For any long distance your kit must be transported, the Base Camp's shoulder straps made it one of the most comfortable models to carry "backpack-style". The latest iteration, released in Fall '15, features an extra externally accessed zippered pocket, which adds much welcomed organizational capacity. Overall one of the easiest models to load and rummage through, the Base Camp is also among the most weather-resistant and most durable models tested. It also comes in a large variety of sizes and colors. Our only wish is that it was lighter for the same durability and function.
For outdoor use and travel, there’s big demand for lightweight and packable duffels that can be easily stowed away at the bottom of another pack. The Granite Gear Packable Duffel is a prime example, weighing only 1 pound 8 ounces and coming with a separate case for easy storage. Despite the compact size, you still get plenty of features: the bag has a full backpack harness plus the regular assortment of straps and handles, a decently tough 600D shell fabric, and good access to the main compartment with a large U-shaped zipper. At only $60, there is a lot to like about this duffel.
Ive spent a great deal of time in Mexico on missions trips. Unfortunately, due to an autoimmune disease, I have a true allergy to the sun, so I am covered head to toe. But this actually helps me with safety. I keep a small crossbody purse hidden under my long, flowy blouses for valuables, then a bigger crossbody tote over my clothes that carries my medical supplies, water, and a small amount of cash in a small wallet attached by strap on the inside. I also look for maxi dresses or light pants with deep pockets or pockets that snap closed. Ive never had my things stolen, even in the most sketchy places. I also shop at second hand stores for travel clothes and accessories, that way, I wont be that upset if things are stolen.
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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For more traditional air or bus travel, wheeled duffels are excellent, as they are just plain easier to get around with and their heavier weight is typically less of an issue. For expeditions or more exotic travel, we prefer traditional duffels because of their low weight, ease of transporting on non-smooth surfaces, and ability to be transported by non-traditional means (AKA strapped to animals, boats, snowmobiles, etc.)

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.
I am a bit overdue in writing this – I’ve had this grip bag for a bit over two years. No matter where in the world I go the bag never, never fails to meet my needs AND to garner the most highest of praise from men and women alike. Quality is second to none I’ve seen, excellent ‘use-ability’, and simply great looking. Sure you can spend less but this surely is a case where you get what you pay for … enjoy it.. I do!
The Patagonia Lightweight Black Hole most certainly lived up to its name and tips the scales at a scant 1 pound 2 ounces; this makes it the lightest model we tested. However, before we continue, we want to be clear that while this is the lightest-weight model in our review, it is also the smallest volume bag (45 liter, largest volume this the Lightweight Black Hole is made) of any option we tested. The Top Pick Bago Packable is a few ounces heavier but is much larger. Both the Patagonia Lightweight and the Bago come in different size options. The Patagonia is available in 30 and 45 liter versions. We tested the 1.1 pound 45 liter version. The Bago comes in 60, 80, and 100-liter versions. We tested the 1.4 pound 80-liter version. For almost twice the volume the Bago is only 27% heavier. When corrected for volume, the Bago is much lighter than the Patagonia Lightweight Black Hole.

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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.
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).
If you know you'll be carrying heavy equipment, choose a duffel bag with straps and handles with comfortable features. Our assortment includes options with adjustable shoulder straps, dual carry handles and padded straps and handles, so you can carry your gear with ease. If you know that your load will be too heavy to carry, choose a rolling duffel bag or a wheeled duffel bag. Find even more travel bags and accessories from our entire travel and luggage assortment.
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