Here’s a duffel for those heading for inclement climates and expecting the worst. Ortlieb’s take on the duffel is an expedition bag made from tear-resistant, PVC-coated, polyester fabric that’s reinforced at the base. The interior contains two pockets for essentials, while the exterior features a mesh pocket, daisy chains for rigging and an impregnable TIZIP zipper (also frequently used on diving suits as well as Yeti’s soft sided coolers). You know water, or anything else for that matter, can’t get in when the excess air can’t get out.
"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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If you’re using your duffel primarily to transport your belongings via plane, train, or automobile, you’re probably wondering why you might need the daisy chains lining the exterior. However, put your pack in a raft, saddle it to a mule, or strap it to the roof of your van, and you’ll wonder how you ever got by without them. Not all duffels come with daisy chains (a.k.a. lash points) and some have more than others. If you know that you’ll need to secure your duffel for a wild ride, definitely be on the lookout for a bag that sports plenty of reinforced lash points. The most outdoorsy the bag, the more likely it is to be lined with daisy chains.
Made with beautiful full grain calfskin leather that has deep color tones and looks better as it ages. The vegetable tanned base creates the rich brown and red colors while the semi gloss finish helps prevent stains. Over time this leather will soften and develop a beautiful patina. Our 8 oz cotton duck canvas lining is made in South Carolina and very durable. The combination of Italian vegetable tanned leather and strong U.S. made canvas lining makes this bag an all time best seller.
We recently featured Away in a round-up of smart luggage, and would be remiss not to include it here as well. Available in ten distinct colors, Away offers a ton of a la carte accessories, including compartment inserts, monograms, and garment bags. The wheels are smooth and the handle sturdy, although the exterior is prone to scuffs. But the benefits outweigh the risks; the shell is “unbreakable,” the removable Li-ion battery is TSA-approved, and Tile provides the Bluetooth-connected GPS, so you always know where your luggage is -- even if the airline doesn’t.
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The “black hole” duffel bag lives up to its name for travel writer and photographer Michaela Trimble, who has toted it all over the world, most recently to Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Madagascar. “It fit everything I needed for a nearly two-month trip with room to spare,” she said, “and it barely came back with a scratch.” Laminated fabric and water-repellent coating protect the bag from the elements and any damage that may occur in transit, while keeping it lightweight (under three pounds). Trimble also likes that it “comes with padded straps, so it can easily and comfortably be carried as a backpack.”
Made of splash-resistant nylon and polyester, the “Code Alpha” duffel can hold a lot of gear, yet is easy to carry around. For starters, the bag is massive: it measures 33 x 17 x 13 inches and comes with a detachable toiletry kit on the side. Three rugged wheels make it easy to pull using the straps, but be aware that the bag doesn’t have a telescoping handle. The sturdy framework is designed so that the duffel keeps its form – whether full or not – and has a main compartment and mesh interior compartment. One drawback is that the bag doesn’t have many extra pockets for gadgets, but is an ideal choice for a checked bag.
What would you recommend to avoid being robbed? One place I read, suggested a backpack. A backpack surely seems unsafe and you can’t see them going into your bag. I was in Egypt in 09 and a lot of people were robbed while sightseeing. Please advise as I’ll be traveling to South Africa (Johannesburg and Cape Town) soon and doing a lot of sightseeing. I like the idea of the anti theft one mentioned in your article.
Nice bag -attractive and functional. But it was not the same item as pictured. The bag I received was made from a textured course leather, not the smooth leather shown in the on-line ad. When I pointed this out to Amazon, they kindly made an adjustment. However, the leather on the bag I received very easily scratches. And it fact it did on the first usage.
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I was so excited that you reviewed anti-theft purses! I immediately ordered a Travelon one for my 4-month overseas trip. Imagine my disappointment when the seams unraveled with less than a month into my trip! Sadly, I was not able to return it due to my lengthy adventure. Needless to say, I will NOT purchase this brand again. Now…what’s a girl to do?!
I’ve looked at these bags before but have been on the fence about purchasing because of what other travelers have noted: I wish they were a little more fashionable. Love the features but the canvas just strikes me as a little too casual; I’d love to see the Signature 3 Crossbody (my favorite design so far) in a full grain black leather (like the Rebecca Minkoff backpack!). Now I am planning a trip to Peru and considering whether I feel safe enough carrying my Minkoff backpack…which I LOVE…or whether it’s time to pull the trigger. But, without your post I may not even have considered it so thank you!
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There’s a reason this bag has been a favorite for over half a century: it’s sturdy (that canvas is tested to hold up to 500 pounds), tastefully spare (those contrasting straps always look good), and offers just the right amount of customization (liven things up with a bright color or a monogram, or stick to the classic navy). And at only $50, you can buy in bulk and still not blow your budget.
This duffel has two front pockets to keep your valuable on-hand, as well as an expanding side pocket for storing dirty laundry or shoes while traveling. There are two hand straps and a detachable shoulder strap so you can configure it for easy carrying. It's available in seven different colors. Overall, the Hexin duffel is a large and versatile bag for a low price.
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This is the most user-friendly bag I have ever owned. Being a messenger style, it slips on and off very easily and is extremely lightweight, unlike my heavy leather bags. The main compartment is plenty big enough for my big (heavy) B-Mak wallet, and personal items, with room to spare. I love the see-through netted zipper compartment in the bag-I can actually see what is in there! I have yet to rummage through to find something, and that is highly unusual for unorganized me! The multiple outer pockets are so accessible, and I love the side pockets, which are expandable via zippers, making them even more versatile for not just water bottles. The quality is very good, zippers all work very smoothly, strap is very adjustable for any height/size of person (I'm only 5'2"). Yes, it is not a high fashion leather bag, and I ... full review
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.
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.
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 .
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!