Size Duffels come in all sizes, from an overnight carry-on to bags that can hold a week’s worth of gear. Envision your likely load, and think about sizing up a bit to give you some additional space. If you want an easy-to-carry bag to bring souvenirs home from a trip, look for ones that collapse into themselves so you can stash it in your other luggage and pull it out for the trip home.
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.
Thankfully, the duffel has remained immune to the feature-packing epidemic. The design hasn’t deviated too far from the canvas sacks travelers used to throw over their shoulders before heading off to lands unknown. Improvements like weatherproof zippers and padded backpack straps are utilitarian, not gimmicky. Materials technology has made duffels all but bomb-proof, which is ideal for poor-weather adventures, but canvas has not been forgotten. Oftentimes the only “feature” is a simple zippered interior pocket. And that’s the way it should be. You already have enough stuff to bring with you; you shouldn’t have to worry about the bag that carries it all.
One simple pull expands it, and one simple push compresses it back down. The cavernous main compartment is big enough for two solid weeks’ worth of travel garb, and increases from to 122-liter capacity with B&R’s patented one-touch compression/expansion technology. Four double-swivel wheels provide 360-degree mobility, while YKK zippers and lockable, ergonomic pulls provide durability, comfort, and security. The ballistic nylon is abrasion resistant, water repellent, and colorfast. At 26”H x 20”L x 10”D, it’s massive; it weighs 12 pounds.
"I recently tested this smart carry-on for a weekend trip and it impressed me from the get-go. For starters, it's only about 9 lbs. and has a built-in weight sensor, a USB charging port, and a lock that's activated by an app on your phone. I found it to be roomier inside than other smart suitcases I've tested, and love the added front pockets for exterior storage on a hard-sided case. Plus, the charger pack includes a set of converters, allowing for easy charging worldwide." — Richelle Szypulski, Assistant Digital Editor
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I have an upcoming weekend business trip where I go straight to a conference upon landing. Normally, I just travel with a backpack as my travel bag on such short trips. However, I want to up my travel luggage game, so I thought a nice leather duffel bag could be just what I was looking for. A travel duffel bag is still small enough to use as my carry on luggage, but big enough to hold enough clothes for a weekend easily. Plus, a nice leather duffel bag would cast a professional look.
Hyperlite Mountain Gear is in a class of its own, but for serious outdoorspeople, their duffel is a very intriguing option. We’ll start by noting that this bag is not flashy or made for rolling through the airport on your next trip. The big selling point is the Dyneema fabric, which is used on ultralight tents and backpacks and known for its extremely impressive strength-to-weight ratio. If you’re looking for a lightweight, tough, weather resistant, and large capacity duffel that will fit on a pack horse or in a sled on your next backcountry foray, the HMG Dyneema Duffel is a great way to go.
Crafted from ruggedly chic waxed cotton canvas and accented with soft leather trim and handles, this versatile bag is more than just a tote. A removable 18-inch shoulder strap, secure top zip closure, and an adjustable shoulder strap, removable luggage tag, and three interior pockets make it perfect for quick overnights or long weekends. Waxed canvas always gets better-looking with age, but feel free to class it up with this all-leather version for $298.
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.
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"I've tried other hard-shell suitcases, but Samsonite's are by far my favorite. I have two in different sizes! They're super lightweight and extremely durable, but most of all I like the way the interiors are organized. With other brands, you'll find the handle casing intrudes upon your packing space; not so with Samsonite. It's just a zip-up compartment for clothes on one side, and straps to hold shoes, toiletry bags, etc. in place on the other." — Flora Stubbs, Features Director
LOVE this bag!! I cannot say enough good things about this gorgeous bag. I bought it in 2011 as a gift for my husband. We have taken it on countless trips. It is stunning and worth every penny. It is holding up fabulously. It will hold a lot, approximately enough clothes for 5 days. He usually takes it as his carry on but if its just a long weekend, he uses it as his bag. Sometimes he even lets me borrow it. It looks expensive and I can wholeheartedly say its one of the GREATEST purchases I ever made on amazon.
Drawing on the success of its soft-sided coolers, Yeti stripped out the insulation and used the thick, laminated nylon skin to create a highly puncture- and abrasion-resistant duffel called the Panga. Like many Yeti products, what appears run-of-the-mill is actually innovation genius. The Panga has easily removable backpack straps, lash points on all sides and haul handles on either end. Speaking of those ends, they’re sturdy enough to keep this bag standing upright, and the bottom is padded with EVA foam, similar to the stuff in running shoes, to keep things protected when you decide to give the bag a toss. The Panga is also fully submersible thanks to a TIZIP airtight zipper. One way to test it? Close it up when the bag is empty and stand on it — not even a gasp will escape.
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Get a travel credit card with a limit on it. If it does get lost or stolen, it will prevent a lavish spending spree. Also carry a cc that doesn’t have charge fees associated with use, some cards will charge 3-5% per use. If two of you are travelling together, each person should have a different credit card in the event one gets lost/stolen and you need to cancel it, the other person has a different one for expenses. Do not travel with items you never want to loose, leave them at home.
I just ordered the Signature 3 Compartment Crossbody, based on your reviews!! I’m excited to get it and see if it will be just what I’m looking for. My best travel tip is to read about where you’re going to familiarize yourself – it helps with packing appropriately, knowing the local customs, and just an overall sense of respect for the place you are visiting. I enjoy seeing the sites, but living like a local. Immersing yourself and just taking it all in is the perfect idea of a vacay for me!!
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The Base Camp Duffel from The North Face is a fully-featured bag and a direct competitor to the Patagonia Black Hole above. It’s similarly tough and water resistant, offers easy access to the inside, and can be carried as a backpack, which we love. Both bags offer comparable organization pockets, but the Base Camp’s medium and large models add an exterior compartment on one end that allows you to separate dirty clothes and shoes. The Base Camp comes in more colors and designs than we can count, and is available in capacities ranging from 31 liters (XS) to a whopping 150 liters (XXL). For everything from a carry-on to an expedition workhorse, this is one of the most popular duffels on the market year after year.
The Cenzo Duffle Bag is the perfect 1-3 night weekender. It is made in Italy using Italian calfskin leather, brass zipper, smart contrast stitching, durable 8 oz cotton duck canvas lining, and brass hardware. The vegetable tanned leather looks better as it ages. One characteristic of our vegetable leather is that it has large pores and absorbs smell - so you might detect a sweet nail polish scent when you remove it from the plastic for the first time. Please take note of this characteristic. This new leather smell is the result of the leather edge paint and clear stain coating - it fades after 24 hours in fresh air. Weight is 4.5 pounds
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I wanted to use this good before I left this review. We used this bag as a carry on for our Mexican vacation then we used it as a beach bag a down town shoppping bag, it’s been used hard for a week let’s put it that way. And my boyfriend and I both love the bag. No damage rips or tears. No color fading. I might actually buy more for travels! It fits so much clothes towels, gifts, you can put a lot in this bag. You won’t regret the decision.
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