As small planes are the primary means of travel for safari, soft-sided safari bags are the luggage of choice. We recommend investing in one of these fantastic safari bags before your trip. You may already have the destination, plane tickets booked, and a reservation at a dream-inspiring African lodge. The next step is to gather all the safari gear you need to get through this trip.
We have been on over 100 safaris and can’t recommend sturdy and quality gear enough. Why? If you go cheap on safari bags or safari clothes in Africa and something goes wrong, there is no replacement in the bush.
However, picking a safari bag that matches your style and comfort can be tricky with so many options. Don’t worry, though! We share all our favorites in various shapes, sizes, prices, and colors. Of course, you may already have an awesome duffel or soft-sided bag that does the job.
The Best Safari Bags
The North Face Base Camp Voyager Duffel
MSRP: $155 | Weight: 2lbs 13 oz. | Capacities: 62L, 42L, 32L
The North Face Base Camp Voyager is one of the most functional duffel bags for safari we’ve ever tested. It’s an update to the Base Camp Duffel Bag, and we can confidently say we love every charge they made to the classic duffel bag. It starts with a sustainable build as the bag is made with 100% recycled materials. Its outer material is a TPU polyester that is ultra-durable and water-resistant, so your stuff is well protected.
Strategically placed side handles and carry straps that double as a backpack make the bag easy to carry. While the interior of the bag has a roomy 62L of storage that is smartly organized. It has a mesh top pocket and an internal divider that can be customized for easy packing. An external shoe pocket is a great way to separate your safari boots from the rest of your luggage. A small stash pocket is also perfect for holding keys or small travel essentials.
The bag comes in three sizes 32L, 42L, and 62L. While we recommend the 62L for a safari as it has more room to pack for a week on the road, the two smaller sizes have a convenient laptop sleeve. The one big downside is the lack of a cross-body strap for a traditional duffel bag carry.
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Patagonia Black Hole
MSRP: $169 | Weight: 2 lbs. 9.1 oz. | Capacities: 100L, 70L, 55L, 40L
Hop on any bush flight, and you’ll see this safari bag under the plane or at its rear. Patagonia’s Black Hole bags have taken over adventure travel and outdoor sports. It’s a slam dunk safari bag for us as it is waterproof, soft, and can swallow any clothes/gear.
Patagonia’s unique TPU film laminate polyester ripstop is stylish and durable. In recent years, they’ve also made the material 100% recyclable, an awesome eco-friendly step. While it’s unlikely your bag will face too much water on safari, the weatherproofing does translate well to dust protection for rides in the back of a safari truck.
The bag can pack small when empty, so sticking it in larger luggage is easy. Thanks to the large U-shaped zipper and two mesh pockets on the top flap, it is easy to stuff and organize. It’s also super lightweight, an important aspect we look for in our safari bags. You can choose four sizes, but we recommend the 55L as it’s large without being too cumbersome.
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Peak Design Everyday Backpack
MSRP: $299 | Weight: 3 lbs.| Capacities: 20, 30L
The Everyday Backpack is our favorite daypack for safari, as the backpack works well for daily life and travel. We love the gear we have from Peak Design, and it’s all exceptionally high quality. Their Everyday Backpack provides accessibility, organization, and quality we’ve seen in no other backpack.
It starts with the top access, which uses a patented MagLatch technology that is pretty nifty and makes for quick access. Access is not limited to the top, as both sides can open for quick access to your bag. You can organize the bag’s interior via padded sleeves, similar to a camera bag. This is exceptionally helpful for photographers traveling with safari cameras.
The side pocket also has additional pockets and storage that make for easy organization. The tuckaway straps and integrated luggage carry system make it easy to slip on top of a roller suitcase for travel.
A dedicated laptop sleeve for a tablet and documents makes it a great daypack. One big negative of this pack is the price, as the sizeable 30L version is shy of $300.
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Filson Medium Rugged Twill Duffel Bag
MSRP: $575 | Capacities: 43L, 73L
Filson delivers beautiful products with attention to detail. The Medium Rugged Twill Duffel Bag makes for a gorgeous safari bag. Its unparalleled build quality assures us the bag should last a lifetime or, at the very least, a decade. Plus, it comes in three color styles to match any style.
Its build quality starts with an exceptional industrial-strength medium twill fabric waxed for water repellency. That material is complemented with Bridle Leather straps, accents, and handles. A final finish on the bag is the solid brass zippers. It’s an exceptionally luxurious safari bag with a price tag to match the quality.
A roomy interior has enough storage space, and two small internal side pockets work well for small essentials. Our only complaint would be for a better internal organization, which can be solved with packing cubes. Its 43L is enough for a savvy packer, or you can opt for the large version at 73L. Although, we prefer the 43L as we don’t trust airlines to check the 73L for international travel.
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Herschel Supply Co. Novel Duffle Bag
MSRP: $99 | Weight: 2 lbs.| Capacities: 33, 42.5L
The Novel Duffel Bag is an excellent piece of soft-sided luggage for safari. At only 2 lbs, we love the weight savings this provides, making it far more manageable. The Herschel Duffel bag is 100% polyester and features its signature shoe compartment for easy and organized travel while keeping to a classic and simple style.
What I like about this bag is that it’s a great option for a safari and everyday life back home. Take it to the gym, to work, or overnight somewhere, and it doesn’t look out of the ordinary. It has extraordinary value when you add in the bag’s versatility. While it doesn’t match the quality of the Filson bag above, it has a similar style at a fraction of the price.
The big downside it the limited size options, at 42.5L and 32L. Its size makes the bag better suited for weekend trips or minimalist travelers. It would be tough to fit enough safari clothes and gear in the duffel bag for a two-week trip.
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Samsonite Classic Leather Slim Backpack
MSRP: $169 | Weight: 2 lbs. 8 oz. | Capacities: 21L
Samsonite makes good luggage, and its Classic Leather Slim Backpack is a winner as a safari bag. The leather style feels classic, but it has all the modern features we look for in a travel daypack. This includes easy access, tech organization, and a lightweight build.
Access to the compartments of the bag is a stand-out feature of the Samsonite’s smart sleeve design. This provides access to two compartments with an excellent organization for all your daily tech and travel needs. It can even accommodate two laptops.
A luggage pass-through also makes traveling easy with a roller bag and extends to regular use as a business trip backpack. The downside of the bag is it’s not weather resistant or meant for frequent adventure travel. It also lacks a sternum strap or hip belt for comfortable extended carry.
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The North Face Base Camp Duffel Bag
MSRP: $129 | Weight: 2 lbs. 10.2 oz. | Capacities: 50L, 71L, 95L, 132L, 150L
The North Face Base Camp Duffel Bag is an awesome adventure bag that works well for safari. The bag’s success comes from its excellent recycled PVC outer material and double stitching. The result is a durable, flexible, and weather-resistant duffel bag.
It’s a more basic version of the Voyager bag above, but its simple design gives you more storage space. The small size works as a carry-on and delivers a roomy 50 liters of packing space. With fewer moving parts and super durable outer material, the bag lives up to its reputation for being indestructible. The bag’s sizes indicate its tough reputation, with the largest size of 150L made for hauling heavy-duty expedition gear.
The downside is the material feels a tad stiffer than Patagonia’s Black Hole, but The North Face Base Camp is $40 cheaper. Similar to the Voyager above, the Base Camp does not come with a cross-body shoulder strap, but instead, backpack carry straps. Regardless, It’s everything we look for in an excellent safari bag.
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S-ZONE Large Canvas Duffel bag
MSRP: $96 | Weight: 4lbs 7 oz. | Capacities: 60L
We love the style and practicality of the S-ZONE Large Canvas Duffel Bag for safari. It’s another canvas bag we recommend despite the fact they are prone to staining. The advantage of this bag is its affordability for a bag with leather accents. So it still looks great, but without too much stress, it allows damage risk.
It’s a good-looking bag for the price, and it comes in various colors such as grey, khaki, black, and coffee. The roomy 60L interior should provide plenty of space for the average safari trip, and its dimensions remain carry-on compliant.
The downside of the bag is the rather subpar quality and the heavy weight at 4.5 lbs. This cuts into your allocated luggage allowances on bush flights.
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Herschel Supply Co. Little America Eco Pack
MSRP: $120 | Weight: 2 lbs. 3.2 oz. | Capacities: 25L
You’ve seen this daypack before. Herschel makes the Little America Eco Pack, drawing inspiration from mountaineering bags back in the day. The classic look and simple design make it a perfect backpack for safari.
No, this isn’t a heavy-duty travel daypack meant for the African Bush, but with a great look and affordable price, we love the bag. However, the polyester exterior also performs well at water repellency and durability. It’s a bag that holds up well to regular daily use.
We also appreciate features like the drawstring top, laptop sleeve, and dual water bottle pockets. Its roomy interior doesn’t have much in the form of organization, but it does have a dedicated 15″ laptop sleeve. It’s an excellent choice for a more affordable daypack for travel and safari.
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Polare Weekender Duffel Bag
MSRP: $210 | Weight: 5 lbs | Capacities: 40L
If you’re looking for a traditional leather duffel bag that is affordable, we recommend the Polare Weekender Duffel Bag. The bag is stylish and durable and features thick full-grain leather. Despite the bag’s price, it is a high-quality bag that looks great in person. We’re genuinely impressed, granted it’s not on the level of Filson quality.
The size feels best suited for short weekend trips or as an additional carry-on bag for extended trips. When it comes down to logistics, leather is not the most practical safari bag material. It’s heavier and prone to damage, such as scratches and stains.
It is why we recommend the bags at the top of the article, such as The North Face Voyager and Patagonia Black Hole. However, we still love the Polare Weekender because it’s such a stylish bag at a great price.
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Other Great Safari Bags!
- Cotopaxi Uyuni 46L Duffel Bag
- Cotopaxi Allpa Duffel Bag
- Osprey Farpoint & Osprey Fairview Backpacks
- REI Co-op Big Haul Recycled Duffel Bag
- 48 Hour Tin Cloth Duffel Bag
- Filson Ripstop Nylon Pullman Bag
- Filson Large Dry Duffel Bag
- Filson Oil Finish Excursion Bag
Table Of The Best Safari Bags
|Best Safari Bags||Why We Love It!||Avg. Price|
|Base Camp Voyager Duffel||•Durable Material|
|Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Bag||• Durable TPU Laminate|
• Roomy Interior
|Peak Design Everyday Bag||•High Quality|
• Interior Organization
•Camera Carry Design
|Filson Twill Duffel Bag||• Gorgeous Canvas|
• Classic Style
|Herschel Supply Co. Novel Duffle Bag||• Affordable|
• Classic Style
|Samsonite Classic Leather Slim Backpack||• Leather Backpack|
• Tech Organization
|Base Camp Duffel Bag||• Roomy Interior|
• Simple Design
|S-ZONE Large Canvas Duffel bag||• Affordable|
• Leather Accents
|Herschel Supply Co. Little America Eco Pack||• Stylish|
|Polare Weekender Duffel Bag||• Affordable|
• Leather Duffel Bag
What Makes a Great Safari Bag?
You’ll want to make sure that your safari bag or safari backpack adheres to the size restrictions enforced on small bush and charter flights. Many African lodges are remote, so you may need to hop on a bush flight to start your safari.
Most bush flights allow a maximum of 30 kg on the plane. If taking a chartered plane, you will most likely be flying on a Cessna 206, Cessna 210, Cessna Caravans, or Twin Otters, and these planes get full and cramped fast!
Regarding airline restrictions, many small aircraft carriers only allow you to have soft-sided bags as your safari luggage. As mentioned, these planes are small, so they have to maneuver and maybe even squash your bag onto the plane.
That’s why they impose harsh safari luggage restrictions. This simply isn’t doable with a hard shell piece of luggage and is why you will need a soft travel bag for safari.
You’ll want to make sure you have a safari travel bag that can take all that bush can throw at it. A good rugged bag is essential while dealing with dirt, dust, elephants (not really), and every other African element. Having rock-solid construction while still being soft and bendable to adhere to the strict African planes is essential.
Good safari luggage means comfort. Everything from the main compartment, straps, handles, and zippers should be built to keep you traveling comfortably. If it’s hard to carry, than you’re going to hate the bag.
You want your luggage for a safari to look great. All these safari bags on this list are beautifully designed inside and out. It’s not the most crucial criterion for a great safari bag, but it can easily be the tiebreaker.
Book A Safari in Africa
Traditionally, if you wanted to book a safari, you’d have to go to a travel agent and have them book it. They suggest camps and lodges, then present you with a hefty bill. Most of the industry still operates in this fashion.
However, Timbuktu is a new platform that allows you to select the lodges you’d like and see the pricing per day then select the best itinerary for yourself. They will then contact the lodges and help you through booking your safari. Experts on staff can also provide suggestions and arrange the little details like a travel agent. Safari Bookings is another platform that offers slightly cheaper safari options that are fantastic.
What to Wear for an African Safari
Packing the right safari clothes is always a good idea, but it’s never essential because you can wear whatever you want. We also go in-depth on the best women’s safari clothes!
Get Travel Insurance
Protect yourself from theft, injury, illness, or the unexpected. Heymondo has great short-term travel insurance plans! (World Pursuit Readers get 5% off!)
Plan Your Trip to Africa
- Travel Insurance: We don’t travel without travel insurance and neither should you. You never know what can happen while traveling so it’s best to be prepared. HeyMondo provides excellent short-term and long-term travel insurance plans.
- Travel Waterbottle: When we’re uncertain about the water supply we use our Grayl Purifier. It’s come in exceptionally handy around Africa.
- Camera Gear: Chances are you’ll want a camera for your trip to Africa. We love the Sony RX100V for a pocket-size camera and the Fujifilm XT-4 for a professional camera. Check out our favorite cameras for Africa.
- Safari Clothes: Lightweight, beige, and moisture-wicking clothing are great for traveling Africa. See our favorite safari clothing here.
- Safari Hat: A good hat is both stylish and functional.
- Safari Bag: A durable bag is ideal for traveling around Africa.
- Safari Pants: We recommend neutral-colored pants as they’re great at hiding dirt and can match most shirt colors.
- Safari Shirt: Shirts like these are lightweight and keep the bugs away!
- Boots: While you don’t need to wear sturdy shoes every day, at least one pair of safari boots will make your trip nicer!
- Travel Adapter: You’ll need a special travel adapter for traveling Africa. Get one before you get there so you don’t pay a premium on the ground.
2 thoughts on “The 10 Best Safari Bags, Backpacks, and Luggage”
Can you tell me about the duffle bag size requirements on the small bush and charter planes?
Most have a limit of 15kg in a soft sided bag.