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?
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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.
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For most types of travel, from a weekend at the cabin to an international trip, a casual travel duffel will do the trick. You still get plenty of features with these bags: backpack straps are common (more on that below), many have a water-resistant finish for protection from light precipitation and wet ground, and organization can be good depending on the size. If you’re strictly using your duffel for air travel, a roller duffel is a good option: it will allow you to move quickly through the airport without having to haul your bag on your back or shoulder. For travelers who don’t plan on subjecting their bags to the elements for extended periods of time, travel duffels offer a nice mix of convenience and simplicity.
More than anything, a superior luggage set will elevate any on-the-go experience, allowing travelers to breeze through an airport, hotel, or conference center with ease. Our editor-approved travel bags take into consideration all the main concerns of anyone setting off for a big trip: dimension (no carry-on should be more than 22” x 14” x 9”), mobility, and functionality. At Travel + Leisure, we spend large amounts of time on the road—just like you—and know the importance of stylish, lightweight luggage with plenty of room for all your belongings.
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.
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 figured I would share this gem. This bag is one of the best investments that I have ever made. It literally holds my life in there! The inside is perfect with a large amount of space, one zippered pocket, and another deep pocket along the backside of the pack. These two pocket are perfect to store stuff in that you don’t want stolen. This bag has large straps that can’t be cut, and it also very stylish for even the fashionistas out there. I can’t wait to get another before my trip to Spain!
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I have so many packing tips… Using packing cells, using clip seal bags, taking a tiny pocket sized foldable backpack in case of unexpected purchases, downloading offline maps apps and translators and using dryer sheets in my luggage. But the best travel tip I have is actually a very simple one- look confident. I travel a lot and before I walk out the door each day I scan a map to orient myself, ensure I have an offline map just in case, put on some really reflective aviators and make sure I look like I know where I am going (even though most of the time I have no idea!) I find looking confident and purposeful means you don’t look like a tourist and makes you less of a target to anyone with ill intentions.
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.
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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.
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.
Larger than a camera bag or waistpack - yet smaller than a briefcase or laptop bag - it'll hold whatever you need, wherever your travels take you. A book, readers, an iPad®, cell phone, calculator, pens, pencils - and more! Gusseted zip-front organizer has pen and cell phone slots, a zippered pocket and organizational sleeves. Middle zip section has organizational sleeves, and gusseted rear-zip section has a neoprene sleeve to hold an e-reader or iPad®. Rear exterior pocket with snap-down security strap, two-way zippers with large zipper pulls, leather reinforcements and a detachable padded shoulder strap.
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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.
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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.
Compression straps, both internal and external, can help make a duffel’s load more compact. Internal straps remove strain from the zipper and compress your gear inside the duffel to keep it from shifting during transit. We see these on models like the Patagonia Black Hole and Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dyneema Duffel. External compression straps can be on the ends (such as with the Gregory Stash) or sides (The North Face Base Camp) and tighten the duffel after the zipper has been shut. External straps are especially useful on large duffels that might not be stuffed to capacity, and they help make your bag less unruly for travel. Additionally, if you plan on frequently carrying your duffel as a backpack, we encourage you to consider a model with compression straps—it makes the whole operation a lot more comfortable.
As phones get smarter, and my travel experience grows, I find I really don’t need more than a wristlet most of the time. It’s lightweight and I grasp like a clutch while I’m walking but can let it dangle on my wrist for a moment if I need both hands. The amenity bags my husband gets on business class flight for work make great wristlets–ones from KLM look like leather, are generously sized (for a wristlet), unisex designs and have no logos on them.
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.
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.
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This duffel bag came highly recommended by our testers for its sleek design and its many useful storage compartments. It was also very comfortable to carry: “I really liked the strap and the bag didn’t seem too bulky even when there was a lot of stuff inside of it,” one tester noted. The only thing our testers wished was different? The bag’s size. “I would have made it little larger,” said one reviewer. “With a laptop inside, I couldn’t fit a ton of clothes.”
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Arc’teryx’s sleek Carrier is not your everyday travel duffel, and it doesn’t look like one either. With taped seams, coated nylon, and a water-tight zipper with storm flap, the Carrier is about as close to waterproof as a water-resistant bag gets. And at only 1 pound 5 ounces for the 55L version (and a mere 1 pound 7 ounces for the 80L), it’s the lightest option on our list, handily beating out ultralight designs like Granite Gear Packable Duffel and the Gregory Stash, and packing down to an impressively small size.
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 $130-ish duffel market certainly is competitive, but another nice option for travelers is the Long Hauler from Marmot. This bag is well designed with just about all of the features that you need: detachable backpack straps, a U-shaped access to the main compartment, grab handles on the ends, compression straps, and end pockets for storing smaller items and valuables. Durability is good too: the bag is reinforced with 600D nylon, which should allow for a decent amount of rough use.
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In terms of capacity, the duffels on this list range from 25 liters to a whopping 150 liters, so there’s a bag to match every activity and intended use. For solo travelers on overnight and weekend trips where you won’t be bringing a bunch of gear, a smaller duffel in the 25 to 40-liter range should do the trick. A good number of these models are carry-on compatible, saving you the time and the potential cost of checking a bag. For U.S. airlines, there isn’t a universal carry-on size, but 22 x 14 x 9-inch is quite common (at the time of publication, these are the maximum dimensions for Delta, United, JetBlue, and others). It’s worth noting that almost all carry-on compatible bags will advertise themselves as such, but the general cut-off is right around 40 liters.
I love reading all of your articles. Even if I’m not visiting that particular part of the world! A great travel tip: Purchase a pair of foldable flats. Everyone says to never walk around an airplane in bare feet or socks. The minute I sit down in my seat, I take off my shoes & put on these. When we’re starting to land, I remove them & put my shoes back on. They’re soft, comfy, very affordable, lightweight & fold up into a soft pouch to throw in your carry on. Many colors to choose from on Amazon.
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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.
This is an awesome bag! The fabric is very nice, and looks to be water resistant. My all-time favorite feature for this bag is the long strap. It is made of a seat belt material (very sturdy!) Gold hardware is solid. The bag has 2 nice handles that are sewn to the bag. The stitching is nice and even and does not appear to be of low quality. This bag has a nice luggage strap feature. On the back is a thick band with a zippered pocket that slips over the handles of a rolling luggage bag. Perfect size for a personal bag for a flight! The short handles and the black detail material on the sides resemble saffiano leather. We know this bag is eco-friendly and does not use real leather (but it looks nice). The bottom has 4 gold feet and the inside of the bag is brown. ... full review
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.
"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
I am traveling with my Travelon bag now and it is wonderful. My best travel tip is to use a tether to attach your smart phone to your bag. I tuck the tether into the bag when I’m not using the phone for a camera. Admittedly it does not quite pass muster as stylish but if I have to choose between stylish and not losing my phone, I will choose not loosing every time!
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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!!