In addition to using them in the real world, we conducted a number of side-by-side tests in an attempt to measure each contender's overall weather resistance. We didn't weigh Weather Resistance as high as other categories like Ease of Packing and Comfort to Carry but it remains an important category never-the-less. Weather resistance is important when you want to keep your stuff dry as you take it out of the car on a soggy day or when it's being driven around on the tarmac. We also find it useful for travel to more exotic locations where it may spend longer periods in the elements.
The Top Pick Bago Packable has four pockets in addition to the main compartment. Among lightweight bags, this is well above the competition. One of the Bago pockets is an externally accessed, large and variable volume "shoe/wet" compartment that sequesters dirty or damp things from the rest of your gear. Its volume is shared with the main compartment. If the main bag is full, you won't get much in the sequestered compartment. It is a clever and welcome design that we've seen in other bags and are happy to observe and use in this ultra-lightweight piece of equipment.
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.
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The $130-ish duffel market certainly is competitive, but another nice option for travelers is the Long Hauler from Marmot. This bag is well designed with just about all of the features that you need: detachable backpack straps, a U-shaped access to the main compartment, grab handles on the ends, compression straps, and end pockets for storing smaller items and valuables. Durability is good too: the bag is reinforced with 600D nylon, which should allow for a decent amount of rough use.
The roller duffel is one of those “have your cake and eat it too” scenarios for travelers wanting the ease of wheeling their bag with the packing convenience of a duffel. We’ll start by noting that roller duffels are quite popular, and particularly for air travel. You simply take the bag out of your car, wheel to check-in or your gate if it’s a carry-on, and you’re off. Roller duffels are ideal for those who don’t want to carry their bag on their back or shoulder, and some of the smaller versions (in the 40-liter range and under) are carry-on compatible.
I was on the search for an anti-theft bag recently that wasn’t ugly and wasn’t too big. I was set on one of the ones shown here, but when I arrived at a local luggage shop, I found the Travelon Anti-Theft Signature E/W Shoulder Bag in black. It is the perfect size so that I didn’t feel weighed down or look too touristy, and because it has various zippered compartments and decent depth, I was able to also use it for as a camara bag for my compact-system camera with extra lens. It’s a good price at around $40 and comes in different colors ebags.com/product/travelon/anti-theft-signature-ew-shoulder-bag/276982
5. Wear your bag in a way that dissuades theft. Most often thieves look for an easy mark. A handbag across your chest (as opposed to hanging loosely over a shoulder) will look more challenging and less appetizing. Keep your bag on the inside rather than on the street side. Yes, there have been instances of women being dragged along by a thief on a scooter BUT seeing a well-protected bag should be pretty dissuasive. If this worries you, use a pashmina or a scarf over your shoulder. It won't hide your bag completely but it makes it more complicated for thieves - and they like to keep things simple.
1. For a $200+ dollar bag, I would not expect to have so many problems with the zippers. The design of zippers around the top of the bag is such that they get stuck in the corners at the bottoms and it take a minute of rearranging the sit of the zipper tracks and jangling with the zipper to get it come unstuck and finally zip up. On my bag, this is a bigger problem on the right side corner as you are looking at it. Perhaps this could be remedied by simply using a slightly bigger zipper track or bigger zipper tag? Regardless, its an obnoxious tick.
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Patagonia hit the nail on the head with the name of its line of heavy-duty carry-alls: Black Hole. That’s what a duffel should be — a bottomless pit into which you can toss anything and everything you might need for a day at the crag or an entire week in the opposite hemisphere. The brand recently released a pared-down version of the popular bag — goodbye padded backpack straps and D-shaped zip opening. It’s lighter, but no less durable than its predecessor. The Lightweight Black Hole is made from 7.1-ounce 210-denier nylon ripstop with a TPU-film laminate and a DWR coating. Best of all? It weighs just 510 grams.
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.
Some travelers may not care about the weight of their duffel, but for others it’s a factor, and particularly with heavier rolling models. Most non-wheeled duffels weigh just a few pounds or less, which makes them easy to carry, throw in your car, and store when not in use. Rolling duffels, on the other hand, tend to get a bit heavy. For example, The North Face Rolling Thunder weighs 9 pounds 14 ounces empty for the 80-liter version, which already accounts for almost 20% of the standard 50-pound limit for checked bags. And the Osprey Shuttle weighs 8 pounds 3 ounces but has a larger capacity at 100 liters (and comes in a massive 130-liter version). We can tell you that a loaded Osprey Shuttle 100L with things like shoes can get awfully close to the 50 pounds: we’ve been in the high 40s on a number of occasions. It’s also worth noting that a 45-pound bag isn’t the easiest to get in and out of your car or up a flight of stairs.
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Look for models with daisy chains that have beefy bartacking between each loop and reinforced grab loops made of robust webbing. This can help make sure your duffel stays attached to your sled if you fall into a crevasse. Photo climbers walking on the Kahiltna glacier in the Alaska range each pulling a sled with a duffel tied to it. Shoulder straps and briefcase style straps are good things to thread when tying your duffel down - as long as they are beefy enough.
"This bag is roomy enough for a weekend, but usually I bring it along when I'm checking a bag — it's the perfect in-between size for when a second suitcase is overkill but a purse seems too small. It looks pretty sleek (gold fixtures, leather trim, a nylon exterior that's easy to wipe down should you happen to, I don't know, drop the Shake Shack milkshake you just bought all over the floor in Terminal 4), and it has wheels and a zip-open suitcase sleeve, so you can stuff it to the gills and still tool around the terminal with ease. And oh, the pockets! So many pockets. Pockets are key." — Lila Battis, Food & Travel Editor
This workhorse bag counts lifestyle bloggers, moms, and T+L editors among its devotees. With interior and exterior pockets for organizing your stuff, a drop-strap that makes hauling it around easy, and a bottom zip compartment for keeping shoes or dirty clothes separate, it’s a practical pick for long weekend excursions. The relaxed-chic look in a range of shades is just the icing on the cake.
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.
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The Gregory Alpaca is a high capacity duffel that checks all the boxes. It has a large U-shaped opening, padded and removable backpack straps, and is made with a durable 900D ripstop nylon fabric with a water-resistant coating. Throw in storm flaps over the top zipper, plenty of daisy chains, and a sleek design, and you have another attractive outdoor/travel duffel to consider.