10 Best Travel Duffel Bags in 2019
There are quite a few ways your duffel bag can do you wrong. And if you experience Murphy’s Law in any capacity, what can go wrong often does at the exact wrong moment. If your bag is going to tear, it’s going to do it as you sling it in the stowaway compartment so everyone can see your clothes spill out.
If it’s going to get wet because it isn’t water resistant, it’s going to do it when you’ve just washed the clothes inside. If you need to find your ID or boarding pass quickly, you’ll undoubtedly be using a bag that doesn’t have an ID holder or any small compartments. It will be all so you can hold up the security line while everyone watches you rummage through your things.
Here, we’ve rounded up the top 10 travel duffel bags to help prevent any of the mishaps that can befall you while traveling.
10 Best Travel Duffel bags
Here you will find everything from wheeled options, carry-on duffels to ones ideal for the gym.
1. Gregory Mountain Products Alpaca Duffel Bag
This duffel bag is of medium size, so perfect if you're looking for a good-sized duffel that isn't too hefty. It has a U-shaped zipper so you can easily see and access your goods inside and the padded backpack straps make transport a bit easier on you. This bag offers dual haul handles if you don't want to wear this bag as a backpack.
The lockable zippers are quite a unique feature. You can safely store your goods and they have reflective pulls for more visible access. The end pocket is also zippered and has a sleeve inside that is semi-transparent and water-resistant. This pocket is ideal for an ID, particularly when traveling.
In terms of durability, this bag is TPU coated water resistant, so your items will be fairly safe from the elements. And if you plan on stuffing this bag to the rim, the diamond-weave reinforcing threads will both keep your goods safe and dry.
The durable construction doesn't stop there as the bottom panel is dual-layered with high-density nylon and the seams are also nylon bound with a half-inch allowance. The double topstitching will serve to keep your goods safe and you shouldn't have to worry much about tears.
- Heavy-duty water-resistant material
- ID pocket
- Lockable zippers
- U-shaped zipper
- No cinch straps
2. Bago 80L Duffle Bag
This bag has several unique features, the most interesting and useful of which is how it can be folded up small enough to store in your car’s glove box.
You can then just open it and its back to being your 80L duffle bag. It is very lightweight, weighing just 1.5 pounds. It’s a great bag for storing souvenirs or other gifts while traveling or while in the airport itself.
Given how lightweight it is, you can make full use of the 50-pound luggage weight limit if you plan on flying. Despite how light this bag is, it isn’t short on durability. The outer compartment is both water and odor proof for safe storage and the honeycomb. Waterproof RipStop fabric is strong enough to resist wear and tear. That said, some users have remarked that the shoulder straps are not entirely reliable.
The compartments in this bag make it easy to find your items. There is an accessible shoe compartment so that you can store items separately from the main compartment. This would be a great place to store dirty laundry. In addition, there are two front pockets for smaller items such as your keys, phone, passport, or other forms of identification.
There is a 100% warranty and money back guarantee as well.
- Very lightweight
- Warranty/Money back guarantee
- Water and odor proof
- Very thin
- Weak shoulder straps
3. Under Armour Undeniable 3.0 Duffle
This duffle bag has a few pockets available to help you keep your items separated. There is a large front zip organization pocket as well as a large vented pocket for dirty laundry or to keep your shoes separate. There is also a large mesh pocket for the majority of your items and another large zip pocket to store some things you want to easily access.
Some users have remarked that the laundry/shoe compartment is on the smaller size, so keep that in mind if that separate area is important to you.
You can comfortably carry the bag over your shoulder with the padded HeatGear shoulder strap or you can carry it using the padded top grab handle. The shoulder strap is also adjustable so you can make sure it’s a comfortable fit.
This bag is durable and will protect your items from the elements. The UA Storm technology provides a highly water-resistant finish to the bag and the bottom and side panels are abrasion-resistant.
It has a volume of 56 liters, so it is a mid-size bag. It may work as a weekend bag or for a short trip but isn’t likely to be the ideal bag for longer adventures. It is light, weighing under 2 pounds so you shouldn’t have any trouble with ease of transport.
- Water-resistant finish
- Separate vented shoe compartment
- Adjustable shoulder strap
- Small shoe compartment
4. Osprey Shuttle 30”/100L Wheeled Luggage
This bag is a bit pricier than some of the other options reviewed here, but it comes with several unique features. And if you're looking for those features, they may be worth the heftier price tag. To start, this bag is wheeled which makes for easier transport if you’re in an area with paved surfaces.
This Osprey bag comes with a number of internal and external pockets, making it great for compartmentalizing and staying organized. The top pocket is zippered and is the perfect size for small valuables or water bottles. The rear panel pocket is sized for magazines or a table and has an ID card window so you can access your ID quickly while traveling.
There is a large collapsible lower compartment that can be used for compartmentalizing wet or dirty laundry or anything that should be kept separate from more fragile items. For example, this pocket is big enough for storing your ski boots if your traveling involves skiing.
Finally, the large rear panel pocket is zippered as well and is sized for dirty shoes or easy access to soft items such as a jacket or coat.
Another unique feature of this bag is the straight jacket compression to keep your bag stable, even when filled to the max. This feature includes three external compression straps along with padded side walls to help keep the contents inside the bag stable.
If you don’t want to wheel this bag, there are padded carry handles for easy carrying. Those handles are on the top and sides of the bag. So, if you don’t want to wheel or can’t because of unpaved surfaces, you’ll be able to carry this bag. That said, keep in mind that the wheels add a good amount of weight to this bag, compared to traditional unwheeled bags. It means carrying a heavier load, as this bag weighs just over 8 pounds.
Another consideration with the weight of this bag is that with it being 8 pounds independently, that means 8 pounds of your 50-pound flight weight limit are already taken up by the bag itself. Keep that in mind if you plan on flying with this bag and typically use up all 50 pounds of the weight limit.
While this bag weighs a bit more than others reviewed here, it is also quite large and has a 100L/6000 cubic inches capacity.
- Large capacity
- Several pockets for organization
- Straight jacket compression
- Padded carry handles
5. Canway 65L Travel Duffel Bag
This 65-liter duffel bag is fully foldable and weighs under 2 pounds. You can bring this bag anywhere given its foldable design. Use it as your primary travel bag or stow it in another bag and save it for bringing souvenirs home.
This bag is both waterproof and tear-resistant and its made of 600D polyester fabric so while collapsible and light, it is still durable. The zippers are also quite durable. They are premium metal SBS zipper and they are reinforced at the major stress points. This is a great feature if you typically fill your bag to the max.
The straps on this bag are interesting. You can, of course, carry as a single person but the two side straps make it possible for two people to carry this bag if the load is too heavy. This feature is helpful, given that it does not have backpack straps.
There is a total of 6 pockets in this back, one of which is the side shoe pocket. This pocket lets you keep your shoes or dirty laundry separate from your other soft goods. That compartment is also water and odor resistant with a ventilated air vent so you can keep your other items protected. The other pockets include another side pocket, one back pocket, one inner pocket, and two front pockets.
There is Velcro tape on the back sleeve of this duffle bag which will help keep your bag attached to your suitcase while traveling. This is a great feature if you plan on bringing multiple bags and prefer to stack them instead of carrying them separately. And you can choose from five different colors if you want to try and match your luggage.
This bag comes with 2-year protection for free. The two years beginning on the date of the original purchase.
- 6 pockets
- 2-year protection
- Water-proof and tear resistant
- Does not have backpack straps
6. Osprey Packs Transporter 65 Expedition Duffel
One of the most striking features of this lightweight duffel is that it can be carried three different ways. You can wear this duffel like a backpack or you can carry it with the handles or shoulder strap. If you want to carry it on your shoulder, the shoulder strap is available for separate purchase.
This bag doesn’t boast a ton of pockets, as it has just two, but the main compartment is quite large. That main compartment has a U-shaped zipper so despite how big it is, you can still access your items. The zipper path is also weather-protected and has overlapping rain flaps so you shouldn’t have to worry too much about the elements.
The two pockets that do come with this bag are the end storage pocket and an ID pocket. The ID pocket will keep your ID protected and easily accessible during travel. And the end storage pocket.
The end storage pocket has overlapping rain flaps to keep your items protected and it allows for easy and quick access to smaller items. This is a great place to store your phone, wallet or other items you want to grab quickly.
- Can be worn/carried three different ways
- Heavy duty zippers
- U-shaped main zipper
- Weather-protected zipper path
- Shoulder strap must be purchased separately
- Only two pockets
7. Plambag Canvas Duffel Bag for Travel
This 50-liter duffel bag offers several pockets and a good amount of durability. There are three layers of lining in this duffel, so it is quite strong.
The interior with the one large compartment can hold a number of items used on a daily basis as well as a 15” laptop or a tablet. In addition, there are a number of pockets to separate your items. This Plambag duffel offers 1 inner zipper pocket, 2 front zipper pockets, 1 back zipper pocket and 2 exterior with 2 side zipper pockets. Your goods will all be safely kept given the zippers on each of the pockets.
The capacity can be extended by unzipping the two zippers on each side. So, you can adjust the size and bulk using these zippers. Keep the bag a smaller size if you are just using the bag to head to the gym or increase the capacity by unzipping the bag if you’re intending to use it for a weekend trip.
That said, many users find that this bag is narrower and smaller in general, that a standard duffel bag. Keep that in mind if you are looking for a larger duffel bag.
This bag can be transported on your shoulder and has padded shoulder straps to keep you comfortable.
Some unique features of this duffel include the rubber mat at the bottom of the bag. This helps to protect both the bag and your goods inside. And the zippers are durable, and high quality, constructed of silver.
- Size can be manipulated by zippers
- Several pockets to help with organization
- Rubber mat
- Extendable capacity via zippers
8. Adidas Defender III Duffel Bag
This Adidas duffel offers a structure shaped to help protect your goods. In addition, the PU coated front zipper serves to protect any valuables you plan on transporting.
And for additional protection, there is a padded computer pocket to keep either your tablet or laptop safe. This Adidas bag also has one large main compartment along with 2 zippered side pockets. Those pockets can be used for holding items you’d like to quickly access such as your wallet, phone or identification.
You can carry this duffel bag in two different ways. Use the should straps, which are adjustable to sling it over your shoulder or carry it using the two padded haul handles. It is made of reinforced 3D RipStop polyester material so it is very durable and will help guard against tears.
This is a smaller capacity duffel bag and is ideal for gym trips or a quick weekend away. It weighs just barely over one pound and can be transported very easily.
Many users have found that this bag has a squeak coming from the shoulder strap. You’ll need to decide how important that is to you if you are thinking of purchasing this bag.
- Structured shape
- Pockets for organization
- Padded computer pocket
- Two carrying options
9. Aqua Quest White Water Duffel
This duffel bag is marked by its high durability, as proven by several features.
To start, this bag is 100% waterproof, not just water resistant. This Aqua Quest bag helps you keep your items completely dry as long as you don’t totally submerge it in water. Other durability features include the TPU lamination, welded seams, and abrasion resistant Oxford 420D RipStop fabric.
You can carry and wear this bag in a number of different ways and positions. So, depending on the weight you are carrying, you can find a way to make transport comfortable.
There is a padded grab handle for easy carrying as well as a removable and adjustable shoulder strap for easy wearing. In addition, there are 6 D-rings so that you can wear this bag as a sling in a multitude of ways. And you can attach this bag to racks, vehicles, or boats given the webbing loops that are on the bottom of the bag. This is a great bag for the adventurous traveler.
This bag does offer 2 pockets. These pockets are mesh so you can use them to house wet items if needed.
This duffle bag comes with a two-year ‘No Worries Warranty’ and Aqua Quest offers customer service Monday through Friday for any questions, feedback, or warranty inquiries.
Some users did find that the bag is a bit too big, both for transporting on a motorcycle and for using as checked luggage.
- 100% waterproof
- Webbing loops
- Two-year ‘No Worries Warranty’
- Attachable via 6 D-rings
- A bit too big for some activities
10. Wandf Foldable Travel Duffel Bag
This bag has a lot of great features, perhaps the best of which is that its size is perfect for carrying on when using a budget airline. You get to avoid the checked bag fees if going on a short trip. This duffel is also incredibly lightweight, weighing in at only 9.8 ounces and while light, it has a capacity of up to 40 liters.
It offers the standard shoe compartment that can be used to keep your shoes or dirty laundry separate from your clean clothes and other items. And there is an external storage pocket so that you can quickly access smaller items such as your phone, wallet, identification, or boarding pass.
Similar to some other bags reviewed in this list, it does fold up into its own exterior pouch which helps you maximize space if this isn’t the only bag you are using on your travels. And it is constructed of water-resistant fabric.
You can choose how you carry this bag. There are two handle straps as well as a removable and adjustable shoulder strap. Some users have commented that double stitching would improve this bag by enhancing its durability.
- Carry-on size
- Very lightweight
- Two carrying options
- Does not have double stitching
How to Choose the Best Duffel Bag
There are a number of features to consider when deciding on your duffel bag, many of which relate to your intended use. Here, we offer some key features to keep in mind when determining the best duffel bag for your needs.
Ease of Packing
Some travelers are masterful packers while others really struggle with capitalizing on the space they have available to them. Keep that in mind when looking for your perfect duffel bag. Things to look for include the shape and orientation of the main compartment’s zipper. Generally speaking, bags with a D-shaped opening are easier to pack than those with a vertical zippered space. This is because with a D-shaped opening, you can see more of what you have packed and you can access it more easily.
Volume is a very personal preference and need. If you are using your duffel bag for outdoor activities that warrant bringing a lot of extra equipment such as skiing or hiking, you will obviously want a duffel bag that provides more space for your belongings.
On the other hand, if you are looking for a duffel bag that can be used on weekend trips to see family and friends or to get away for a few days, you likely only need a bag that will hold a couple of changes of clothes.
Regardless, you want to keep in mind what you plan on using your duffel bag for and choose one that will suit your volume need. In general, if you plan on using a duffel bag for longer trips, say 3 or 4 days, a good rule of thumb is to get a duffel bag that is 70-120 liters. And if you just want a bag for a low-key weekend away from home, you can probably stick with a bag that has a capacity around 70 liters.
Having a series of smaller pockets simply makes packing and finding items much easier. You can stay better organized and your smaller items are more accessible. They won’t get lost in the bigger main compartment.
While you may want as many pockets as possible, keep the location of the pockets in mind. If the pocket itself is difficult to access when the bag is empty, it will be even more difficult to get to when your bag is full. And if the pocket itself is hard to get to, the items inside will also be difficult to access.
There are a couple of key features to keep in mind when measuring the durability of the duffel bag you choose. First is obviously the material used. You want something that will stand up to travel and some level of abuse. The majority of the duffle bags that are considered the most durable are made of either thick polyurethane or ballistic nylon. The polyurethane duffel bags are considered the most durable and they are also water-resistant, which is another material feature to keep in mind. The ballistic nylon bags are durable, but they are not as water resistant.
Another key feature is the reliability of the seams. You want a bag that can be packed to the gills and not split on you at the most inconvenient time.
And lastly, and perhaps most importantly, you need a very durable, strong zipper for much the same reason you want durable seams. You don’t want the zipper giving out on you when you have a bag full of items.
Ease of Transporting
Here, the ease of transport has a lot to do with whether or not your chosen duffel bag has wheels. And whether or not you need or want wheels has a lot to do with your intended use of the bag. Both models have their pros and cons.
With wheeled duffel bags, moving and transporting the bag can be easier. These are ideal for when you are traveling to locations that offer paved roads and surfaces. You won’t have to lift or carry the bag, which can be straining, particularly if you have it packed to the max.
The other consideration to keep in mind with wheeled duffel bags is that they are often heavier than the more traditional, without wheels, duffel bag. They typically weigh anywhere from 4 to 7 more pounds. Not only is that added weight to lug around but if you are trying to stay under the 50-pound weight limit for most flights, it means you have 4-7 pounds of things you can’t bring.
Finally, not all wheels on wheeled duffel bags are the same. In general, the bigger the wheel, the easier it is to pull and transport, especially on uneven surfaces.
Traditional duffel bags that do not have wheels are best for areas that are more remote and that do not have paved surfaces. These traditional bags are a bit more versatile. They can easily be attached to snowmobiles, roof-tops on vehicles, sleds and other equipment. So, if your plan is to use your bag for these types of activities, a traditional bag can be a great option.
Their biggest downside is that you have to carry them everywhere you go. If you’ve packed a lot, it can mean lugging around quite a bit of weight. That said, many of the most popular brands offer either shoulder straps or the ability to carry the bag as a backpack, which can alleviate some of the added weight.
The bag length you need has a whole lot to do with your intended use. If you plan on hiking, you may need a bag that comfortably holds polls or other specific equipment. In that case, you need a bag long enough to hold those items. If you are looking for general use, you don’t have to be so inclined to purchase a longer bag.
Be careful if you do have a need for a longer bag. It may make sense to measure the items you intend on putting in the bag to make sure they will comfortably fit before you make any purchases.
The weight of your bag matters for a couple of reasons. First, you don’t want to be lugging around more weight than you have to, especially if you will be traveling to multiple locations.
Secondly, you need to keep in mind that if you are flying, you’ll be held to the 50 pounds per bag limit. This is something to consider when you are deciding between a wheeled bag and a more traditional duffel bag, as the wheeled version will be heavier, leaving you less weight for actual items in the bag.
Q: Can duffel bags be used as carry-ons?
A: Duffel bags are often the carry-on choice of many travelers. They are often malleable and can be fit in smaller spaces.
That said, the biggest consideration when deciding whether or not to carry on, is not the type of bag you choose, whether duffel or standard luggage, but rather if it will fit within the baggage size limitations set by the airline.
Before using any bag as a carry-on, you should be sure you know the carry-on dimensions allowed by the airline you’re planning to use.
What is the best way to clean a duffel bag?
A: You will need to clean your duffel bag according to its material. And given the common uses for duffel bags, cleaning it frequently is likely a good idea. If you use them on exotic excursions or for gym trips, they will likely get dirty, similar to any other bag used on a regular basis.
For ballistic nylon bags, you can use a sponge and some antibacterial soap. These bags typically keep odor and dirt at bay by virtue of the material, but they can still use a quick wipe down. You do not want to use chemical cleaners, as it can damage the material.
If you choose a bag made of canvas, first start with soap and water. Then, you can use laundry detergent on any stained areas.
If you get any hardware wet, you may want to use a blow dryer to get it dry. This will help prevent any discoloration or rusting. You don’t want to oil any zippers or other hardware, however. That can lead to leaking which can damage any soft goods you put in your bag.
And to keep your bag fresh in between washes, you can consider using an air freshener in between uses and trips. Keep in mind that you never want to drench your bag. Instead, shoot for simply cleaning the fabric.