Travel duffel bags have become synonymous with adventure travelers. The super tough bags can range from a 45-liter weekend grab bag to a whopping 90 liter – we could fit a person in these things. (I don’t recommend that for saving on airfare!) I recently utilized a duffel bag on our snowboard tour around the world and loved the rugged convenience. While the bag sat in a melting pile of snow I wasn’t worried about my clothes getting wet.
That is because best duffel bags for travel are durable, water resistant, and made for simple travel. They can stash a lot of gear with no space eaten up by organization dividers or sections. Plus bags made with a durable material mean you can stick boots, gloves, goggles, or hiking poles in them. We’ve reviewed some of the best travel duffel bags on the market that will help make your travel and packing easier – here are our favorites.
The Best Travel Duffel Bags
Patagonia Black Hole
Have we mentioned that we love Patagonia before? We’re avid fans of the companies products and it’s likely anyone who’s big into outdoor adventure sports is loves them too. The Patagonia Black Hole bag is one of the largest of the Patagonia brand and perfect for extensive travel.
The bag can pack down small when empty so it’s great to stick in your bag. It was also plenty easy to stuff and organize, thanks to the large U-shaped zipper and two mesh pockets on the top flap. It’s also super lightweight an important aspect we look for in our travel gear.
North Face Base Camp
The North Face Base Camp is likely the best duffel bag for travel. This bag has been a staple of the duffel market and for a long time left competitors attempting to keep up.
I love that the shoulder straps are plush and allow for the bag to be carried like a backpack. It’s made with a durable material that is both rugged and weather resistant. It’s everything I look for in a great duffel bag for travel. North Face also makes a version with wheels called the North Face Rolling Thunder.
Helly Hansen Duffel 2
If you’re looking for the best value on this list of duffels bags for travel then the Helly Hansen is for you. The Helly Hansen Duffel 2 is easily my one of favorite bags on the market. I own this bag and love it, but I now travel with the Dakine Ranger below.
It’s an easy to pack bag and should be able to handle a few short trips. The Helly Hansen is waterproof and looks sharp. However, it’s slightly heavy and could definitely be constructed just a tad bit better. It’s not the toughest or best-constructed duffel bag, but you do get a lot of bag for not much money.
Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler
Eagle Creek are experts at lightweight travel gear and that is exactly what you can expect with their Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler.
The bag has six handles so it’s easy to grab for the traveler on the go. It also has well-cushioned shoulder straps that make it easy to carry. If you need a tough bag give this a skip as it isn’t super durable, but for a weekend traveler not putting much wear and tear on a bag this may the perfect fit. It may not be the best at waterproof capabilities so adventurers may want to leave this one at home.
Dakine Ranger Duffle Bag
This is a pretty similar bag to the Patagonia Black Hole. It has a heavy duty exterior that is water resistant with enough handles to sling the bag around. It comes with a lifetime guarantee and in some pretty attractive colors. It’s lightweight and features straps that connect for an over the shoulder bag or backpack. The top opens wide with two J zippers allowing you to access all your stuff in the main compartment. The interior also includes a few internal mesh pockets for organization. This is what I currently carry in my suitcase, since we are full time digital nomads I love having a bag that hold all our stuff for a few days while we island hop in Indonesia.
Best Wheeled Duffel Bags
Eagle Creek No Matter What Duffel Bag
This is a collapsible bag that still has sturdy wheels and a handle to carry it all. What more could you ask for? It also holds a massive 120 liters of luggage. The bag has weather-resistant fabric that will not hold up the elements of an adventure traveler. However, the average city hopper will be enough to protect clothes from the occasional patch of rain.
eBag Mother Lode TLS 21″
We partnered with eBags recently to cover some of our favorite packing hacks and it opened our world to a whole bunch of new products. In fact we travel around with an eBag suitcase as one of our main point bags. I love this hybrid duffel bag with wheels as it has solid construction, it’s carry on friendly, and the interior is designed like a clamshell suitcase. This is a hybrid bag that blends a duffel bag and a backpack. I also like the hard shell back that adds durability and an extra layer of protection for your belongings. It’s particularly helpful when hopping over a curb or set of stairs.
Wheeled vs. Traditional Duffel Bag
It goes without saying wheels make it far easier to travel around airports, paved roads, and even surfaces. The advantage of a traditional duffel bag is that is lightweight and easy to carry. As a digital nomad I like to use a duffel bag in my luggage to use for short multi-day trips. While wheels make more sense for a traditional traveler. They do come with a drawback in regards to weight, with strict airline weight allowances that weight means you pack less of your own stuff in a wheeled bag.
A more traditional bag is also much easier in difficult or exotic destinations. They’re clearly more suited for adventure travel as you can strap to just about anything whether that’s a rooftop, yak, snowmobile, or jammed in the small luggage hold of a Cessna. They make for super safari bags as bush flights do not allow for hard sided luggage in the small luggage holds. For the average traveler, a wheeled bag is a perfect fit, but those on an adventure should opt for a traditional duffel bag for travel.
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