The duffel bag has been the tote of choice for travelers for decades. The right duffel is easily packable, easily squishable, and very robust. For some people, it’s an essential item that can be stuffed, tossed, and stored into just about any space.
Although I generally prefer carry on backpacks for my travels, sometimes a carry on duffel bag is just a better option—especially if you’re the type of person to just toss your belongings into your open duffel bag without any kind of organization.
Or maybe you just prefer the style.
But there are just so many choices out there. Different sizes, materials, features, and quality levels create an overwhelming environment that can leave new travelers in indecision.
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IF YOU'RE IN A HURRY,
This duffel has it all: the ability to convert to a backpack, tons of organization, and incredible durability. You'll have this bag for years!
That’s why I’ve picked out the best of the best and compiled this list of top picks, so you’ll find the best carry-on duffel bag for your travels!
Best Carry On Duffel Bags for Travel in 2021
- Best Overall Carry-On Duffel: Matador SEG42
- Best Budget Carry-On Duffel: Eddie Bauer Bygone 45L
- Best Multi-Purpose Duffel: Peak Design Travel Duffel 35L
- Best Duffel for Digital Nomads: Aer Travel Duffel
- Best Adventure Duffel: Patagonia Black Hole 40L
- Most Stylish Duffel: Everlane Weekender
- Best Duffel for Photographers: WANDRD HEXAD Access Duffel
- Best Durable Duffel: KUHL Eskape 50 Kanvas Duffel
- Best Men’s Leather Carry-On Duffel Bag: Kodiak Leather 60L Weekender Duffel
- Best Women’s Carry-On Leather Duffel Bag: Monos Metro Duffel
- Most Versatile Duffel: Boundary Supply Errant Duffel
- Best Large Carry-On Duffel: The North Face Base Camp Duffel
- Best Hybrid Duffel: Timbuk2 Impulse Travel Backpack Duffel
- Best Weekender Duffel: Fjallraven Greenland 30L
- Most Eco-Friendly Duffel: Cotopaxi Uyuni Del Dia 46L
- Best Packable Duffel: Osprey Ultralight Stuff Duffel
- Best Wheeled Duffel: North Face Rolling Thunder 22″
- Best Minimalist Duffel: Thule Subterra 45L
- Most Organized Duffel: Marmot 35L or 50L Long Hauler
- Best Lightweight Rolling Duffel: Osprey Ozone Wheeled Carry-On
What is a Carry-On Duffel Bag?
Duffel bags are simple, soft-sided packs that maximize useable space by keeping design features to a minimum. Depending on their size and build, they make great weekend or carry on duffel bags or extended travel packs for a variety of terrain.
Duffel bags come in multiple forms. There’s no such thing as a traditional duffel bag anymore. Some are waterproof, while others double as travel backpacks. Some are made of leather (or leather accents), or heavy-duty nylon, or cotton. Some are sleek city companions, while others are built for carrying your climbing gear around rugged mountain environments.
And as travelers realize the joy of traveling without checked luggage, companies are beginning to make duffel bags that are intentionally carry-on friendly.
Major airlines generally allow carry-ons to be 22 x 14 x 9 inches, while budget airlines have a restriction of 22 x 16 x 8 inches. However, each airline has its own carry-on size restrictions, so check before you go! Generally, most 40L or 45L duffel bags will fall within these airline regulations.
For other options, be sure to read our post about the best carry-on luggage for every kind of adventure.
The Ultimate Question: Duffel Bag or Suitcase?
Duffels aren’t inherently better than suitcases, but they are often more versatile. They offer ease of travel as you hop from train, to plane, to bus. They can be carried in a variety of ways, picked up and heaved into the back of a car, and then thrown over your shoulder as you rush to catch your flight.
You can avoid the hassle of roller wheels when you’re walking on cobblestone streets in Europe or across snowy trails on your next ski trip. They are often more waterproof and tougher than their suitcase counterparts, so they’re better suited for more adventurous travels. Additionally, the soft exterior shell makes these bags perfect for bulky or oddly-shaped items that may not fit in hard-shelled rolling luggage.
However, duffel bags aren’t known for being exceptionally comfortable or secure. But they have come a long way in the last few years, and many of the models offer the same secure storage features as suitcases. Also, companies have been paying more attention to the carrying comfort of these bags, and many now incorporate backpack straps or well-padded straps. for your shoulders.
Also, these bags are remarkably simple. We love them for their lightweight nature, versatility, and ease of transport.
Best Carry On Duffel Bags: Individual Reviews
This list of carry on duffel bags has it all, from sporty, heavy-duty options to backpack-style hybrids, to the highest quality leather duffel bags. So let’s dive into our list of the 20 best duffels.
Best Overall Carry-On Duffel
This backpack-duffel hybrid combines functionality and versatility to create one of the best bags on the market for travelers.
The Matador SEG42 made of 840D nylon and 420D nylon (with waterproofing), as well as ultra-durable 100D Robic Dynatec for the interior, so this thing is tough. There are lots of handy storage pockets that are zippered for ultimate organization, plus the straps are stowable for easy travel.
The clamshell opening gives you easy access to the interior, which is an ideal place to store larger items or dirty laundry. It also comes with an external-access padded laptop sleeve that’ll keep your laptop or tablet safe from the elements.
- This carry on duffel bag is waterproof and has lots of organization features.
- The duffel bag looks like it has been designed to withstand the apocalypse, and the materials align with that.
- This backpack-duffel hybrid is sleek enough for urban exploration and hardy enough for a weekend camping trip.
- Like many backpack-duffel hybrid bags, the carrying comfort isn’t high. The straps aren’t padded and there’s no structural support.
- The mostly black interior lacks much contrast, so the search for your travel gear in the dark abyss can be challenging.
- It’s expensive, but it’ll last you for ages.
Best Budget Carry-On Duffel
This vintage-style carry on duffel bag is well-constructed and stylish, with leather handles and zipper pulls that add a classy touch.
External pockets with zippers add extra organization to the Eddie Bauer Bygone 45L, so you have easy access to smaller goods, while the main compartment is where you store your larger gear. There is also a U-shaped, dual-zip opening to the main area that makes it easy to stuff awkwardly shaped items.
Two internal zippered pockets give you even more space to stash anything you want to grab quickly, like toiletries or cash. Best of all, this is one of the most affordable options on this list, AND it’s stylish.
- Classic design looks nice enough for work travel, while the rugged construction holds up to a beating.
- Lower cost than other duffel bags on this list for a high-quality product.
- External pockets with zippers.
- Seems a bit small for the size compared to a duffel bag like the Patagonia Black Hole 40L.
- Would benefit from added structure; objects tend to shift and feel unbalanced in the duffel bag.
Best Multi-Purpose Duffel
For those that want to match functionality with style, the Peak Design Travel Duffel is one of the best carry on duffel bags on the market. Peak Design is known for its specialized camera bags, but they aim to appeal to all travelers with this product.
Best of all, this duffel bag can be carried as a duffel, messenger bag, and backpack. The Cord Hook quick-connection system allows you to customize how each strap links to the bag.
Both the shoulder strap and top handles are padded, and the removable backpack straps increase the versatility of this duffel bag. The 400D nylon is extremely durable, but the added 800D nylon padding at the bottom is a thoughtful design feature that protects the most heavily-impacted part of the bag.
Style-wise, we love the color pairings and the touches of leather. The metal clasps and zippers also add to the sophisticated look of the bag!
If you’re interested in other Peak Design bags, check out our review for the Peak Design Travel Backpack.
- This duffel is the perfect blend of elegance and functionality.
- Removable backpack straps.
- The leather accents are a beautiful addition, especially on the sage green bag.
- For the eco-conscious travelers, this bag is made entirely from recycled materials.
- The magnet clasp in the handles are pretty weak.
- Not as water-resistant as some options on this list.
Best Duffel for Digital Nomads
This Aer Travel Duffel is minimalistic, spacious, and carry-on compatible. The clamshell opening provides suitcase-like access for easy packing rather than the U-shape opening that’s so common in this list.
However, this travel duffel bag looks incredibly professional—in fact, it looks almost more like a briefcase. You can easily transition from a work trip to a weekend adventure with this duffel bag in tow.
The interior pockets are intuitive, with a front organizational pocket, a padded sleeve for laptops up to 15.6 inches, and a mesh pocket in the main storage compartment. There are top compression straps and lockable zippers for extra security at the airport, and even a pocket for your water bottle. The functionality of such a minimalistic bag is seriously impressive, and it’s perfect for digital nomads.
- Comes with a laptop sleeve for laptops up to 15.6 inches.
- This is one of the only carry on duffel bags on this list that has a side pocket suitable for a water bottle.
- We love the spacious and streamlined access achieved by the clamshell opening.
- Lockable zippers make this bag super secure.
- This pack gets uncomfortable to carry when it’s fully loaded.
- It looks a bit too briefcase-y for our liking; other packs on this list achieve this minimalist look in a more aesthetically-pleasing style.
Best Adventure Duffel
The Patagonia Black Hole Duffel may be one of the most highly regarded options out there. It’s burly yet lightweight, and it has an impressive water repellant finish. It has two straps for backpack-style carry, so you can throw in all your gear without worrying about it being too heavy. The reinforced bottom makes this duffel bag extra durable, so you never have to worry about your equipment.
This duffel backpack has just the right amount of pockets: the large compartment has a U-shaped lid, where zippered mesh pockets allow you to store small gear on the underside. Exterior pockets provide easy access to all your travel essentials, so you don’t have to search through the black hole for your boarding passes in the security line.
And true to its name, this adventure duffel bag is deceptively large. For the light-packer or one-bag traveler, you can fit enough stuff for a multi-week trip.And for those that bring a lot of stuff, the external daisy-chain links lets you add other attachments.
This duffel bag comes in multiple forms: from various sizes to an array of colors (and even a rolling duffel option), there’s sure to be a version that fits any traveler’s needs.
- The straps make this perfect for lugging around heavy gear without worrying about sore shoulders.
- Multiple color options appeal to many travelers.
- Versatile design gives traveler’s many options, but we love the classic 40L option as a carry-on duffel bag.
- This bag is on the pricier end. But for those willing to invest the money, this duffel is built to last.
- Traditionalists may miss the standard over-the-shoulder strap.
- Only exterior pockets; there’s no internal pockets for compartmentalizing clean and dirty clothing.
Most Stylish Duffel
This intelligently-designed minimalist travel bag comes with two top straps to wear on your shoulder or to grab-and-go as you’re going about your busy day. The Everlane Weekender is perfect for city traveling, as it’s small enough to navigate the busy subway and light enough to sling over your shoulder as you walk down the street.
The bag’s main pocket is roomy and double-zippered, and there’s an exterior slip pocket. If you’re worried about your belongings, stash any valuables in the interior zipper pocket.
This bag comes in black and black leather—its exterior is all water-resistant cotton twill. The leather straps and gunmetal feet add some nice touches of sophistication to round it all out. It’s super lightweight, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t durable! If you want to keep it simple and classy, this is the duffel.
- This duffel bag is one of the most affordable on this list!
- Great for those balancing style and functionality, it doesn’t have the sporty look of many other duffels.
- There’s only one way to carry this duffel, and it’d do better with some grab handles.
- The color options leave something to be desired.
Best Duffel for Photographers
This backpack-duffel hybrid combines functionality and versatility to create one of the best bags on the market for photographers.
The WANDRD HEXAD made of 1680D nylon and waterproof tarpaulin with WR army coating, so this thing is tough. There are lots of handy storage pockets, and the multiple access points make it super easy for you to quickly grab your camera when you need it. These features are pretty similar to the ones reviewed for the WANDRD PRVKE.
The clamshell opening gives you easy access to the interior, which is designed to be compatible with the WANDRD camera cubes. This heavy-duty pack will keep your camera gear and laptop safe from the elements.
For more information about this bag, check out my full review of the WANDRD HEXAD Access Duffel.
- It’s waterproof and has lots of organization features.
- The duffel bag looks like it has been designed to withstand the apocalypse, and the materials align with that.
- This backpack-duffel hybrid is sleek enough for the office and hardy enough for a weekend camping trip.
- Like many backpack-duffel hybrid bags, the carrying comfort isn’t high. The hip belt accessory is sold separately.
- This duffel bag is a lot heavier than others on this list, and there isn’t much ventilation.
- The all-black interior lacks any contrast, so the search for your gear in the dark abyss can be challenging.
- The laptop pocket is inconvenient to access.
Most Durable Duffel
When KUHL decided to create the Eskape 50 Kanvas, they were going for the toughest, most durable duffel on the market—something that would hold up for years of adventuring while still being usable for weekend trips or as an overnight bag. They nailed it.
KUHL uses an incredibly tough TPU-laminated nylon for superior weatherproofing, meaning you could get caught in an unexpected rainstorm or snowstorm and your belongings will stay safe and dry. Even the double zippers are water-resistant. The nylon is tough enough that you could drop this duffel out of a moving vehicle, and it’ll stand up just find.
There’s also a bunch of fun additional features, like two compressible dirty item pouches so you can keep your smelly laundry and shoes separate from the clean stuff. Lots of pockets add extra organization, and stowable straps will help you to avoid any snags while in transit.
- Superior laminated nylon and other weatherproofing features keep your belongings super safe.
- It comes with a side pocket that converts to a water bottle pocket.
- Reinforced in high abrasion areas, like the bottom of the bag.
- This duffel is expensive, but it’ll last you for ages.
- If you’re small in size, this duffel bag is probably too heavy and too big for you. It’s heavier than your standard duffel.
Best Men’s Leather Carry-On Duffel Bag
The Kodiak Leather 60L Weekender Duffel is top of the line, and the price reflects that. It’s incredibly simple, with a rugged, timeless look, but that’s exactly what allows the high-quality leather materials and construction to shine. It’s made from 100% Top Grain Water Buffalo Leather, and is waterproof. And like a fine wine, the leather only gets better with age.
It’s built tough with a shoulder strap and side-carry handles, so you can tote it around as hand luggage or on your back. There’s also four compartments, including 2 magnet-latch pockets and a separate shoe area.
And, since it’s made with natural materials, no two bags are alike. It’s no wonder this piece of art raised over $250,000 on Kickstarter.
- This bag is made from some of the highest quality leather available anywhere.
- The attention to detail is evident, although the duffel bag itself is quite simple.
- In a world of throw-away products, this duffel bag was truly made to last a lifetime.
- All the leather comes with a hefty price tag; this duffel is the most expensive duffel bag on our list. You can search Amazon for better deals, but this leather duffel ain’t cheap.
Best Women’s Carry-On Leather Duffel Bag
The streamlined, sleek Monos Metro Duffel is made with ethically sourced, ultra-microfibre vegan leather that’s also water repellant. At 23L it’s one of the smaller duffels on this list, but it’s truly a duffel bag you can take with you from the office to the gym, or from your co-working space to a weekend trip (or wherever you please, really).
There’s an internal sleeve that fits up to a 15″ laptop, and inner pockets for a water bottle or other valuables. This duffel also has a pass-through sleeve to secure to your main bag. The best thing about this duffel? It’s designed to work with the signature QuickSnap Modular Kit System so you can easily snap off and on the Classic Kit with all your essentials.
Finally, it comes in a handful of different colors. The Mahogany is particularly drool-worthy.
- Made with sustainable products, like vegan leather.
- Works with the nifty QuickSnap Modular Kit System, so you can snap on and off your Classic Kit pouch with all your essentials.
- Comes in a wide range of colors.
- The pass-through sleeve turns into an extra pocket when not in use. Who doesn’t love extra pockets?
- Fits up to a 15″ laptop.
- This duffel is one of the more expensive on this list.
- Due to its small size, it’s only ideal for smaller trips. Anything more than three days wouldn’t be ideal.
Most Versatile Duffel
Boundary Supply certainly loves giving their customers lots of options, and the Errant Duffel is no exception. It doesn’t just convert from side-carry to backpack carry, you can even wear it crossbody like a messenger bag. This makes it ideal for all types of usage, whether it’s going to the gym or taking a quick trip out of town.
This duffel bag comes with a ventilated wet/dry compartment, a luggage pass-through, quick-access pockets, and two exterior lash straps to attach other Boundary Supply items to your bag. Like the brand’s other products, this duffel bag is made of incredibly durable 500D Cordura, YKK StormGuard zippers, and magnetic hardware to keep your things safe and dry.
At 35L, you can do a lot with this duffel bag, but it’s simpler than Boundary Supply’s other modular gear. You’ll get the usual awesome quality product, but without over complicating it.
- You can side-carry this duffel, wear it like a backpack, or carry it crossbody.
- It’s incredibly stylish.
- The padded straps allow you to comfortably carry heavier loads.
- Your keys or passport will never get lost in the main area because you can stash them in the front zipper pocket.
- Smaller capacity than many bags on the list.
- The shoulder strap may get uncomfortable when packed with heavy gear.
- Pricy for such a small duffle bag, but the high-quality materials make up for the cost.
Best Large Carry-On Duffel Bag
As you might have guessed from its name, the North Face Base Camp Duffel is built for expeditions and holds up perfectly in some incredibly challenging terrains, including winter trips. It’s literally a base camp duffel.
The Base Camp Duffel is made up of 840D Recycled Ballistic Nylon designed to withstand the roughest elements you’ll encounter on your travels. The extra bartacks and double stitching are nice durability features, too.
Keep in mind that this bag ranges in size small to quite large—some even hold over 100L. Make sure you’re going for the size small if you want to keep it carry-on friendly. Otherwise, this thing (and its haul loops) can really haul some gear.
- The interior has pockets for excellent organization.
- Built with durable and water resistant fabric.
- Ideal for expeditions, including winter trips.
- The alpine-cut straps are detachable and adjustable for a perfect ergonomic fit.
- Padded handles make this duffel easy to carry/haul.
- The straps aren’t very padded, so they can be uncomfortable at times.
Best Hybrid Duffel
Is it a travel backpack or a duffel? The Timbuk2 Impsulve Travel Duffel serves as both, with adjustable back straps that tuck away so you can convert it into a duffel bag.
This hybrid bag comes equipped with several features that many standard duffel bags lack: namely, internal compression straps, a water bottle pocket, and a padded laptop compartment.
Zippered mesh pockets on the U-shaped lid keep your small items in separate compartments from the main compartment, while external zipper pockets allow you to stow wet or dirty gear.
The harness system on this duffel backpack is more extensive than anything else on this list. Not only does it have shoulder straps, but it also has waist straps complete with mini pockets to store your chapstick or a snack. The back panel is made of breathable polyethylene foam, and the sternum strap distributes weight so that carrying this duffel on long walks is a breeze.
- This is the only duffel on our list that securely fits a laptop up to 17 inches in a separate padded compartment.
- Timbuk2 offers a lifetime warranty, covering the pack from any manufacturing defects.
- Easy to clean material keeps this pack looking new for longer.
- The straps are well-designed, so this pack is easier to carry long distances than most duffels.
- Zippers tend to be sticky and hard to maneuver, but they seem to ease up with time.
- It lacks the traditional over-the-shoulder strap option.
- It’s only available in one color—black.
Best Weekender Duffel
The Fjallraven Greenland 30L makes the ideal weekender. Its classic design stays in line with the aesthetic that we’ve come to love from Fjallraven, while additional elements—like the external zippered pocket—increase the functionality of this streamlined bag.
With two internal mesh pockets, this duffel bag has just the right amount of features to keep your belongings organized while maximizing space.
The adjustable shoulder strap can be stowed away, allowing for easy carry by the padded carry handles. The G-1000 HeavyDuty Eco S, Fjällräven’s signature polyester and cotton blend, keeps this pack lightweight and water-resistant. At 30L, this is the perfect carry-on bag for short travel weekends or work trips.
- The simple yet rugged design allows you to travel in style without being overly showy.
- Three color options, including olive green, black, and “storm” (a rich, blue tone).
- Your keys or boarding pass will never get lost in the main compartment because you can stash them in the front pocket.
- Smaller capacity than many bags on the list.
- The shoulder strap may get uncomfortable when packed with heavy gear.
- Pricy for such a small bag, but the high-quality materials make up for the cost.
Most Eco-Friendly Duffel
This eye-catching Cotopaxi Uyuni Del Dia is the perfect companion for the adventurous traveler who likes a pop of color. It comes equipped with a shoulder strap and five external carry handles. The padded laptop pocket is an excellent addition that is missing on many duffels, so the Uyuni is fantastic for anyone traveling with their 15″ laptop or tablet who needs safe access to their electronics.
The 420D nylon double ripstop shell is durable and lightweight, allowing it to stand up to even your most rugged adventure. The top-to-bottom zipper and versatile orientation capabilities (it can both lay flat and stand up!) make this duffel bag function similarly to a travel backpack. Even at a hefty 46L, this bag stashes easily in the overhead bins on an airplane.
This duffel bag is excellent for long-term travels: it has an expandable laundry compartment for you to stash your dirty clothes as you’re cruising some dirt roads far from any laundry facilities.
- These packs are unique; the Cotopaxi employees who make the Del Dia products have complete control over the colors, so no two are the same.
- All (Re)Purpose™ products reuse high-quality fabrics that would otherwise go into a landfill.
- The weight to durability ratio is excellent; the high-quality nylon performs well in many conditions.
- Since every pack is different, your colors cannot be guaranteed if you purchase this pack from a third-party such as REI, Backcountry, or Amazon.
- When packed full, this duffel bag is uncomfortable to carry with the shoulder strap. It may be better suited for adventures where you’re not lugging it around for hours.
Best Packable Duffel
Osprey labels this unique pack as a “packable duffel,” but it also functions incredibly as your main go-to duffel if you’re doing some light travel. Osprey’s bread-and-butter is creating high-performance outdoors gear, and the Osprey Ultralight Stuff Duffel fits the bill.
This duffel packs down into its very own pocket so you can toss it in with your larger luggage. The main compartment is zippered, and there’s even a Garment Folder inside to keep your clothes nice and fresh. This duffel packs a surprising punch in a very small package.
There’s a handy external zippered pocket with a key clip as well, so you can quickly grab your keys as you’re coming and going. And yes, it even has a padded shoulder strap for easier carrying.
While this pack isn’t waterproof, the 40D Nylon Ripstop fabric makes it at least slightly resistant. You’re not going to be tramping through any trails with this thing, but it’ll get the job done.
- Light and versatile, you can cover a lot of ground with this pack in tow.
- Packs down into an itty-bitty pocket to accompany your other gear.
- The main compartment is large and zippered.
- Padded shoulder straps.
- Not enough pockets makes this less-than-ideal for the electronically-savvy traveler.
- This bag obviously isn’t as durable as its other Osprey counterparts.
Best Wheeled Duffel
This 22″ rolling duffel fits around 40L worth of items and is the only one of two rolling duffels on this list. This design bridges the gap between a suitcase and a duffel bag. The soft yet durable nylon exterior is flexible enough to fit gear of all shapes without the restrictions of a hard-shelled suitcase, and the main compartment is simple, without pockets or padding.
The wheels on the Rolling Thunder are built for all conditions—they are larger with more tread than a traditional suitcase, so you don’t have to worry about this bag as you roll it through the snow on your winter getaway. The sturdy handle extends with ease by side-release buttons as you roll this duffel bag through the airport.
Keep in mind that the wheel system makes this wheeled duffel bag heavier than a standard duffel. Although you won’t be carrying the Rolling Thunder, keep in mind that the weight of this bag with wheels could be an issue when it comes to airline weight restrictions.
- The tough exterior rivals the durable materials of the Patagonia Black Hole Duffel, so it is well suited for weekend camping trips, but is definitely overkill for business travel.
- The unique design helps this rolling duffel bag stand out in the baggage claim if you do need to check your duffel.
- North Face products come with a lifetime guarantee, so they are warranted against any defects in materials.
- The high price point makes this bag inaccessible to many travelers.
- Tapered sides make this 22″ duffel bag feel smaller than a hard-shelled suitcase of the same size.
- No padded pockets for laptops or other electronics.
Best Minimalist Duffel
The Thule Subterra Duffel bag has a simple design with an almost geometric shape. Its slim profile is accentuated by the lack of external handles or attachment points. Corner flaps fold up and down so you can decide how you carry it, as a tote-style duffel bag or sleek duffel.
Thick, magnetic handles in the middle help to keep this pack balanced as you carry it through the airport. The extra-padded shoulder strap is comfortable to carry, and straps cinch down the bag, so you can pack extra gear while keeping the duffel carry-on compliant.
It comes in three colors: dark shadow, ember, and mineral. They’re neutral enough to be professional, but the geometric design also makes the Thule Subterra one of the most unique bags on this list.
- Design is sleek and modern, great for a business duffel bag or those who want a more minimalist bag.
- Feels more structured than many duffel bags while still having ample space in the main compartment.
- The handles are thick, so the magnetic feature often does not function as well as intended.
- It’s made with durable materials, but not water resistant. Therefore, it is best suited for the casual or business traveler.
Most Organized Duffel
This Marmot Long Hauler is rugged and versatile, with ample storage options. It comes in multiple sizes, and the 35L (small) and 50L (medium) versions can both serve as carry on duffel bags. There are also backpack straps that double as straps for your shoulders.
This pack is well-constructed. The D-shaped main section has YKK zippers with rain flaps to reinforce the water-resistant nylon and to keep out the dust and dirt. An internal mesh pocket under the lid improves access and organization, as well as the additional inner section where you can store dirty laundry or other items.
Compression straps and numerous grab handles enhance the usability of this pack, as well. The best part? You can easily stuff and stow away this pack in its own separate pocket.
- Backpack straps make it easy to carry, but you can also transition them to shoulder straps for duffel-style travel.
- Compression straps make the pack easy to handle.
- Multiple colors add more personality than other carry on duffels.
- More organization options than other packs in this list.
- Not quite as waterproof as other equally rugged bags.
- The durability might be overkill for casual travelers.
Best Lightweight Rolling Duffel Bag
The Osprey Ozone Wheeled Carry-On is one of the lightest bags on the market, clocking in at just 4.5 pounds. It carries up to 42 liters and is under 22″ high, meeting most airline carry-on requirements. Osprey bags are built for adventure, and their wheels are designed to take a beating, so you’ll be able to wheel this duffel everywhere—across train platforms and over cobbled roads—with little hassle.
This bag with wheels also has tons of organization, including a main compartment with a giant opening for easy packing/unpacking. There’s a separate zippered panel area for your dirty clothes, and other pockets to keep things sorted.
The lightness of the bag is key here, especially when you’re trying to shove this duffel into an overhead bin. The durable fabrics match those of Osprey’s alpine packs, ensuring this duffel will last you forever.
- Despite only weighing 4.5 lbs, this duffel carries 42L.
- The durability of this duffel means you can haul it just about anywhere.
- The giant main compartment and liquids pocket make it easy to dig things out while in the security line-up.
- The handle locks at one height.
- This is definitely one of the more expensive bags on this list.
What Makes A Carry-On Duffel Great?
So now we know which luggage items are on the radar, but what features truly set the best duffel bags apart from the rest? Well, let’s dive in and take a look at some of the most essential buying considerations for when you want to travel the world with carry-on only.
Your travels may take you from the airport to public transit to your hostel and any number of places where your duffel bag could be scuffed, scratched or damaged. Durability is important! Keep a sharp eye out for sturdy materials like double ripstop nylon, leather, and tarpaulin.
Also, remember that the ‘D’ for material thicknesses (such as 400D) stands for Denier), and the higher that number, the thicker and more robust your material.
Carry on duffels should have less-rigid construction. Bulky or oddly-shaped parcels slide right in while the duffel bag itself is easy to heave, shove, squeeze, or pack into just about any space imaginable – including overhead compartments on airlines. So don’t underestimate the importance of less-rigid sides, and look twice at hybrid items that try to incorporate rigid sides into what’s marketed as a duffel.
Luggage is built on organization, but many duffels shine by not overcomplicating the process. We love quick access to one large packing space without being overwhelmed by a plethora of pockets, mesh, and zipper that could just as easily hinder a search for a particular item. That said, several of the ultimate duffel bags will include a handy shoe compartment or a laptop pocket. Keep an eye out for these organizational aids, and consider your personal travel preferences when you begin your search for new travel luggage.
Don’t let nasty weather ruin your clothing and travel gear! The best duffel will incorporate at least some level of weatherproofing to help protect your gear, including reinforced seams. This may be a basic Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish or a Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) coating. To make the leap from water-resistant to waterproof, keep an eye open for leather and tarpaulin on the material list as both of these are both rugged and waterproof.
There you have it! We’ve covered the very best carry on duffel bags for travel along with essential buying advice. From classic city jaunts to rugged adventure-ready luggage, we have you covered. So go ahead, take your carry on bag pick, and travel like a champ.