Within its weight class, the Cargo Hauler is comparable in function and design to Granite Gear’s Packable Duffel, but comes in 4 ounces heavier and lacks features like top carry handles and internal organization pocket. Both duffels are made with 600D water-resistant fabric, a less durable (yet lighter weight) material than many of the more rugged models on the list. And it’s obvious at first glance that the Cargo Hauler simply is not as burly and water resistant as a bag like The North Face Base Camp, nor is it as comfortable of a backpack (it has a tendency to droop even when loaded). But for a nice all-around travel duffel at a reasonable price, give the Eagle Creek a look.
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In our Ease of Packing category, we compared how easy it was to load each bag with both typical travel items as well as oddly shaped things that many people might want to include. We also compared how simple it was stay organized using smaller pockets and compartments and how much of a hassle it was to search both in these pockets as well as the main compartment and then the difficulty of zipping everything shut again when we were finished.
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If you know you'll be carrying heavy equipment, choose a duffel bag with straps and handles with comfortable features. Our assortment includes options with adjustable shoulder straps, dual carry handles and padded straps and handles, so you can carry your gear with ease. If you know that your load will be too heavy to carry, choose a rolling duffel bag or a wheeled duffel bag. Find even more travel bags and accessories from our entire travel and luggage assortment.
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.
If you’re in the market for basic storage and protection for your gear, the REI Co-op Roadtripper is one of the best values on this list. At just $60, this bag is made from burly 610D water-resistant Cordura and sports a large detachable shoulder strap and handles (no backpack-style straps here, which is notable for those who plan on carrying their bag long distances). We also love the minimal weight, which at just 1 pound 8 ounces makes it one of the lightest duffels on this list.
The Gregory Alpaca Duffel is premium-quality duffel that can withstand the elements and is well worth the higher price tag. With a 45-liter capacity, the weatherproof bag can take the wear and tear from the airport and is ideal for outdoor adventures. In addition to carry handles, the duffel features removable padded backpack straps for easy transportation – great for hiking. The water-resistant bag has reinforced threads for high performance and has a small exterior zippered pouch for quick access items, a “U-shaped” main compartment, as well as a large mesh interior pocket. There’s also a slot for IDs and plenty of exterior loops for attaching carabiners. It is available in bright blue or black.
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I leave all of my “nice” jewelry at home. I wear a simple wedding band that if taken or lost will not make me cry. While in Buenos Aires a few years ago, my sister in law almost had her arm taken off when someone tried to take her Rolex watch off of her wrist. A guy ran by her, grabbed her wrist and attempted to unlatch the watch. My niece quickly realized what was happening and hit him in the face with her fist. His accomplice drove by on a motorcycle out of nowhere and he hopped on and sped off. My sister in law was bruised and a local shop owner gave her a bag of ice for her arm. All of this happened in a matter of seconds and we were in broad daylight among people! So now ALL jewelry stays at home except for a simple pair of unassuming earrings and my simple gold wedding band.
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Accompanying its roomy interior are a handful of outside pockets to hold your magazines, tablet, or passport for easy access. Further special details include a built-in umbrella holder, locker compatible zippers, and a luggage tag with a detachable pen. The soft, comfortable handles and adjustable shoulder strap make this Stuart & Lau bag a pleasure to carry around.
What is the REI Roadtripper Duffel best for? It makes a great gear hauler for those who need space and protection without the bells and whistles. We’ve used the 100-liter version on a number of big trips including going all the way down to Patagonia (4 flights plus bus rides) and came away impressed. The bag is well built, functional, and has withstood quite bit of use and abuse. At the same time, it’s definitely not a fully-featured bag. If you want conveniences like backpack straps, internal storage, and side compartments, we’d recommend the Patagonia Black Hole above instead.
If you just need a basic duffel bag to get your gear from point A to point B, the Hexin Collapsible 85L Duffel Bag is a great option at a budget-friendly price. Constructed from high-quality honeycomb nylon and durable two-way zippers, this large-capacity Hexin bag quickly folds down to a tiny pouch with a wrist strap that weighs just one pound. You can toss it in your purse or other luggage when not in use, making it the perfect extra bag for travel purchases or a quick replacement for a damaged suitcase. (The 85L bag is 28 x 12 x 16 inches and folds down to just 11.5 x 10 x 23 inches.)
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The Patagonia Black Hole above is truly a duffel by nature, but the Osprey Transporter moves closer into backpack territory (we’ll call it a hybrid). With serious backpack straps designed with carrying comfort in mind (Osprey is the industry leader in backpacking packs), the Transporter is a great option for travelers who need to cover distance with their duffel. In terms of features, the outside is tough and water resistant, while the inside is loaded with handy extras like a padded compartment for electronics and rain flaps for peace of mind. Further, the lid zips are lockable and the straps can be easily stowed away when not in use.
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In terms of capacity, the duffels on this list range from 25 liters to a whopping 150 liters, so there’s a bag to match every activity and intended use. For solo travelers on overnight and weekend trips where you won’t be bringing a bunch of gear, a smaller duffel in the 25 to 40-liter range should do the trick. A good number of these models are carry-on compatible, saving you the time and the potential cost of checking a bag. For U.S. airlines, there isn’t a universal carry-on size, but 22 x 14 x 9-inch is quite common (at the time of publication, these are the maximum dimensions for Delta, United, JetBlue, and others). It’s worth noting that almost all carry-on compatible bags will advertise themselves as such, but the general cut-off is right around 40 liters.
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.
Our team of travel experts will teach you how to optimize your packing experience, and get the most bang out of your luggage set. Using tricks like the “roll-up squeeze,” or the layer cake technique, find out what packing style makes the most sense for which trip. Our packing shortcuts and hacks will amaze you when it comes time to pack, making the whole process go more smoothly.
As I said, it’s smallish. The way the top flap cinches down means it’s more of a triangular prism than a rectangular one (for those mathematically inclined). So it definitely requires more thought and planning. But I just packed it with two pair of pants, three shirts, a pair of slippers, couple undershirts, a watch cap, couple of socks, and some other odds and ends. Not too bad. My new goal in life is “pack light” and this bag forces you to.
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Alex, I’m so happy I found your site and watched all the Live events from LV. We are traveling to Europe during August and September this year and as you can imagine – coming from Australia will require some super packing and discovering handy tips is a bonus. We are going Sydney – Rome – up through Italy to Switzerland, France, Germany, Scotland, Norway – well I hope I haven’t forgotten anything…. anyway, it means lots of different weather… I love everything you have shown, especially a bag to keep your things safe!
Your travel bag needs minimal styling—it goes with just about everything. Want to travel in ultimate comfort? Try pairing your all-black activewear look with a black leather weekender for a cool and comfortable look that is always appreciated. If you want to travel in style, pair your skinny ankle jeans, chunky knit, and booties with a cognac leather travel bag for a casual and timeless look.