"My go-to carry-on is a black leather backpack because it's easy to carry around (two free hands for pre-boarding book and magazine browsing!), sturdy enough to hold some of my heavier items, and sleek enough that I feel OK bringing it along if I'm meeting friends for drinks straight from the airport. Mine has been everywhere from rooftop bars to the middle of the Rocky Mountains (though it's admittedly not the ideal piece of gear for more advanced hikes). Added bonus: If you didn't pack a purse, it can be used as one throughout your trip." — Nina Ruggiero, Senior Digital Editor
Best travel tip: DO IT! Posts like this might make some think it’s better to stay at home, but it’s really meant to encourage you to travel. If you’ve wanted to travel, but just never figured out how to fit it into your life, get ready. If you want to go, there’s a way to do it. You might not be the most stylish (but you could!) or stay at the most luxurious hotels, etc, but you’ll be THERE! Wherever you want to be! Just Do it! (And read TFG for all the tips, not just the fashion ones!)
Unlike many of the more ruggedly designed duffels on this list, the Gregory Stash is constructed with a little thinner 600D polyester on the body and 840D on the base. Additionally, Gregory kept things simple and did not include lash points or grab handles. As a result, this duffel is less outdoor-ready than we’d like—even a cheaper design like the REI Roadtripper offers more features (though without the backpack straps). That said, if you like the sleek look and low price, the Stash is a fine choice.
what size travel bag
"I never thought it possible for myself to go on a five-day (or more) trip with only a carry-on. I overpack every time. But Away's Bigger Carry-on is so intelligently designed that it was feasible for me to become an 'only one bag' kind of traveler. Having areas for soft and harder items helps compartmentalize all of your belongings without compromise. The hard shell, included laundry bag, and built-in charger are also some of the best features. Having this piece of luggage has definitely been a life-changer!"
Almost all the non-wheeled models we selected for this review have decent daisy chains and grab loops. Two Top Pick winners are almost entirely devoid of daisy chains. The external profile of both the Yeti Panga and Bago Travel are almost entirely devoid of lash points. The Patagonia Lightweight Black Hole is similarly lacking in lash points. The rest of the non-wheeled bags have good options. The Gregory Alpaca, with its robust reinforced daisy chains, stood out. The daisy chains ran the full length of the bag, and its large grab loops made it easy to attach to almost anything, whether that be a sled or llama. The North Face Base Camp and the Patagonia Black Hole weren't too far behind, as both offer ease of transport. We feel wheeled duffels are great for traditional travel and duffels are better for non-traditional travel or for trips where getting every ounce possible without going over the 50-pound limit is of the utmost importance.
A fully loaded duffel bag can be a heavy burden to bear, but a bag with wheels takes the weight off your shoulders. Ben Pundole, founder and editor-in-chief of hotel review site a Hotel Life and vice-president of brand experience at Edition Hotels, trusts his wheeled North Face duffel for lasting through years of frequent travel. “It’s my favorite because it’s indestructible,” he said. “Waterproof, durable, and most of all dustproof.” The 36-inch bag must be checked on flights, but a carry-on-size version, also featuring lots of useful exterior pockets, is available here.
"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