My favorite tip is to be organized and prepared but still willing to be spontaneous. When going new places, my husband and I research the top places to go, get recommendations, and decide what general areas we want to go to. We make sure to hit the top things on our list and then just wander to see what else we can find. When we went to Tokyo, we found the best ramen place and a beautiful little park just by wandering around.
The pattern on the outside is made from the strong polyurethane material, which keeps it safe and protected from getting faded or getting stains. If you wish to keep your essential documents or say your passport, ticket, and wallet handy when traveling by air, you can keep it in the front pocket. That way it will be easier to reach and in one place to take it out when needed.

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The Mission Duffel sits firmly in between backpack and duffel. As such, its shoulder straps aren’t an afterthought but a fully fleshed-out component that draws on the brand’s success with everyday and expedition packs. The straps are padded for comfort and equipped with a sternum harness. They also stow away neatly into a flap on the bottom of the bag. In addition to that, the Mission contains a main compartment that feels bigger than it looks and is home to multiple mesh organizing pockets. Like the Base Camp duffel, the Mission offers a separate section at one end for wet, dirty, or bulky items.
Photographer Nicole Franzen loves her Voyager 2 bag, which stands out both aesthetically and functionally. “I like good pockets for organization, and tend to go leather and black because it’s effortless, goes with anything, and ages well,” she said. Made from soft Italian leather, this sleek bag features a front pocket with compartments for storing your phone, passport, pens, cords, and other items you’d like to have easily accessible — and even more pockets inside.
I have so many packing tips… Using packing cells, using clip seal bags, taking a tiny pocket sized foldable backpack in case of unexpected purchases, downloading offline maps apps and translators and using dryer sheets in my luggage. But the best travel tip I have is actually a very simple one- look confident. I travel a lot and before I walk out the door each day I scan a map to orient myself, ensure I have an offline map just in case, put on some really reflective aviators and make sure I look like I know where I am going (even though most of the time I have no idea!) I find looking confident and purposeful means you don’t look like a tourist and makes you less of a target to anyone with ill intentions.

Compression straps, both internal and external, can help make a duffel’s load more compact. Internal straps remove strain from the zipper and compress your gear inside the duffel to keep it from shifting during transit. We see these on models like the Patagonia Black Hole and Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dyneema Duffel. External compression straps can be on the ends (such as with the Gregory Stash) or sides (The North Face Base Camp) and tighten the duffel after the zipper has been shut. External straps are especially useful on large duffels that might not be stuffed to capacity, and they help make your bag less unruly for travel. Additionally, if you plan on frequently carrying your duffel as a backpack, we encourage you to consider a model with compression straps—it makes the whole operation a lot more comfortable.


Our reviewers spent 15 hours testing one of the most popular duffel bags available. To get the most well-rounded results, our testers packed their things and toted it to and from their destinations for hours at a time. We asked our reviewers to consider the most important features while using this duffel bag, from durability to comfort. We've outlined the major takeaways here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.
"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

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Thanks to Everlane’s transparent pricing model, this ethically made leather-and-twill weekender costs a fraction of what it would at a traditional department store. Both the all-black and dipped versions are gender neutral and suited to a range of styles, and the size is just right for hauling all the stuff you’ll need for a short getaway while still fitting easily in the overhead compartment.
“I look for a bag that can sit on top of my carry-on, fit a lot of items, and that’s easy to store when not in use,” said Daniela Velasco, creative director of Drift and Ambrosia magazines. She likes Longchamp’s Le Pliage totes because they carry her camera, laptop, chargers, and more, and are water-resistant, so she doesn’t have to worry about rain damaging her expensive gear. This duffel version is made of the same durable nylon and fits everything you’ll need for a few days away.

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Although we do like the Base Camp line and have used them for years, we prefer the Black Hole for a few reasons. First, the outer fabric on The North Face shows scuff marks more easily than its Patagonia counterpart. Second, at 3 pounds 8 ounces, it’s more than a pound heavier. Finally, we found the backpack straps on the Base Camp Duffel to be slightly more difficult to detach than those on the Black Hole, making your airport check-in a bit more frantic. But for a bit more versatility in terms of size and colors, the Base Camp from The North Face is a solid duffel choice.

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I received the bag a little over a week ago and it looked great when I opened it. The only problem was the smell. The smell was like rancid oil on leather. To fix the smell, I conditioned it with Mothers leather conditioner. After letting it sit overnight the smell of clean leather came back. The quality seems great so far the leather feels nice and feels good. I took it on a four day trip and had no problems. I'm taking it on another weekend trip this weekend too.
Alex, thank you for the blog post and especially your FB group, I learn so much from TFG and fellow admirers! I love cross body bags for travel, I’ve wish listed some of the Travelon bags above for an upcoming trip later this year. One of my favorite travel tips are freezer-strength Ziplock bags – sandwich sizes for credit cards and another for foreign currency, medium size for TSA and larges for medicine, charging cords/headphones. I find it helps me locate exactly what I need immediately (and helps my husband, too).
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.

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Thanks for the info on these bags and ways to stay safe….my personal comments/tips: 1) I never, ever, carry a bag out when I will be in crowded public areas—I put my id, day cash, lip crème/mirror in an inside pocket of blouse/jacket or secure pants pocket. Sling a water bottle & umbrella if necessary…and go. You find out quickly what is vital……only carry those items in all possible situations. If I feel safer or absolutely have to carry a bag out–I make sure first that it is as small as possible and a cross-body style….that I can wear UNDER a light blouse, jacket, coat re weather conditions. These tactics keep me safer and prevent me from losing stuff….which I am prone to do if I carry too much!! There’s a sad story about Rx sunglasses and a sheep in Ireland!!
There really are no corners cut in the manufacture of this product, other than perhaps the plastic zipper (which is nevertheless sturdy and probably one reason this beautiful bag is such a steal). The hardware is better than basic, and strong, but not top of the line -- but it's a trifle. In searching for any other negatives, the strap is pretty basic and a little too thin and narrow, meaning it's not very comfortable if you've got 25 or 30 pounds in the bag, but it works. There are no outside pockets, but chances are if you stuff the bag to the gills, you wouldn't be able to fit anything in one anyhow.
I love my Henri Bendel Jetsetter Convertible Backpack! I have the larger and smaller bag. I used the larger one during my trip to Amesterdam and Paris. It was large enough for a rain jacket, light sweatshirt, water bottle, and my normal purse items (sun glasses, wallet, etc.). The bag was definitely full but I was out all day and the temperature changed greatly from morning to night. It was nice having everything I needed to stay comfortable. A few museums made you leave larger bags at the bag check and they seemed to only ask people with backpacks to check their bags. I loved the ability to quickly change the backpack to a handbag and bring it into museums. I hate leaving my personal belongings in the care of someone else. I highly recommend them!
Make sure you have everything packed and organized with a duffel bag from our selection. Large duffel bags with spacious capacities offer larger main compartments for storing your camping or sporting gear and equipment, while smaller bags and backpacks are great for storing just a few items on your way to practice or a game. Look for additional storage features as well, such as exterior or interior pockets, lined valuables pockets or wet and dry, ventilated storage compartments, so you can have a specialized place to put all your gear.
I just fell in love with the Travelon backpack, especially in the gray color. My travel tip is to pack everything in a carryon that can fit under the seat 💺 I dread the hustle of snatching and stressing for overhead space. Since I get cold easily, I wear lots of layers on the plane, which means less items to pack in my bag. Plus the bag I have is convertible and can either be a backpack or shoulder bag. It can serve several purposes. In my case, I travel for work so I also use it as my work bag as it fits my 15” laptop
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