Arc’teryx’s sleek Carrier is not your everyday travel duffel, and it doesn’t look like one either. With taped seams, coated nylon, and a water-tight zipper with storm flap, the Carrier is about as close to waterproof as a water-resistant bag gets. And at only 1 pound 5 ounces for the 55L version (and a mere 1 pound 7 ounces for the 80L), it’s the lightest option on our list, handily beating out ultralight designs like Granite Gear Packable Duffel and the Gregory Stash, and packing down to an impressively small size.
Great for a trip to the gym, this sturdy duffel from Elite Sports keeps all your gear in one place. The bag is composed of a heavy-duty material called Cordura, a high-grade ballistic 1200 denier that’s used in military gear, so it’s super durable and can handle being thrown in the trunk. The Warrior Series has plenty of storage, including a waterproof beverage pocket, a jacket strap, a secure internal pocket for valuables and an exterior pocket for shoes that keeps dirt off the rest of your gear. Plus, it has a ventilated mesh compartment for dirty gym clothes. But what really takes this bag to the next level is its convertibility — a pair of retractable shoulder straps transform the Warrior Series into a backpack in seconds. It is available in both medium (20 x 9 x 11 inches) and large (11 x 23 x 12 inches) sizes, and comes in six different colors, from neutral black and gray to bright pink and red.
Many duffels on this list are made by big outdoor brands like Patagonia, The North Face, Osprey, and Marmot. Outdoor use can vary substantially, from throwing your bag in the back of a truck to hardcore expeditions (often tied to the side of a horse or in a sled). The good news is that versatility is a notable upside of these duffels: we’ll often use them for basic travel purposes as well, especially those with multiple carrying options and convenient organizational features like U-shaped openings and multiple pockets or compartments. For example, the Patagonia Black Hole, our top pick, can be used from anything from serious outdoor exploration to standard air travel (and it looks the part for both). In this category, look for robust fabrics with DWR coating, water-resistant zippers or storm-flaps, more comfortable backpack carrying straps, and lash points for grabbing the bag or attaching extra gear to the outside. And although outdoor duffels usually can keep your gear dry in a light rain, if you’re truly subjecting your bag to wet conditions, see the waterproof category below.
My #1 travel tip (besides an anti-theft bag) is a Travel Checklist. A spreadsheet with all the items you travel with. I separate things by category…toiletries, clothes, travel documents, etc. If I don’t need a specific item on that trip, then just cross it out. This keeps my husband and I organized and prevents us from forgetting things when we travel. We’re always adding to it and keeping it updated.
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.
This duffel bag came highly recommended by our testers for its sleek design and its many useful storage compartments. It was also very comfortable to carry: “I really liked the strap and the bag didn’t seem too bulky even when there was a lot of stuff inside of it,” one tester noted. The only thing our testers wished was different? The bag’s size. “I would have made it little larger,” said one reviewer. “With a laptop inside, I couldn’t fit a ton of clothes.”
A small percentage of people want waterproof protection from their duffel (think rafters, fisherman, and backcountry winter adventurers). The market is limited, but two bags on the list are waterproof: the YETI Panga and SealLine WideMouth. The Panga is a beast of a bag, with the shape of a traditional duffel but with extra thick materials and a fully waterproof zipper. The SealLine, on the other hand, is a roll-top bag that more closely resembles a dry bag. Given their over-built nature, we wouldn’t want a waterproof duffel for anything but the harshest and wettest of environments. They simply are too heavy, expensive, and technically-oriented (minimal organization and straps) for everyday use. And it's worth mentioning that the Arc’teryx Carrier and Hyperlite Dyneema Duffel can also be used for some scenarios in which a waterproof duffel is being considered. They won’t handle submersion, but should be able to keep out rain or snow with similar waterproof fabrics, taped seams, and water-resistant zippers as a rain jacket.
The Patagonia Lightweight Black Hole most certainly lived up to its name and tips the scales at a scant 1 pound 2 ounces; this makes it the lightest model we tested. However, before we continue, we want to be clear that while this is the lightest-weight model in our review, it is also the smallest volume bag (45 liter, largest volume this the Lightweight Black Hole is made) of any option we tested. The Top Pick Bago Packable is a few ounces heavier but is much larger. Both the Patagonia Lightweight and the Bago come in different size options. The Patagonia is available in 30 and 45 liter versions. We tested the 1.1 pound 45 liter version. The Bago comes in 60, 80, and 100-liter versions. We tested the 1.4 pound 80-liter version. For almost twice the volume the Bago is only 27% heavier. When corrected for volume, the Bago is much lighter than the Patagonia Lightweight Black Hole.
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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.
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Well, I must admit that I love the crossbody / shoulder bags more too. Threre are always tons of items I need to carry, Perfect for me as I’m mother of 2 children (1 and 5yo) and we all know that it is impossible to pack yourself into small clutch with this all additional kids stuf. Im looking for something for myself – a nice and big shoulder bag like mentioned here http://thewomansbag.com/cross-body-and-shoulder-bag/ would be perfect but didn’t decided yet.
The benchmark of excellence! This bag is designed to be used and still be something that you want to keep for good. Quality construction, durable and made to last. This is where you get the expression that they don’t make them like that anymore….but they still do!!!! An investment worth every penny to people that can appreciate the craftsmanship and details needed to create these bags.
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.
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Duffels are a popular choice among travelers because they are often lighter than standard luggage, but can hold a lot of gear. As luggage companies expand and improve on duffel bags, you’ll find some with rolling wheels, backpack straps, waterproof material and stylish designs. Whether in need of a carry-on sized bag or something a bit larger, check out our recommendations for the best duffels available today.
In 2018, as it has been for over half a decade, our testers' favorite burly duffel bag is The North Face Base Camp. This perennial favorite is great, but so is the competition. The Base Camp barely edged out the Gregory Alpaca and the Patagonia Black Hole for the win. While the Base Camp wins Editors' Choice and remains a measuring stick for the all burly duffels, its scores don't make it a runaway Editors' Choice. Some other models tested have slight advantages, like the low weight of the Patagonia Black Hole. However, the Base Camp still clocks top or near-top scores in every comparison category.
After many years using a leather bag, it was falling apart and time for a new bag. I love the stylish and attractive appearance of this bag. The material Wowbox uses is high quality and should last for a long time. This is very important to me, as I am very rough on my bags. The canvas fabric is thicker than the last one I had. It is a perfect bag for a week away from home. It can hold a week's worth of clothes and is very convenient to carry around . It is also a great carry-on bag and will fit in the overhead compartments if you travel by air. It is also the right size for your workout clothes and shoes if you frequently go to fitness center after work. It is a great buy, and I believe you will love it as much ... full review
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Don’t be fooled by the affordable price tag: Herschel’s bags can stand up to years of wear and tear. This one is roomy enough for a weekend getaway, but not too huge to be impractical for everyday use — stash your work essentials plus a spare set of exercise clothes in the separate bottom compartment so you can take an impromptu spin class without lugging a gym bag around.
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Thank you for sharing a variety of bag options. I usually carry a Sherpani bag because it is what I have at home. My travel tip is to carry a small pouch of essential oils including peppermint and lavender. Peppermint comes in handy with car sickness and/or yucky fumes/smells on the plane and lavender is helpful for soothing sunburns or other skin stuff.
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