Within its weight class, the Cargo Hauler is comparable in function and design to Granite Gear’s Packable Duffel, but comes in 4 ounces heavier and lacks features like top carry handles and internal organization pocket. Both duffels are made with 600D water-resistant fabric, a less durable (yet lighter weight) material than many of the more rugged models on the list. And it’s obvious at first glance that the Cargo Hauler simply is not as burly and water resistant as a bag like The North Face Base Camp, nor is it as comfortable of a backpack (it has a tendency to droop even when loaded). But for a nice all-around travel duffel at a reasonable price, give the Eagle Creek a look.

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Made of durable, abrasion-resistant ballistic nylon, this tote is great if you're traveling with kids or pets (and may have to deal with spills and scratches) or if you’re just going somewhere where rain, sleet, and snow may be unkind to leather. Luggage-maker Briggs & Riley really thought of everything when they designed this tote: a waterproof pocket for a water bottle (or baby bottle), several exterior and interior pockets, and a sleeve for slipping this over a luggage handle for easy transport.


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!!
Developed in collaboration with Permanent Style, this clever Bennett Winch 2-piece design is made from British waterproof cotton canvas and includes a cylindrical holdall, complete with military-grade detachable shoulder strap, a removable waterproof shoe bag, and an external pocket for small items. The suit carrier ingeniously wraps around the central bag and accommodates one jacket and one pair of trousers safely. And the best part is that each section can be used separately.
Still the coolest name in portage, Herschel makes way more than backpacks for hipsters and millennials. The Novel is a sexy, smart duffel that’s perfect for an overnight or weekend. Double carrying handles define the classic duffel design, a 12-inch adjustable shoulder strap extends to 24 inches, and the exterior zip shoe compartment protects your clothes on the inside from grime. At 22"W x 13"H x 11"D, it weighs just two pounds and comes in a variety of colors and tones. The outer is polyester canvas, and it features a printed nylon lining.

"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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In general, the outer pockets on the top and bottom of the bag embed into the larger bag, so if you are searching for something in the larger bag, you have to move around the outer pockets to look around. It seems it might be better to just have layered pockets so that if you were looking at the bag from the top, there were two different larger pockets you could open to get into the main space of the bag. 

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.
Smaller than a suitcase, bigger than a tote, the classic duffel is a perfectly sized carryall for a long weekend. Peer out at a train platform full of city dwellers fleeing town on a Friday afternoon and you’ll see all varieties of duffels — from waxed-canvas bags harking back to the style’s military roots to luxe versions in buttery leather. To discover the best travel duffel bags out there, we asked frequent travelers — including writers, photographers, and a hotel exec — to recommend their favorites, and then sought out more bags that fit the experts’ requirements across a range of styles and price points.

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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.

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Accompanying its roomy interior are a handful of outside pockets to hold your magazines, tablet, or passport for easy access. Further special details include a built-in umbrella holder, locker compatible zippers, and a luggage tag with a detachable pen. The soft, comfortable handles and adjustable shoulder strap make this Stuart & Lau bag a pleasure to carry around.
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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"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
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

Great for a trip to the gym, this sturdy duffel from Elite Sports keeps all your gear in one place. The bag is composed of a heavy-duty material called Cordura, a high-grade ballistic 1200 denier that’s used in military gear, so it’s super durable and can handle being thrown in the trunk. The Warrior Series has plenty of storage, including a waterproof beverage pocket, a jacket strap, a secure internal pocket for valuables and an exterior pocket for shoes that keeps dirt off the rest of your gear. Plus, it has a ventilated mesh compartment for dirty gym clothes. But what really takes this bag to the next level is its convertibility — a pair of retractable shoulder straps transform the Warrior Series into a backpack in seconds. It is available in both medium (20 x 9 x 11 inches) and large (11 x 23 x 12 inches) sizes, and comes in six different colors, from neutral black and gray to bright pink and red.

When choosing a duffel, consider how much you’ll want access to your belongings as you travel. The most streamlined models feature one large compartment with no internal organization (the REI Roadtripper, for example), while more fully-featured designs include handy external pockets for small items or padded compartments for a tablet or computer. Rolling duffels such as the Osprey Shuttle are downright luxurious, with numerous external pockets and internal dividers to help you organize your clothing inside (the Shuttle even includes an expandable external pocket so you can separate dirty clothes or hiking shoes from the rest of your belongings). For travelers, we think that at least one external pocket is nice to separate out your smaller essentials.


The Gregory Alpaca Duffel is premium-quality duffel that can withstand the elements and is well worth the higher price tag. With a 45-liter capacity, the weatherproof bag can take the wear and tear from the airport and is ideal for outdoor adventures. In addition to carry handles, the duffel features removable padded backpack straps for easy transportation – great for hiking. The water-resistant bag has reinforced threads for high performance and has a small exterior zippered pouch for quick access items, a “U-shaped” main compartment, as well as a large mesh interior pocket. There’s also a slot for IDs and plenty of exterior loops for attaching carabiners. It is available in bright blue or black. 
Exemplifying its motto of “fewer, better things,” Cuyana makes beautiful, minimalist products that instantly become wardrobe staples. This bag in a soft, luxurious Argentinian leather — and available in an array of muted, sophisticated tones — transitions from work to brunch to the farmer’s market perfectly. And while many classic leather totes have open tops, the zipper closure on this one is especially useful for warding off pickpockets on international adventures. Might we also recommend getting the Tote Organization Insert to add even more structure?
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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The versatile classic duffel by this storied British family brand can hold a surprising amount of belongings. It features a two-way zippered closure, top carry handles, 28 1/2-inch convertible shoulder strap, an interior pocket, and zip-and-slip exterior pockets. At 20”W x 11”H x 10”D it’s on the small side, but it’s made of durable nylon and weighs just half a pound -- so for longer trips, pack it down into its own pocket and put it into your checked luggage for goodies you pick up while on the road. Comes in green, khaki, or navy.

Priced at $80, the Gregory Stash is an affordable duffel with an attractive design. We’ll start with the Stash’s simple zipper opening that extends the length of the duffel, which is not our preferred closure (U-shaped is better). The zipper does reach the end flaps, however, allowing the main compartment to expand up and out when packing and providing better access than other bags with similarly straight zip closures. You also get generous padding on the straps and a large outside pocket for valuables.

For travelers torn between a standard duffel and traditional wheeled luggage, the Osprey Shuttle may be exactly what you’re looking for. This high-end duffel is extremely roomy, durable, and comes with tons of organization. Time and time again, we’ve loaded an entire vacation worth of clothing and other items into the Shuttle with ease. Unlike cheaper wheeled duffels that have a tendency to fall over when full and upright, it maintains its stability nicely. And all of the other features are there, from external compression straps to tighten down your load to a separate lower compartment for wet gear.
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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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. 
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 D3 Traveller is made to take a beating, and go unnoticed. Why? Because when you’re traveling across borders where officers are more likely to request a bribe than a visa application, discretion is as important as durability. To the untrained eye, there’s nothing special about the unbranded black carry-all, but that’s the point. The bag is made from two layers of ultra-strong Dyneema composite fabric, allowing it to maintain a slackened look even when packed full. The D3’s detailing is in the same vein; the shoulder strap slider is machined from solid aircraft-grade aluminum, YKK zips are reinforced with water-resistant Uretrek. And, just to underline the brand’s thesis, the D3’s zipper pulls are accented with river stones from the Pamir Mountains, a vast and remote range located in a region where borders and laws are less tangible.
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.

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).
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