’t forgotten anything…. anyway, it means lots of different weather… I love everything you have shown, especially a bag to keep your things safe!

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Patagonia hit the nail on the head with the name of its line of heavy-duty carry-alls: Black Hole. That’s what a duffel should be — a bottomless pit into which you can toss anything and everything you might need for a day at the crag or an entire week in the opposite hemisphere. The brand recently released a pared-down version of the popular bag — goodbye padded backpack straps and D-shaped zip opening. It’s lighter, but no less durable than its predecessor. The Lightweight Black Hole is made from 7.1-ounce 210-denier nylon ripstop with a TPU-film laminate and a DWR coating. Best of all? It weighs just 510 grams.
Pros Easy to pack, comfortable shoulder straps, excellent pockets, super durable Highly weather resistant, easy to pack, dual mesh zippered pockets under the lid, comfortable shoulder straps Durable, waterproof, comfortable backpack straps Easy to pack, bomber construction, burly frame, internal dual-zippered mesh pockets, very maneuverable, highly water resistant Good pockets for organization and access, lightweight, comfortable to carry as a briefcase

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I love my Henri Bendel Jetsetter Convertible Backpack! I have the larger and smaller bag. I used the larger one during my trip to Amesterdam and Paris. It was large enough for a rain jacket, light sweatshirt, water bottle, and my normal purse items (sun glasses, wallet, etc.). The bag was definitely full but I was out all day and the temperature changed greatly from morning to night. It was nice having everything I needed to stay comfortable. A few museums made you leave larger bags at the bag check and they seemed to only ask people with backpacks to check their bags. I loved the ability to quickly change the backpack to a handbag and bring it into museums. I hate leaving my personal belongings in the care of someone else. I highly recommend them!
Alex, I’m so happy I found your site and watched all the Live events from LV. We are traveling to Europe during August and September this year and as you can imagine – coming from Australia will require some super packing and discovering handy tips is a bonus. We are going Sydney – Rome – up through Italy to Switzerland, France, Germany, Scotland, Norway – well I hope I haven’t forgotten anything…. anyway, it means lots of different weather… I love everything you have shown, especially a bag to keep your things safe!

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I love my Henri Bendel Jetsetter Convertible Backpack! I have the larger and smaller bag. I used the larger one during my trip to Amesterdam and Paris. It was large enough for a rain jacket, light sweatshirt, water bottle, and my normal purse items (sun glasses, wallet, etc.). The bag was definitely full but I was out all day and the temperature changed greatly from morning to night. It was nice having everything I needed to stay comfortable. A few museums made you leave larger bags at the bag check and they seemed to only ask people with backpacks to check their bags. I loved the ability to quickly change the backpack to a handbag and bring it into museums. I hate leaving my personal belongings in the care of someone else. I highly recommend them!

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This is an awesome bag! The fabric is very nice, and looks to be water resistant. My all-time favorite feature for this bag is the long strap. It is made of a seat belt material (very sturdy!) Gold hardware is solid. The bag has 2 nice handles that are sewn to the bag. The stitching is nice and even and does not appear to be of low quality. This bag has a nice luggage strap feature. On the back is a thick band with a zippered pocket that slips over the handles of a rolling luggage bag. Perfect size for a personal bag for a flight! The short handles and the black detail material on the sides resemble saffiano leather. We know this bag is eco-friendly and does not use real leather (but it looks nice). The bottom has 4 gold feet and the inside of the bag is brown. ... full review

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The North Face Rolling Thunder was particularly good at managing a second bag. We think this is a combination of the stiffness and robust nature of the handle as well as the width between the bars and the length at which it extends. In fact, if we know we are going to have a second 50+ pound second non-wheeled duffel, the Rolling Thunder is our top-choice to "piggyback" them.
"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

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Why a leather duffel bag, you may ask? Well, for starters, this thing is going to last you a long, long time — way longer than any cheap plastic thing you pick up before your last-minute trip out to Montauk. It’s also versatile, an important quality for any investment piece. You’ll be able to bring it on a plane, on a business trip, or to a hunting lodge out in Montana. There’s virtually no place where a leather duffel bag would feel awkward or out of place.
I love my bag!!! This is a beautiful bag with quality workmanship. It comes with a large inside zipper compartment trimmed in leather, leather luggage tag, brass feet and tasteful logo stamp at bottom front of bag. The hardware is sturdy as well a nice looking. It looks more expensive than it is so its a real bargain. I love the leather smell also. The description only mentioned the cellphone pockets, pen and card holder so I got more than expected. The outer zipper is metal YKK with leather tab. It's roomy with enough space for a weekend rendezvous. I'm very pleased!!
I would like to say that cross body bags are targets for thieves. The three times I was robbed while living in south america involved cross body bags. For one, they are easy to rip off your body with enough force. That’s how I got robbed once. Someone just ripped it right off of me. I’ve heard of this happening to someone else. Someone on a bike rode by this woman and just ripped it right off of her. They also are easy for thieves to get their hands into without you looking so one that zips is essential. Thats how I was robbed the other two times – having a bag that didn’t zip.

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The North Face has over 50 years of experience hauling gear to the most remote parts of the world, so it’s no wonder that the Base Camp was not only one of the original laminated expedition bags, but also one of the few that has stood the test of time so well. The Base Camp comes in a classic cylinder shape made of laminated ballistic nylon and opens wide to reveal a spacious main compartment and a mesh organizing pocket on the interior of the lid. Like many of the bags on this list, the Base Camp comes equipped with removable backpack straps, daisy chain attachments, tie-down points and multiple handles for carrying. But the Base Camp differentiates with a separate compartment on one end that can take care of any wet or dirty clothing and gear, so it doesn’t have to mix in with the rest.

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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.
After dozens of trips of in-the-field testing and direct side-by-side comparisons, we liked the big D- or U-shaped openings rather than the straight "I" style zippered openings. We also loved bags that acted more like a box that we could just fill up rather than ones that were more of a clam-shell style design and closure. Bags that have some structure stay upright and open while packing. These are easier to pack.

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The weekender bag is a practical, versatile piece of luggage designed for short trips. Large enough to fit a few days’ worth of clothing, yet compact enough to stow in the overhead compartment, these smart accessories deserve a special place in any traveler’s arsenal. They are easy to carry around and come in all styles, colors, and materials to suit everyone’s needs.
This lightweight, quilted bag from Oliver Thomas — a new travel bag brand that's named after founder Sue Fuller's dog — pulls out all the stops. It's got water-resistant fabric, a sleeve that slides over your luggage handle, a clip that keeps the straps from sliding off your shoulder, and a bottom zip compartment that's perfect for keeping shoes separate from clothes. The brand also makes tons of patches with cheeky statements like,"more baggage than LAX," and, "aspiring retiree," that adhere in a few seconds with a hairdryer.

Made with beautiful full grain calfskin leather that has deep color tones and looks better as it ages. The vegetable tanned base creates the rich brown and red colors while the semi gloss finish helps prevent stains. Over time this leather will soften and develop a beautiful patina. Our 8 oz cotton duck canvas lining is made in South Carolina and very durable. The combination of Italian vegetable tanned leather and strong U.S. made canvas lining makes this bag an all time best seller.

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The Gonex 45-liter duffel ticks all the boxes: there are plenty of pockets, it’s durable, affordable, spacious and well-constructed, making it a solid choice overall. Available in six different color combinations such as dark green with tan trim or gray and maroon, there’s a favorite for everyone. Measuring 20 x 11 x 9.6 inches, the main compartment holds a couple days’ clothes, plus has a large lid pocket that’s perfect for tablets or magazines, in addition to a small organizational pouch. The zippered sides of the bag comfortably fit shoes – keeping them separate from your clothing, and there are four additional small pockets for quick-access items. The duffel includes a shoulder strap and carry handles and is water resistant.  

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.

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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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The quality of the leather is much more impressive in person than is evident on the computer screen. I've shopped for similar bags and found them -- at almost twice the price. This bag is a bargain. I've used it once for a weekend trip, and it held everything I needed and some things that I did not turn out to need (I tend to over pack). My wife likes it so much that she has extracted a promise from me to buy her one just like it -- for her birthday in two months. Plan to do it too.
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.
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.
For jet-setters going from a business meeting to a client dinner straight to a flight, this bag will keep everything in its proper place. The interior features padded slots for a tablet and a 14-inch laptop, plus dedicated pockets sized perfectly for your phone, wallet, subway card, sunglasses, water bottle, and even loops for your pens and lip balm. When you get home, find your keys in a cinch at the end of the built-in key leash.

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
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.
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.

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I’ve looked at these bags before but have been on the fence about purchasing because of what other travelers have noted: I wish they were a little more fashionable. Love the features but the canvas just strikes me as a little too casual; I’d love to see the Signature 3 Crossbody (my favorite design so far) in a full grain black leather (like the Rebecca Minkoff backpack!). Now I am planning a trip to Peru and considering whether I feel safe enough carrying my Minkoff backpack…which I LOVE…or whether it’s time to pull the trigger. But, without your post I may not even have considered it so thank you!

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Here’s a duffel for those heading for inclement climates and expecting the worst. Ortlieb’s take on the duffel is an expedition bag made from tear-resistant, PVC-coated, polyester fabric that’s reinforced at the base. The interior contains two pockets for essentials, while the exterior features a mesh pocket, daisy chains for rigging and an impregnable TIZIP zipper (also frequently used on diving suits as well as Yeti’s soft sided coolers). You know water, or anything else for that matter, can’t get in when the excess air can’t get out.
I ❤️ my Traveling bag, I have carried it through 🇮🇹 , 🇪🇸 , Portugal 🇵🇹 and 🇫🇷, so east to carry and makes travel safe and easy. My #1 travel tip is to carry Zip Lock Gallon size bags. The are a great way to organize. I like to separate thing so gather by day so that I can remember where and when I found things. I am still trying to learn more about how to pack though, I am struggle fitting everyything I need the carry on!
Larger diameter wheels help rolling luggage to be moved more easily over uneven terrain like gravel, grass or only very poorly paved streets far more efficiently. Even though the Patagonia Black Hole Wheeled Duffel wheels were just half an inch larger than The North Face models, all of our testers felt it performed better on more rugged surfaces. The Eagle Creek Gear Warrior Wheeled sported the most massive wheels, and while due to other factors wasn't as maneuverable, it was nice to pull over old cobbles, gravel roads, or different rugged terrains. Why not just make all wheely bags with giant wheels? Well, wheel size, in addition to the width of the wheelbase, or how far the wheels are apart, affected a model's maneuverability.
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.

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Keep in mind that the YETI Panga is overkill for most non-outdoor use. The bag is very pricey at $350, heavy at over 6 pounds for the 75-liter version, and has a thick, rubbery feel. In addition, YETI branding is strong with logos on each side and a very prominent imprint that runs the length of the bottom of the bag. All in all, this isn’t the optimal duffel for the average traveler or for light outdoor use, but it’s hard to beat when you need waterproof protection for your gear (think water sports or protecting important belongings that absolutely cannot get wet). For a cheaper waterproof duffel option, see the SealLine WideMouth below.


"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
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