Best Travel Duffel Bags In The World – From tried-and-true outdoor models with backpack straps to travel-friendly designs, below are the best duffels of the year
Whether you’re traveling by plane, heading to the cabin for the weekend, or on an expedition around the world, you probably use a duffel bag to carry your gear from one place to another. Duffels are popular among all types of travelers for good reason: they’re easy to load and carry, and many are built to take a beating. Below we list the best duffels of 2023, including the best travel, outdoor and waterproof bags of the standard and rolling varieties. For more background information, see our bag comparison chart and buying tips below the options.
Best Travel Duffel Bags In The World
Patagonia’s Black Hole line has helped keep duffels cool, and we think the 55-liter version is the best bag on the market. In 2023, all Black Holes are made with 100% recycled materials, premium build quality and the trendy colors Patagonia is known for. This bag is beautifully constructed from end to end and you get a variety of options from plain black to bright red. And the Black Hole is tough: the fabric is a blistered 900-denier ripstop nylon with a DWR finish to repel moisture. This duffel isn’t waterproof like the YETI and SealLine models below, but it should keep your gear dry in light to moderate humidity.
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We’ve been using the same Black Hole Duffel for almost a decade now, and it’s still going strong, despite being packed full of sharp climbing gear and being moved all over the world (by plane, train, horse, and snowmobile). In terms of features and carrying comfort, you get plenty of ways to hold and carry the duffel: the detachable backpack straps are more comfortable and functional than most, and the bag comes with grab handles and webbing handles for hand carrying. Note that this duffel doesn’t have a particularly rigid structure (just a lightly padded base), so it doesn’t interfere with protecting your fragile items. Finally, Patagonia’s Black Hole line also includes a variety of versions (we love the 70L for expedition and the 40L for carry), including smaller travel packs and wheeled duffels.
For frequent travelers, there’s a lot to be said for the convenience of a duffel on wheels, especially one that can be used to carry around. At 40 liters and sized to meet most airline size restrictions, the TNF Base Camp Voyager Roller is a great option for air travelers who don’t pack a kitchen sink. The wheels are large but smooth and practical on a variety of surfaces and are just as at home on remote country dirt roads as they are at the airport. What’s more, the rigid inner frame and strong plastic handles (one telescoping) are durable enough to take a beating, whether you pick up the duffel, roll it over cobblestones, or throw it in the back of a truck. And with a PFC-free DWR coating, the Base Camp Voyager will protect your gear in the process.
What the Base Camp Voyager Roller is not, however, is full-fledged luggage for business travelers. It lacks the sleek look and organized parts of more typical rolling bags, with just one interior mesh pocket, a laptop sleeve, and a small exterior zippered pocket. And at $240, you’re paying a premium for durable construction and wheel design. For $40 less, the Osprey Daylite Carry-On 40 offers better organization, but its sleek look may not appeal to those looking for a true duffel design. Ultimately, the Base Camp Voyager Roller is the perfect combination of durability, functionality and outdoor style. For those who want more space, TNF also produces a 29-inch version that holds more than 90 liters of gear.
If you’re in the market for basic storage and protection for your gear, the REI Co-op Roadtripper is one of the best values on this list. At just $65, this bag is made from bubble-wrap recycled polyester and features a shoulder strap and large removable handles (there are no backpack-style straps, which is worth noting for those who intend to carry the bag long distances). We also love the minimal weight, which at just 1lb 6oz is one of the lightest duffels out there.
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Who is the REI Roadtripper Duffel Best for? It makes a great carrier for those who need space and protection without the bells and whistles. We’ve used the 100-litre version on several long trips, including to Patagonia (four flights) and were impressed. The bag is well built, practical and will withstand fair use and abuse. At the same time, it’s not waterproof (or even very waterproof) and it’s definitely not a full-fledged travel bag. If you want more protection and convenience like internal storage, side compartments and backpack straps, we recommend the Patagonia Black Hole above instead.
Many of these duffels are designed for expeditions or a week’s worth (or more) of gear, but the reality is that most trips are made over the weekend. A good weekend bag holds around 35 liters of clothing and personal supplies, meets carry-on requirements and includes internal and external pockets to help you stay organized. In this category, the Thule Aion is our top pick and gets high marks for style as well, with a classic aesthetic that looks at home in both urban and outdoor environments. The 35-liter bag is also decently durable, with a 600-denier waxed polyester canvas that’s scratch-resistant and can repel light moisture.
In addition to good looks and build quality, the Thule Aion is very organized with two separate internal compartments (great for separating clean and dirty clothes), a laptop sleeve and internal zipped pocket, and external stretch and zipped compartments along the front zip. . . Portability is also good with two carry handles, a padded (and removable) shoulder strap and a travel sleeve for attaching to a rolling bag. Additionally, the Aion offers similar functionality as a travel backpack, but in the form of a bag, which is perfect for those looking for a cleaner, simpler look. At $190, it’s more expensive than similarly sized bags, but the extra features and sleek look help justify the extra cost. For a slightly more affordable option, check out the Peak Design Travel Duffel ($140).
For travelers torn between a standard duffel and traditional wheeled luggage, the Osprey Sprint may be just what you’re looking for. This high-end duffel is incredibly roomy, durable, and has tons of organization. Time after time, we easily loaded an entire holiday’s worth of clothes and other items onto the Shuttle. Unlike cheap wheeled douches, which tend to fall full and upside down, this one holds its own very well. And all the other features are there, from external compression straps to tighten your load, to a separate bottom compartment for wet gear.
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The disadvantages of the Fish Shuttle are mainly related to the design itself. First, you’re not going to throw this douche over your shoulder and walk through an airport or into a big city. It’s big and heavy, over 8 pounds empty, and must be moved almost entirely on wheels. Plus, when you’re packed to the brim, you might be pushing the 50-pound standard checked-baggage limit, especially if you go with the 130-liter version (we were fine with 100 liters, but we were close at times). Finally, we are surprised by the amount of wear and tear shown on the Osprey Shuttle. We got ours in bright red, but would have preferred black.
Not everyone needs their bag to pack small, but in some situations, it can be a very nice feature. Maybe you’re short on storage space, heading off on an expedition where every inch and ounce counts, or just need to carry an extra bunch for the souvenirs you’ll be picking up during your trip. Regardless of the reason, it’s hard to beat the utility of a high pack design, and REI’s 30-liter Stuff Travel Duffel is one of our favorite options. At just 7.6 ounces and holding less than a 1-liter water bottle in an integrated pocket, the aptly named Stuff is the easiest option here. At just $35, it’s a no-brainer whether you use it as your main bag or as a backup.
We love REI Stuff’s versatility for space- and weight-related situations, but keep in mind that this isn’t your standard travel duffel. With a thin nylon construction and small 30L capacity, it won’t withstand prolonged abuse, keep your gear dry, or carry much more than a well-organized overnight pack. But it’s fully functional for the right application with a thoughtfully designed shoulder strap, top carry handles and smooth zippers. and