10 Best Travel Duffel Bags Reviewed and Tested
A great duffel bag is one that is versatile and made of quality materials. A good bag should be able to get you and your stuff from your home or workplace to your gym but it should also be durable enough to handle the rigors of traveling. Storage size, additional features such as pockets, overall style, and quality of construction materials have all factored into our decision making. We’ve sifted through a number of different bag options to pick our top choices that will suit jet-setting athletes.
The following bags will suit traveling athletes who need a duffel that not only holds their stuff but also looks good. Our selection includes bags from reputable brands such as Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour. Some of our choices include compact options for overnight travel or those who prefer to pack light. Other options will offer greater storage capacity for longer trips or those with more stuff to haul around. Keep reading to find out our choices for the 10 best travel duffel bags!
- Nike Brasilia 6
- Breathable side pockets
- Plenty of extra storage space
- Osprey Transporter
- Water resistant
10 Best Travel Duffel Bags
1. Nike Brasilia 6
The bag's strap holds up well with regular use. A lack of structure to the bag annoyed some reviewers but this allows it to fit a lot of items. Overall, it's a durable bag that will hold up over time.
The U-Shaped compartment allows for easy access to interior items. Velcro pockets provide a space for smaller items and a ventilated pocket is a perfect place to store sweat soaked clothing or wet apparel.
The bag is medium sized and can easily fit 1-2 pairs of shoes with a change of clothes.
A basic aesthetic makes this perfect for those who want something simple. It will match nearly everything and comes in a variety of color options.
- Great size
- Nice looking
- Breathable side pockets
- Easy access velcro pockets for small items
- Shoulder strap is not padded
The bag is made of thick 600 denier polyester that can withstand regular use.
The bag features a comfortable padded strap and a convenient water bottle holder to ensure users stay hydrated no matter where they're going. An open mesh side pocket provides additional storage and rounds out the convenient layout of the bag.
Reviewers were surprised that the bag was bigger than expected. The main compartment is roomy and the bag features additional storage by way of a side pocket for wet items and front zippered pockets.
The basic bag is offered in multiple colors to suit a variety of styles and tastes.
- Compact but roomy design
- Plenty of extra storage space
- Convenient overall layout
- Comfortable padded strap
- Zippers tend to get stuck
- Water bottle pouch doesn't fit all bottles
3. Osprey Transporter
Made of synthetic materials the bag is also water resistant to protect again potential spills or unexpected weather changes. The durable fabric holds up well and the bag's quality zippers glide open and closed quite easily.
The bag can be worn as a backpack but the two straps velcro together so the bag can be carried as a duffel. A clever interior design features bright fabric so objects are easily spotted and retrieved.
The bag has a 65L capacity and one large interior area. There are some pockets for additional storage as well. Overall, the bag fits quite a bit.
The Osprey bag is offered in 3 different color choices and features the same sleek design offered by other Osprey brand bags.
- Water resistant
- Quality zippers that won't break
- Convertible design
- Roomy interior
- Sleek aesthetic
- Straps are not super comfortable
4. Samsonite Tote-A-Ton
The bag is made of 100% nylon making it tough and durable. One caveat is that it does need to be handwashed, so careful not to toss it into the washing machine by mistake!
A simple layout makes packing easy. A large compartment and extra zippered interior pocket provide space for small items. The bag can collapse in on itself so it's easy to store it away.
A 65L storage capacity allows travellers to pack quite a bit. Reviewers found the bag very large and appreciated the pockets for small items.
Basic styling doesn't look overly sporty and a variety of color options are available for purchase.
- Very affordable
- Basic layout is easy to use
- Very large storage capacity
- Straps could be longer
- Zippers may have trouble sliding if bag is overpacked
5. Adidas Squad III
Made of 100% polyester this bag features an impressive lifetime warranty. Another nifty thing about this bag? It won't hold onto odors.
The collapsible design allows the bag to be easily stored. Inside, zippered pockets provide space for small items. A FreshPAK shoe tunnel allows users to separate shoes from clothes. Outside pockets are ventilated to keep clothes from getting too smelly. A side pocket provides space for a water bottle and the bag also features an adjustable shoulder strap.
A big compartment provides the main storage. Several small zippered pockets allow for storage of smaller items that may get lost in a larger compartment.
The bag is very stylish and comes in many different color options. Fresh trendy options make this bag stand out from the rest.
- Convenient shoe tunnel
- Lifetime warranty
- Stylish design
- Holds the basics, not a huge bag
- Lacks strap padding
6. Under Armour Storm Undeniable II
The bag is made of 100% polyester that features UA Storm technology. This technology helps to repel water so inside items are protected from the elements. Abrasion resistant fabric ensures the bag doesn't come apart even with regular use. Keep in mind, if it gets dirty, you'll need to handwash it.
The bag features a padded adjustable strap with HeatGear technology. A big front zippered pocket rounds out the overall design.
A large interior area provides the main storage space. In total there are 4 additional storage pockets (1 inside and 3 outside). The bag is large enough to fit a good deal of stuff but is compact enough for easy carrying.
Comes in many colors to suit different tastes and features a large Under Armour logo to finish off the overall design.
- Water resistant
- Very durable material
- Comfortable padded strap
- Compact but roomy
- No interior section for dirty / wet clothes
- Smaller than the standard duffel bag
Highly resistant nylon fabric keeps this bag from falling apart. Water resistant material protects your stuff from getting soaked. The bag also happens to be fairly lightweight making it easy to transport.
A side shoe compartment keeps your shoes away from everything else. The bag's strap is removable and padded for extra comfort. Two handles allow users to carry the bag without the strap and the mesh side pockets can easily fit a water bottle.
The bag fits about 32L total and also has outside pockets for additional storage. Keep in mind that the shoe tunnel, if used, takes up space within the bag.
Comes in several color choices. The bag features a simple but fresh and unassuming design.
- Very durable
- Water resistant
- Comfortable strap
- Simple stylish design
- Shoe compartment can get smelly
1050HD Tuff Ripstop material is very resistant to tearing. The zippers are equally durable. The seams on the bag are reinforced. All this is a testament to the fact that the bag is made in America.
The strap on the bag can be removed if desired. The bag features a simple layout with a single compartment. No bells and whistles, just pack and go.
The bag holds about 44L making it a medium sized duffel bag.
Very basic style makes the bag easily used for non-athletic purposes. It comes in 3 color variations and features inconspicuous branding which is great for travelers who wish to blend in.
- Very affordable
- Super durable construction
- Nice size
- Strap design could be improved
9. Herschel Supply Co Novel
The bag is made of polyester fabric and features an interior lining for extra protection. The bag also features durable leather straps.
The shoulder strap can be removed to allow for use of the bag's handles. A shoe compartment can be used to store footwear or dirty items. The bag also features two other zippered storage areas (not including the main compartment).
The bag stores quite a bit inside its main compartment and users can use the interior pocket or exterior zippered pocket to store small stuff like keys.
This is a super stylish duffel bag that comes in a variety of colors and patterns!
- Perfect carry on size
- High quality construction
- Very stylish
- Limited Lifetime Warranty
- Spacious interior
- Lacks pockets
- Reviewers complained about the strap squeaking
10. PUMA Teamsport Formation
The bag is made of 100% polyester and is able to go into the washing machine so you can easily get rid of smells. The bag is fairly durable as well so it won't unravel if you wash it.
A side ventilated pocket is available to store shoes or wet clothing. Inside, a zippered pocket keeps small items from getting lost. The bag's shoulder strap is padded.
The large main compartment provides enough room for storage but the bag isn't oversized.
This sporty, simple duffel comes in five color options including a bold orange and a simple classic black.
- Comfortable strap and handles
- Good amount of storage
- Shoulder strap tends to squeak loudly
- Some reviewers found it a bit small
- Inner pocket is not well-protected
The Criteria We Used To FInd The 10 Best Travel Duffel Bags
There are loads of things to consider when purchasing any item but we narrowed our evaluation criteria down to four important considerations: construction & quality, design, storage capacity, and style.
Construction & Quality
The material, the durability of the fabric, and the overall quality of the bag in question all factor into how durable it’s going to be. Whether you plan on using the bag just for the gym or want to take it with you on vacation, it will need to hold up to consistent use. You want a bag that will hold your items, even the heavy ones, without tearing apart. The zippers on the bag should be sturdy enough to handle a situation where you might need to overpack. Exterior pockets should be solid enough to hold your items without the seams coming undone. Some bags will be made of water resistant or waterproof fabrics which make them appropriate for extended outdoor use.
When we talk about design, we’re not referring to the actual style of the bag. That’s another important consideration, of course, but it’s addressed below. Design refers to the overall layout of the bag and its extra bells and whistles. Some bags, for instance, will have convenient shoe tunnels that allow footwear to be stored separately from other items. Things like water bottle pockets or mesh ventilation are part of the overall design of the bag. Features like these help to make the bag more functional. But don’t quickly discount bags with a simple design. Bags with single compartments can be just as useful, especially for those who want to avoid complicating their packing routine.
This is probably the most important thing to take into consideration when deciding on a duffel bag or any bag for that matter. Think about what you need to store or transport and how much room you need for your stuff. Keep in mind, the more you pack into a bag, the heavier it will be. You’ll also want to take into consideration whether a specific bag meets the travel bag requirements should you decide to use the bag as a carry-on. Extra storage capacity is also important. Some people will prefer a bag with additional pockets so you’ll want to pay attention to whether a bag you’re thinking of buying has the right amount of additional storage for your unique needs.
Whether a bag is stylish or not won’t compromise its functionality but it’s a nice bonus for a bag to be aesthetically pleasing. You’ll need to decide whether you want a bag that has a more athletic look or you’d prefer something a little sleeker. Most bags will come in different color options so there’s certainly something out there to suit all tastes. Do you want a big brand logo or are you more interested in an understated design? If you plan on using a bag for both travel and gym use, you’ll likely want to choose something in between.
Other Important Factors To Consider
We didn’t list price as one of our top considerations because it’s not always a good indicator of quality, especially when it comes to travel duffel bags. There are plenty of inexpensive options that offer users a durable product. Generally, more expensive bags are branded and sold by reputable companies, they also tend to have more bells and whistles. The higher the price, the more you’ll notice a greater attention to detail. Inexpensive options can be just as durable but are often more basic in terms of layout and design.
When deciding on what travel duffel bag to purchase, you’ll need to think about how you’re going to use your new bag. Are you planning on using it solely for travel? Then you’ll need to evaluate how much storage space you need. If you want to use it for the gym, too, you need to decide if you want a bag with sport-specific features such as a shoe tunnel. If you’ll be using the bag outdoors, then you may want to consider whether you need an option that’s water resistant. How you plan to use your bag will change the amount of storage required. You don’t want a big oversized bag if you only plan on using it for overnight trips. Likewise, a compact duffel won’t be suitable for very long trips.
Easy To Carry
You’re going to need to carry your duffel bag. Unlike a suitcase, a duffel does not come equipped with wells. The advantage is that they’re more maneuverable but to ensure you stay comfortable while you travel, you’ll want to make sure the included straps don’t irritate you or cause discomfort. An adjustable shoulder strap is always a good option and padding will help ensure pressure points are kept to a minimum. Find out if the strap can be removed in case you want it out of the way. If you plan on carrying it by its handles, make sure the grip around them feels right.
Easy to Pack
Capacity is important and having nifty extra features like zippered pockets and water bottle holders can be useful, but having a simple layout that allows for easy packing is a nice way to ease the stress of packing and unpacking. More compartments mean there’s a greater potential of simply forgetting you’ve packed something and completely forgetting later when you unpack. You won’t be able to see everything laid out in front of you, so you may even find yourself forgetting to pack items. Think about how large the bag’s opening is. Is it big enough to fit more cumbersome items? Will you need to strain to fit certain items inside the bag? A large opening that allows full access to the interior of the bag makes packing a lot easier. Bags will be easier to pack if they have a special D-shaped opening as opposed to a simple straight zippered opening.
You’ll want to make sure that your chosen duffel bag is easy to carry and weight plays into this in a big way. Some materials will be heavier than others and larger bags will often weigh more. Pay attention to how much the duffel bag weighs when it’s not at all packed. If you’re already having trouble lifting it comfortably, imagine how annoying it’ll be to tote around while you travel or head to the gym. Even compact bags can be deceivingly hefty, so be sure to take a look at the weight specifications of the bag or try it out for yourself to ensure hauling it around will be comfortable.
Most duffel bags have the advantage of collapsing down for easy storage. This also allows folks to reduce the overall footprint of their bag by packing lighter. It means that the size of the bag can be in flux. Most duffel bags will have this malleable structure but there are some with a more rigid consistency. If you are a frequent traveler and plan on using your new bag as a carry-on, a collapsible bag may help you to avoid unexpected bag checks. It’s much easier to smoosh down a collapsible duffel bag than a rigid suitcase. When it’s not being used, it also makes it easier to transport. For instance, you can travel with a duffel bag full of Christmas presents and return home without having to carry a cumbersome second empty bag.
It’s important to know that carrying a bag incorrectly can actually cause shoulder pain. You may not even notice at first, but after a while, you might find your shoulder aching unexpectedly. Your bag might be the culprit. Most duffel bags have convenient shoulder straps to allow you to free your hands. Unfortunately, the strap design of most duffels means that the bag puts pressure on one side of your body. This can potentially cause imbalances and, as mentioned, uncomfortable aching. The heavier the bag, the worse the problem may be. Duffel bags are made to handle larger loads so be aware that if you plan on packing your bag to the brim, carrying it via your shoulder could cause discomfort. Many duffels will come equipped with handles so you can switch to toting the bag by hand. Swapping the bag from shoulder to shoulder may also be a way to alleviate potential shoulder strain. You’ll notice that there’s one bag on this list, the Osprey brand bag, that actually allows users to haul it as a backpack. This is a nice feature that helps to eliminate the possibility of shoulder strain. Having a convertible duffel bag allows the user to carry it in multiple ways which helps stop shoulder pain right in its tracks.
Few duffels are completely resistant to the elements but if you’re concerned about heading into the outdoors on a camping trip and running into rain you’ll want to ensure your bag is, at the very least, water resistant. Some bags will feature water repellant fabric and waterproof zippers to keep water from infiltrating the interior. Tougher seams on a bag will help with keeping out moisture. Water resistant bags can usually handle rainfall and will protect your stuff as long as they’re not completely stuck under a torrential rain pour. Unless you’re heading outdoors for a camping trip or outdoor adventure with your duffel, though, water resistance isn’t super important.
Q: How big should a duffel bag be?
A: This really depends on what you intend to use the bag for. If you’re concerned about sizing for travel reasons you should check with your selected airline to ensure your bags fits the requirements for carry-ons. If you’re going to be traveling with your bag, you’ll also want to make sure you can easily transport it. If it’s too heavy, you’ll find yourself have a really rotten time.
Q: What are the advantages of a duffel bag?
A: Generally, most duffels are collapsible and do not have a lot of structural integrity. This allows for easy storage and allows users to store awkwardly shaped items with ease.
Q: What are the disadvantages?
A: Most duffels don’t have as many compartments as other types of bags, like a tote bag for instance. Not all duffels feature shoe tunnels for organization. Some users may also dislike the fact that duffels are collapsible since under packing can leave items floating around without proper protection.
Q: Does color really matter?
A: Yes! A brightly colored or uniquely styled bag will stand out among the rest. This means that if you’re traveling and are required to check your bag, you’ll have no problem spotting it from afar. No matter where you leave your bag, it’ll be easy to see.
Q: What’s so great about having a separate shoe compartment?
A: Think about it for a second. No matter where you’re using your shoes, they are coming in contact with the dirty ground. Having a separate place to put your footwear keeps the rest of your stuff free from contamination. If you’ve stepped in mud, you’ll keep it from getting all over everything else inside your bag. It will also help eliminate the possibility for odor transfer. Unfortunately, shoes tend to get smelly. We don’t wash them regularly like clothing, so keeping them seperate from your other stuff keeps the stink quarantined, too.
Q: I hate zippers! Is there another option for me?
A: Absolutely, although zippers are probably the most secure way to close a bag. Some bags have velcro closures, although on our list only the additional pockets (on some bags) may feature velcro attachments. Drawstrings are another type of closure, but they offer a lot less security. We chose bags with zippers because they are sure to keep your items safely stowed away.
- The Guide to Every Kind of Carry-On Bag (And Which You Should Choose), Online Magazine, May 23, 2016 ,
- Choosing the Right Travel Luggage, Travel Tip Website, Jun 19, 2017 ,
- HOW TO CARRY YOUR BAG AND AVOID SHOULDER PAIN, Physical Therapy Company Website, Jan 13, 2017 ,