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!
I love my Henri Bendel Jetsetter Convertible Backpack! I have the larger and smaller bag. I used the larger one during my trip to Amesterdam and Paris. It was large enough for a rain jacket, light sweatshirt, water bottle, and my normal purse items (sun glasses, wallet, etc.). The bag was definitely full but I was out all day and the temperature changed greatly from morning to night. It was nice having everything I needed to stay comfortable. A few museums made you leave larger bags at the bag check and they seemed to only ask people with backpacks to check their bags. I loved the ability to quickly change the backpack to a handbag and bring it into museums. I hate leaving my personal belongings in the care of someone else. I highly recommend them!
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Larger than a camera bag or waistpack - yet smaller than a briefcase or laptop bag - it'll hold whatever you need, wherever your travels take you. A book, readers, an iPad®, cell phone, calculator, pens, pencils - and more! Gusseted zip-front organizer has pen and cell phone slots, a zippered pocket and organizational sleeves. Middle zip section has organizational sleeves, and gusseted rear-zip section has a neoprene sleeve to hold an e-reader or iPad®. Rear exterior pocket with snap-down security strap, two-way zippers with large zipper pulls, leather reinforcements and a detachable padded shoulder strap.
Enter the unsung workhorse of every traveler's luggage collection: The weekender. The ideal pick is not too big (or it'll weigh you down) and not too small (or you won't be able to fit extra shoes), sturdy enough that you won't need to baby it, and stylish enough that you'll feel confident hauling it to beach bungalows, mountain cabins, city apartment rentals, and wherever else your weekend travels take you.
For Ease of Packing: The easiest models to pack and unpack were The North Face Rolling Thunder 30" and 36" models. Both of these duffel bags featured a large opening that still was easy to zip closed when the bag was full. The Patagonia Black Hole Wheeled was also extremely easy to pack up as well as all the more traditional non-wheeled duffels we tested. A rigorous criterion for them to even be selected for non-wheeled models was their ease of packing. Most of the duffels we tested have U-shaped openings. The Patagonia Lightweight Black Hole, Top Pick Yeti Panga, and Top Pick Bago all have straight "I-shaped" zippers and were subsequently harder to load and unload.
The Gonex 45-liter duffel ticks all the boxes: there are plenty of pockets, it’s durable, affordable, spacious and well-constructed, making it a solid choice overall. Available in six different color combinations such as dark green with tan trim or gray and maroon, there’s a favorite for everyone. Measuring 20 x 11 x 9.6 inches, the main compartment holds a couple days’ clothes, plus has a large lid pocket that’s perfect for tablets or magazines, in addition to a small organizational pouch. The zippered sides of the bag comfortably fit shoes – keeping them separate from your clothing, and there are four additional small pockets for quick-access items. The duffel includes a shoulder strap and carry handles and is water resistant.
A favorite among in-the-know travelers, this sturdy canvas bag works as a weekender or a carry-on bag. The ingenious exterior pocket unzips into a sleeve so you can slip the bag over the handle of a rolling suitcase for a far less clumsy sprint to your gate. A separate bottom compartment means you can also keep a pair of slippers for your long-haul flight separate from the other myriad things you throw in your bag.
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.
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.
We have used this easy-to-pack model on several expeditions around the globe and love its array of pockets, outstanding lashing options, and organizational oriented features. Other bags might be just a little bit more durable and weather resistant but not by much, and the Marmot Long Hauler can often be found for $80, a fraction of what other bags in this review cost.
Not only were models that featured shoulder straps nice for using backpack style, but most of them featured straps that were long enough to simply be pulled over one shoulder for convenience and shorter distances. Photo Ian Nicholson and Graham Zimmerman using such a feature while unloading bags onto the Cul De Sac (AKA Cool Sack) Glacier in the Kichatna Spires, Western Alaska Range.
Backcountry didn’t necessarily do anything new with the Trekker, but they did make a quality bag at a reasonable price point. Compared to our top-ranked Black Hole, the Trekker lags behind in durability (it has 300-denier fabric vs. the Patagonia’s 900 denier), weather resistance (the Backcountry lacks the waterproof laminate coating of the Black Hole), and capacity options. Further, the Trekker only is available in two colors and sports a very large logo on one end, which not everyone will appreciate. For $9 more, we’ll stick with the tried-and-true Black Hole, but the Trekker is another viable option in this category.
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Our testers thought having the pocket divided made it significantly more useful compared to the single giant mesh pocket. In fact, they missed it when we used models that didn't offer this feature. This was one of the most significant drawbacks of our Editors' Choice The North Face Base Camp; it just had one sizeable inner mesh zippered pocket, which was nice, but again, our testing team enjoyed having the two smaller pockets significantly more. Many of the bags had flat outside zippered pockets, like the Helly Hansen Duffel Bag 2 and the Patagonia Black Hole Duffel. While this is a good thought, these pockets were hard to get our hands into when the bags were full.
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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.
For most types of travel, from a weekend at the cabin to an international trip, a casual travel duffel will do the trick. You still get plenty of features with these bags: backpack straps are common (more on that below), many have a water-resistant finish for protection from light precipitation and wet ground, and organization can be good depending on the size. If you’re strictly using your duffel for air travel, a roller duffel is a good option: it will allow you to move quickly through the airport without having to haul your bag on your back or shoulder. For travelers who don’t plan on subjecting their bags to the elements for extended periods of time, travel duffels offer a nice mix of convenience and simplicity.
Some of the most prominent factors that contribute to how comfortable a bag is to maneuver are the width of its wheelbase, how stiff its frame and handle are, how far its handle extends, and how far it extends above the bag or load. With lighter weights, it makes only a little bit of difference; once a piece of luggage becomes more massive, the difference is more apparent.
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!
Exemplifying its motto of “fewer, better things,” Cuyana makes beautiful, minimalist products that instantly become wardrobe staples. This bag in a soft, luxurious Argentinian leather — and available in an array of muted, sophisticated tones — transitions from work to brunch to the farmer’s market perfectly. And while many classic leather totes have open tops, the zipper closure on this one is especially useful for warding off pickpockets on international adventures. Might we also recommend getting the Tote Organization Insert to add even more structure?
Priced at $80, the Gregory Stash is an affordable duffel with an attractive design. We’ll start with the Stash’s simple zipper opening that extends the length of the duffel, which is not our preferred closure (U-shaped is better). The zipper does reach the end flaps, however, allowing the main compartment to expand up and out when packing and providing better access than other bags with similarly straight zip closures. You also get generous padding on the straps and a large outside pocket for valuables.
My favorite tip is to be organized and prepared but still willing to be spontaneous. When going new places, my husband and I research the top places to go, get recommendations, and decide what general areas we want to go to. We make sure to hit the top things on our list and then just wander to see what else we can find. When we went to Tokyo, we found the best ramen place and a beautiful little park just by wandering around.
Cenzo listened to their customers and is now fitting brass zippers. That was the tipping point for me. Italy is known for leather goods, but the quality of this weekend bag is exceptional. The vegetable tanning process must have improved the suppleness of the hides, because Cenzo leather feels fantastic. The canvas has stripes inside and I found that admissible, but not great. I'd have gone with a natural canvas color. Stripes were the only feature I didn't understand, but that may be a matter of taste. I highly recommend the Cenzo duffle, it's the best travel bag I've found.
Another sporty duffel bag, this one from the makers of our all-time favorite cooler, can also be worn as a backpack and is made from thick, laminated nylon that’ll withstand any rough baggage handling. It’s also completely waterproof — the zippers tuck into enclosed docks — so there’s no need to fear a rainstorm or wet ground ruining your clothing or gear inside.
There’s nothing flashy about the OutDry Duffel. Without shiny plastic-like fabric and flashy “outdoorsy” colors you probably wouldn’t expect much of it till you saw the nut in the brand logo. This bag is capable of taking a beating. Mountain Hardwear’s OutDry tech entails a custom-shaped waterproof membrane laminated to the bag’s inner, which seals fabrics and seams all at once. Just to be sure it worked, the brand sealed the bag away in a rain room for 24 hours, so although the fabric may not feel waterproof, rest assured that your stuff will remain dry once inside. The simplistic look won’t draw attention to would-be bag thieves, either.
Nice bag -attractive and functional. But it was not the same item as pictured. The bag I received was made from a textured course leather, not the smooth leather shown in the on-line ad. When I pointed this out to Amazon, they kindly made an adjustment. However, the leather on the bag I received very easily scratches. And it fact it did on the first usage.
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).
Never leave home without your unique sense of style or one of our trusted travel bags. In addition to securing your rocking fashion sense, our durable bags will keep your belongings safe and sound. They come in a variety of looks, including classic brown and black as well as playful prints with pops of color that are easy to spot in a crowd. No matter what your final destination is, our women's travel bags will get you there in style and keep your must-have travel items safe, secure and ready to go when you arrive. With our large variety of travel bags, we’re sure you’ll find one you love.
With a capacity of 40.78 liters, the bag is roomy enough to handle extended trips, without having to check it in at the airport. Its interior is complemented by two large zipper pockets and lined with soft navy cotton twill to keep your menswear essentials and gear protected. Each order comes with a free tin of Martexin wax to extend your weekender’s life and maintain its waterproof qualities.
Another feature to consider when assessing the quality of wheeled luggage is how stable it is and how easy it is to use when overloaded. We tested the ease of stacking another piece of non-wheeled luggage on the wheeled piece. This method gives our shoulders a break and can be used on a carry-on or 50+ pound non-wheelie duffel. In this sort of improvised luggage cart application, a single traveler can move well over 100 pounds of stuff (carry-on backpack, 50-pound wheely, and 50-pound non-wheeled duffel) fairly far. A wheeled bag that is robust enough to support and move more than its own contents is of great value.
Get a travel credit card with a limit on it. If it does get lost or stolen, it will prevent a lavish spending spree. Also carry a cc that doesn’t have charge fees associated with use, some cards will charge 3-5% per use. If two of you are travelling together, each person should have a different credit card in the event one gets lost/stolen and you need to cancel it, the other person has a different one for expenses. Do not travel with items you never want to loose, leave them at home.
"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