Best Duffel Bag – Expert Reviews

Updated: February 12, 2024

Duffel bugs are basically elongated sacks with pockets on top and on the sides. They are made from super durable materials and protect a lot of your trekking gear.

The best ones are so durable they can be battered about by mules for weeks on end and you won't see any serious damage beyond dirt on the outside. 

Here is the list of the ones I'd take into battle on any hiking or camping expedition.

Best Duffel Bag (Top Picks)

The North Face Base Camp Duffel - Large, TNF Black,

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My Second Best

Gregory Alpaca Duffel

Gregory 60-liters

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Helly Hansen Unisex HH Duffel Bag 2 50L, 990 Black, One Size

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Camping Duffel Bags (Detailed Reviews)

We reviewed over 20 duffel bags for this article. Below are the best duffel bags that made our short list.

  1. The North Face Base Camp Duffel Bag- Best Overall
  2. Marmot Long Hauler Duffel Bag
  3. Gregory Alpaca Duffel  Bag - My Second Best
  4. Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Bag
  5. Helly Hansen Duffel Bag - Best Design

Read our complete buyers guide for duffel bags.

Best Expedition Duffel Bags

1. The North Face THE Duffel

The North Face Base Camp Duffel - Large, TNF Black,

5/5 Overall Rating
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The North Face Duffel Bag was the top performing bag in our testing, earning it the best overall duffel bag award.

North Face Duffel 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.

With 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, it's a rather versatile bag.

However, the thick, extremely tough material does make it one of the heavier bags that we tested, but at 1,590g (71L variant) it’s not unbearable. It also comes in a good range of volumes: 31, 50, 71, 95, 132, and 150 litres.

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

North Face Duffel Bag is an industrious bag. It will get you through any trip, and will hold up to the toughest of tests while still allowing you to stay organised.

2. Marmot Long Hauler Duffel Bag

Marmot Unisex Long Hauler Large Travel Duffel Bag, 4575ci (75 Liter), Brick/Black, Large

4.5/5 Overall Rating
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The Marmot Long Hauler duffel bag is our second choice in terms of best-in-class duffel bag.

While it’s not quite as durable as other bags, like The North Face Duffel, 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.

Marmot Long Hauler 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.

Main Features
  • Removable, adjustable shoulder strap harness converts to carrying handles
  • Water-shedding design
  • Water-resistant material
  • 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

As a budget-friendly, lightweight bag, Marmot Long Hauler duffel bag has all the fundamentals and more to get you through your next big adventure.

3. Gregory Alpaca Duffel

Gregory 60-liters

4.5/5 Overall Rating
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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 Gregory Alpaca 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.

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.

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

As a brilliant, well-rounded pack, Gregory Alpaca duffel just falls slightly short because of its higher price.

4. Patagonia Black Hole Duffel

PATAGONIA Black Hole Duffel 70L, Multi-Coloured, One Size

4/5 Overall Rating
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The Patagonia Black Hole Duffel is highly durable and the water-resistant coating applied to the exterior does its job to near perfection. It's also quite light - under a kilo.

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.

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

A good hybrid for functionality and durability, Patagonia Black Hole Duffel is an easy recommendation, if you have some money to splash.

5. Helly Hansen Duffel Bag 2

Helly Hansen Unisex HH Duffel Bag 2 50L, 990 Black, One Size

3.5/5 Overall Rating

The main reason the Helly Hansen Duffel 2 made this list is because of its stylish designs. 

This Helly Hansen has the best colour designs of pretty much any other duffel seen on the market.

The design isn’t the only thing that this bag has going for it, though. It’s selling at very reasonable prices, and has some good functionality to boot, with extra pockets both on the exterior and on 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

Helly Hansen Duffel 2 is a stylish bag at a reasonable price and some decent functionality to boot, this duffel bag should suit you fashionistas out there perfectly!

Buyer's Guide For Duffel Bag (Key Features)

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 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

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

About the author 

Mark Whitman

Mark has trekked extensively in Asia, Europe, South America and Africa. He founded Mountain IQ in 2014 with the sole aim to be the best online information portal to some of the most popular mountain destinations around the world. When not writing for Mountain IQ, Mark is out exploring the outdoors with his wife!

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