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While figuring out what to pack can be a struggle for even the most seasoned travelers, deciding what luggage to use doesn’t have to be. A great duffel bag is one item everyone should have in their collection because they can be used on practically every kind of trip, including weekends away, camping excursions, or even extended vacations.
The duffel bags listed below were the best that PEOPLE tested.
Best Overall: Kipling Bori Duffel Bag
Cons: It doesn’t have a separate compartment for shoes.
Pros: Kipling Bori Duffel Bag is a large capacity bag with a lot of space, but it’s also very lightweight so it won’t weigh you down even when fully packed.
Among the 25 duffel bags we put to the test, the Kipling Bori Duffel Bag was the clear winner, scoring a perfect rating in four out of the five categories tested. In addition to having a spacious main compartment, the duffel also has plenty of outer and inner zippered pockets and sheath pockets to keep smaller items like your passport, tablet, or travel documents safe and organized.
The duffel has carabiner clips on both sides of the bag, which reduces the bag’s overall size when in use. Our testers said both the top handle straps and the adjustable shoulder strap were very comfortable, and they felt good toting the duffel around both ways. What’s more, the duffel has a trolley sleeve on the back, so you can slip it over a rolling suitcase’s handle. Since the bag weighs less than two pounds, it didn’t feel too heavy even when it was fully packed.
The travel bag held up very well during our ladder drop test, and neither tester noticed any visible scratches or scuffs on the durable nylon material. Both said it felt very durable, and one mentioned the bag has a seemingly water-resistant lining as an added bonus.
Given that the travel bag is made from synthetic nylon fabric and has plastic zippers, our testers thought it would cost less. They also noted that it doesn’t have a separate compartment to keep items like shoes or wet clothes apart, which can be a personal preference for some when shopping for a piece of luggage.
All that said, if you are looking for a well-made, classically designed duffel bag that can hold a lot of stuff at once, this may be just what you’re looking for.
Best Budget: Gonex Canvas Duffel Bag
Pros: The cushioned straps and handles make this duffel very comfortable to carry. It also has a lot of pockets to store items and keep them organized.
Cons: The main compartment doesn’t have as much space.
The main draw of this duffel bag is all the pockets and compartments it has. The center compartment even has two expandable zippers at the side to expand your packing capacity. While the main compartment wasn’t big enough to fit all the items from the test, our testers said the extra pockets made up for its lack of space.
There are two zippered side pockets that could be a good place to keep shoes separately (if you have a small enough foot) and a front pocket to store items you need easy access to. Even better, there’s a hidden back pocket, so you can put your passport or money there without worrying about getting pickpocketed.
The handles of the bag have a hook and closure flap that not only keeps the straps together but it also adds a bit of cushioning to make it more comfortable to hold. Our testers said the detachable shoulder strap also has a padded portion for added comfort and easy maneuverability.
The duffel passed the ladder drop with flying colors. The testers said the bag had no scuffs or scratches and the cloth material seems very durable. They also noted that it isn’t a dirt magnet, so it should be easy to keep clean.
They did note that the top opening for the main compartment is a bit on the smaller side, making it more difficult to pack. But overall they think it is a solid choice for someone looking for a high-quality duffel bag on a budget.
Best Splurge: Yeti Crossroads 60L Duffel Bag
Pros: The spacious main compartment has removable divider panels for added organization. Its abrasion-resistant hard shell bottom makes it very durable and worth the price.
Cons: The shape is bulkier and doesn’t pack down when not in use.
If you’re looking to splurge on a top-of-the-line duffel bag, our testers say this Yeti option is the way to go. The entire top of the large capacity duffel zips open, so you can see the entirety of the bag at once. It also has a rigid plastic bottom that keeps the shape of the bag and makes it easy to prop open, so you can pack without the bag folding into itself.
The main compartment is ultra-spacious and features two divider panels that can separate the bag into three different sections or be folded into the bottom if you prefer to pack it in one large area. There are also several zippered pockets inside the back for extra organization, including one underneath the duffel’s lid.
While our testers said the detachable carrying strap wasn’t very comfortable, it has three other handles (on the top and sides of the bag) for you to carry it by. Not only is the duffel bag abrasion-resistant, but our testers said the material feels waterproof as well.
They loved the durability of the bag but did note that due to the hard plastic on the bottom of the duffel, the travel bag doesn’t pack down to a compact size when not in use. So be aware of this if you are low on storage space. The testers also mentioned that while it holds a lot of stuff, it could weigh you down, especially since it doesn’t have wheels and you’ll have to hand-carry it.
But all in all, they thought it was a great option for people looking for a durable duffel bag that provides a lot of internal organization.
Things to Consider Before Buying Duffel Bags
The price of duffel bags can range anywhere from $50 to several hundred dollars each. Canvas or nylon options are more affordable and great for people on a budget, while luxe leather duffels or styles with smart functional features will cost more.
Since duffel bags are carried by hand or on your shoulder, the ideal option will be compact enough for you to tote around, while not sacrificing on interior space.
Each bag on this list weighs less than five pounds, so they should be easy to lift and carry when empty. But you should also test carrying it before your trip to make sure the fully packed bag won’t weigh you down.
Whether it’s getting tossed around in a plane’s luggage hold or sitting in the dirt on a camping site, duffle bags can take a beating. So a tough option that won’t easily scratch or tear is key.
There’s nothing worse than a travel bag that is a neverending abyss. That’s why it’s important to choose a duffel bag that has multiple compartments and pockets to keep all your belongings organized.
Are the duffel bag’s handles comfortable enough to hold for long periods of time? Can you move around easily while wearing it on your shoulder or across your body? Can the duffel be attached to a rolling suitcase’s handle for added convenience? These are all questions to consider when choosing one.
How We Tested Duffel Bags
We PEOPLE Tested 25 duffel bags. First, we weighed and measured each duffel without anything in them. Then, we packed each bag with the same set of items to see which held the most. After the duffel was fully packed, our testers carried it around using each carrying method available, whether it was shoulder straps, side handles, or top handles, to see how easy and comfortable it is to travel with. Finally, we put each of the packed duffel bags on top of a six-foot ladder and pushed them off three to five times. After each fall, we checked the duffel bag’s exterior to note any damages and also opened it to make sure none of the items inside were damaged.
What Is PEOPLE Tested?
We created the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval to help you find the very best products for your life. We use our unique methodology to test products in three labs across the country and with our network of home testers to determine their effectiveness, durability, ease of use, and so much more. Based on the results, we rate and recommend products so you can find the right one for your needs.
But we don’t stop there: We also regularly re-review the categories in which we’ve awarded the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval — because the best product of today might not be the best of tomorrow. And by the way, companies can never buy our recommendation: Their products must earn it, fair and square.
In short, PEOPLE Tested provides recommendations you can trust — every day, every purchase.