Fun fact: Duffle bags and duffel bags are indeed one and the same. The two spellings are used interchangeably, but they refer to the exact same thing. It’s primarily a regional difference; the heavy-duty woolen cloth was originally made in the town of Duffel, Belgium, so duffel tends to be used more commonly throughout Europe. On the other hand, duffle is more common in America.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s get into why duffles are such a great option for weekend trips. Duffle bags are convenient for weekend travel size-wise, plus they’re generally pliable so it’s easy to stuff them and they fit well into even cramped spaces.
They’re also usually made of lightweight yet durable materials, making them suitable for everything from business trips to camping weekends. In fact, duffles are so weekend-appropriate that they’re often referred to as weekenders!
When it comes to actually shopping for a high-quality duffle bag, things quickly become tricky. There are tons of options, including packable duffles, rolling duffles, rugged waterproof duffle bags, and much more. To help you narrow it down, here are our favorite picks for every preference, budget, and type of travel.
1. Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Bag
When you need rugged, durable, high-quality gear, it’s difficult to do much better than Patagonia. The Black Hole duffel stands out from other bags on this list with its multiple carrying options – instead of a shoulder strap, Patagonia includes two removable padded straps so you can wear this bag as a backpack and keep your hands free.
Clever integrated storage solutions include a large mesh pocket directly under the zippered top. This area is ideal for smaller items like hats or glasses that you don’t necessarily want to toss into the “black hole” of the bag.
There’s also an internal stretch-panel zippered compartment with a key clip that can be accessed from both inside and outside the bag. Daisy chains on the exterior allow you to easily attach additional gear, and the entire bag is made of weather-resistant and recycled 900-denier ripstop polyester.
2. Kodiak Leather 60L Weekender Duffel
When you want a duffle that’s just as good-looking and unique as it is functional and high-quality, look no further than the 60 liter weekender from Kodiak. The Utah-based, family-owned brand makes and sells only hand-crafted, “heirloom quality leather pieces” designed to last multiple generations.
This all-leather weekender duffel bag is timeless and has that coveted worn look in both Antique Brown and Dark Walnut. There are several thoughtful storage compartments on the exterior, including two magnetic latching pockets, a small zippered pocket, and a zippered shoe compartment to keep your clothes dirt-free. Inside, the duffel is lined with durable nylon and there’s a pocket perfectly sized for an iPad or book, plus a zippered pocket for valuables and pen and card slots for staying organized.
3. Herschel Novel Duffle
Herschel Supply Co. is well-known for making simple, functional bags and accessories with a distinctly retro look. That’s true of the Novel Duffle, a timeless bag that looks great and incorporates many practical and desirable features.
The bag is made of lightweight yet durable, water-resistant fabric and finished with Herschel’s signature striped inner lining. Another signature feature of the Novel Duffle is the handy exterior shoe compartment, and there’s another mesh storage sleeve pocket on the inside.
With a choice of several colors and designs (we’re especially partial to the monochrome Raven Crosshatch and two-toned Timberwolf/Black Denim), this will quickly become your go-to everyday bag. At this wallet-friendly price point, you may even want to buy two!
4. Paravel Main Line Canvas Holdall
Celebrities love Paravel bags, including Kourtney Kardashian and Oprah. Perhaps it’s the brand’s signature clean styling or high-quality, durable construction. Or maybe it’s the fact Paravel has an intense focus on sustainability.
The brand uses almost entirely recycled materials, purchases carbon offsets, and has a lofty goal of becoming “the world’s first sustainable travel-goods brand.” Travel + Leisure also awarded Paravel a 2021 Global Vision Award for Sustainable Travel Essentials.
In the case of the Main Line Canvas Holdall, Paravel created a classic carryall duffle bag in timeless, neutral colors. Water and spill-resistant beige cotton canvas is trimmed in tan leather, and the bag has two small internal zippered stash pockets.
5. Everlane The Twill Weekender
We’re tremendous fans of Everlane for affordable minimalist basics. The company has a well-earned reputation for doing simple and practical exceptionally well, and it’s seriously committed to ethical fashion to boot. Business Insider called it best: “The brand excels at creating timeless styles with a touch of modern flair, and always keeps practicality top of mind when putting out new designs.”
The Twill Weekender combines all of those things into a fantastic, simple duffle bag. The durable cotton twill fabric is water and stain-resistant and will hold up well to repeated use. Its handles are genuine leather and it has metal feet on the bottom to help it stand slightly off the ground – a feature typically only seen in bags at the higher end of the price spectrum.
A simple exterior slip pocket on one end and an interior zippered pocket help you stay organized.
6. The North Face Base Camp Duffel
Similar to the Patagonia Black Hole, The North Face’s Base Camp Duffel is ultra-rugged and up to any outdoor adventures. The bag is made of a combination of heavy-duty 1,000-denier TPE and ballistic nylon, making it practically bulletproof against any water or inclement weather.
There are several features that make the Base Camp duffel perfect for travel specifically. Among our favorites are the compression straps on the outside. This bag is hefty, and you’ll appreciate being able to cinch down the volume when it’s fully loaded.
The duffel can also be worn as a backpack and there are daisy chains on the outside. There are also two internal mesh pockets, one on the end and one underneath the top, plus a large zippered external end pocket.
7. Rains Duffel Bag
Looking for a no-frills duffel that looks great but is rugged enough to hold up to frequent use and inclement weather? Meet the Rains Duffel Bag. The bag comes in a choice of two neutral colors and is made of a waterproof polyester-polyurethane fabric blend, which allows water to bead up and roll right off.
This large bag will hold everything you need for an extended weekend trip, and multiple carry options make it manageable. Many other duffles allow you to carry with the top handles, a shoulder strap, or wear it as a backpack, but this Rains bag gives you the option of all three. The wide top opening provides quick access to contents inside, and an exterior zippered pocket lets you securely store valuables close by.
8. Troubadour Weekender
Troubadour’s products have distinct refinement and minimalism. This weekender duffle bag is so sleek it can easily double as a work bag for commuting to the office or for business trips. The fabric is lightweight, waterproof nylon and the bag comes in several colors.
A padded detachable shoulder strap is included and there are several discreet storage pockets, including a small internal zippered pocket for valuables and a large padded one that can accommodate laptops up to 16”.
By far our favorite feature on the Troubadour Weekender duffle is the “trolley sleeve.” This absolutely genius detail allows the bag to quickly attach to luggage by sliding over the handle but also doubles as an additional pocket when zippered shut. It’s these little details that make this duffle well worth the price tag.
9. Away The Weekender
Away’s entire line of luggage is wildly popular with frequent travelers, and it’s easy to see why. While it isn’t quite as affordable as some other options out there, it’s a worthy investment for frequent travelers.
Tons of pockets make it easy to stay organized and clean, elegant looks and durable fabric make this duffle bag appropriate for literally every type of travel. Even flight attendants have joined the cult following for Away travel accessories, and that’s really saying something.
Inside and out, this duffle has more storage pockets than almost any other bag we’ve seen, including several that secure with zippers. There’s also a very subtle exterior shoe compartment, a large padded laptop pocket, and a trolley sleeve for securing the duffle to other luggage. The bottom is also finished with genuine leather for added durability.
10. Thom Browne Striped-Trim Nylon Holdall
Thom Browne is one of our go-to designers for unique men’s fashion. From shoes to chinos to blazers and everything in between, Thom Browne’s quality is always top-notch and you’re guaranteed to stand out just a little bit.
On this nylon holdall bag, the designer’s signature bold stripe across the front is the feature that will draw attention. Beyond looks, though, this duffle is perfect for travel because it’s durable.
The bag is made of lightweight, water and weather-resistant nylon and finished with leather side panels on the ends. While it doesn’t feature a ton of interior storage solutions, the bag is a great size for carry on travel or weekend road trips. You can carry the holdall from either the top carry handles or a convertible shoulder strap.
Duffle Bag FAQs
What is a duffle bag?
The original definition of a duffle bag was a large, heavy-duty, tube or cylindrical-shaped bag that opened and closed at the top. It was similar to a classic rucksack and unsurprisingly, had military ties. The bags held a great deal of volume and were easy to stuff quickly.
Over time, the definition of duffle bags has evolved. Today, the term still refers to large, heavy-duty bags. However, duffles generally don’t open and close with a drawstring anymore, and they usually feature a large, wide opening at the top of the bag. They can be made from a wide variety of materials, though they are almost always rugged, durable, and resistant to water and inclement weather.
How are they different from normal bags?
Many people would consider duffles “normal” bags, but they do have a few key features that set them apart from other travel bags. Duffles are generally long and either rectangle or tube-shaped, and they feature top carry handles. The vast majority also include a (often removable) shoulder carry strap, and more and more options also have ergonomic backpack-style straps. Duffle bags also generally have one main zippered compartment and may or may not have smaller pockets.
What is the best size for a duffle bag?
Size is a very personal preference. However, if you intend to use your duffle bag for travel, you should look for one that qualifies as a carry on item with your preferred airline. Every airline does have slightly different size requirements, so be sure to check on dimensions specifically.
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