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.
Patagonia’s Black Hole line helped made duffels cool, and we think the 60-liter version is the best all-around bag on the market. Starting with design, Patagonia is known for premium build quality and trendy colorways, and the Black Hole fits the bill perfectly. It’s beautifully constructed from end to end, and you get multiple color options from simple black to blaze orange. And the Black Hole is tough: the fabric is 900D ripstop nylon with a DWR finish to fend off moisture. This duffel is not waterproof like the YETI and SealLine models below, but should keep your gear dry in light rain just fine.
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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Sweden-based Thule is a popular brand in the biking and car rack world, but it is relatively new to travel. Nevertheless, the Chasm is one sleek-looking duffel with great access and durability. We love the extra large U-shaped zipper, which is among the most generous on this list in terms of sizing, along with the 1,000-denier water-resistant outer fabric. The shoulder and backpack straps are removable, as are the carry handles (a rarity among duffels). For everything from air travel to the outdoors, Thule has done a nice job with the Chasm.
It’s worth noting that Marmot did decide to use thinner materials on the current Long Hauler. With a burly 1,000-denier fabric, the older version was prized for its toughness and durability. Unfortunately, Marmot downgraded this bag to 600-denier while adding a side pocket. 600D certainly isn’t bad, but it’s now thinner than competitors like the Patagonia Black Hole and The North Face Base Camp while the price remains similar. We still like the Marmot, but it just doesn’t stand out like it used to.
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This was a gift for our son and he loved it. The canvas lining was nice and makes it look rugged. The only downside was the strap which is excessively long. Other reviews haven't mentioned that, so it may have an isolated instance. I did not notice any unusual smell. To me it just smelled like leather. He purchased a leather punch to allow it to be shortened. Even with that, I would purchase again.
Size Duffels come in all sizes, from an overnight carry-on to bags that can hold a week’s worth of gear. Envision your likely load, and think about sizing up a bit to give you some additional space. If you want an easy-to-carry bag to bring souvenirs home from a trip, look for ones that collapse into themselves so you can stash it in your other luggage and pull it out for the trip home.
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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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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.
Most duffels have carry handles of some sort, whether they’re dedicated straps or a simple padded handle connecting the backpack straps to each other. Carry handles are useful for picking up a bag and moving it a short distance, and they’re great for carrying small capacity bags in one hand. Some duffels like the Osprey Transporter omit carry handles altogether in favor of shoulder and backpack straps. This can make sense for big, heavy bags, but we still prefer having the option.
This is an amazing bag!!. I purchased this for my sons 18th birthday as the bag he receipt chased for himself is really small. I took several pictures and filled it to capacity so that you can get a real idea of what this bag will hold. All the items pictured were inside this bag. The details are amazing on the bag and the leather quality is great. I anticipate he will get many years off use. I looked at many bags and I am so happy I decided on this one. Lots of storage pockets inside and durable carry handles.
Some travelers may not care about the weight of their duffel, but for others it’s a factor, and particularly with heavier rolling models. Most non-wheeled duffels weigh just a few pounds or less, which makes them easy to carry, throw in your car, and store when not in use. Rolling duffels, on the other hand, tend to get a bit heavy. For example, The North Face Rolling Thunder weighs 9 pounds 14 ounces empty for the 80-liter version, which already accounts for almost 20% of the standard 50-pound limit for checked bags. And the Osprey Shuttle weighs 8 pounds 3 ounces but has a larger capacity at 100 liters (and comes in a massive 130-liter version). We can tell you that a loaded Osprey Shuttle 100L with things like shoes can get awfully close to the 50 pounds: we’ve been in the high 40s on a number of occasions. It’s also worth noting that a 45-pound bag isn’t the easiest to get in and out of your car or up a flight of stairs.
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.
A small percentage of people want waterproof protection from their duffel (think rafters, fisherman, and backcountry winter adventurers). The market is limited, but two bags on the list are waterproof: the YETI Panga and SealLine WideMouth. The Panga is a beast of a bag, with the shape of a traditional duffel but with extra thick materials and a fully waterproof zipper. The SealLine, on the other hand, is a roll-top bag that more closely resembles a dry bag. Given their over-built nature, we wouldn’t want a waterproof duffel for anything but the harshest and wettest of environments. They simply are too heavy, expensive, and technically-oriented (minimal organization and straps) for everyday use. And it's worth mentioning that the Arc’teryx Carrier and Hyperlite Dyneema Duffel can also be used for some scenarios in which a waterproof duffel is being considered. They won’t handle submersion, but should be able to keep out rain or snow with similar waterproof fabrics, taped seams, and water-resistant zippers as a rain jacket.