How To Choose the Best Duffel Bags

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Duffel bags have always been a popular option for the luggage bag, especially when you are traveling by bus or train. These bags are big and spacious. They have many more features that make packing things fun and easier while you are traveling.

With so many styles to choose from, deciding the right one for you can turn out to be a difficult task. Thus, before you go and splash all your cash on an inappropriate product, here’s a quick guide on what to look for while selecting the right duffel bag for you.

When it comes to choosing the right kind of duffel bag for you, some of the most important features that must be considered include the material that it is made up of, the capacity that it can hold, how feasible it is to carry it from one place to another and how well it reacts during a change in climate or activity. But, before that, let’s check out the types of duffel bags that are available in the market.

Types of Duffel Bags:

There are two types of duffel bags: wheeled duffel bags and traditional duffel bags. Let’s understand the features of these bags in detail.

1. Wheeled Duffel Bags

If you are planning to carry a little bit of extra luggage, a wheeled duffel bag might be helpful to you. These bags have a larger compartment along with multiple side compartments. The compartments help you properly organize your travel essentials. These bags usually come with a retractable handle along with a pair of hind wheels. The handle helps you maneuver the luggage easily in smooth places like airports or walkways.

The wheeled duffel bags can be considered as a great option when you are carrying heavy luggage with you. They are great for longer trips, family weekend gateways, or business tours.

2. Traditional Duffel Bags

The traditional duffel bags are the regular bags that come along with in-built backpack belts. These belts make it easier and safer to carry the bag. These bags are considered as the most versatile types of luggage bags. They are cylindrical in shape and are secured with straps and zippers. When compared to other types of bags, these duffel bags are more physically demanding and can be a great companion while traveling. These bags are easier to move around especially over uneven terrains or non-paved surfaces.

These bags are considered as simple and budget-friendly options. They are strong, affordable, lightweight, and one of the most popular camping bags.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Duffel Bag:

An ideal duffel bag must have enough space for all your belongings. Also, it must have multiple compartments so that you can keep your stuff in an organized way. Before buying a duffel bag for your next trip, here are some factors that you must consider. Let’s check them out!

1. Size or Volume

Most of the airlines and trains have a specific definition of what all can be taken as a carry-on. Thus, a little bit of research before the purchase is always helpful. If you plan to travel with it, the bag must meet all the airline baggage restrictions. A duffel bag must meet your space requirements for sure. It is always useful to check the dimensions properly so as to ensure that it will fit all your luggage.

When we talk about the size, you must have an idea of the capacity that you need to travel with, not only the current trip but also about the upcoming trips that you might plan to go to in the future. To help you make your research easier in the terms of capacity, we are breaking even the pointers as per the sizes available. Usually, the capacity of the duffel bag ranges from 25 liters to 150 liters. This means that there is always something to meet the requirements for your upcoming activity.

Let’s check out the features of each one of them and how and where can you use the bags.

25 to 50 liters bags:

These smaller duffel bags with a capacity of 25 to 50 liters can be considered as a great option for solo travelers. If you are wishing to carry light with a bunch of gears, it can accompany you for your next overnight journey or a weekend trip. The specification of these bags is generally 22 x 14 x 9 inch. These bags are small, compatible, and come at an affordable price. You can carry them along with you anywhere and anytime.

50 to 75 liters bags:

These are medium-sized bags and are perfect for short weekend trips or if you are planning for a week’s holiday. If packed properly, you can easily incorporate the belongings of two persons inside the bag along with light food options.

75 liters+:

The larger duffel bags hold a capacity of 75 liters and above. These bags are very useful in longer trips and can be used to carry luggage of multiple people. If you want to travel hassle-free and do not wish to carry multiple bags, these large duffel bags can turn out to be very useful to you. Along with your luggage, you can also carry your outdoor equipment in these bags such as tents, boots, monopods, etc.

2. Ease of Packing/Unpacking

One of the most important factors that you must consider checking before buying the duffel bag is to check the shape and the orientation of the zipper of the main compartment. Its shape has a major impact on how you keep the items in and remove them out of the bag. It also acts as an indicator of how much can you stuff inside the bag and will it be easy to remove your luggage easily out of the bag.

When compared to all the shapes, it is considered as the bags with D-shaped zippered openings are the most convenient ones. They are comfortable to pack, easy to unpack and provide easy access to your belongings no matter wherever you are.

It is suggested to not go with those patterns where the bags offer a smaller zipper opening. This restricts the access and turns out to be a difficult task when the bag is full till the brim.

 3. Weight of the bag

This is another very important factor that you must consider buying a duffel bag. The main purpose behind buying a bag for you is it must help you carry your luggage with ease rather than making it even more difficult by adding up some additional weight. An ideal bag must be light in weight but must have the capacity of holding extra luggage.

The weight of the bag depends on the type of bags that you are planning to buy. For example, a wheeled duffel bag will always weigh more than a traditional bag of the same capacity. If carrying extra weight is an issue for you then you must thoroughly go through the weights and dimensions of the bags: wheeled vs. non-wheeled and then take a call.

Carrying heavy duffel bags can get exhausting after a while until there’s a smooth surface where you can simply drag the bag along with the wheels. 

4. Pockets or Compartments

Having clear and easy access to all your belongings while you are traveling is a bliss. This is possible only when you organize your luggage in an organized manner is separate compartments. This is where the number of compartments and size come into the picture. 

While the streamlined models generally feature one large compartment without any pockets, the fully featured designs include multiple handy pockets for smaller items. These zippers let you have an easy track of your items and can also save you from getting frustrated every time you wish to look for an item.

Keeping this pointer in mind, most of the duffel bags offer plenty of space as internal storage to keep your smaller items separately and safely. The size, type, and number of zippered compartments vary from brands to brands. Some brands even offer expandable external pockets where you can keep your dirty or used clothes or shoes separately from the rest of your luggage.

5. Handle

Whether you wish to buy a wheeled bag or a non-wheeled bag, the handle of the bag plays a major role in proving the durability of the bag. After a point, you have to rely on the handle of the bag and thus, it is very important to have a strong and durable handle. Each type of bag has a different type of handle. Mentioned below are two types of handles. Your bag can have either one of these types of handles or both of the following. Let’s have a look!

  • Carry Handles:

Most of the duffel bags have carry handles in one or the other way. Either there are dedicated straps or simple padded handles that connect the backpack straps to each other. These handles are useful for picking up the luggage and moving it to a short distance. The carry handles are most useful for carrying lightweight luggage and you will find them mostly in smaller bags.

  • Grab Handles:

Bags with grab handles are very convenient to use and move around. These handles are often fixed at the ends or the sides of the bag so that it is attached close to the carry handles. Whenever you are moving around, you can simply grab the bag from the overhead. These handles make the bag even more versatile and it is easier to move around with the bags easily.

6. Carry Options

Along with the handles, it is very important to check the type of carrying options that the bag allows. Some bags offer either backpack straps or shoulder straps or both of them. The main purpose behind these straps is to provide you comfort and flexibility while you are traveling. It is always preferable to select a bag that will adapt to the environment that you are in. To give you a proper insight into the carry options, we have divided it into two pointers. Let’s check them out.

Backpack Style Straps: Most of the premium brands of duffel bags offer a removable backpack strap. The reason behind this is it is very easy to just lift the bag and carry it at your back. It lets you have easy access to your stuff and to make it a comfortable experience, there is also a light padding with these straps.

Shoulder Style Straps: Even though the bags with shoulder straps are not as comfortable as bags with backpack style straps, they are very quick to carry and move around. These are considered as the best option when you are traveling for shorter distances. But, after a point, it starts getting uncomfortable to roam around with these types of bags. It is also suggested that if you are choosing this type of carry option, always go ahead with smaller duffels. You will generally find these straps with either smaller duffels or medium duffels. These straps are removable and often allow you to streamline your bag for transport.

7. Material & Durability

Durability is no doubt one of the biggest and important factors that you must consider before buying a duffel bag. Durability depends on the materials used to make that product which includes the kinds of zippers used, the way seams were stitched, or the type of handles used.

The duffel bags are usually made up of pretty thick polyurethane. This is a water-resistant material which is also considered as a burly material.

Some of the other materials that are used to make duffel bags are ballistic nylon and TPE. Even though these items are burly enough, they are not water-resistant. Some of the other features that add durability to the bag are reinforced base or feet along with reinforced stitching in all the stress points.

When we talk about durability, one of the things that we need to be considered is durable duffel bags are heavier. If you are ready to compromise a bit with the durability, you can go for a less durable bag as they are going to be lighter. Lighter bags are easier to move around with.

 8. Weather Resistance

This is again a very important factor that you must consider before buying a duffel bag. The water-resistant bags are designed to keep your bag and other belongings safe and protect from rain or damp ground. With a water-resistant bag, no matter whether you are riding on the top of a bus or traveling during the rainy season, your belongings are going to be safe and secure.

The bags are usually made up using durable ripstop fabric with a laminate that works on keeping the moisture from soaking in. The duffel bags use a special treatment called a DWR treatment to make it weather resistant. As we all know that the weather is a very unpredictable thing, we must always be prepared for all the weather conditions. This treatment helps you to survive stronger in any weather condition.

Some brands even add flaps that cover the zippers as they are the first things that get damaged in a bag. Even though the bags are water-resistant, you must not forget that they have their limitations too. They will eventually soak water, and this is why you must maintain it in a proper way.

9. Ease of Transport

When we are talking about duffel bags, people usually don’t worry about the ease of transport. You must be ready to carry it in whatever way is feasible at that moment. You can either carry it in your hand, wear it on your back as a backpack or even slung it over your shoulder. While some duffel bags do not have the option of carrying it as a backpack, some do not have wheels. The best thing is to buy a bag that offers both options.

The duffel bags can either be carried, lashed, or stashed in whatever way you wish to. Thus, choosing the right duffel bag is very important for you. You must also focus on the comfort and the functionality that it offers too.

10. Placement of the Zipper

The placement of the zippers also plays a very important role. It has a huge impact on how challenging it can be to close the bag when it is full. There are some brands that also use zippers that close with a flap on the top. They help in improving the stiffness of the zipper as well as the bag.

 11. Lockable Zippers

Lockable zippers are one of the best things that has ever been invented. They are very useful while traveling to remote areas or at places where you have to drop your bag where safety is not great. It often happens that when you are going on an adventurous trip, we drop our bags at a certain place. These lockable zippers turn out to be very useful in such situations.

 12. Compression Straps

Compression straps are used to make a duffel bag compact. These straps are available in both internal and external forms. The internal compression straps help in removing the strain from the zippers and thereby compress the gears inside the bag. This is very useful while in transit. The external compression straps are either present on the ends or on the sides. They are used in tightening the duffel after the zipper has been shut.

These external straps are very useful with large duffel bags where we usually tend to stuff it to the maximum level. The external straps help in making your bag look less unruly while traveling. It is always suggested to buy a duffel bag with an external compression strap as it makes the entire experience very comfortable.

 13. Daisy Chains (Lash Points)

If you are planning to go on a wild ride, the daisy chains must be there on your priority list. Once the daisy chain or lash point is attached to your bag, you will not have to worry about the condition of your bag at all. It provides an external lining to your duffel bag and makes sure it is safe and secure.

14. Style

This is a personal choice of the user however, it is suggested to go with neutral colors such as black, tan, navy, or gray. This makes it easier for your bag to blend into a great range of environments. Some users even like to go for bolder colors to make a style statement. No matter what color you choose, the end goal should be how well it is meeting your requirements.

These are the pointers that you must consider before purchasing a duffel bag. We hope these guidelines help you find a good duffel bag as per your requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can one carry a laptop in a duffel bag?

Yes, there is an option for carrying a laptop in a duffel bag. However, not all duffel bags provide this compartment. Most of the duffel bags that allow a laptop compartment are wheeled and generally have a softshell with hardback bottom and sides.

2. Do duffel bags suit a business trip?

If one is travelling for a day or two, duffel bags are the best option.

3. What is a duffel backpack?

It is a normal duffel bag with adjustable straps/handles that allows you to wear it like a backpack.

4. Do duffel bags come with number locks?

Yes, most of the good quality duffel bags come with butterfly locks or number locks.

5. What is covered under warranty?

Generally, companies give out a warranty for 1 year within which if you have any discretions pertaining to the quality of the bag, it can be replaced. For example, zippers, locks, straps and other stitches.

4. Do duffel bags come with number locks?

Yes, most of the good quality duffel bags come with butterfly locks or number locks.

5. What is covered under warranty?

Generally, companies give out a warranty for 1 year within which if you have any discretions pertaining to the quality of the bag, it can be replaced. For example, zippers, locks, straps and other stitches.

6. Are duffel bags as expensive as the hard shell cabin suitcases?

No, duffel bags are way cheaper than those clunky hard shell suitcases. The prices of even the top quality duffel bags are affordable.

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