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.”
The crossbody strap makes it easy to walk around hands-free and the slim look makes it elegant but not too noticeable – which is perfect if you're trying to blend in and not call too much attention to yourself. It's one of the best leather travel purses around. It's not cheap, but I've had mine for years and it only looks the better for wear. And it holds everything I need for a day of sightseeing.
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.
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.
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.
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!!
The Gonex 45-liter duffel ticks all the boxes: there are plenty of pockets, it’s durable, affordable, spacious and well-constructed, making it a solid choice overall. Available in six different color combinations such as dark green with tan trim or gray and maroon, there’s a favorite for everyone. Measuring 20 x 11 x 9.6 inches, the main compartment holds a couple days’ clothes, plus has a large lid pocket that’s perfect for tablets or magazines, in addition to a small organizational pouch. The zippered sides of the bag comfortably fit shoes – keeping them separate from your clothing, and there are four additional small pockets for quick-access items. The duffel includes a shoulder strap and carry handles and is water resistant.
Though less comfortable than backpack straps over extended periods, a single shoulder strap is a quick way to carry your duffel short distances. In particular, we like shoulder straps on smaller duffels that don’t weigh a ton (they can start to get uncomfortable around the popular 60-liter range). Not all duffel bags come with shoulder straps, but we see them frequently on smaller capacity, travel-specific bags. Shoulder straps usually are removable, allowing you to streamline your duffel for transport.
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The oversize version of Madewell’s ever-popular Transport Tote has the same cool yet classic look but with plenty more space for your stuff and — at least for the canvas version — a lower price tag. The waxed finish is water resistant and gains a nice patina with age, and it’s lighter and more flexible than leather but still heavy duty enough to handle repeated overpacking.
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Duffels are a popular choice among travelers because they are often lighter than standard luggage, but can hold a lot of gear. As luggage companies expand and improve on duffel bags, you’ll find some with rolling wheels, backpack straps, waterproof material and stylish designs. Whether in need of a carry-on sized bag or something a bit larger, check out our recommendations for the best duffels available today.
Much as we'd all love to be jetting off to Europe for 10 days at a time, the average American — yep, that includes T+L editors — doesn't have the time (or vacation days, or, let's be real, budget) for more than one or two major getaways a year. Weekends, on the other hand? Those we can do. But even the chronic overpackers among us (ahem, hi) can admit that nothing feels sillier than schlepping your roll-aboard along on a 48-hour trip.
For a more traditional women’s travel purse, Travelon has a large collection of styles in all shapes, colors, fabrics, and sizes. I particularly like the look of their “Signature” and “Heritage” Collections like the Heritage small travel purse featured above. I highly recommend these styles if you’re looking for a more “fashionable” theft proof purse.
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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.
Made of durable canvas and “genuine Crazy Horse” leather, this weekender was made to last. Reviewers were so impressed with the amount of space in this bag that they posted lists of all the items they were able to fit inside of it. They also noted the thick shoulder strap, which makes it easy to carry four to five days worth of clothing hands-free.
I’ve traveled extensively and, honestly, I would never use most of these suggested bags with the exception of the PacSafe and Travelon. The bags must have security features like wire lined straps, hook latches, scan-protected pouches, etc. It’s fine to use a crossbody as long as you have the right strap that can’t be easily cut and place your hand across the bag at all times and inside your coat or sweater when in public places. Never ever consider using a backpack. It’s a sure fire way of getting ripped off….
I am very impressed with this bag, thus far. I have only had it about a week, so we will see how it holds up to the weight of textbooks over time. It has excellent padding on the handle, straps, and on the back of the bag. I was concerned that it would not expand to fit my books and folders, but it has not disappointed! Once I stuffed all of my gear into it, it expanded to about 8” wide. The front compartment has odds & ends in it. The middle compartment has two 3 ring binders and a LARGE textbook in it. The back compartment has my iPad, several notebooks, and a wad of pens in it. Pics of all 3 compartments included. This bag holds A LOT! I haven’t even used the smaller outer compartments, and I fit a lot more in it than I thought I ... full review
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.
This workhorse bag counts lifestyle bloggers, moms, and T+L editors among its devotees. With interior and exterior pockets for organizing your stuff, a drop-strap that makes hauling it around easy, and a bottom zip compartment for keeping shoes or dirty clothes separate, it’s a practical pick for long weekend excursions. The relaxed-chic look in a range of shades is just the icing on the cake.
It arrived ahead of schedule from Connecticut. It was packed well. Smells beautiful in my opinion, and according to the manufacturer, is tanned using a traditional vegetable process. I don't know if that means the chemicals used to tan the leather are less noxious than contemporary ones, but it sounds appealing. It's the kind of luggage you want to touch for no reason at all.
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An excellent choice for traveling professionals, this luxe leather bag is made to last a lifetime and sports an ingenious garment section that accommodates up to two full suits/cocktail dresses and a pair of shoes in perfect condition. There are also zip pockets for storing your accessories, as well as a sliding shoulder strap for carrying comfort. At 22 x 13 x 9, the bag meets all major airline carry-on requirements, and, when not in use, it folds flat for easy storage.
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For a travel duffel bag that looks less like a gym bag and more like a fashionable carry-on, the Dakine EQ Bag is a popular option. With several print designs, including turquoise with hibiscus flowers and white and black Aztec prints, the duffel is the perfect travel accessory. Measuring 15.5 x 9 x 10 inches and with a volume of 31 liters, the Dakine bag makes a great carry on for weekend getaways. When not in use, the polyester fabric can be folded for easy storage. Some features buyers appreciate are the carry handles and shoulder strap, zippered side pocket for small items such as phones and wallets and “U-Shaped” interior storage area.
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.
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.
I always try to blend in like a local. I don’t talk loudly or draw attention to myself even when I am lost. I always keep my valuables in two safe places, one being a discrete Anti-theft mini cross body bag and had no problems all over Italy and Berlin last year. I have just purchased a Travelon messenger bag for an upcoming trip to Europe, where I will travel alone for most of it.
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I’m a crossbody bag fan for sure, because I really like having my hands free. That said, there are times my shoulders begin to beg for a little relief. I’m seriously considering the Henri Bendel Jetsetter Convertible Backpack for my upcoming trip through the Czech Republic, because it can be worn so many ways…and I won’t have to transfer the contents from bag to bag!
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This Knomo bag marries form and function, with a rectangular shape made for comfortably toting around laptops sized up to 15.6 inches. There's also a trolley slip sleeve that fits over the handle of your wheeled luggage for easy carrying. Plus, travel without worry: The RFID-blocking liner will protect your credit cards and passport from wireless identity theft.
Hands down, the easiest duffels to pack, unpack, and rummage around in are those with a large, U-shaped opening. Duffels such as the Patagonia Black Hole feature this design: a zippered flap extends around three of the four sides of the top of the duffel and opens to reveal most of the contents. These bags provide easy access whether in a hotel, tent, or on the road. Other bags, such as the Filson Field Duffel, open in a more traditional style, with one zipper that extends across the top of the bag. With a smaller opening, access to the contents is more limited, and especially when full (this means more rummaging and disorganization). If you’re looking to prioritize convenience above all else, large roller duffels like the Osprey Shuttle offer the most rigid structure and largest opening for packing and unpacking.