Best Duffel Bag (2018) | Outdoor Gear Reviews | Mountain IQ

Best Duffel Bag 2018 – Expert Review and Comparison Table

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Are you looking for the best duffel bag for your next big adventure?

In this guide we have outlined what we think are the best duffel bags for everything from long hiking trips to everyday use.

Use the guide to find the best value duffel bag, the best wheeled duffel bag, the best overall duffel bag, and the best designed duffel bag.

best-duffel-bag

Best Duffels for Travel and Hiking

Gear

Rating

Weight

Volume Options

Style

Price

#1

The North Face Base Camp Duffel

(Best Overall Duffel Bag)

north-face-duffel

1.59kg (71L Model)

31L, 50L, 71L, 95L, 132L, 150L

Carry

#2

Marmot Long Hauler

(Best Value Duffel Bag)

marmot-hauler-duffel

1.34kg (75L Model)

38L, 50L, 75L, 105L

Carry

#3

Gregory Alpaca Duffel

(Editor's Choice)

gregory-alpaca-duffel

1.76kg (90L Model)

45L, 60L, 90L, 120L

Carry

patagonia-wheeled-duffel

3.4kg (70L Model)

40L, 70L, 120L

Wheeled

#5

Helly Hansen Duffel Bag 2

(Best Designed Duffel)

helly-hansen-duffel-2

1.78kg (90L)

30L, 50L, 70L, 90L

Carry

Best Overall Duffel Bag

The North Face Base Camp Duffel

north-face-duffel

5/5 Overall Rating
Read Full Review

The North Face Base Camp Duffel was the top performing bag in our testing, earning it the best overall duffel bag award. It has everything you’ll need in a duffel, including a compact and packable design, and probably the best durability of any bag out there.

It’s a good looking bag with a compact, industrial design. We love just about everything about this bag. It has padded shoulder straps that make it much easier to carry, 4 compression straps that keep that shape compact, and an extra zippered compartment at the top of the bag to separate any wet clothes, dirty shoes etc.

However, the thick, extremely tough material does make it one of the heavier bags that we tested, but at 1590g (71L variant) it’s not unbearable. It also comes in a good range of volumes: 31, 50, 71, 95, 132, and 150 litres.

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Main Features
  • Water-resistant material
  • 4 compression straps
  • Extra zippered compartment at the top of the bag
  • Padded backpack straps
What we like
  • Unbelievably durable material
  • Comfortable to carry and easy to pack
  • Wide volume range
What we dislike
  • Fairly heavy
Key Takeaway

This industrious duffel will get you through any trip, and will hold up to the toughest of tests while still allowing you to stay organised.

Best Value Duffel Bag

Marmot Long Hauler

marmot-hauler-duffel

4.5/5 Overall Rating
Read Full Review

The Marmot Long Hauler duffel bag is our choice for the best value duffel bag. Selling regularly for less than $85, it’s the most affordable on our list and still keeps up with the rest in terms of functionality.

While it’s not quite as durable as other bags like The North Face Base Camp, it was still able to take pretty much everything we could throw at it. The material, however, wasn’t quite as water resistant as we hoped, with water leaking through as the rain got heavier.

It has an additional pocket at the top that allows for easy access or to store dirty clothes, and the D-shaped opening had a mesh pocket for storing smaller items that you might need easy access too.

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Main Features
  • Removable, adjustable shoulder strap harness converts to carrying handles
  • Water-shedding design
  • Water-resistant material
  • plus
    D-shaped zipper with rain flap
What we like
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable to carry
  • Convertible shoulder straps
What we dislike
  • Not the most durable material ever
Key Takeaway

A budget-friendly, lightweight bag that has all the fundamentals and more to get you through your next big adventure.

Editor's Choice

Gregory Alpaca Duffel

gregory-alpaca-duffel

4.5/5 Overall Rating
Read Full Review

The Gregory Alpaca duffel is our pick for editor’s choice. It has everything going for it: plenty of space and pockets for organisation, highly durable and water-resistant, and it’s comfortable to carry on your shoulders.

The only downside we could really come up with when we tested this bag is that it’s so similar to The North Face Base Camp duffel, but it usually sells for a good amount more. While it might not be that much, if you’re essentially getting a very similar product, it’s just not as worth it.

What we love that The North Face Base Camp duffel doesn’t have is all the lashing options. There’s a line of daisy chains that runs down the side of the bag, making it extremely simple to tie it to transportation, or to tie equipment to it.

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Main Features
  • D-shaped zipper
  • Mesh pocket inside main opening
  • Wide range of volume options
What we like
  • Best lashing options of any duffel
  • Extremely water resistant
  • Comfortable shoulder straps
What we dislike
  • Difficult to remove shoulder straps
  • Slightly more expensive
Key Takeaway

A brilliant, well-rounded pack that just falls slightly short because of its higher price.

Best Wheeled Duffel Bag

Patagonia Black Hole Wheeled Duffel

patagonia-wheeled-duffel

4/5 Overall Rating
Visit manufacturers website

The Patagonia Black Hole Wheeled duffel bag was the only wheeled bag that we reviewed for this list, so obviously it wins the award for being the best wheeled bag. Even if it had other wheeled competitors, we’d probably still choose this over them, it’s such a brilliant bag.

If you have extra money to spend to get a wheeled bag instead of a normal one, then by all means go for this one. It’s highly durable and the water-resistant coating applied to the exterior does its job to near perfection. It has a large main compartment that makes it easy to pack, and the internal compression system helps it keep its shape to make it as comfortable to carry as possible.

The only issue we had is that it’s way heavier than the regular duffels, but that comes with the territory of having wheels. Not really a deal breaker in our opinion.

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Main Features
  • Reinforced haul handles
  • Internal compression system
  • Zippered external side pocket
What we like
  • Wheels
  • Very resistant to water
  • Large opening makes it easy to pack
What we dislike
  • Heavy
  • Only one, small exterior pocket
Key Takeaway

A good hybrid for functionality, ease of transportation and durability, this pack is an easy recommendation if you have some money to splash.

Best Designed Duffel Bag

Helly Hansen Duffel Bag 2

helly-hansen-duffel-2

3.5/5 Overall Rating
Visit manufacturers website

The main reason the Helly Hansen Duffel Bag 2 made this list is because of its stylish designs. We awarded this bag the Best Design awards because we think it has the best colour designs of pretty much any other duffel we’ve seen on the market. Sometimes fashion statements are just as important as functionality (although not that often).

The design isn’t the only thing that this bag has going for it, though. It’s selling at very reasonable prices, and it has some nice functionality to boot, with extra pockets both on the exterior and in the interior. The carry straps are, well, there, but they aren’t particularly comfortable. All in all, though, definitely a decent bag that will look great over your shoulder.

Main Features
  • Top carry straps; removable padded shoulder straps
  • External zippered pocket
  • Internal pockets on the side and the lid
What we like
  • Best looking designs
  • Selling at good prices
  • Fairly weather resistant
What we dislike
  • Not as durable as competitors
  • Not very comfortable to carry
Key Takeaway

A stylish bag at a reasonable price and some decent functionality to boot, this duffel bag should suit you fashionistas out there perfectly!

Duffel Bag Buyers Guide

Duffel bags are a useful piece of equipment for almost anyone, from enthusiast travellers to the average person going on a short business trip a couple of hours away from home. They’re versatile, easy to pack, durable and easily transportable. They come in wide size ranges, so you’ll be able to pick and choose the right duffel bag for you based on your specific needs. Just remember not too get too greedy; the fancier and more feature-rich the bags get, the more expensive they’re likely to be.

So here are the key features you need to look out for when you’re choosing the right duffel bag for you.

Wheeled vs Carry

This is probably the design choice that causes the biggest difference in the aesthetics of different duffel bags. Duffel bags are all that same, familiar tubular design that we all know and love, so the main diversification usually comes from the colour and strap designs. However, where that changes, is whether the bag is wheeled or not. Bear in mind if you want a wheeled duffel, they’re way more expensive than regular carry duffels.

It comes down to what you need (as it always does), as each type of bag has its own advantages. Wheeled bags are far easier to manoeuvre in environments with smoother, flatter surfaces (like airports or any paved roads); while regular duffel bags are much more versatile when it comes to the range of surfaces that you can carry them on (hint: any surface, you’re carrying it). Wheeled duffels are generally a fair amount heavier and stiffer with all that hard plastic, so they are also less convenient if you have to carry it on your back.

Volume

Volume is just one of those things that is integral for any type of bag, from daypacks and backpacks, to duffels and suitcases. You have to be able to carry everything you’re going to need on your trip, so getting a duffel bag that’s big enough to manage that is extremely important. There is a trade-off though; getting a bag that’s too big that you have lots of extra space can make you pack too much stuff that you don’t actually need, and end up making the bag very heavy and difficult to carry.

Volume is very subjective, so it’s up to you to decide on what you need here; if you’re going to be carrying a lot of extra gear on a hiking trip, you might need a bag somewhere between 90-120L, but if you’re just going to visit friends for a few nights, you’ll only need a bag with around 40-70L of space. Fortunately, all of the bags we have reviewed have different size options, so you shouldn’t miss out on the bag you want because it doesn’t come in the right size.

Is it stuffable?

What we mean by this is: when you load that bag to the absolute brim with absolutely everything you could possibly need for that trip you’re going on, will it still zip closed and will it still be comfortable to carry? Now, aside from the obvious downside of over-packing that is additional weight, many bags tend to lose their shape if they lack compression straps or harder frames. If you just have to bring everything you own on your trip, you’ll at least have to be able to comfortably carry the bag and be able to store it in luggage compartments.

The best thing to look for in this situation is the style of the opening to the bag; is the zipper D-shaped or is it a vertical line? In almost any case, D-shaped zippers provide much better access and stuffability, so we’d say go for those if possible. Once again, if you’re not going to be stuffing your bag to the absolute brim, then maybe this won’t be that important, but it’s hard to resist taking up all the space in your bag that you can, so just trust us.

Other features to look for:

  • Waterproofing
  • Pockets within the main compartment or on the outside for added organisation
  • Lockable zipper (pretty important in most cases)
  • Weight
  • Price (obviously)

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