In 2018, as it has been for over half a decade, our testers' favorite burly duffel bag is The North Face Base Camp. This perennial favorite is great, but so is the competition. The Base Camp barely edged out the Gregory Alpaca and the Patagonia Black Hole for the win. While the Base Camp wins Editors' Choice and remains a measuring stick for the all burly duffels, its scores don't make it a runaway Editors' Choice. Some other models tested have slight advantages, like the low weight of the Patagonia Black Hole. However, the Base Camp still clocks top or near-top scores in every comparison category.
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For a travel duffel bag that looks less like a gym bag and more like a fashionable carry-on, the Dakine EQ Bag is a popular option. With several print designs, including turquoise with hibiscus flowers and white and black Aztec prints, the duffel is the perfect travel accessory. Measuring 15.5 x 9 x 10 inches and with a volume of 31 liters, the Dakine bag makes a great carry on for weekend getaways. When not in use, the polyester fabric can be folded for easy storage. Some features buyers appreciate are the carry handles and shoulder strap, zippered side pocket for small items such as phones and wallets and “U-Shaped” interior storage area.
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Although we do like the Base Camp line and have used them for years, we prefer the Black Hole for a few reasons. First, the outer fabric on The North Face shows scuff marks more easily than its Patagonia counterpart. Second, at 3 pounds 8 ounces, it’s more than a pound heavier. Finally, we found the backpack straps on the Base Camp Duffel to be slightly more difficult to detach than those on the Black Hole, making your airport check-in a bit more frantic. But for a bit more versatility in terms of size and colors, the Base Camp from The North Face is a solid duffel choice.
After using the newer Base Camp model on just a few trips, our testing team unanimously gave the thumbs up to this additional pocket, which added just enough organizational options. The same could be said for the Long Hauler. Other organizational features that our testers appreciated were the dual inner, zippered mesh pockets featured on the Patagonia Black Hole Duffel and Black Hole Wheeled Duffel, Gregory Alpaca, and The North Face Rolling Thunder.
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I love my Henri Bendel Jetsetter Convertible Backpack! I have the larger and smaller bag. I used the larger one during my trip to Amesterdam and Paris. It was large enough for a rain jacket, light sweatshirt, water bottle, and my normal purse items (sun glasses, wallet, etc.). The bag was definitely full but I was out all day and the temperature changed greatly from morning to night. It was nice having everything I needed to stay comfortable. A few museums made you leave larger bags at the bag check and they seemed to only ask people with backpacks to check their bags. I loved the ability to quickly change the backpack to a handbag and bring it into museums. I hate leaving my personal belongings in the care of someone else. I highly recommend them!
5. Wear your bag in a way that dissuades theft. Most often thieves look for an easy mark. A handbag across your chest (as opposed to hanging loosely over a shoulder) will look more challenging and less appetizing. Keep your bag on the inside rather than on the street side. Yes, there have been instances of women being dragged along by a thief on a scooter BUT seeing a well-protected bag should be pretty dissuasive. If this worries you, use a pashmina or a scarf over your shoulder. It won't hide your bag completely but it makes it more complicated for thieves - and they like to keep things simple.
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.
Many duffels on this list are made by big outdoor brands like Patagonia, The North Face, Osprey, and Marmot. Outdoor use can vary substantially, from throwing your bag in the back of a truck to hardcore expeditions (often tied to the side of a horse or put in a sled). The good news is that like many types of gear, many outdoor-oriented duffels are tough but versatile and cross over nicely into everyday use. For example, the Patagonia Black Hole, our top pick, can be used from anything from serious outdoor use to standard air travel (and looks the part for both). Because of this versatility, outdoor brands dominate the duffel market.
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I just fell in love with the Travelon backpack, especially in the gray color. My travel tip is to pack everything in a carryon that can fit under the seat 💺 I dread the hustle of snatching and stressing for overhead space. Since I get cold easily, I wear lots of layers on the plane, which means less items to pack in my bag. Plus the bag I have is convertible and can either be a backpack or shoulder bag. It can serve several purposes. In my case, I travel for work so I also use it as my work bag as it fits my 15” laptop
Its a nice looking bag for sure. But after you use it a few times you notice its not really made that well. I know for $200 you can't expect much. For instance, the cloth on the inside of the bag is very thin and poorly sewn in. Also,the leather on the inside of the bag isn't treated and isn't double layered and sheds all over the inside of the bag every time you use it and so you have to brush off your clothes. (See pictures.) Also, the leather shoulder strap is so slippery it falls off just about every fabric you wear and so you will have to loop it over your head to get it to stay in place when walking through the airport or something.
Your travel bag needs minimal styling—it goes with just about everything. Want to travel in ultimate comfort? Try pairing your all-black activewear look with a black leather weekender for a cool and comfortable look that is always appreciated. If you want to travel in style, pair your skinny ankle jeans, chunky knit, and booties with a cognac leather travel bag for a casual and timeless look.
All the contenders in our fleet are super robust. However, The North Face Rolling Thunder stood apart from the rest as a freaking burly piece of luggage (maybe bordering on overkill), with the beefiest materials in the review. Most of the bag is constructed of the same material as the tried and true Base Camp Duffel (1000D polyester laminate), which is still slightly thicker than most of the models in our review. To make this model even more long-lasting, it has been reinforced with 1680D nylon (compared to the Base Camp's mega burly 840D).
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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. And it’s worth mentioning the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dyneema Duffel, which is not waterproof but highly water resistant and surprisingly tough.
The crossbody strap makes it easy to walk around hands-free and the slim look makes it elegant but not too noticeable – which is perfect if you're trying to blend in and not call too much attention to yourself. It's one of the best leather travel purses around. It's not cheap, but I've had mine for years and it only looks the better for wear. And it holds everything I need for a day of sightseeing.
Kate Spade New York is famous around the world for creating luxe handbags and stylish accessories. This stowaway case is no exception. The durable suitcase is constructed of fiberboard and is accented with leather straps. Inspired by a vintage design, this case has a double latch with metal buckle closures and features a telescoping pull handle; top and side carry handles, and interior zip pocket. It also includes a detachable toiletries case that conveniently transforms into an easy-hang washbag.
There’s a reason this bag has been a favorite for over half a century: it’s sturdy (that canvas is tested to hold up to 500 pounds), tastefully spare (those contrasting straps always look good), and offers just the right amount of customization (liven things up with a bright color or a monogram, or stick to the classic navy). And at only $50, you can buy in bulk and still not blow your budget.
Backpacks are a tourist’s best friend because you can carry all of the items you need for the day on your back as you wander around town and explore exciting new destinations and historical sites. Cushioned pockets protect your electronics so you can travel with your laptop or tablet and keep all those delicate electronics protected. Small pockets in the front hold your wallet, keys and other important items. Personalized backpacks feature your name or initials, making it easy to distinguish your bag from others’ things.