A duffel bag is the perfect travel companion, especially ahead of any holiday travel you may be doing, but you have to get the right size: Big enough to accommodate extra stuff on the return trip, without being too unwieldy. I also prefer a smaller size of luggage in general, because I will stuff a bag to the gills, and big bags just encourage me to overpack.
All the bags on the roundup today are 25’’ long or smaller – big enough to keep a week’s worth of clothes, but not so big that the weight of your clothes will have you shuffling along uncomfortably when you carry it.
1. Drifter Bags Drum Bag
Drifter made its first bags out of parachuting materials -- the company began as a parachute rigging business. While the entire line is produced in the USA (Ohio to be specific), the bags are far more popular in Japan than in the U.S. (Drifter has a dedicated shop in Tokyo, but not here in New York).
The range of bag sizes, fabrics, and colorways on Drifter’s new online shop is dizzying – the Drum bag stands out for its nice details like leather paneling and handles as well as an amazing price.
2. BAD (Best American Duffel) #4
I had never heard of BAD duffels before a buddy received a bag for Christmas a few years ago. Over the years I’ve been impressed by how great the bag looks and how well it’s held up for him. BAD uses a lot of great materials to create their bags (Cordura nylon fabric, 6,000 lb break strength seatbelt webbing, nickel plated hardware, and more), and they’re a sure bet to last you quite a few years, so go ahead and beat them up. Plus, BAD duffels come in six different sizes, so you can find exactly the right one for you.
3. Topo Designs 24” Duffel
I’ve had a Topo Designs duffel for a couple of years now, and I’ve been happy with it every day. The company is based (and the bags are built) in Colorado, where my family lives, so I’m partial to their products. As I mentioned before, I often overpack, but no matter how stuffed the Topo duffel is it’s never unwieldy to carry and is always comfortable on my shoulder.
Topo has been adding new bag designs and expanded their line to include apparel, all in the past couple of years, and it’s exciting to see them release more products that are all likely to be as well constructed as this duffel.
4. Norse Projects Kari Duffel
This duffel stopped me in my tracks when I saw it – the jet black, waterproof ballistic fabric gives it a serious sheen. Norse Projects is a Danish brand known for their refined, functional aesthetic and superior quality garments, and anything they produce is sure to be top quality. I especially like the subtle details throughout, like the PVC nylon on the bottom of the bag and the steel hardware.
5. Archival Clothing Waxed Duffel
Archival Clothing makes really nice stuff, and is well known for using top-of-the-line materials that make their bags memorable. I was impressed when I first had the chance to see one of their bags (their roll-top rucksack) in person – I had been skeptical because of the hype, but the heavy waxed cotton was the definition of sturdy and the backpack was way roomier than I expected. I have no doubt the same applies to this duffel, and that it’s well designed to be portable and sturdy and handle anything you can throw at it in your travels.