Fri, May 10 - 7 Minute Read

The Best Duffel Bags (for any type of trip)

Tried-and-true choices for getting you — and all your gear — from point A to point B.

With the chill of winter behind us, and spring weather quickly transforming into pleasant summer sunshine and heat, it’s the perfect season for making travel plans.

Whether your next adventure is big or small, you’ll need a reliable, high-quality bag to carry all of your clothes and gear with you. And if you’re carrying much more than a couple changes of clothes and your essentials, you’ll want a rough-and-ready duffel bag for the trip.

That’s why we’ve put together the NutSac guide to the best duffel bags for any type of trip. After going hands-on with four different models, we’re here to report on the pros and cons of each type of material, bag design, and overall build. So let’s jump right in.

Sea Bags Chebeague Duffel

Named after one of Portland, Maine’s most picturesque islands, the Sea Bags Chebeague (“shuh big”) Duffel bag is dripping with maritime heritage and style.

Recycled sailcloth is the primary material here, offering a high degree of waterproofing and rugged durability. That’s paired with waxed canvas detailing, brass hardware, and rolled leather straps for a unique aesthetic.

Both inside and out, the Chebeague Duffel is about as simple as it gets. There are no additional pockets on the interior or exterior, leaving you with one big compartment for all your gear. And while the zipper is a little less smooth than we’d ideally prefer, overall this bag is obviously built with a lot of care, from high-quality materials.

  • Dimensions/Capacity: 22" L x 9" W x 10" H, 32 liters
  • Materials: Recycled sailcloth, waxed canvas, leather, brass hardware
  • Notable features: Unique maritime aesthetic, minimalist design
  • Best for: Grab-and-go adventures
  • Country of origin: United States
  • Price: $240



NutSac Duffel

American-made and guaranteed for life, the NutSac Duffel is a rough-and-ready partner for all of your adventuring needs. From short trips to long-haul journeys, it’ll be by your side through thick and thin.

Both inside and out, the NutSac Duffel offers multiple organizer pouches and pockets. Zippered compartments run the full length of two faces on the exterior, and two 3-pocket panels on the inside give you the space to organize all your daily and travel essentials. This sets it apart from many other generic duffels, which often feature few (if any) pockets).

Made of durable and water-resistant waxed canvas, this duffel is also doubly reinforced with abrasion-resistant waxed twill on its underside. That goes a long way towards making it the longest-lasting duffel you’ll ever own — and the NutSac lifetime guarantee seals the deal.

  • Dimensions/Capacity: 18" L x 10" W x 9.5" H, 28 liters
  • Materials: Waxed canvas, full-grain leather
  • Notable features: Multiple zippered compartments, lifetime guarantee
  • Best for: Buy-it-for-life durability and performance
  • Country of origin: United States
  • Price: $299

Aer Go Duffel 2

Lightweight, packable, and designed to slide right over the top of your rolling suitcase’s luggage handle, the Aer Go Duffel 2 is quite different from the other bags featured on this list. If you’re looking for an easy to transport duffel, with a lot of pockets, for a low price, there’s no other bag that’s going to do you better.

Made almost entirely from 210D Cordura, the Go Duffel 2 strikes a good balance between abrasion resistance and lightweight performance. It’s not as rugged as the other bags on this list, making it better suited for low-friction travel; it excels at airport travel in particular, thanks to its luggage-handle compatibility.

Both inside and outside, the Aer Go Duffel 2 features tons of pockets. Front pockets, side pockets, water bottle pockets, interior pockets — wherever you look, there’s another pocket. And it’s pretty spacious too, coming in at 35 liters of storage capacity, all while being the most affordable duffel on our list.

  • Dimensions/Capacity: 18.5” L x 11.5” W x 8.5” H, 35 liters
  • Materials: 210D Cordura body, YKK zippers, soft woven lining
  • Notable features: Tons of pockets, contrasting interior, luggage compatible
  • Best for: Lightweight travel by plane, train, or automobile
  • Country of origin: China
  • Price: $89

Stuart & Lau Monaco Weekender Duffel

Last in our selection of duffel bags comes the Stuart & Lau Monaco Weekender Duffel, a boxy yet refined weekender bag that makes great use of eco-friendly and recycled materials.

Made from DuraLite, a lightweight woven nylon fabric, the Monaco Duffel is waterproof while remaining manageable (even when fully loaded). A soft, recycled twill lining on the interior of the bag gives it a luxe feel, and a small selection of zipper and non-zippered pockets complement the classy aesthetic quite well. Italian leather accents complete the whole package.

At 35 liters of carrying capacity, the Monaco seems like a great fit for business trips or quick weekend getaways. It comes in right in the middle of the price range for duffel bags featured on this list, making it an attractive option for business travelers who want a handsome bag for out-of-town trips.

  • Dimensions/Capacity: 11.5" W x 20.3" H x 10.3" D, 35 liters
  • Materials: DuraLite fabric shell, recycled twill lining, full grain leather, YKK zippers
  • Notable features: Weekender style shape, lifetime warranty, refined aesthetic
  • Best for: Business travelers
  • Country of origin: China
  • Price: $195

Choosing the Best Duffel Bag for You

The four duffel bags we’ve touched on in this guide give a good outline of what to expect while shopping around for a duffel.

You can find these bags in a wide range of materials, from the ultra-durable to the lightweight and packable. You can find them in a wide range of sizes, from small handbag-style duffels to massive over-the-shoulder models. And you can find them with no pockets, or dozens of organization options.

So when you’re considering how to choose the best duffel bag for your needs, you really just need to ask one question: What kind of trips will you be taking it on?

For quick around-town day trips, a lightweight and affordable duffel will do the trick. If you’re going out of town frequently for business or pleasure weekend trips, a slightly larger and more durable duffel will give greater long-term returns on your investment. And if you’d like a duffel that can really go anywhere with you, no matter how long you’ll be away, invest in a heavy-duty duffel with a lifetime guarantee.

Frequently Asked Questions

To wrap things up, we’d like to answer a few questions about duffel bags that we’ve heard people asking around the internet.

Why is it called a duffel bag?

While the exact origin of the name is disputed, historians’ best guess as to why it’s called a duffel bag is that the thick cloth used to make the first duffel-style bags came from Duffel, Belgium.

What size of duffel bag can you carry on a plane?

22” x 14” x 9” is the commonly cited standard for carry-on bag use — but increasingly, different airlines are using different guidelines for carry-on baggage. Always check with your airline first before deciding to take your duffel bag on a flight with you.

Which material is best for a duffel bag?

While there is no one-size-fits-all best material for every duffel bag, we think that more durable materials like waxed canvas and leather are best for long-term use.

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