The essential gym companion, the make-do suitcase for your next trip; whatever the occasion, a duffel bags is a perfect accomplice.
Originally designed to hold your gym shorts and sneakers, these durable bags gained a reputation that crossed over into air and road travel. When you don’t need a series of luggage pieces, or you’re just trying to crash on a bud’s couch for the weekend, the duffel bag is the perfect reach-in traveller’s inventory. Per usual, we’ve sorted the best of the best for you today.
For many of us, our duffel bag is an important item for our lifestyles. We need them for our travels, weekend vacations, gym and sport activities, hiking and camping. Our military officers need one for their gear too. Duffel (also duffle) bags are usually large bags made of natural or synthetic materials.
Rolling duffel bags are exceptional with their added wheels, which make them comfortable units to transport and move with. With this article, we will look at several of the best rolling duffel bag options based on style, size and looks.
Why you should trust us
I’ve reviewed duffel bags for four years. In that time, I’ve interviewed countless bag designers, brand executives, fabric specialists, zipper zealots, and a host of bag hobbyists and satchel obsessives. These interviews and my own years of research have earned me at least something of a journeyman’s understanding of how a good bag should feel and what makes it work in a given situation.
5 Best Duffel Bags in 2021:
Patagonia’s Black Hole line helped made duffels cool, and we think the 55-liter version is the best all-around bag on the market. In 2021, all Black Holes are made with 100-percent-recycled materials, along with the premium build quality and trendy colorways that Patagonia is known for. This bag is beautifully constructed from end to end, and you get multiple color options from simple black to blaze orange.
And the Black Hole is tough: the fabric is burly 900-denier ripstop nylon with a DWR finish to fend off moisture. This duffel is not waterproof like the YETI and SealLine models below, but it should keep your gear dry in light to moderate moisture just fine.
In terms of features and carrying comfort, you get a multitude of ways to grab and carry the Black Hole Duffel. The removable backpack straps are more comfortable and functional than most, and the bag comes with reinforced haul handles and webbing loops for carrying by hand. Keep in mind that this duffel does not have a particularly rigid structure (only the base is lightly padded), so it doesn’t offer a ton in the way of protection for your fragile items.
In addition, it’s one of the more expensive non-roller duffels on this list, but we think the quality is worth the extra cost. Patagonia’s Black Hole line also includes a variety of versions including smaller travel packs and duffels with wheels, and the 40-liter roller version is carry-on compatible.
- Comfortable as a backpack, and looks great
- A little pricey
Nike is a leading manufacturer and supplier of sporting accessories. It has succeeded in winning the hearts of millions of customers through the release of premium quality clothes, caps, shoes, and bags.
While most clothes are lined with light polyester fabric, for maximum breathability, bags require thick polyester fiber to prevent them from becoming loose after a short time and this Nike bag is no different. In fact, this duffel bag will retain its original shape and color after washing it, which is not a quality found in cotton-lined duffle bags. We are not exaggerating when we say that the Nike Brasilia Small Duffel 9.0 bag can last for over 15 years without losing its quality.
Another great thing about polyester-lined bags is that they won’t spring back up when they are matted down, unlike bags made from other fabrics. Even better, the Nike Brasilia Small Duffel 9.0 is also water-resistant. So, if you live in areas where the humidity is high, and rain is frequent, this bag will be your best option. As a result of its water-resistance, it dries up a lot faster than regular duffel bags. So, you don’t have to wait for an entire day before your bag is ready for use.
All in all, apart from being water-resistant, the Nike Brasilia Small Duffel bag is also stain and mildew resistant. So you can confidently use it wherever you find yourself.
- Completely made from polyester fiber
- Five exterior compartments
- Stain and water-resistant
- The bag is prone to scuff marks
With a capacity of 65 litres, this one is massive When it comes to all round usefulness, this is one of the best duffel bags for men. The extra-large capacity is one of its most outstanding features, but there are many more.
Among the smaller sized bags, this one has a good shot at being ranked the best duffel bag for men. It is simple, durable and will serve most of your sports/gym needs.
With the amazing features packed into it, this one is top quality within its price range. It is extra-large, can hold your shoes in an odour-resistant compartment and has multiple pockets for organization.
- Simple and compact
- Durable, as long as it’s not overstuffed or used to carry heavy loads
- Loads of pockets for organization
- It’s a bit expensive
The YETI Panga Dry Duffel is a monster. Most people won’t need a duffel that shields their possessions from every element possible but if you do, or you like the idea of owning an indestructible tank of a bag, this duffel is for you.
We like the 50-liter model for carrying surf, snorkel, ski and hiking gear, or for river rafting or sea kayak trips when you need a bag that will keep your possessions completely dry. But if you have bigger gear to take on your next trip, you might test out the 75- or 100-liter options.
One customer summed up the YETI Panga series best: “Have you ever wanted to put something in a duffel bag throw it off a waterfall, and carry it through any kind of weather imaginable knowing that your gear is protected by the most durable soft but still tough as nails product known to mankind? Or even just attach it to the side of your river tube and float down some rapids? Doesn’t matter how you do it, this product will stand up to the test. Amazing quality, even more amazing durability.”
- Durable leather material looks even better with time
- Capacity for enough clothes and gear
- Mature design
- It can fit into the overhead compartment on airplanes
- Cannot be rolled on the back
- Not water-resistant
For a travel duffel bag that looks less like a gym bag and more like a fashionable carry-on, the Dakine EQ Bag is a popular option. With several print designs, including camo, botanical patterns, and Aztec prints, the duffel is the perfect travel accessory. Measuring 22 x 12 x 12 inches and with a volume of 50 liters, the Dakine bag makes a great carry on for weekend getaways.
When not in use, the polyester fabric can be folded for easy storage. Some buyers appreciate the carry handles and shoulder strap, zippered side pocket for small items such as phones and wallets, and the “U-Shaped” interior storage area.
This product will give you that masculine look during your travels and will last for a long time. It will carry everything you need for your travels and protect your laptop from hard surfaces. It really is a top mens leather duffle bag.
- Removable backpack strap
- Extra storage space
- Water-resistant zipper
- Could be too small for long trips
How We Tested the Duffel Bags
Our reviewers spent 15 hours testing one of the most popular duffel bags available. To get the most well-rounded results, our testers packed their things and toted it to and from their destinations for hours at a time. We asked our reviewers to consider the most important features while using this duffel bag, from durability to comfort. We’ve outlined the major takeaways here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.
What to Look for in Duffel Bags
To test the duffles, I packed and unpacked each one and used them as much as possible in my day-to-day life. With every bag I tested—but with duffles especially—I asked myself, “Would I live with this bag? Could it replace something I already have?” Specifically, I looked at:
- Ease and accessibility: How easy is the bag to pack, unpack, and otherwise use in everyday situations? Does it have enough pockets? Are they well-organized and well-placed? I also kept a close eye on zippers and how they acted, tugging them from different angles.
- Carrying comfort: A great bag is pretty useless if it isn’t comfortable to heft and cart around. I loaded up each bag with as much gear, clothes, sneakers, books, and usual ephemera of life, and carried it around.
- Quality of the materials: Most bags are made from a handful of fabrics (nylon, waxed canvas, polyester). I paid special attention to the material’s weight, heft, weave, and any special tech like TPU coatings.
- Weight: Duffles should be light enough to carry easily but not so light that they feel flimsy or like they’ll tear. Most of our picks weigh less than 3.5 pounds.
- Cost: We eliminated any duffles that we felt were simply overpriced for what they were. However, you do get what you pay for, and it’s often worth spending just a little bit more for better quality and materials.