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.
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.
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The North Face has over 50 years of experience hauling gear to the most remote parts of the world, so it’s no wonder that the Base Camp was not only one of the original laminated expedition bags, but also one of the few that has stood the test of time so well. The Base Camp comes in a classic cylinder shape made of laminated ballistic nylon and opens wide to reveal a spacious main compartment and a mesh organizing pocket on the interior of the lid. Like many of the bags on this list, the Base Camp comes equipped with removable backpack straps, daisy chain attachments, tie-down points and multiple handles for carrying. But the Base Camp differentiates with a separate compartment on one end that can take care of any wet or dirty clothing and gear, so it doesn’t have to mix in with the rest.
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.
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Coming in at $140 for the 65-liter version, the Osprey Transporter is a touch more expensive than the Patagonia Black Hole and The North Face Base Camp above. It’s also slightly less durable in terms of denier, and the lack of dedicated carry handles are a bit of an inconvenience. That said, we love the carrying comfort over long distances and think the other features are highly practical, making the Transporter our top non-wheeled duffel from Osprey.