The best way to grab the attention of your prospective buyer is by providing them with a glimpse into what they can expect once their purchase has been delivered. This means that you must have an eye for detail and differentiate between brands during this time when most people are looking for bargains so as not to spend too much money on something that doesn’t live up to expectations.

What to Think About Before Buying?

As we have said, we are confident that there is no such thing as the Perfect Travel Duffle. However, there are a few crucial aspects to bear in mind while looking for the ideal travel duffle, which we go over here. We’ll come back to these points many times during the tutorial, so keep an eye out! (A quiz may or may not be included.)

The Situation You’re In

Your intended application will have a significant influence on the design you choose. Before considering any other features, consider why you want a duffel bag and what you plan to do with it. All of the other factors come into play here.

Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Bag 40L In DetroitIn Detroit, Michigan, Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Bag 40L

Common usage cases include:

  • Weekend excursions
  • Long-distance travel
  • Traveling for business
  • beach bag
  • Gym bag
  • Bag for everyday use

Durability & Materials

Duffles are often tossed about. You can bet airline employees are thrown about in the bottoms of aircraft due to time constraints, and if you’re being honest, you’re probably not too kind to them either. As a result, make sure you get something that will endure.

The North Face Base Camp Duffel HandlesTaking Out The North Face Base Camp Duffel From A Trunk

You’ll also need a more sturdy duffel if you’re an outdoorsy/adventurous individual. If you intend to carry your duffle on weekend trips to a place a few hours distant by car, durability is less of an issue.

Consider the following elements and how they work together to get a duffle bag that can take everything you throw.

The Material

You’ll commonly notice a number followed by the letter D while looking at textiles (50D, 250D, 1000D, etc.). The D stands for denier, which is a unit of measurement for fabric thickness and weight (it’s a bit more involved than that, but that’s its core).

Within the same fabric family, the greater the denier, the more durable, and the heavier the cloth. When comparing two different materials, denier won’t assist you much since they all have unique strengths (nylon is more robust than polyester, for example). However, it serves as a helpful baseline.

Nylon

Nylon

For a good reason, nylon is one of the most widely used synthetic materials. It manages to be soft, robust, and light all simultaneously. Nylon has virtually become a catch-all phrase these days. Nylon’s overall strength, weight, abrasion resistance, and weather resistance are influenced by different weaves, stitching patterns, and deniers.

Ballistic NylonNylon Ballistic

Ballistic Nylon and Ripstop Nylon are two types of nylon extensively used. Ballistic Nylon is the fabric equivalent of Superman (The Fabric of Steel, coming soon to a theater near you). It was initially designed for military body armor and is rugged, pill-resistant, and water-resistant. It is, however, heavier, which is not ideal for a duffel bag, which is prone to become uncomfortable at lower weights than backpacks. However, if you have an adventurous travel style or want to pass your duffel along to the next generation, the tradeoff may be worth it.

Rip-Stop NylonNylon Rip-Stop

On the other hand, Ripstop Nylon is a beautiful fabric for preventing punctures from turning into full-fledged rips, which is very useful in a duffel bag. Duffles are often flung about, squeezed into odd nooks and crannies, and dragged over floors, which means they’re likely to get torn. So choosing a fabric that won’t let such punctures destroy your bag is critical. Ripstop Nylon is also lightweight.

However, it is not usually as durable as materials with a greater denier, such as 1680D Ballistic Nylon. A lower denier may develop holes more rapidly. If that’s the case, the ripstop will keep the spots from spreading and damaging the duffle, but the fabric will still be damaged. It’s also generally swishy, which may not be a turnoff for you.

Polyester

PolyesterPolyester, another standard synthetic fabric, is a little less durable, a little heavier, and a little less expensive than nylon. To summarize, polyester is often used in low-cost duffel bags. It’s not an awful fabric, but it’s not one of our favorites for duffle bags, mainly if your trips will put a lot of strain on your bag.

CORDURA® Grade (Nylon & Polyester)

CORDURA® NylonNylon CORDURA®

CORDURA® is a brand, not a fabric, but it’s worth mentioning since you’ll most likely come across it. Plus, discussing CORDURA® textiles casually at a party will make everyone think you’re hip (it worked for us!).

The CORDURA® mark, in essence, is a quality assurance stamp that certifies that the nylon or polyester was produced on a CORDURA®-approved mill and manufacturing line. In addition, anything made with CORDURA® has high abrasion resistance and a high strength-to-weight ratio.

Canvas

Canvas

Canvas has traditionally been produced from cotton, linen, or hemp and then waxed for waterproofing. Nylon and polyester canvas are also available right now. Canvas isn’t as popular as it was since it’s thick and prone to aesthetic wear and tear (like scuffing).

A canvas duffle, on the other hand, has a timeless appeal. It can be worth sacrificing some comfort if you’re into that history, historic atmosphere.

Leather

Leather

That leads us to leather, another fabric that conjures our feelings of nostalgia and refinement. For obvious reasons (weight, sensitivity to the weather, maintenance requirements), you don’t frequently see pure leather duffles, but numerous duffle bags feature leather accents—think zipper pulls, straps, and brand tags.

Leather goes well with canvas and might be your go-to fabric if you want to go for a vintage aesthetic. If you choose not to use animal products, you may purchase vegan leather duffle bags that have the same personalized feel.

Fabric for Duffel Bags

Although you won’t see duffel duffle bags very often, we wanted to bring it up since this scratchy woolen fabric is the original duffle bag fabric. The fabric for the duffel (which we now often spell duffel) originates in Duffel, Belgium. Isn’t it incredible?

TPU Coated NylonNylon with a TPU coating

Tarpaulin or TPE Fabric Laminate, which are swishy textiles covered in a layer of Polyurethane, may also be encountered. Both have a crinkly, plastic-like feel to them, but they’re also very weather-resistant and durable. Water-resistance is particularly useful on duffles, since you are more likely to lay them down on the ground than you are with backpacks, and the ground may be damp. As a result, we tend to choose duffel bags constructed from these materials.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of all the textiles you’ll come across when looking for The One (by which we clearly mean your ideal duffle), but the majority of duffle bags will be manufactured from one or more of the materials listed above.

The Zippers

It’s time for some #ZipperTalk, so let’s get started. Zippers are quite vital in such a compact package. Imagine packing your belongings into your duffel minutes before you need to depart for the airport when thunderclaps and the zipper on the main compartment breaks. A broken zipper on a duffel bag isn’t as bad as a broken zipper on a backpack since the damaged zipper is on the top of the bag, so you can still use it. Nonetheless, it is sad and uncomfortable.

The North Face Base Camp Duffel ZippersBase Camp Zippers from The North Face

Look for YKK, SBS, Zoom, and Riri zippers, which are the most prevalent and trustworthy manufacturers (we love YKK zippers since they’ve never failed us down in years of testing). Also, be aware of zippers that aren’t branded—we’ve had some bad luck with those.

Also, keep an eye on the scale. Zippers are rated from one (small) to ten (big) (large). On smaller duffles, #5 zippers and higher should do for outside pockets, but bigger duffles will likely need something a little more durable. Smaller sizes are appropriate for interior pockets or those that aren’t used as often.

WANDRD HEXAD Carryall Duffel ZippersWANDRD HEXAD

Water-repellent zippers, such as YKK AquaGuard® zippers, resist water owing to a polyurethane coating for further weather protection. Unless your use case (#callback) entails going to regions renowned for bad weather, boats, and/or beaches, you don’t need to bother about extremely water-resistant zippers. Water-repellent zippers are more difficult/stickier to zip, therefore if your trips don’t entail a lot of water, we recommend avoiding them. (In the Alternate portion of this article, we’ll go into weather-resistant duffles in further depth.)

Topo Designs Classic Duffel Zippers And HardwareClassic Duffel Hardware by Topo Designs

Again, try to stay away from unbranded hardware. Duraflex, YKK, Woojin, Nifco, and ITW are all reputable manufacturers that should provide you with excellent service. And when it comes to metal vs. plastic hardware, we prefer the latter. Especially in terms of long-term viability. On the other hand, plastic may be the way to go if you’re attempting to lose weight.

Interior Arrangements

Osprey Arcane Duffel Main Compartment EmptyMain Compartment of the Osprey Arcane Duffel

Duffle bags may be used for a variety of purposes. Some are entirely disorganized, while others have several pockets and compartments. Are you intending to utilize your duffle as a gear hauler, putting your clothing and toiletries in it and placing the rest of your belongings in a backpack? Or do you want your duffel bag to be your lone carry-on? The answers to those questions will determine how much organization you need.

Carry Method

NutSac Duffel In Detroit, MichiganUsing the Top Handles to Carry the NutSac Duffel

Duffle bags are often carried in two ways: briefcase style with top handles and crossbody style with a shoulder strap. However, some duffles are merely equipped with handles. You’ll undoubtedly want a shoulder strap if your use case requires a lot of walking—or even standing while carrying your duffel for lengthy periods of time.

Wearing The Aer Travel Duffel CrossbodyThe Aer Travel Duffel Crossbody is what I’m wearing today.

However, not all crossbody straps are the same. A basic seatbelt kind of strap is OK for smaller duffel bags, although cushioned straps are preferred. Our preferred sort of shoulder strap has ample padding that runs the length of the strap, or at least the majority of it. But, again, a major consideration is how far you’ll walk with your duffel.

The North Face Base Camp Voyager 32L BackpackBackpacking with The North Face Base Camp Voyager 32L.

Backpack straps are available on several duffles. Although, strangely enough, these straps aren’t as comfortable as backpack straps on a genuine backpack. If you’re determined to have a duffel but want additional carry alternatives, they could be the bag. Later in this article, we’ll go into the advantages and disadvantages of these duffle backpack hybrids.

Arc'teryx V80 Rolling Duffle In Detroit, MichiganIn Detroit, Michigan, Arc’teryx V80 Rolling Duffle

Finally, a rolling duffle is a viable choice. Later on, we’ll go over rolling duffles in further depth. For the time being, just know that they’re a terrific choice if you can’t or don’t want to carry your bags on your shoulder (s).

Dimensions and Weight

Duffle bags ranging in size from 6L to 150L+ are available in practically all of the categories below. Unless you’re an absolute minimalist, you won’t want to carry a 6L duffel on a three-week journey to Egypt (or anyplace else for that matter). We put a 6L duffel through its paces as a lunchbox to put that into perspective. Unless you’re searching for a giant, enormous, gigantic gear transporter, you won’t need a 150L duffel.

Carrying The Osprey Transporter 40 As A Messenger BagIn Essex, England, an Osprey Transporter 40

We usually travel with duffle bags that are 30L to 45L in size, with the odd 50L or 55L tossed in when we need a bag to contain a lot of goods. Just keep in mind that once you go over 45L, you’re out of the carry-on range for domestic flights in the United States. But, of course, your results may differ. We’ve heard of people bringing substantially more oversized luggage on board. International carriers, on the other hand, often have fewer limits and more rigid controls (for both size and weight).

We want the lightest duffle bag we can find without sacrificing durability when it comes to weight. Unfortunately, duffles become unpleasant to carry at far lower weights than backpacks because the burden is not evenly distributed between both shoulders and hips. (Unless you have a duffle backpack hybrid, which we’ll discuss later.)

Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Bag 40L Hand Carry ModePatagonia Black Hole Duffel Bag 40L Hand Carry Mode Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Bag 40L Hand Carry Mode Patagonia Black Hole Du

At the same time, since duffles are often tossed about, you don’t want them to be too fragile. It might be challenging to strike the right balance, but don’t get too worked up. We’ll provide you with a slew of duffle bag suggestions that manage to toe that line throughout this article.

Here are some questions to ponder:

  • Do you intend to travel with your duffel bag as a carry-on? If that’s the case, it’ll need to be the right size.
  • How much storage space do you need for your belongings?
  • Will you be going with a duffel plus a backpack, or will you need a duffle that can accommodate all of your belongings?
  • What is the maximum amount of weight you can carry?
  • What body type do you have?
  • What percentage of your time will you be walking?
  • Are there aliens among us already?
  • What do plants yearn for?

Your Financial Plan

This should go without saying, but you should consider how much money you want to spend. At Pack Hacker, we often follow the philosophy “buy good or purchase twice.” In the long term, it may be more cost-effective to invest in a duffle that will last a decade rather than constantly replacing a less expensive one (if you have the money available, of course).

Pakt One In Valencia AirportAt Valencia Airport, Spain, I Caught A Plane With The Pakt One.

However, a high price does not necessarily imply a high level of quality. You may be paying for a brand name or a particular style. Our evaluations help you decide if a bag is worth the money.

The amount of time you anticipate utilizing your duffle is also a factor. For example, if you only expect to use your duffle bag every other year, you won’t need to spend as much as you plan to use it every day.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I choose a duffle bag?

A: Duffle bags are a type of bag with two straps to hold it closed. They’re typically used to carry gym clothes, sports equipment, or other personal items. The first thing you’ll want to do before choosing your duffel bag is decided where you plan on using it most often and what the general shape will be like. Do you need something that has easy access? For example, choose an open-top duffel instead of one with a zipper closure or drawstring at the top.

What color duffle bag should I get?

A: The best duffle bag for most people is either black, white, or navy blue. Some might argue that other colors such as beige and grey are better suited to specific occasions, but these are not the right choice.

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  • best duffel bag for international travel
  • army duffle bag
  • large duffle bag
  • north face duffel bag
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