Duffel bags may not be the most in fashion travel bags on the market today, but there’s little chance that they’re going anywhere anytime soon. If you find yourself carrying a decent amount of clothes to the gym or on your vacation and don’t want to deal with the bulky inconvenience of more traditional luggage, a quality duffel bag can provide the perfect remedy.
But that doesn’t mean you should just pick up the first duffel bag you find on the rack of your local big box store. HotRate is here to identify some of the best duffel bags 2020 has to offer and provide you with information on the specs and features you should focus your attention on when shopping for a duffel bag.
- 10 Best Duffel Bags
- 1. Under Armour Undeniable Duffle 3.0 Gym Bag
- 2. KomalC Leather Travel Duffel Bags
- 3. DALIX 20″ Sports Travel Gym Duffle Bag
- 4. Olympia 8 Pocket Rolling Duffel Bag
- 5. adidas Defender III Duffel Bag
- 6. Plambag Canvas Duffle Bag
- 7. Samsonite Tote-A-Ton 32.5″ Duffel Bag
- 8. Nike Brasilia Duffel Bag
- 9. K-Cliffs Heavy Duty Cargo Duffel Travel Bag
- 10. Jadyn B 22″ Women’s Weekender Duffel Bag
- Duffel Bag Buyer’s Guide
10 Best Duffel Bags
1. Under Armour Undeniable Duffle 3.0 Gym Bag
There's a reason why Under Armour has become a name so synonymous with professional athletes across a variety of different disciplines. Their tough built products can withstand just about anything, and that's as true for their Undeniable 3.0 bag as it is of their athletic wear. Polyester is one of the tougher materials for a duffel bag, but Under Armour has built on that standard resilience by treating it with their UA Storm technology for a phenomenal degree of water resistance.
And a lot of thought has gone into making this one of the most comfortable duffel bags to wear even when it's loaded down with clothes and even when you're carrying it for long periods of time. The strap is adjustable and heavily padded and utilizes HeatGear technology to reduce the risk of sweating or discomfort during hot days or after long workout sessions.
2. KomalC Leather Travel Duffel Bags
Polyester is one of the most hassle-free and durable choices you can find in a duffel bag, but if you want something more fashionable, the best choice is leather. These full grain mens leather duffle bags have a weathered and romantic look that makes it a great choice for a travel duffle, although it's not as adequate a fit as Under Armour if you're looking for something you can bring to the gym with you.
This duffel bag may look like it's seen some things, but you can count on it to last you a good long time. The buffalo leather is treated for a higher level of durability, and it's highly resistant to rain and water. The XYZ zippers are some of the best in the world and stitched neatly to ensure they're going to last. The KomalC has been designed to fit into the overhead compartments of most airplanes as well.
3. DALIX 20″ Sports Travel Gym Duffle Bag
Some of the best duffel bags on the market can cost you a small fortune, but they don't have to. If you're looking for a duffel bag you can use for carrying your gym clothes or even a travel duffle and functionality is more important to you than aesthetics, you can pick up this Dalix 20 inch duffel for less than twenty bucks. The inclusion of both a shoulder strap and a handle means you can carry it in the way that suits your needs.
The amount of space stacked into this squared off duffel bag is truly extraordinarily. The main compartment is spacious enough to hold a variety of different clothes, but you'll also find smaller pockets for holding your keys, cell phone, and other valuables. The mesh pockets on the outside offer great flexibility, making them an appropriate choice for carrying water bottles with you to the gym.
4. Olympia 8 Pocket Rolling Duffel Bag
Are you looking for a duffel bag you can take with you wherever you go? This Olympia duffel bag is one of the best choices for an international and domestic travel duffle. The eight separate pockets provide you with plenty of leverage to organize your clothes and other belongings in a way that suits your needs, but the real coup here are the wheels and inclusion of a handle that allows you to more easily navigate the crowded terminals of airports.
These wheels are no joke either. their in-line skate design are light and nimble but also durable, and the handle is easily retractable so you can carry it like a traditional duffel bag if you'd like. You don't have to worry about over-packing your bag either. The zippers are self repairing so a torn zipper doesn't have to throw you off of your groove at all.
5. adidas Defender III Duffel Bag
Adidas may be one of the biggest sportswear brands in the world, but they've earned their reputation through and through. The Adidas Defender is one of the best duffel bags available anywhere, and its versatility makes it an equally solid choice for use in the gym or on the road. The strap is secure and adjustable and includes a nicely cushioned handle that can also loosen the load on your shoulder if you intend to hold it in the conventional manner. It's also entirely detachable.
The main compartment is especially tall, and that makes it easy to pack and designed to hold a large capacity of clothes. Meanwhile, the end pockets are perfect for carrying valuables and other small items, and it's perfect if you want to outfit it with team branding. The reinforced polyester is highly resistant to cuts, scratches, and abrasions, making it one of the most heavy duty options.
6. Plambag Canvas Duffle Bag
This canvas duffel bag from Plambag is absolutely oozing with style. It sports a classic look that's more fashionable than practically any other bag on the market, and its plethora of pockets are smartly designed to provide you with the most tightly organized and flexible storage capacity possible. The strap itself is long enough and adjustable so it can suit people of just about any size, and the leather strip in the middle will feel comfortable on your shoulder.
The bottom is lined with plastic cushions that allow it to hold its form even when empty, but they also do a great job of protecting your valuables when you're traveling locally or abroad. A dedicated pocket is devoted exclusively for your laptop or tablet and is able to hold a device up to 15 inches in size. The rubber mats at the bottom of this 50 liter duffel bag are durable and highly water resistant.
7. Samsonite Tote-A-Ton 32.5″ Duffel Bag
The Samsonite Tote-a-Ton isn't the most attractive looking duffel bag you'll fine, but it's one of the best options in terms of pure functionality. Available in a variety of bright and colorful styles, the Tote-a-Ton is constructed from denier nylon and rocks a no frills approach that really makes the most of the space available. It may not be loaded with a lot of distinctive pockets for greater organization, but the storage capacity completely wide and open.
And despite the spartan surface appearance, this is one of the best duffel bags we've found in terms of durability. The nylon from which it's constructed is 400 denier, which makes it both tough and easily machine washable. And the lack of complication makes this one of the most stowable bags you'll find. Once you empty it out, it can fold into itself and be reduced to a paper flat design for storage.
8. Nike Brasilia Duffel Bag
The Nike Brasilia was built with the needs of athletes in mind, and that means that you can expect a lightweight and simple bag that's capable of taking a beating and holding everything you need for the gym or the court. But those same qualities make this a great (if not particularly professional) bag for taking with you at the airport. It's not a duffel bag with a lot of frills or features, but it covers the fundamentals and offers you a substantial amount of storage space to work with.
The Brasilia offers both a polyester shell and polyester lining, and it eschews a wide variety of different pockets for a design that instead helps you make the most of the space provided. The meticulously organized need not apply, but this is a spacious model that's great as a weekender bag, even if it won't suit a few weeks abroad.
9. K-Cliffs Heavy Duty Cargo Duffel Travel Bag
This black K-Cliffs duffel bag sports a size that borders upon the absurd. With a length of 42 inches, this is a duffel bag that's practically large enough to carry a body. Hopefully that's not a demand you'll need to fulfill (and that large choice makes it impractical as a duffel bag for travel overseas), but it does make this bag a truly exceptional choice for a heavy duty camping expedition.
This duffel bag can be an unwieldy choice if you're looking to carry it long distances, but you fortunately won't have to worry about carrying it by hand everywhere. The metal hardware means it's easy to mount on the roof of your car, and it provides a sense of structure that makes it easy to load it up with all of your gym or camping gear. The two included handles are wide and super thick, so you can maintain your sense of gravity.
10. Jadyn B 22″ Women’s Weekender Duffel Bag
The Jadyn B is a nice counterpoint to the K-Cliffs and a nice example of how diverse duffel bags can be. Where the former is a bulky and almost ludicrously sized model, the Jadyn B is petite and built to be comfortably held by women. But the pretty floral design partially obscures what a sensible duffel bag this really is. The primary pocket is relatively spacious and is accompanied by three smaller interior mesh compartments for holding your valuables. There's also an exterior compartment that can provide you with easy access to the essentials.
You don't have to be concerned about comfort with this duffel bag either. The shoulder strap is fully adjustable so you can find the fit that's right for you, and the entire duffel bag weighs less than a pound when there's nothing inside of it.
Duffel Bag Buyer’s Guide
What’s especially great about a duffel bag is how versatile it is. Whether you’re looking for a bag you can take with you to the gym or a lightweight and no nonsense option that you can bring with you on a business trip, a duffel bag is capable of fulfilling your needs. And while a duffel bag is one of the best carrying options around, no model is going to be the right choice for everyone. We’re here to break down the importance of these travel accessories.
Our guide will start by outlining the important specs and features to look for. Then we’ll get into the specifics of the reasons you might want to carry a duffel bag in lieu of a more traditional suitcase or messenger bag. Finally, we’ll answer some of the most commonly asked questions about these oversized bags.
One of the best advantages of a traditional duffel bag is the simplicity and effectiveness of its design. For that reason, the average duffel bag is going to be made from either nylon or polyester. These duffel bag materials are both synthetics and offer quite a bit in common. They’re both durable and lightweight in addition to offering your duffel bag resistance against stretching, shrinking, and wrinkles. They’re both best choices if you’re looking for a duffel bag that’s tough, durable, and designed to last. But these duffel bag materials do each offer distinct traits of their own.
The best advantage of a duffel bag made from nylon is that it’s both stronger and softer than polyester. All in all, it’s the best fabric you’ll find for a duffel bag, but a nylon duffel bag also tends to be, at least on average, more experience than a polyester duffel bag. A polyester duffel bag, by contrast, dries faster and is generally more resistant from scratches, cuts, and abrasions.
If you’re looking for a particularly tough duffel bag, you’ll want to check out the denier rating. Denier refers to the density of mass in a duffel bag. Higher numbers are naturally a better choice for a duffel bag because they’re going to be more resistant to damage and last you a longer time.
If you want something a little more classy for your duffle, leather bag options are available too. A leather duffel bag looks great, but it requires more care and upkeep than a nylon or polyester duffel bag. If fashion is your top concern, a leather duffel is going to be the best choice for you. Just keep in mind that it shows damage more than a polyester or nylon bag.
With suitcases, backpacks, and other types of luggage, the amount of space available can often be deceptive. But since every duffel bag tends to employ the same uniformly rectangular design, what you see is what you usually get. The big advantage of a duffel bag is that it allows you to make the most of the space available. The dimensions and the capacity tend to be uniform. And while many bags actually list their carrying capacity (in either liters or cubic inches), many don’t. That’s perfectly fine. You can generally determine the value of a duffel bag based off of its listed size alone.
If you’re looking for precise measurements, they’re not difficult to figure out. One cubic inch is equivalent to approximately 0.016 liters. Some of the duffel bags we have on our list don’t have a capacity listed, but finding out how they stack up is pretty easy. Simply multiply each dimension of the bag. In these cases, we haven’t included the actual capacity in the list, because the presence of pockets and the thickness of the material prevents us from providing the sort of accurate assessment that our readers deserve, but it can provide you with a pretty solid ballpark estimate.
The capacity you need is really going to depend on what you’re using your duffel bag for. If you’re looking for a long term travel duffle, you’re naturally going to need a larger capacity than a weekender bag. And if you’re simply in need of a duffel bag for the gym, you’ll need even less. Just make sure that the standards are enough to suit everything you want to carry. Many sports duffel bags come with an oversized storage compartment large enough to hold a basketball and your tennis shoes. Consider what you need, and if you have a specialized purpose for your duffel bag, be sure to measure out any bulky items you’ll be carrying with you regularly to make sure the model you’re looking at is up to the task.
The final consideration is whether or not you intend to use your bag as a travel duffle. A carry on duffel needs to meet the standards of 9 x 14 x 22 inches to be able to fit in the overhead compartment, so make sure it meets those standards if you want a model you can use as a carry on duffel bag.
As we mentioned in the section above, one of the best advantages of a duffel bag compared to other luggage is that it sports a what you see is what you get approach to its size. You don’t have to worry about an awkward angle minimizing your storage space.
But an oversized duffel bag that contains a single compartment isn’t always the best choice if you’re looking to travel. Consider the level of organization you need. A single comparment luggage duffel bag is a fine choice if you just need to shove your gym clothes and shoes into a bag, but if you’re waiting at an airline terminal and want to hold your laptop, phone, and wallet, a single pocket duffel bag can be as much an impediment as an advantage.
Consider what the primary purpose of your duffel bag is when looking for the best model. Interior pockets offer you the means to protect important items like your passport, currency, and other travel accessories when journeying far away from home, while exterior pockets offer you the best means when you need quick access for something within your duffel bag. The best model duffel bag will offer a balance of both, and an exterior pockets are often mesh and flexible so you can hold everything from a water bottle to keys securely.
Our general recommendation is that a duffel bag with a single compartment is the best choice if you want to use your bag around the gym. Multiple compartments are the best choice if you’re looking for a travel duffle that might require easy access to a variety of different items.
If you have specialized needs for your duffel bag, evaluate the specific size of each compartment. We can’t overestimate the value of a dedicated pocket that’s padded and best suited to the specifics of your tablet or laptop when you need a travel duffle for business.
Almost any duffel bag you find is going to be water resistant to some degree. That’s because nylon and polyester are both water resistant fabric by their very nature. Even leather duffel bags tend to be coated with water repellent materials. But rarer is a duffel bag that offers complete water resistance. The best models you’ll find will be completely impervious to water, but that may come at the cost of other features that are more important to you. Consider what you’re looking to carry and what conditions you’re looking to carry it in when determining whether a waterproof or water repellent bag is best suited to your needs.
Handles, Straps, and Wheels
If you’re planning on investing in a duffel bag, chances are that you’re looking for a bag capable of holding more weight than a traditional backpack. But that also means that your carrying load is going to be more strained. The type of handles that a bag comes with is one of the most important traits you should look for because it can have a major impact on your comfort and your overall health.
The most traditional way to carry a duffel bag is with a leather strap. Extending from one side to another, these create a bag that distributes the weight evenly across your shoulders and allows you to use more of your body to support the weight. This is the way you’ll want to carry the bag for longer periods of time, but the best shoulder straps for a travel or weekender bag is going to be a strap that offers a higher level of support across the whole shoulder.
Normally this comes in the form of padding that extends over your shoulder. If you want the most comfortable bag, you should keep an eye out for shoulder straps that offer the thickest and most comfortable padding, but you’ll also want to look out for a bag strap made from breathable materials. These result in shoulder straps that will feel good and will minimize how much you sweat.
Many bags also provide more traditional handles for carrying them like a traditional suitcase. While you probably won’t want to carry your bag like this all the time, the inclusion of a traditional handle is a great choice for coming and going from the gym or guiding your bag through crowded airline terminals and security checks.
Far rarer is the wheeled duffel bag. A wheeled duffel bag can essentially transform your duffel bag into a traditional luggage suitcase, but you want to think long and hard before investing in a wheeled duffel. One of the big advantage of a duffel bag is that it can essentially fold back compactly into itself and be more flexible for holding your belongings.
A wheeled duffel bag runs contrary to this principle because the frame that allows the rolling duffel bag to roll also results in a bulkier pie of luggage. Consider whether an oversized rolling duffel bag meets your needs or if you’re better off with more traditional handles. If you do decide to invest in a wheeled rolling duffel, carefully examine the wheels themselves to make sure that they’re sturdy and flexible enough to work on multiple surfaces. A wheeled bag that doesn’t work well is a liability that sacrifices some of the best qualities of a duffel for not much added value.
Duffel Bags vs. Suitcases
A suitcase is the most traditional types of luggage for business travelers, but that doesn’t mean it’s always going to be the best choice for business professionals. So what are the advantages of a duffel bag over a wheeled suitcase?
- Traveling on unconventional surfaces. The wheels of a business suitcase are great on flat surfaces like marble and concrete, but they can become a real liability if you’re going to find yourself on cobblestones, gravel, dirt, or other uneven surfaces. Duffel bags are also much easier to carry up stairs.
- The rigidity of a suitcase offers a great sense of organization, but that’s not really an advantage when you’re looking to store it away. A heavy duffel bag can carry most of the belongings you need for your business trip and then fold into a very compact and lightweight size when you’re done with it. That lack of a dedicated frame is hugely convenient for many travelers.
- Traveling on public transit. If you’re renting a car on your business trip or traveling regularly by taxi, limo, or a ride share company, a business suitcase won’t be much of an issue. But if you’re going to be on trains, planes, boats, or other crowded modes of transportation, the ability to simply sling a duffel bag over your shoulder makes it the ideal choice for luggage.
- A good luggage suitcase can last you for years, but the more structured frame also means that there’s more to worry about. A broken wheel or zipper can dramatically decrease the usability of this type of luggage, but a duffel bag offers very few parts and can take much more of a beating without concern.
There are a variety of great reasons to carry a duffel bag, but they aren’t going to be the right choices for everyone. The following qualities make a good argument for why you should carry a luggage suitcase instead of a duffel.
- If you’re taking your luggage abroad, you could be at risk for pickpockets and other thieves. And if you intend to carry your phone, passport, wallet, or computer with you, that can be a huge problem. A suitcase is the best luggage solution for conventional security since all of them either come with locks or the capabilities of attaching your own. The lightweight and spartan design of a duffel bag ensures that it offers little or nothing in the way of security.
- If you need to look professional, there’s no luggage choice that’s quite as capable as a suitcase. Duffel bags are a great choice for more casual travelers, but a briefcase is the best way to leave a good impression on your peers.
- Many duffel bags come with a variety of different pockets built in, but they can’t hold a candle to suitcases in terms of organizational options. The structured frame may be bulkier and less lightweight, but it allows for sophisticated compartment designs and the inclusion of organizational inserts. If you have to access your important items on the go, a briefcase is generally going to be a better choice of luggage to carry with you.
If you decide that a suitcase is a better luggage solution for you, keep an eye out for the HotRate guide to the best suitcases on the market.
Duffel Bags vs. Backpacks
The other big choice for luggage is a backpack. Unlike a suitcase, a backpack can be used for everything from carrying your gym shoes and clothes to taking with you abroad, but how do they stack up to duffel bags? They come with both some advantages and disadvantages.
- Duffels rule the roost in terms of capacity. Not only are they larger on average (with only the biggest hiking backpacks being able to compete with a decent sized duffel), but their uniformly rectangular design allows them to carry significantly more with the space provided. A rolling duffel also tends to be much easier to pack and unpack.
- While security features aren’t especially impressive with backpacks, they do tend to offer more than what you’d find in a duffel. But many come with back access pockets, hidden compartments, and securing straps. If you know what models to look for, you can find a backpack significantly more secure than a duffel.
- Looking to carry your clothes or other belongings over long distances? Backpacks tend to win out in terms of comfort. The ability to strap them over both shoulders is more stable than having to sling a duffel over your shoulder, at least when walking or standing for long lengths of time.
Ultimately, neither luggage option is objectively better than the other. Both backpacks and duffels are a great choice for the gym, camping, or travel, but personal preference and situational needs can dramatically impact which is the right choice for you. If you decide you need a backpack rather than a duffel, take a look at our guide to the 18 best backpacks of 2020.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Best Duffle Bag?
The bags on our list were specifically chosen for their great balance of storage capacity, durability, and versatility. The ideal duffel to carry your gym shoes in is going to be fundamentally different than the top base camp duffel. We recommend you consider your needs, check out our guide, and then peruse the reviews.
What Size Duffel Bag Should I Get?
What do you plan on using it for? If you’re a camper or vacationer, we generally suggest 30 to 50 liter bags for weekend trips, up to 75 liters for trips up to two weeks, and greater than that for extensive expeditions. The real question you need to ask yourself is simply how much you plan to carry with you.
Are Duffel Bags Better Than Suitcases?
Both duffels and suitcases come with strengths and weaknesses, but suitcases are generally better for business travelers, and duffels are the preferable choice for casual travelers, camping, and use at the gym. You can find more information in our comparison section above.
Can You Fly With a Duffel Bag?
You absolutely can, and we think they’re often a great and lightweight alternative to traditional backpacks or suitcases. Just keep in mind the size restrictions if you want to use your duffel as a carry-on. Most airlines limit carry-ons to 9 x 14 x 22 inches.
If you’re interested in buying a duffel for your next camping expedition, visit to the gym, or overseas vacation, this guide should prepare you for all the information you need. We hope you find a bag that suits your needs like a glove.