I think the the tip that revolutionized my packing was being told I did not have to pack a new outfit for each day. I knew how to mix different pieces at home, with a wash and and a week in between re-wears, but realizing I could bring only three bottoms and four tops for a week (or more) by simply mixing and matching and planning ahead transformed the way I pack.
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.

how to buy travel bags


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.
Although we do like the Base Camp line and have used them for years, we prefer the Black Hole for a few reasons. First, the outer fabric on The North Face shows scuff marks more easily than its Patagonia counterpart. Second, at 3 pounds 8 ounces, it’s more than a pound heavier. Finally, we found the backpack straps on the Base Camp Duffel to be slightly more difficult to detach than those on the Black Hole, making your airport check-in a bit more frantic. But for a bit more versatility in terms of size and colors, the Base Camp from The North Face is a solid duffel choice.
"My go-to carry-on is a black leather backpack because it's easy to carry around (two free hands for pre-boarding book and magazine browsing!), sturdy enough to hold some of my heavier items, and sleek enough that I feel OK bringing it along if I'm meeting friends for drinks straight from the airport. Mine has been everywhere from rooftop bars to the middle of the Rocky Mountains (though it's admittedly not the ideal piece of gear for more advanced hikes). Added bonus: If you didn't pack a purse, it can be used as one throughout your trip." — Nina Ruggiero, Senior Digital Editor

Although we do like the Base Camp line and have used them for years, we prefer the Black Hole for a few reasons. First, the outer fabric on The North Face shows scuff marks more easily than its Patagonia counterpart. Second, at 3 pounds 8 ounces, it’s more than a pound heavier. Finally, we found the backpack straps on the Base Camp Duffel to be slightly more difficult to detach than those on the Black Hole, making your airport check-in a bit more frantic. But for a bit more versatility in terms of size and colors, the Base Camp from The North Face is a solid duffel choice.
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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Why do we have the SealLine ranked here? The YETI has more structure and is much easier to pack, not to mention the fully waterproof zipper system mitigates the common user error of creating a roll-top seal (SealLine also makes the Zip Duffel, which has a waterproof main zipper). Moreover, the YETI has backpack straps and therefore is easier to carry. And the cherry on top: the extra thickness of the YETI means that it’s much more durable in the long term. But for those looking for a waterproof duffel without breaking the bank, the SealLine WideMouth is a nice option.
Another way to ensure duffel backpacks won’t weigh you down is opting for a smaller ultralight duffel-bag backpack. The North Face Flyweight Duffel is a great choice for packing light on shorter trips, or for budget airlines that limit bag size. It can hold 32 liters and has external pockets for easy access to necessities. Its sleek unisex design blends in anywhere. Wear it on your back or sling its long carrying strap over your shoulder.

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The only thing that kept the Alpaca from being our Editors' Choice was The North Face Base Camp's additional pockets and organizational oriented features, which our testers thought helped it as a better all-around piece of travel baggage. However, the Alpaca provided a high level of durability and was burlier than most of the models in our fleet. In fact, it will be plenty durable for most users for many, many years.
The shortcomings of the Osprey Shuttle mostly relate to the design itself. First, you are not throwing this duffel over your shoulder and strolling through the airport or walking through a major city. It’s big and heavy at over 8 pounds empty, and must be transported almost exclusively on wheels. In addition, when packed to the brim, you may find yourself pushing the standard 50-pound checked baggage limit, and particularly if you go with the 130-liter version (we’ve been okay with the 100-liter but have been close on occasion). Finally, we’ve been surprised at how much wear and tear shows on the Osprey Shuttle. We got ours in bright red but would recommend the black instead.
If you know coolers, chances are you know the YETI brand. And it’s no surprise that the company entered the duffel market with a splash. Many models on this list are water resistant—they can withstand wet ground and the occasional rain shower—but the Panga is fully waterproof. You’ll often spot this thick and submergible duffel on rafts, fishing boats, and pretty much anywhere people want the ultimate level of protection for their gear. Made with laminated high-density nylon that feels like rubber, a burly EVA bottom, and a waterproof zipper that locks firmly into place, this duffel is as water-ready and air-tight as you’ll find.

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I’m a crossbody bag fan for sure, because I really like having my hands free. That said, there are times my shoulders begin to beg for a little relief. I’m seriously considering the Henri Bendel Jetsetter Convertible Backpack for my upcoming trip through the Czech Republic, because it can be worn so many ways…and I won’t have to transfer the contents from bag to bag!

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The Gregory Alpaca Duffel is premium-quality duffel that can withstand the elements and is well worth the higher price tag. With a 45-liter capacity, the weatherproof bag can take the wear and tear from the airport and is ideal for outdoor adventures. In addition to carry handles, the duffel features removable padded backpack straps for easy transportation – great for hiking. The water-resistant bag has reinforced threads for high performance and has a small exterior zippered pouch for quick access items, a “U-shaped” main compartment, as well as a large mesh interior pocket. There’s also a slot for IDs and plenty of exterior loops for attaching carabiners. It is available in bright blue or black. 

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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.
First some pluses: This is a spacious bag - could easily pack for up to a week in it. Even when it is quite full, the backpack straps are constructed in a way that it doesn't feel too heavy on your back (for reference I am ~5'5, so the bag is quite large relative to my frame but does not feel cumbersome to carry as a backpack at all, even without support straps). I love that it has a computer sleeve that fits a 15" laptop, a couple smaller tech pockets, and separate external pockets for laundry/shoes, as I primarily use the bag for days I want to go to the gym in the morning and straight to work for the day [sometimes with a run in the afternoon].
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.
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.
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

I am traveling with my Travelon bag now and it is wonderful. My best travel tip is to use a tether to attach your smart phone to your bag. I tuck the tether into the bag when I’m not using the phone for a camera. Admittedly it does not quite pass muster as stylish but if I have to choose between stylish and not losing my phone, I will choose not loosing every time!

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.
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.
Summer is finally here and we plan to set up 'out of office' auto-reply every chance we get. Upgrade your travel style with a chic carryall that says "I'm an adult"—even if your weekend is filled with questionable decisions. Currently, we're eyeing Land's End's latest dip into their archives, a minimalist's dream carryon, and more bags worthy of your next three-day weekend. Pro tip: If you're looking for a classic leather duffel, don't forget to check out the men's section. For some wild reason these unisex options can usually be found there.

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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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.
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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The Gregory Alpaca Duffel is premium-quality duffel that can withstand the elements and is well worth the higher price tag. With a 45-liter capacity, the weatherproof bag can take the wear and tear from the airport and is ideal for outdoor adventures. In addition to carry handles, the duffel features removable padded backpack straps for easy transportation – great for hiking. The water-resistant bag has reinforced threads for high performance and has a small exterior zippered pouch for quick access items, a “U-shaped” main compartment, as well as a large mesh interior pocket. There’s also a slot for IDs and plenty of exterior loops for attaching carabiners. It is available in bright blue or black. 

Work trips and vacations get a sophisticated touch with our durable womens travel bags. Upgrade your travel style with these eye-catching bags crafted with you in mind. Equipped with enough pockets and compartments to keep you organized on the go, these travel bags will help you look great and feel prepared for whatever your trip holds. Choose one of our bags and you can pack all of the essentials and still have room for your personal style.
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.
"My go-to carry-on is a black leather backpack because it's easy to carry around (two free hands for pre-boarding book and magazine browsing!), sturdy enough to hold some of my heavier items, and sleek enough that I feel OK bringing it along if I'm meeting friends for drinks straight from the airport. Mine has been everywhere from rooftop bars to the middle of the Rocky Mountains (though it's admittedly not the ideal piece of gear for more advanced hikes). Added bonus: If you didn't pack a purse, it can be used as one throughout your trip." — Nina Ruggiero, Senior Digital Editor
The NOMATIC Travel Bag bundle is the ultimate travel kit with everything you’ll need to stay organized and stress-free on your next trip. It comes with one NOMATIC Travel Bag. The NOMATIC Travel Bag was designed for a 3-7 day trip. By combining the best features from a backpack, duffel bag and general luggage, we have created the ultimate travel bag to help you spend less time fussing with your luggage and more time enjoying your journey. The NOMATIC Travel Bag has over 20 features that make it the most functional travel bag ever. On top of being packed with incredible functionality, the bag has a sleek minimalist design, is made of strong weather-proof materials and is built to last.

This duffel has two front pockets to keep your valuable on-hand, as well as an expanding side pocket for storing dirty laundry or shoes while traveling. There are two hand straps and a detachable shoulder strap so you can configure it for easy carrying. It's available in seven different colors. Overall, the Hexin duffel is a large and versatile bag for a low price. 
Some want the best, while others will benefit from a niche Top Pick. Others want the best bang for their buck and are willing to go to the ends of the earth to find it. For all of the penny pinchers out there, we've compared overall score and retail price for all these bags. Figure out what your budget is, then choose a higher scoring duffel within that price range to maximize value.
"My go-to carry-on is a black leather backpack because it's easy to carry around (two free hands for pre-boarding book and magazine browsing!), sturdy enough to hold some of my heavier items, and sleek enough that I feel OK bringing it along if I'm meeting friends for drinks straight from the airport. Mine has been everywhere from rooftop bars to the middle of the Rocky Mountains (though it's admittedly not the ideal piece of gear for more advanced hikes). Added bonus: If you didn't pack a purse, it can be used as one throughout your trip." — Nina Ruggiero, Senior Digital Editor
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. 
The only thing that kept the Alpaca from being our Editors' Choice was The North Face Base Camp's additional pockets and organizational oriented features, which our testers thought helped it as a better all-around piece of travel baggage. However, the Alpaca provided a high level of durability and was burlier than most of the models in our fleet. In fact, it will be plenty durable for most users for many, many years.

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As I said, it’s smallish. The way the top flap cinches down means it’s more of a triangular prism than a rectangular one (for those mathematically inclined). So it definitely requires more thought and planning. But I just packed it with two pair of pants, three shirts, a pair of slippers, couple undershirts, a watch cap, couple of socks, and some other odds and ends. Not too bad. My new goal in life is “pack light” and this bag forces you to. 

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For most travel where you will be checking a bag but won’t be bringing bulky outdoor gear, a medium duffel in the 50 to 75-liter range is a good match. For this reason, the 60-liter version often is the best seller of all: it’s perfect for most trips ranging from short weekend excursions to one week or more. Of course, the right choice also depends on how much stuff you like to bring, but we find ourselves reaching for our 60-liter Patagonia Black Hole more than any other duffel in our closet.
Another way to ensure duffel backpacks won’t weigh you down is opting for a smaller ultralight duffel-bag backpack. The North Face Flyweight Duffel is a great choice for packing light on shorter trips, or for budget airlines that limit bag size. It can hold 32 liters and has external pockets for easy access to necessities. Its sleek unisex design blends in anywhere. Wear it on your back or sling its long carrying strap over your shoulder.
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.

Summer is finally here and we plan to set up 'out of office' auto-reply every chance we get. Upgrade your travel style with a chic carryall that says "I'm an adult"—even if your weekend is filled with questionable decisions. Currently, we're eyeing Land's End's latest dip into their archives, a minimalist's dream carryon, and more bags worthy of your next three-day weekend. Pro tip: If you're looking for a classic leather duffel, don't forget to check out the men's section. For some wild reason these unisex options can usually be found there.
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.
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