If you traveled to far-flung destinations (or even sometimes not very far-flung), you've probably seen your luggage be attached to some form of transportation. If you are more commonly just looking at luggage options for catching buses, trains, and more typical commercial airplanes, then this isn't a super important factor for you. If you plan to travel to exotic locations or climb (or anything else) in remote parts of the world, you will undoubtedly need to strap your baggage to any number of things (and there can be a lot of different things and ways they will be attached).
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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This duffel bag came highly recommended by our testers for its sleek design and its many useful storage compartments. It was also very comfortable to carry: “I really liked the strap and the bag didn’t seem too bulky even when there was a lot of stuff inside of it,” one tester noted. The only thing our testers wished was different? The bag’s size. “I would have made it little larger,” said one reviewer. “With a laptop inside, I couldn’t fit a ton of clothes.”
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Anyone who has traveled a fair amount knows the value of a good tote. The workhorse of the travel bag ensemble, it’s the perfect carry-all for your essentials. You can toss everything in one roomy bag (we’re talking wallet, passport, phone, headphones, tablet, book, scarf, sweater, toiletry bag, water bottle, snacks — don’t forget the snacks!, and even a travel pillow), grab it, and go.
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.
The Patagonia Black Hole above is truly a duffel by nature, but the Osprey Transporter moves closer into backpack territory (we’ll call it a hybrid). With serious backpack straps designed with carrying comfort in mind (Osprey is the industry leader in backpacking packs), the Transporter is a great option for travelers who need to cover distance with their duffel. In terms of features, the outside is tough and water resistant, while the inside is loaded with handy extras like a padded compartment for electronics and rain flaps for peace of mind. Further, the lid zips are lockable and the straps can be easily stowed away when not in use.
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.
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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With a capacity of 40.78 liters, the bag is roomy enough to handle extended trips, without having to check it in at the airport. Its interior is complemented by two large zipper pockets and lined with soft navy cotton twill to keep your menswear essentials and gear protected. Each order comes with a free tin of Martexin wax to extend your weekender’s life and maintain its waterproof qualities.
"I've tried other hard-shell suitcases, but Samsonite's are by far my favorite. I have two in different sizes! They're super lightweight and extremely durable, but most of all I like the way the interiors are organized. With other brands, you'll find the handle casing intrudes upon your packing space; not so with Samsonite. It's just a zip-up compartment for clothes on one side, and straps to hold shoes, toiletry bags, etc. in place on the other." — Flora Stubbs, Features Director
Never leave home without your unique sense of style or one of our trusted travel bags. In addition to securing your rocking fashion sense, our durable bags will keep your belongings safe and sound. They come in a variety of looks, including classic brown and black as well as playful prints with pops of color that are easy to spot in a crowd. No matter what your final destination is, our women's travel bags will get you there in style and keep your must-have travel items safe, secure and ready to go when you arrive. With our large variety of travel bags, we’re sure you’ll find one you love.
Features have gotten out of hand. No matter what the product is — be it as simple as a knife or as complex as a camera — we’ve come to expect that it’s jammed with as many bells and whistles (sometimes literally) as possible. Outdoor products are among the most egregious culprits here, fooling would-be adventurers into thinking that they simply cannot embark on a trip without bringing the multifunctional-jacket-pant-parachute-vest complete with eighteen camp-stove-dongle-ready removable pocket pouches (and it packs into its own hood!). It’s maddening.
"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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I love reading all of your articles. Even if I’m not visiting that particular part of the world! A great travel tip: Purchase a pair of foldable flats. Everyone says to never walk around an airplane in bare feet or socks. The minute I sit down in my seat, I take off my shoes & put on these. When we’re starting to land, I remove them & put my shoes back on. They’re soft, comfy, very affordable, lightweight & fold up into a soft pouch to throw in your carry on. Many colors to choose from on Amazon.
Wow! I've been looking for a great leather duffel bag to use for business trips for 1-2 nights and this leather travel duffel is perfect. It's larger and taller than I realized and it has everything I was looking for in a high-quality, leather bag: durable,quality leather; inside pockets/compartment; inside fabric liner; cushioned shoulder strap; outside pocket and leather handle clasp. I've searched for months and on plenty of websites, but the cost to have all of these features was typically over $700. This bag is a fine example of quality craftsmanship from India. You can tell from the thick, quality leather to the stitching and materials used, that they were trying to create a high, quality item for the owner. I'll be looking to see what other products that they have to offer because of the quality of the craftsmanship!
If you need a dedicated bag for storing your gym gear, look no further than our selection of sports bags, which includes gym bags for men and gym bags for women. Our assortment includes sackpacks and other cinch bags, which typically have drawstring straps and closures. These small, lightweight bags are great for storing shoes or an extra change of clothes for the gym, and options with exterior storage pockets provide a separate place for smaller accessories or valuables. Sports bags made of mesh materials provide breathable, ventilated storage, while gym bags made of more durable materials offer long-lasting use.
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.
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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!!
I have a PacSafe cross body bag. It’s not the most fashionable but I do like it. Locking zippers, wires in strap to prevent slash ‘n grab thieves ,Rfid internal picket, external pocket for water bottle too. I chose this style for the safety features but also, I can put my 35mm DSLR camera inside the bag and not look completely like a tourist at times.
I love this bag. Was a little nervous using it as a carry on, but it fit perfectly and held a ton of stuff. I used it for a business trip and was able to hold two sweaters, Dopp kit, dress shoes, six t-shirts, four pairs of socks and trunks, two dress slacks, two three dress shirts, a pair of jeans and a few souvenirs I brought home. I'm a bigger guy and was shocked how much clothes this held. I found a backpack that matched it from Kattee. I've looked forever for a weekend bag and so glad I found this one. Many more trips to come!
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These recommendations are great! I need a travel bag for my upcoming trip to Italy, so this is super helpful. One travel tip I’ve heard over the years in the same vein that I think is really helpful is when you’re walking with a rolling suitcase to keep it either between you and your travel companion, or if you’re alone to keep the bag on the side of you closest to a wall. This applies to bags as well. That way it’s much harder for someone to swipe it as they go by, especially if they’re on a bike, Vespa, motorcycle, etc.
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.
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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The Cenzo Duffle Bag is the perfect 1-3 night weekender. It is made in Italy using Italian calfskin leather, brass zipper, smart contrast stitching, durable 8 oz cotton duck canvas lining, and brass hardware. The vegetable tanned leather looks better as it ages. One characteristic of our vegetable leather is that it has large pores and absorbs smell - so you might detect a sweet nail polish scent when you remove it from the plastic for the first time. Please take note of this characteristic. This new leather smell is the result of the leather edge paint and clear stain coating - it fades after 24 hours in fresh air. Weight is 4.5 pounds
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.
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Its a nice looking bag for sure. But after you use it a few times you notice its not really made that well. I know for $200 you can't expect much. For instance, the cloth on the inside of the bag is very thin and poorly sewn in. Also,the leather on the inside of the bag isn't treated and isn't double layered and sheds all over the inside of the bag every time you use it and so you have to brush off your clothes. (See pictures.) Also, the leather shoulder strap is so slippery it falls off just about every fabric you wear and so you will have to loop it over your head to get it to stay in place when walking through the airport or something.
I’ve been carrying the Pacsafe for years, paired with the Pacsafe travel wallet. The wallet has anti-scan, and velcro and zippers (multiple subtle pockets mean I can hide most of my cash), and it clips to a loop in my Pacsafe bag. The stuff I use frequently (phone, wallet) go in one section while super important items (passport, tickets) go in a separate, locked by zipper clip, section. The bag is worn cross body (as I always carry my bags) with my arm resting on it and a hand grasping the strap.
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Oh my. I’ve been looking and looking and looking at this one and finally made the plunge. It is NOT inexpensive. That is for SURE. And it is rather smallish. Carryons by Orvis and Hulme and others pack more stuff, have more pockets, are in all objective ways better. And cost less. Sooooo, what can there possibly be to make me buy the Colonel’s No 1 Grip in the face of those overwhelming facts? Simply this. It is a work of art. It is unique (at least as far as a non-custom object can be. It’s beautiful. It’s a pleasure to touch, to carry, to use. My gosh, is it nice.
My favorite tip is to be organized and prepared but still willing to be spontaneous. When going new places, my husband and I research the top places to go, get recommendations, and decide what general areas we want to go to. We make sure to hit the top things on our list and then just wander to see what else we can find. When we went to Tokyo, we found the best ramen place and a beautiful little park just by wandering around.
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.
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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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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Arc’teryx’s sleek Carrier is not your everyday travel duffel, and it doesn’t look like one either. With taped seams, coated nylon, and a water-tight zipper with storm flap, the Carrier is about as close to waterproof as a water-resistant bag gets. And at only 1 pound 5 ounces for the 55L version (and a mere 1 pound 7 ounces for the 80L), it’s the lightest option on our list, handily beating out ultralight designs like Granite Gear Packable Duffel and the Gregory Stash, and packing down to an impressively small size.
An excellent choice for traveling professionals, this luxe leather bag is made to last a lifetime and sports an ingenious garment section that accommodates up to two full suits/cocktail dresses and a pair of shoes in perfect condition. There are also zip pockets for storing your accessories, as well as a sliding shoulder strap for carrying comfort. At 22 x 13 x 9, the bag meets all major airline carry-on requirements, and, when not in use, it folds flat for easy storage.
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Whether you’re traveling by air, driving up to a cabin for the weekend, or venturing across the world on an expedition, you’ll likely be using a duffel bag to get your gear from one place to the next. Duffels are popular among all kinds of travelers for good reason: they’re easy to load and carry, and many are built to take a beating. Below we break down the best duffels of 2019, including top travel, outdoor, and waterproof bags of both the standard and rolling varieties. For more background information, see our duffel bag comparison table and buying advice below the picks.