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.
The “black hole” duffel bag lives up to its name for travel writer and photographer Michaela Trimble, who has toted it all over the world, most recently to Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Madagascar. “It fit everything I needed for a nearly two-month trip with room to spare,” she said, “and it barely came back with a scratch.” Laminated fabric and water-repellent coating protect the bag from the elements and any damage that may occur in transit, while keeping it lightweight (under three pounds). Trimble also likes that it “comes with padded straps, so it can easily and comfortably be carried as a backpack.”
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.
The body of the No. 1 Grip is made of our vegetable-tanned vintage brown polished leather for strength, while the flap and ends of the bag are made of our dry-milled leather to give it character and softness. The bag has plenty of room to carry everything you need for an overnight stay, or it serves well as your personal carry-on bag for extended trips. It opens wide and packs easily. The Colonel packed his No. 1 Grip with a pair of khakis, two folded shirts, shoes, socks, two tee shirts, two boxer shorts, a bandana, a belt and his GP1 Shave Kit.
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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.
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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One travel tip I have is to pack two or three binder clips with you. They are small to pack but useful for securing hotel/hostel/accommodation curtains shut. This helps block out the light more and make it easier to sleep which is helpful when you are adjusting to a new schedule & overcoming jet lag. Another tip is to try to switch whatever toiletries you can to solids. There are great options for solid shampoo bars, body wash bars, face wash bars, lotion bars, etc.
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 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.
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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.
On the road, the items you carry depend on your traveling purpose — whether you're a seasoned explorer or a visiting tourist. Our men's leather luggage and travel accessories speak for themselves, no matter where your travels may take you. Combining luxury with convenience, Bosca duffels and backpacks are spacious enough to carry all of your modern conveniences, while still retaining the Old World grace of hand-stained Italian leather. And with our precise and durable craftsmanship, your new leather travel bag will soon become a welcome companion for your next journey.
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.