6. Never leave your bag unattended. Obvious, right? And if you don't want to hang onto to it tightly while trying to eat, tie it to the table. Or get one of those metal cable locks to tie your bag to your table or chair: someone else might want that perfect travel handbag you just bought. I simply keep mine on - the strap is long enough to do that comfortably. 

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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.
If you're looking for a quality-crafted duffel with style, the “KPL 21 Inch Vintage Leather Duffel” fits the bill. At 21 x 14 x 9 inches it is just the right size for a carry-on bag and looks sharp with fashionable brown leather and bronze buckles. The vintage-style bag is handmade from chemical and dye-free leather and weighs 4.4 pounds. It comes with leather carry handles and a detachable shoulder strap with two side exterior pockets and one front pocket. However, there are no interior pockets to separate items. The bag is well constructed, comes with a personal letter from the maker and is available at a reasonable price – making it a popular choice with Amazon buyers.
These recommendations are great! I need a travel bag for my upcoming trip to Italy, so this is super helpful. One travel tip I’ve heard over the years in the same vein that I think is really helpful is when you’re walking with a rolling suitcase to keep it either between you and your travel companion, or if you’re alone to keep the bag on the side of you closest to a wall. This applies to bags as well. That way it’s much harder for someone to swipe it as they go by, especially if they’re on a bike, Vespa, motorcycle, etc.
My travel advice is to carry 5,10 or 20 dollar cash in and out pocket in case you are robbed at gun point as I was. I only had a straw wrapper and the robber looked nervous so I was afraid to remove my outer layers to give him my security pouch. My travel partner was being held up by his accomplice who did not have a gun so she handed him her pouch and they grabbed it knocking her down on the curb in the process. If I had cash n that outer pocket I could have handed over and they may have run off with that .
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.
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For those who are able to throw their bag over their back and walk with it, backpack straps are our preferred carrying method. Many of the high-end bags on this list have backpack straps that are lightly padded and often removable. One duffel in particular, the Osprey Transporter, has many similarities to an actual backpack and is great for those planning to cover longer distances. Keep in mind that carrying comfort does vary, which is one reason why some bags are ranked higher than others. When not in use, many backpack straps simply detach for storage in the main compartment (this keeps them out of airport conveyor belts). Sometimes, simply tightening down the straps flush to the bag can be enough.

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Don’t be fooled by the affordable price tag: Herschel’s bags can stand up to years of wear and tear. This one is roomy enough for a weekend getaway, but not too huge to be impractical for everyday use — stash your work essentials plus a spare set of exercise clothes in the separate bottom compartment so you can take an impromptu spin class without lugging a gym bag around.
Keep in mind that with the Carrier, you don’t get the full-on waterproofing of the Yeti Panga or SealLine WideMouth, and the similarly water-resistant Hyperlite is made with tougher Dyneema materials. Further, the ultralight build means that you have to give up pockets and padding, and the bag lacks structure when unpacked. But you do get backpack carry straps and an expedition-ready weight for those trips when every ounce counts. If you don't like the design of the Arc'teryx, Patagonia makes their 30 and 45-liter Black Holes in lightweight models—and the 1-pound 2-ounce 45-liter version is over half the price of the Carrier at only $99.
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.

The quality of the leather is much more impressive in person than is evident on the computer screen. I've shopped for similar bags and found them -- at almost twice the price. This bag is a bargain. I've used it once for a weekend trip, and it held everything I needed and some things that I did not turn out to need (I tend to over pack). My wife likes it so much that she has extracted a promise from me to buy her one just like it -- for her birthday in two months. Plan to do it too.

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My favourite cross-body travel bag isn’t mentioned here. It’s the Ameribag, a.k.a. the Healthy Back Bag. It’s very sturdily made, it’s ambidextrous (can be slung and accessed from either right or left), it’s comfortable to wear in a number of ways, it’s machine-washable (depending on the model – mine is the Distressed Nylon), and you can get it in various sizes and colours. Plus, the bag is soft and flexible enough to be collapsed and folded/rolled up when needed.
Another sporty duffel bag, this one from the makers of our all-time favorite cooler, can also be worn as a backpack and is made from thick, laminated nylon that’ll withstand any rough baggage handling. It’s also completely waterproof — the zippers tuck into enclosed docks — so there’s no need to fear a rainstorm or wet ground ruining your clothing or gear inside.
Duffels that are 75 liters or larger are heavy haulers for longer trips, multiple people, and outdoor equipment (boots, backpacks, tents, etc.). When we fly to go backpacking, we love our 100-liter REI Co-op Roadtripper Duffel: it can fit multiple empty backpacks, bulky footwear, and all of our extras. It’s worth noting that these bags can get heavy fast depending on what you stow inside of them, so keep an eye out for total weight as you’re packing. Clothing and most regular items should keep you below the 50-pound checked bag limit, but if you’re packing anything particularly heavy, it can be an issue. And for serious outdoor and expedition use, duffels like The North Face Base Camp are made all the way up to 150 liters.
If you're looking for a quality-crafted duffel with style, the “KPL 21 Inch Vintage Leather Duffel” fits the bill. At 21 x 14 x 9 inches it is just the right size for a carry-on bag and looks sharp with fashionable brown leather and bronze buckles. The vintage-style bag is handmade from chemical and dye-free leather and weighs 4.4 pounds. It comes with leather carry handles and a detachable shoulder strap with two side exterior pockets and one front pocket. However, there are no interior pockets to separate items. The bag is well constructed, comes with a personal letter from the maker and is available at a reasonable price – making it a popular choice with Amazon buyers. 

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The shortcomings of the Osprey Shuttle mostly relate to the design itself. First, you are not throwing this duffel over your shoulder and strolling through the airport or walking through a major city. It’s big and heavy at over 8 pounds empty, and must be transported almost exclusively on wheels. In addition, when packed to the brim, you may find yourself pushing the standard 50-pound checked baggage limit, and particularly if you go with the 130-liter version (we’ve been okay with the 100-liter but have been close on occasion). Finally, we’ve been surprised at how much wear and tear shows on the Osprey Shuttle. We got ours in bright red but would recommend the black instead.
Features have gotten out of hand. No matter what the product is — be it as simple as a knife or as complex as a camera — we’ve come to expect that it’s jammed with as many bells and whistles (sometimes literally) as possible. Outdoor products are among the most egregious culprits here, fooling would-be adventurers into thinking that they simply cannot embark on a trip without bringing the multifunctional-jacket-pant-parachute-vest complete with eighteen camp-stove-dongle-ready removable pocket pouches (and it packs into its own hood!). It’s maddening.
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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I think the the tip that revolutionized my packing was being told I did not have to pack a new outfit for each day. I knew how to mix different pieces at home, with a wash and and a week in between re-wears, but realizing I could bring only three bottoms and four tops for a week (or more) by simply mixing and matching and planning ahead transformed the way I pack.
The size is perfect for I'd say a two-to four-day trip, and it's absolutely the ideal carry-on. I just recently checked at the airport. It fits headlong or sideways into any larger plane's overhead bin — a major advantage — and will never rouse the contempt of flight attendants or gate checkers looking to cut down on carry on by forcing you to check your bag. At the same time, I was able to pack it for a week-long international trip recently (which is pushing it somewhat) but worth it all to skip the airport carrousels and keep all my important things close by.

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It has enough compartments and zippered pockets where you can neatly organize your pens, business card, mobile phone, and laptop. In case you have any other valuable item that a woman may need to take along while traveling on the weekend, pack them in your Messenger bag. The padded laptop compartment fits 13" laptop .it has extra cushioning to ensure that your gadget is safe.
There’s nothing flashy about the OutDry Duffel. Without shiny plastic-like fabric and flashy “outdoorsy” colors you probably wouldn’t expect much of it till you saw the nut in the brand logo. This bag is capable of taking a beating. Mountain Hardwear’s OutDry tech entails a custom-shaped waterproof membrane laminated to the bag’s inner, which seals fabrics and seams all at once. Just to be sure it worked, the brand sealed the bag away in a rain room for 24 hours, so although the fabric may not feel waterproof, rest assured that your stuff will remain dry once inside. The simplistic look won’t draw attention to would-be bag thieves, either.
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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"When it comes to camera bags, Billingham is a tried-and-true brand that I trust with my camera equipment. The bag is structured with a removable padded insert, has exterior pockets, and can hold a DSLR, and extra lens, and accessories. The weather-resistant material and front flap protect my equipment from inclement weather, allowing for an uninterrupted day of outdoor travel." — Mary Robnett, Assistant Photo Editor
I have been using PacSafe travel bags for over 10 years. Travelling the world for work as I do, and travelling to some areas where personal safety is not to be underestimated, I suggest only the smallest sized cross body you can find. Wear it under your jacket if necessary and keep the colours dull or in line with your wardrobes. No red or bright coloured bags. Don’t take it off to eat, go to bathroom, or sit in cabs/cars. etc.
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.

Duffels that are 75 liters or larger are heavy haulers for longer trips, multiple people, and outdoor equipment (boots, backpacks, tents, etc.). When we fly to go backpacking, we love our 100-liter REI Co-op Roadtripper Duffel: it can fit multiple empty backpacks, bulky footwear, and all of our extras. It’s worth noting that these bags can get heavy fast depending on what you stow inside of them, so keep an eye out for total weight as you’re packing. Clothing and most regular items should keep you below the 50-pound checked bag limit, but if you’re packing anything particularly heavy, it can be an issue. And for serious outdoor and expedition use, duffels like The North Face Base Camp are made all the way up to 150 liters.


I was on the search for an anti-theft bag recently that wasn’t ugly and wasn’t too big. I was set on one of the ones shown here, but when I arrived at a local luggage shop, I found the Travelon Anti-Theft Signature E/W Shoulder Bag in black. It is the perfect size so that I didn’t feel weighed down or look too touristy, and because it has various zippered compartments and decent depth, I was able to also use it for as a camara bag for my compact-system camera with extra lens. It’s a good price at around $40 and comes in different colors ebags.com/product/travelon/anti-theft-signature-ew-shoulder-bag/276982
Well, I must admit that I love the crossbody / shoulder bags more too. Threre are always tons of items I need to carry, Perfect for me as I’m mother of 2 children (1 and 5yo) and we all know that it is impossible to pack yourself into small clutch with this all additional kids stuf. Im looking for something for myself – a nice and big shoulder bag like mentioned here http://thewomansbag.com/cross-body-and-shoulder-bag/ would be perfect but didn’t decided yet.
Fjällräven’s Duffel No.6 looks a lot like the standard-issue bag you might find hanging on the wall at a military surplus store. It’s not. The Swedish outdoor brand started with its proprietary G-1000 HeavyDuty Eco fabric, a canvas-like blend of recycled polyester and organic cotton that’s incredibly tough, windproof and water-resistant (especially after treatment with Greenland Wax). Then the bottom was reinforced with padded waterproof, PU-coated, polyamide fabric, and double handles were added at the ends along with stowaway backpack straps on top. There’s also a nice padded top panel, to cushion your back from the bag’s contents when you’re carrying it backpack-style.
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These recommendations are great! I need a travel bag for my upcoming trip to Italy, so this is super helpful. One travel tip I’ve heard over the years in the same vein that I think is really helpful is when you’re walking with a rolling suitcase to keep it either between you and your travel companion, or if you’re alone to keep the bag on the side of you closest to a wall. This applies to bags as well. That way it’s much harder for someone to swipe it as they go by, especially if they’re on a bike, Vespa, motorcycle, etc.

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I was on the search for an anti-theft bag recently that wasn’t ugly and wasn’t too big. I was set on one of the ones shown here, but when I arrived at a local luggage shop, I found the Travelon Anti-Theft Signature E/W Shoulder Bag in black. It is the perfect size so that I didn’t feel weighed down or look too touristy, and because it has various zippered compartments and decent depth, I was able to also use it for as a camara bag for my compact-system camera with extra lens. It’s a good price at around $40 and comes in different colors ebags.com/product/travelon/anti-theft-signature-ew-shoulder-bag/276982

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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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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The size is perfect for I'd say a two-to four-day trip, and it's absolutely the ideal carry-on. I just recently checked at the airport. It fits headlong or sideways into any larger plane's overhead bin — a major advantage — and will never rouse the contempt of flight attendants or gate checkers looking to cut down on carry on by forcing you to check your bag. At the same time, I was able to pack it for a week-long international trip recently (which is pushing it somewhat) but worth it all to skip the airport carrousels and keep all my important things close by.

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This sleek, high-tech carry-on features patented wheel technology for freewheeling mobility. The adjustable interior divider system helps organize essentials, while the nifty retractable bag holder lets you keep one hand free even while carrying an additional bag. More perks include a leather luggage label, two-way zip closure with TSA-approved lock, top and side gel handles, and a telescoping pull handle. 16"W x 22"H x 8"D. Weighs 8.2 pounds; 32L.
6. Never leave your bag unattended. Obvious, right? And if you don't want to hang onto to it tightly while trying to eat, tie it to the table. Or get one of those metal cable locks to tie your bag to your table or chair: someone else might want that perfect travel handbag you just bought. I simply keep mine on - the strap is long enough to do that comfortably.
Thanks for a great article and reviews. I travel a lot to Africa and tend to keep it simple, never leave valuables lying around in plain sight, always carry bags across body, and keep it small. I have however been burgled at night while asleep and lost many digital devices (family trip) which were scattered around the house we were sleeping in. Since then I sleep with my cell phone under the mattrass and travel hand bag with passports and wallet tucked under the bed!
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