The best travel duffle bags for every kind of adventure

Karen
A man carries a travel bag over his shoulder

A man carries a travel bag over his shoulder

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From sports gear to business travel and school, duffle bags (also spelled duffel bags) have been around for centuries. They have come a long way with better quality, durability, design and comfort. You can now choose from a small, medium or oversize bag, waterproof duffle, laptop duffle and even duffles with wheels or backpack straps. Buying a good duffle bag can be a very rewarding investment. Finding the right one can feel like a research-intensive task with so many options out there. Lucky for you, we’ve already done some research and narrowed down the overwhelming variety of bags for you.

Top Picks

Best Overall: Amazon Basics Travel Duffle Bag

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This spacious travel duffle bag from Amazon Basics can hold everything you need for your trip. Its lightweight design makes it easy to sling over your shoulder and go.

Available in red, blue, and black, the bag is 100% nylon, offering good durability and a 50-pound weight capacity.

The lightweight design features exterior pockets ideal for easy access to smaller items such as your passport, tickets, keys and mobile phones. There is also an interior pocket for safekeeping valuables which can easily get misplaced among the other contents of your bag.

Pros

  • Hardware is metal which offers better durability than plastic

  • Pockets have zip closures

  • Two top loop handles

  • Padded, adjustable, and removable crossbody strap

  • Collapsible for easy storage

Cons

Best for business: Gonex Travel Duffle Bag

Credit: Amazon

Credit: Amazon

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If you’re going on a short business trip, there is no doubt that this stylish, lightweight travel duffle bag is the perfect fit for you.

The zippers on each side expand the bag to 24.4 inches to accommodate all your belongings for longer trips.The sizing chart indicates an estimate of what you can fit into the bag to help you order accordingly. It is designed with tear-resistant, high-density cotton canvas and a soft nylon lining. Classic metal hardware tones add a touch of sophistication to the stylish color options, including coffee, dark gray, khaki and blue.

Pros

  • Has an interior zipper pocket

  • Five exterior zipper pockets

  • Stitched grip handles and an adjustable, removable, padded shoulder strap

  • Plastic bottom studs protect the bag from damage

  • Multipurpose for business, gym and carry-on luggage

Cons

Best ladies duffle: HYC00 Travel Duffle Bag

Credit: Amazon

Credit: Amazon

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Sometimes a handbag just won’t fit all your belongings, but a large duffle bag is too bulky to carry.

If this is your dilemma, this travel duffle bag is the perfect option. It’s just big enough for the gym, overnight stays, work or school items and carry-on luggage. The bags come in elegant colors including lilac, soft pink, olive green, beige, light blue, coral and gray.Its nylon design is water-resistant, and there is a handy waterproof zipper pocket on the inside that you can use to keep a wet bathing suit, makeup or shower items. With multiple internal and external pockets and a sleeve to slide over a roller case handle for convenient carrying across airports, this design really has it all.

Pros

  • Carry as a handbag, over your shoulder, or cross-body

  • Waterproof interior zipper pocket

  • Multiple interior and exterior pockets enhance organization

  • Water-resistant nylon exterior

Cons

Best for athletics: Dalix Travel Duffle Bag

Credit: Amazon

Credit: Amazon

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This durable polyester travel duffle bag is a superb choice for athletes, camping and travel.

It has large exterior pockets across its width and length. This allows you to separate clean and dirty clothes while keeping your smaller valuables securely organized.The large main compartment has a bottom baseboard to provide structure for easy packing and handling. The bags are available in a two-tone combination of black and red, yellow, purple, navy, pink, maroon, gray, orange, green and white.

Pros

  • Metal hardware offers better durability

  • Large plastic bottom studs to protect against dirt

  • Plenty of large exterior zipper pockets

  • Baseboard offers structure and support without adding weight

Cons

Best foldable: Bago Travel Duffle Bag

Credit: Amazon

Credit: Amazon

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Available in an expansive range of soft and bright colors, these handy foldable travel duffle bags take up very little space when not in use.

When expanded, they have a 60-liter capacity, enough to hold all your belongings comfortably for any trip or outdoor adventure. The ripstop honeycomb fabric is lightweight, water-resistant and tear-resistant. Its unique design features an odorless shoe and laundry compartment and exterior zipper pockets. The bag has top carry handles and a detachable crossbody strap that can be adjusted.

Pros

  • Shoe and laundry compartment

  • Folds up easily into a compact size

  • Lightweight and water-resistant

  • Padded straps

Cons

Travel duffle bags buying guide

Travel duffle bags come in a range of colors, materials and many have various pockets and compartment designs. Since duffle bags are soft-cover and flexible, they are easier to pack than hard-cover suitcases. They can fit into corners and gaps between other luggage in a car, where suitcases are often bulky with limited flexibility. Duffle bags aren’t only for gym and road trips; they also come in classic designs appropriate for corporate use. Whether you’re looking for a specialized or multipurpose bag, here’s what you need to consider before making your purchase.

Travel duffle bag use

What you want to use your bag for and the type of travel you are planning will determine which type of duffle bag is best for you. Things to consider are whether you only need an overnight bag, something for a weekend trip or long-term travel. Also, think about whether the trip is for business, leisure or sport. You may want an everyday bag that you can use for general outings back home, for the beach or gym. Once you have defined your requirements, you can better determine the features that your travel duffle bag needs.

Durability and fabric

If you’re taking your travel duffle bag to yoga or an overnight stay, you probably don’t need something ultra-durable. However, if your bag is going to accompany you on many outdoor adventures or be checked in on long-haul flights, you’re going to want something that can withstand bumps, dirt and outdoor elements.

The fabric type will play a significant role in the durability of the bag and how well it can withstand wear and tear.

Nylon comes in various types with different weaves and strengths. A denier, indicated with a ‘D,’ refers to the density of yarn or fiber based on the length and weight. The higher the thread count (or denier) of a specific fabric, the more durable it is. This is a good way of determining the strength, durability, and even water- and abrasion-resistant qualities of the construction fabric. It will also affect the weight.

Ripstop nylon is a lighter-weight fabric but also has some great features. It prevents punctures in the material from spreading further into a full tear. This can save your bag and its contents.

TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) coated fabrics are weather-resistant and durable. Since travel duffle bags often get placed on the ground and are exposed to spills and splashes, it is always good to have a water-resistant fabric.

Polyester is also a popular synthetic fabric, mainly due to its reasonable pricing. It is a cheaper fabric and is also less durable, but not a bad option for a bag you don’t have long-term plans for and if you need to stick to a smaller budget.

Canvas is a material that is coated in a wax layer for waterproofing. Since it is generally a heavy fabric, it is not that common for travel duffle bags, but it may be worth sacrificing some comfort if you need something waterproof for outdoor adventures.

Leather and faux leather duffels look sophisticated, although they are not very common due to their bulkiness, maintenance requirements, and sensitivity to the elements. It is more common (and probably less costly) to find stylish bags with leather accents such as straps, logos and zipper pulls. These are great for business and corporate travel since they have a less casual look than most other types of material.

Zippers

The last thing you want before checking your bag on a flight is for the zipper to break. This small feature on a travel bag is important and should be long-lasting and sturdy. Large duffle bags should have a medium to large zipper, while interior pockets and compartments are okay with smaller zippers as they have extra protection.

Opt for a water-resistant zipper if you require a good amount of water resistance for sailing, travel by boat or in extreme weather conditions. Since they are harder to open and close, only get these if you need something excessively waterproof.

Fixtures

Other fixtures on the bag may include bottom studs, swivel hooks, buckles, D rings and rapid rivets for strap attachment. Metal hardware on the bag will last better and is less likely to break or crack than plastic. It also has a more sophisticated look. If you are trying to keep things as lightweight as possible, plastic may be a better option – just ensure that the plastic is a thick and durable design.

Inner compartments

Although you will probably have a range of smaller bags for cosmetics and digital accessories packed into your bag, it is always great to have at least a few compartments to keep things organized and separated. Some bags have no inner compartments, so you’ll be scratching around for what you need. Other bags include a waterproof and mesh compartment for wet or dirty clothes or swimming gear.

Some bags have a range of big and small compartments that would fit a laptop, chargers, notebooks, and your general travel items. Take note of the size of the compartments, whether they are on the interior or exterior, and if they have zippers or not.

Handles, wheels, and straps

Duffel bags generally come with two carry handles and may include an adjustable crossbody strap for extra convenience. Ensure that the straps are reinforced and securely attached to the travel duffle bag. Poor quality will result in the straps tearing off quickly, especially when your duffle is fully loaded.

You could get away with unpadded straps for smaller bags that you only intend to use for delicate items. Still, in most cases, you want well-padded straps to prevent them from digging into your shoulder and making it very uncomfortable to carry around.

The classic duffle has morphed into two hybrid styles, namely a backpack duffle and a duffle with wheels.

A backpack version allows you to carry the bag as a regular duffel bag as well as with two back straps like a backpack. In this case, padded and adjustable straps are essential. Keep in mind that if you go for a backpack-style, your bag’s contents may shift depending on how you carry it, so pack accordingly. This could be handy if you are commuting by bicycle or scooter and need to take some larger items with you.

A duffle with wheels will offer you the option of carrying it with handles or pulling in on wheels with a sturdy handle. Here you want quality straps, handles and wheels to prevent the pull handle or wheels from breaking halfway through your trip.

Check the size of the wheels since wheels that are too small are not going to be easy to roll on uneven surfaces. These are great options if you find you struggle to carry a heavy bag yet want the flexibility of a softcover duffle.

Size and weight

Travel duffle bags come in a wide range of sizes, from those which fit easily in an overhead plane compartment to giant ones for specialized equipment. When choosing your bag, consider the size and weight restrictions for travel and how easy or hard the bag will be to carry. Although lightweight bags are always easier to carry, they aren’t always the most durable, so look for a good balance between durability and weight.

People also asked

Q: Is there a difference between a duffel and a duffle bag?

A: No, both types of spelling refer to the same thing.

Q: Can I take a travel duffle bag on an airplane?

A: Yes, you can check if your duffle bag dimensions comply with the airline weight and size regulations.

Q: Can I pack more into a travel duffle bag than a suitcase?

A: If both are the same size, you may be able to get just a little more into your duffle bag since the material is flexible and can conform slightly to the contents inside. This allows you to squeeze small things into open gaps. A suitcase with rigid sides doesn’t offer much flexibility in how you pack your items, although it provides better protection against falls and hard bumps.

The post The best travel duffle bags for every kind of adventure appeared first on In The Know.

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