Though less comfortable than backpack straps over extended periods, a single shoulder strap is a quick way to carry your duffel short distances. In particular, we like shoulder straps on smaller duffels that don’t weigh a ton (they can start to get uncomfortable around the popular 60-liter range). Not all duffel bags come with shoulder straps, but we see them frequently on smaller capacity, travel-specific bags. Shoulder straps usually are removable, allowing you to streamline your duffel for transport.


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.

This was a gift for our son and he loved it. The canvas lining was nice and makes it look rugged. The only downside was the strap which is excessively long. Other reviews haven't mentioned that, so it may have an isolated instance. I did not notice any unusual smell. To me it just smelled like leather. He purchased a leather punch to allow it to be shortened. Even with that, I would purchase again.
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.

We are committed to producing quality, handcrafted products that showcase our time-honored standards of excellence and deep respect for the Americana tradition. Col. Littleton products go through rigorous testing and numerous quality inspections before being shipped to our customers. Should you receive a Col. Littleton product that is defective in materials or workmanship, you can count on us to make it right. Our guarantee is limited to the cost of the product itself. It also does not cover normal wear and tear. We feel if you just plain “wore it out,” you got your money’s worth. Also, we cannot be responsible for an item which has suffered through alteration, damage due to improper cleaning, improper use, mishandling or accident. If we made a mistake in personalizing your product or if the product is defective in materials or workmanship, of course we’ll replace it. Otherwise, personalized products are not returnable.
We’ve all been there: clumsily dragging our bag across the airport lobby and cursing ourselves for not purchasing something with wheels. And if you’re looking for a bag in the 60-liter range or larger, know that when it gets full, it’s going to be heavy. The good news is that duffel manufacturers have gotten creative with designing bags that can be carried in a multitude of ways. Below are the main carrying options, and some fully-featured bags offer all four.
"I cram as much as possible into my checked luggage when I fly so that I can carry on something lighter (and more stylish). My go-to is the Dante backpack, a handsome roll-top sack with leather detailing from Swedish outfitter Sandqvist. It’s compact enough to fit handily underneath the seat, roomy enough to hold all my in-flight essentials, and dapper enough to usually earn a compliment from my seat mate. Dante comes in various colors, but the olive green is kind of my thing, so maybe choose a different one." — CB Owens, Copy & Research Editor
I figured I would share this gem. This bag is one of the best investments that I have ever made. It literally holds my life in there! The inside is perfect with a large amount of space, one zippered pocket, and another deep pocket along the backside of the pack. These two pocket are perfect to store stuff in that you don’t want stolen. This bag has large straps that can’t be cut, and it also very stylish for even the fashionistas out there. I can’t wait to get another before my trip to Spain!
Drawing on the success of its soft-sided coolers, Yeti stripped out the insulation and used the thick, laminated nylon skin to create a highly puncture- and abrasion-resistant duffel called the Panga. Like many Yeti products, what appears run-of-the-mill is actually innovation genius. The Panga has easily removable backpack straps, lash points on all sides and haul handles on either end. Speaking of those ends, they’re sturdy enough to keep this bag standing upright, and the bottom is padded with EVA foam, similar to the stuff in running shoes, to keep things protected when you decide to give the bag a toss. The Panga is also fully submersible thanks to a TIZIP airtight zipper. One way to test it? Close it up when the bag is empty and stand on it — not even a gasp will escape.

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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.

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.
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.
Such an important issue to be aware of. Many years ago we were in Paris. My husband squatted low to ground to get perfect vantage point pic of Notre Dame when a man came behind him and started to reach out towards him. I yelled and the man backed away & left. Not sure what he was planning but my husband had no idea he was there. We were lucky in that I was far enough away he didn’t realize we were together & that he decided not to do anything.

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For more traditional air or bus travel, wheeled duffels are excellent, as they are just plain easier to get around with and their heavier weight is typically less of an issue. For expeditions or more exotic travel, we prefer traditional duffels because of their low weight, ease of transporting on non-smooth surfaces, and ability to be transported by non-traditional means (AKA strapped to animals, boats, snowmobiles, etc.)
Ive spent a great deal of time in Mexico on missions trips. Unfortunately, due to an autoimmune disease, I have a true allergy to the sun, so I am covered head to toe. But this actually helps me with safety. I keep a small crossbody purse hidden under my long, flowy blouses for valuables, then a bigger crossbody tote over my clothes that carries my medical supplies, water, and a small amount of cash in a small wallet attached by strap on the inside. I also look for maxi dresses or light pants with deep pockets or pockets that snap closed. Ive never had my things stolen, even in the most sketchy places. I also shop at second hand stores for travel clothes and accessories, that way, I wont be that upset if things are stolen.
Ive spent a great deal of time in Mexico on missions trips. Unfortunately, due to an autoimmune disease, I have a true allergy to the sun, so I am covered head to toe. But this actually helps me with safety. I keep a small crossbody purse hidden under my long, flowy blouses for valuables, then a bigger crossbody tote over my clothes that carries my medical supplies, water, and a small amount of cash in a small wallet attached by strap on the inside. I also look for maxi dresses or light pants with deep pockets or pockets that snap closed. Ive never had my things stolen, even in the most sketchy places. I also shop at second hand stores for travel clothes and accessories, that way, I wont be that upset if things are stolen.
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.
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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Such an important issue to be aware of. Many years ago we were in Paris. My husband squatted low to ground to get perfect vantage point pic of Notre Dame when a man came behind him and started to reach out towards him. I yelled and the man backed away & left. Not sure what he was planning but my husband had no idea he was there. We were lucky in that I was far enough away he didn’t realize we were together & that he decided not to do anything.
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best women’s jeans, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, ultra-flattering pants, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.
I am a minimalist. That doesn’t mean I live like a monk; I do enjoy the good things in life. It just means I don’t buy a lot of stuff because I learned a long time ago that everything you own owns you. So I have very few material possessions. But the few things I do own are the finest things money can buy. In my closet, I have two suits, a wardrobe of 7 pants and shirts, and three pairs of shoes. I even have one sofa in my 1,000 square foot condominium that will outlast me, because it is the last sofa I will ever purchase (and I’m only 41 years old). You get the picture. So that is why I consider this to be the last gym bag I will ever purchase. It has plenty of room for my running shoes, workout clothes, towel, and the No. 2 shaving kit. What else does a guy need? Nothing as far as I’m concerned. And if you get sticker shock, think about all the $50 gym bags that you would have purchased over the next 50 years.
Roller duffels do have their limitations. First, rarely do roller duffels come with anything more than carry handles, making them difficult to transport in areas without sufficient rolling surfaces (they lack backpack straps, which we love). Second, cheaper or ultralight duffels have a tendency to fall over when full, which is something to be aware of when making a purchase (heavier models like the Osprey Shuttle do not fall over, which makes them worth the extra cost in our opinion). Finally, roller duffels inherently have more breakable parts. Some duffels have replaceable wheels but many don’t, which is a quick way to lose all of that easy transport functionality.
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