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The Best Duffel Bags of 2024: Your Ultimate Travel Companion

CEO Tinh Phung
They’re featured in every adventure documentary, stacked high on docks, swaying on pack mules, and being loaded onto seaplanes. Duffel bags are the backbone of any long adventure, providing versatile storage for your next expedition...

They’re featured in every adventure documentary, stacked high on docks, swaying on pack mules, and being loaded onto seaplanes. Duffel bags are the backbone of any long adventure, providing versatile storage for your next expedition or weekend getaway. But with so many top brands producing duffel bags, finding the perfect one can be overwhelming. That's why we've done the heavy lifting for you.

In our quest to find the best duffel bags money can buy, our Senior Editor Chris Carter rigorously tested over 25 top duffel bags on dusty overland trips, climbing expeditions, and weekend getaways. He put each bag through its paces, evaluating durability, ease of transport, organizational features, and weather resistance.

As a seasoned globe trotter, Chris knows what makes a duffel bag worth its mettle. He has zipped up duffels and carried them through international airports for as long as he can remember. His expertise and experience guarantee that only the best duffel bags make it into our guide.

The Top Picks

After months of testing, we present to you the crème de la crème of duffel bags for 2024:

  • Best Overall Duffel Bag: Patagonia Black Hole Duffel 70L
  • Best Budget Duffel Bag: Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler 60L
  • Best Expedition Duffel Bag: Black Diamond StoneHauler 120L
  • Best Duffel Bag for Casual Use: Peak Design Travel Duffel 35L
  • Best Ultralight Duffel Bag: Matador FreeFly 30L
  • Best Rolling Duffel Bag: The North Face Voyager 40L
  • Best Waterproof Duffel Bag: YETI Panga 75L

Check out our comprehensive buyer’s guide at the end for more help in choosing the perfect duffel. You can also refer to our comparison chart for a quick overview of the top picks and have your burning questions answered in the FAQ section.

Battling around with a load of duffels in tow Battling around with a load of duffels in tow to test during road trips with friends; (photo/Chris Carter)

How We Tested Duffel Bags

Author and Senior Editor Chris Carter led the charge in selecting the top duffel bags for this guide. He tested over 25 different duffel bags for durability, weather resistance, and overall usability on real-world adventures, including climbing expeditions, overland trips, and road trips. Each bag was put through the wringer over thousands of miles of travel in various climates and environments. Only the best duffels made it into this guide.

Chris knows the importance of reliable luggage on any excursion. He has traveled extensively and understands what it takes for a duffel bag to withstand the rigors of travel. Rest assured, the duffel bags in our guide are tried and tested by a seasoned traveler.

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Duffel Bag

Girl on top of truck with duffel bags Taking top expedition duffels on long trips through the African bush; (photo/Chris Carter)

Before diving into our top picks, let's understand what makes a duffel bag special and how to choose the right one for your needs.

What Is a Duffel Bag?

Duffel bags have a long history. Originating from the town of Duffel in Belgium, these bags were initially made from "duffel cloth" and were used for various purposes, including as covers for ships. Over time, duffel bags evolved to become durable and versatile travel companions.

Today, duffel bags come in various designs, materials, and sizes. They are ideal for a wide range of travel plans, from weekend getaways to extended expeditions. Their rugged construction and flexible nature make them perfect for carrying gear and clothing, whether you're hiking through the wilderness or exploring a new city.

Categories of Duffel Bags

Duffel bags can be categorized based on their intended use:

Expedition Duffel Bags

Expedition duffel bags need to be durable and weather-resistant Expedition duffel bags need to be durable enough to withstand the unpredictable conditions of long, bumpy adventures; (photo/Chris Carter)

Expedition duffel bags are designed for serious adventurers heading into rugged environments. These bags prioritize durability, weather resistance, and ease of use. They are built to withstand harsh conditions and protect important technical gear. With features like waterproof fabrics, reinforced lashing points, and ample storage compartments, these duffel bags are perfect for mountaineering, long expeditions, and other demanding adventures.

Travel/Casual Use Duffel Bags

Trotting around town with the stylish but functional Cotopaxi Allpa Trotting around town with the stylish but functional Cotopaxi Allpa; (photo/Honey McNaughton)

Travel and casual use duffel bags are designed for shorter trips and everyday use. They focus on comfort and usability, providing ample storage and organization options. These duffel bags are lighter and more stylish than their expedition counterparts, making them great for weekend getaways, gym trips, and casual travel. You'll find a variety of options within this category, catering to different budgets, styles, and adventure needs.

Waterproof Duffel Bags

Waterproof duffel bags keep your gear safe and dry Waterproof duffel bags keep your gear safe and dry in torrential downpours or accidental spills in the river; (photo/Chris Carter)

Waterproof duffel bags are designed to keep your gear safe and dry in wet conditions. These bags are perfect for activities like paddling, skiing, or camping in rainy environments. While many duffel bags are already water-resistant, true waterproof duffel bags offer superior protection with features like waterproof zippers, minimal stitching, and impenetrable fabrics. If you'll be spending extended time in wet environments, a waterproof duffel bag is a must-have.

Rolling Duffel Bags

Rolling duffel bags combine the convenience of a duffel with the ease of wheeled suitcases. These bags are ideal for carrying heavy loads over smooth surfaces. While rolling duffel bags are great for controlled environments like airports and paved walkways, they may be less versatile in other travel scenarios. If you'll be navigating rough terrains or shouldering your bag on buses, a traditional duffel may be a better choice. However, many rolling duffel bags provide sturdy wheels and ample storage, making them suitable for a variety of travel scenarios.

Volume Selection

The volume of the duffel bag you choose depends on the demands of your trip The volume of the duffel bag you choose depends on the different demands and length of your trip; (photo/Honey McNaughton)

Duffel bags are available in a range of volume options, typically from 40L to 120L or more. The volume you choose depends on the length and nature of your trip. Smaller duffels, around 40L to 70L, are suitable for weekend getaways and shorter adventures. Medium-sized duffels, around 70L to 90L, are versatile options for longer trips and moderate gear loads. Larger duffels, above 90L, are ideal for expeditions, gear-intensive trips, or long-term travel.

Consider the demands of your trip when choosing the volume of your duffel bag. You don't want an oversized bag for a simple weekend getaway, or an undersized bag for a month-long adventure.

Weight and Packed Size

Many duffels, like The North Face Base Camp, come with their own stuff sacks and pack down small Many duffels, like The North Face Base Camp, come with their own stuff sacks and pack down small; (photo/Chris Carter)

While weight is not a huge concern for most duffel bags, it's still important to consider when planning your trip. Most duffel bags maintain a relatively low weight, making them easy to carry. However, rolling duffel bags tend to be heavier due to the wheels and chassis. If weight is a concern for you, opt for a lighter duffel bag.

Packed size is another important consideration, especially if you plan on fitting your duffel bag into a larger suitcase for shorter trips. Many duffels come with their own stuff sacks and can be compressed to a small size when not in use. This feature allows you to pack an additional bag without sacrificing much space.

Straps and Carrying Comfort

Duffel bags need to have a variety of handles and straps for hauling them comfortably Duffel bags need to have a variety of handles and straps for hauling them comfortably from different angles during hectic mid-trip duffel shuffles; (photo/Honey McNaughton)

Comfortable straps and handles are essential for easy handling of duffel bags. Look for bags that offer versatility in carrying options, including padded shoulder straps, removable backpack harnesses, or handles that transform into backpack straps. This allows you to carry the bag from different angles and in various situations. Opt for bags with removable straps or straps that can be tucked away to avoid snagging during transport.

Backpack straps are a great addition, particularly for larger duffel bags. They allow for even weight distribution and comfortable carrying, especially if you'll be walking long distances or traversing rough terrains. However, duffel bag straps may not offer the same level of comfort as dedicated backpacks due to the lack of frames, ventilation systems, and hip belts. Keep this in mind if you plan on carrying your duffel bag for extended periods.

Materials and Weather Resistance

Duffels, particularly those catered for expedition use, need to have extremely durable shell fabrics to hold up to the wear and tear of tough adventures Duffels, particularly those catered for expedition use like The North Face Base Camp, need to have extremely durable shell fabrics to hold up to the wear and tear of tough adventures; (photo/Chris Carter)

Duffel bags must be durable and weather-resistant to protect your gear in any situation. Look for bags made from sturdy materials like ballistic nylon, polyester, or TPU laminate. These materials provide excellent durability and resistance to abrasion. Consider the denier of the fabric, which indicates the thickness of the yarns used in the construction of the fabric. A higher denier generally means a more durable and rugged bag.

While most duffel bags are water-resistant, true waterproof models offer superior protection. Look for bags with sealed seams, waterproof zippers, and laminated fabrics to keep your gear dry in heavy rain or accidental spills.

Ease of Use and Packing

A duffel bag's ease of use and packing ability are crucial factors to consider. Look for bags with large U-shaped openings, as they provide easy access to the main compartment and maintain structure and weather resistance. Multiple internal and external pockets are also useful for organizing and accessing essentials on the go.

Compression straps, both internal and external, help secure and streamline your load, making it easier to transport. Internal compression straps keep your gear in place, while external compression straps help snug down the bag for a compact package.

Flying With Duffel Bags

Charging through the airport baggage claim loaded down with bulging duffels Charging through the airport baggage claim loaded down with bulging duffels; (photo/Honey McNaughton)

Duffel bags can be great travel companions for both carry-on and checked baggage. Many duffel bags are carry-on compatible, fitting within the size restrictions of most airlines. However, always check the baggage regulations of your specific airline before packing. Rolling duffel bags provide added convenience for navigating airports and paved walkways, but keep in mind their weight limitations.

For checked baggage, duffel bags are excellent choices. Their durable construction and versatility make them ideal for handling the rigors of travel. Check the weight and size limits of your airline to ensure your duffel bag meets the requirements.

Value

Duffel bags come in various price ranges, and the value they offer often correlates with their price tag. Budget options are available for occasional travelers, while higher-priced bags offer advanced features and durability. Consider your specific needs and budget when choosing a duffel bag. Remember that investing in a reliable and high-quality duffel bag is essential for protecting your belongings.

No matter the price range, all the duffel bags in our guide have proven their worth on real-world adventures and are backed by our confidence. Choose the bag that suits your travel plans and enjoy the journey.

Conclusion

Choosing the best duffel bag for your next adventure doesn't have to be a daunting task. With our top picks and comprehensive buyer's guide, you can find a duffel bag that meets your needs and suits your travel style. Remember to consider factors like volume, weight, materials, and ease of use when making your decision.

Duffel bags are more than just storage solutions—they are your trusted travel companions. Whether you're embarking on an expedition, going on a weekend getaway, or exploring a new city, the right duffel bag can make your journey more convenient and enjoyable.

Check out our top picks above, and delve into our comprehensive buyer's guide for more guidance. Happy travels!

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