We’ll start by noting that we initially had our hesitations about the Filson Field Duffel. To start, the Tin Cloth fabric is rather distinct and has an Indiana Jones-type feel (not necessarily in a bad way, but that was our first impression). Upon further inspection, this bag is exquisitely made and looks and feels the part. The thick canvas has a water repellant finish (oil-finish wax can be applied for added protection) and we love the silky interior liner. The Field Duffel certainly is more formal than others on this list, but we love the build quality and unique design.
It loads from the top, but it also has a reinforced bottom compartment with bumper guards and ballistic nylon fabric to protect your delicate possessions. You can also access the bottom of the main compartment through the zippered curtain divider. The Alpha 2 Split Duffel also comes with two front U-zip pockets, a telescoping handle, and an adjustable shoulder strap.
"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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To say that Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s Dyneema Duffel is massive and indestructible borders on understatement. The narrow profile was designed specifically for harmonious integration with the Paris Expedition Sled, commonly used during longer trips to the world’s unreachable peaks. The primary material is right in the name. Dyneema, when taken at its strength-to-weight ratio, is the strongest fiber in the world — stronger than steel and Kevlar. It’s also waterproof and UV resistant. You could say the Dyneema Duffel is ultra-everything: ultralight, ultra large, ultra durable, ultra minimal.
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.
Almost all the non-wheeled models we selected for this review have decent daisy chains and grab loops. Two Top Pick winners are almost entirely devoid of daisy chains. The external profile of both the Yeti Panga and Bago Travel are almost entirely devoid of lash points. The Patagonia Lightweight Black Hole is similarly lacking in lash points. The rest of the non-wheeled bags have good options. The Gregory Alpaca, with its robust reinforced daisy chains, stood out. The daisy chains ran the full length of the bag, and its large grab loops made it easy to attach to almost anything, whether that be a sled or llama. The North Face Base Camp and the Patagonia Black Hole weren't too far behind, as both offer ease of transport. We feel wheeled duffels are great for traditional travel and duffels are better for non-traditional travel or for trips where getting every ounce possible without going over the 50-pound limit is of the utmost importance.
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.
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Bottom Line While the Base Camp Duffel faces stiffer competition than it used to, it remains the duffel that all others are compared against. A solid all-around excellent expedition bag, this model was built with remote adventures in mind. A burly, waterproof sack that comes in a few sizes, all with nice backpack straps; it has a narrow niche, but is the only product we’ve found that checks the boxes it checks. This model offers a top-notch blend that makes it easy to transport and highly weather resistant. A top-notch model that is slightly less expensive than others, without giving up much in the way of features, pockets, carrying options or overall durability.
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.
Hands down, the easiest duffels to pack, unpack, and rummage around in are those with a large, U-shaped opening. Duffels such as the Patagonia Black Hole feature this design: a zippered flap extends around three of the four sides of the top of the duffel and opens to reveal most of the contents. These bags provide easy access whether in a hotel, tent, or on the road. Other bags, such as the Filson Field Duffel, open in a more traditional style, with one zipper that extends across the top of the bag. With a smaller opening, access to the contents is more limited, and especially when full (this means more rummaging and disorganization). If you’re looking to prioritize convenience above all else, large roller duffels like the Osprey Shuttle offer the most rigid structure and largest opening for packing and unpacking.
This is the most user-friendly bag I have ever owned. Being a messenger style, it slips on and off very easily and is extremely lightweight, unlike my heavy leather bags. The main compartment is plenty big enough for my big (heavy) B-Mak wallet, and personal items, with room to spare. I love the see-through netted zipper compartment in the bag-I can actually see what is in there! I have yet to rummage through to find something, and that is highly unusual for unorganized me! The multiple outer pockets are so accessible, and I love the side pockets, which are expandable via zippers, making them even more versatile for not just water bottles. The quality is very good, zippers all work very smoothly, strap is very adjustable for any height/size of person (I'm only 5'2"). Yes, it is not a high fashion leather bag, and I ... full review
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