More traditional duffels are also easier to carry anytime you are not on a smooth surface. While the wheels help on the pavement, they are a down-right hassle when the going gets rough. Wheeled bags typically offer limited, or no other carrying options (for instance, no bags we tested have wheels and backpack shoulder straps. We're working on testing products that do both), making traveling with them difficult in remote or exotic locations. It is often far easier to deal with non-wheel luggage when you are strapping your bag to jeeps, yaks, sleds, snowmobiles, llamas, rafts, or anything else that your adventure might require. Lastly, we've experienced flying in small 2-5 person "commercial" planes in both Africa and Alaska that wouldn't let us bring hard-sided luggage along.
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!
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.
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.

Who should buy the Filson? To be sure, this bag belongs more on a weekend cabin getaway than on an Alaskan glacier. Not only that, but it lacks backpack straps, organizational compartments, haul handles for easy transport, and is pricier than most other options in its size range. This means that it’s not our first choice for an outdoor duffel, but it’s a super classy option for travel.
Many duffels on this list are made by big outdoor brands like Patagonia, The North Face, Osprey, and Marmot. Outdoor use can vary substantially, from throwing your bag in the back of a truck to hardcore expeditions (often tied to the side of a horse or in a sled). The good news is that versatility is a notable upside of these duffels: we’ll often use them for basic travel purposes as well, especially those with multiple carrying options and convenient organizational features like U-shaped openings and multiple pockets or compartments. For example, the Patagonia Black Hole, our top pick, can be used from anything from serious outdoor exploration to standard air travel (and it looks the part for both). In this category, look for robust fabrics with DWR coating, water-resistant zippers or storm-flaps, more comfortable backpack carrying straps, and lash points for grabbing the bag or attaching extra gear to the outside. And although outdoor duffels usually can keep your gear dry in a light rain, if you’re truly subjecting your bag to wet conditions, see the waterproof category below.

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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Alex, thank you for the blog post and especially your FB group, I learn so much from TFG and fellow admirers! I love cross body bags for travel, I’ve wish listed some of the Travelon bags above for an upcoming trip later this year. One of my favorite travel tips are freezer-strength Ziplock bags – sandwich sizes for credit cards and another for foreign currency, medium size for TSA and larges for medicine, charging cords/headphones. I find it helps me locate exactly what I need immediately (and helps my husband, too).
I received the bag a little over a week ago and it looked great when I opened it. The only problem was the smell. The smell was like rancid oil on leather. To fix the smell, I conditioned it with Mothers leather conditioner. After letting it sit overnight the smell of clean leather came back. The quality seems great so far the leather feels nice and feels good. I took it on a four day trip and had no problems. I'm taking it on another weekend trip this weekend too.

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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.
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.
Among rolling models, there is a much more significant difference between models. Take, for example, the heavy end of the spectrum; The North Face Rolling Thunder 30" and 36" models, weighing 9 pounds 14 ounces and 10 pounds four ounces, respectably. That means 20% of the weight you get to take on the plane is already eaten up by the bag. We much prefer models like the Eagle Creek Gear Warrior and the Patagonia Black Hole Wheeled, which are closer to 7.5 pounds.
We reference durability frequently in this article—everyone wants their investment to last. The most common way of measuring fabric strength is denier (D), and the higher the rating, the tougher the fabric will be. All deniers are not created equal, but this gives you a general idea of how two duffels stack up to each other in terms of toughness. When available, we’ve included the denier rating of each bag in our handy comparison table above, which range from 1000D for a bag like The North Face Base Camp down to 420D for the Eagle Creek Load Warrior. It’s worth noting that the manufacturers sometimes provide two numbers, which refer to the different panels (usually the highest number is the bottom of the bag that is exposed to the ground, whereas the lower number are the sides and top). This number may not be the definitive factor in your buying decision, but it certainly can help tip the scales when choosing between two close competitors.  
Don’t let the rain keep you from exploring. This Baggallini crossbody is also a stylish travel purse, light and water-resistant, so you can take advantage of wet travel days without worrying about your valuables and electronics getting drenched. It comes with a removable RFID-resistant wallet you can pull out of the middle of the bag. For me, this feels safer than having an outside zippered pocket for my cards.

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The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best women’s jeans, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, ultra-flattering pants, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.
I bought a fabulous cross body satchel in dark grey canvas years ago it has flaps and zippered compartments – and plenty of room for a rain jacket – trouble is it is so heavy that by the end of a long day my neck hurts. So last time we went to the US I bought a small shoulder bag I wear it cross body and it has my phone credit card some cash and passports on it. Hubby gets a back pack with my scarf, rain jacket and a water bottle. Best reveal tip – make the husband carry the heavy stuff lol

What would you recommend to avoid being robbed? One place I read, suggested a backpack. A backpack surely seems unsafe and you can’t see them going into your bag. I was in Egypt in 09 and a lot of people were robbed while sightseeing. Please advise as I’ll be traveling to South Africa (Johannesburg and Cape Town) soon and doing a lot of sightseeing. I like the idea of the anti theft one mentioned in your article.


The Bago Packable is built and marketed as what we'd call "secondary luggage"; it is a fairly lightweight, full-size duffel that can be folded and zipped into a small envelope when not in use. Whether it lives in your car for getting unexpected purchases into your 7th floor walk-up apartment or in your expedition luggage for moving groceries from Anchorage to the Ruth Glacier, a duffel bag like this is handier than you might first realize. It is closely comparable to (and snags this award from) the Patagonia Lightweight Black Hole. The Lightweight Black Hole is a little lighter (in absolute terms, for the respective sizes we tested) and more waterproof, but is only available in smaller sizes and doesn't have the organizational attributes of the Bago. When corrected for volume, the Bago is definitely lighter than the Patagonia.


The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best women’s jeans, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, ultra-flattering pants, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.
"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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