Going outside is a gear-intensive business. Taking climbing equipment to the Himalayas, fishing gear to the boat, or camping supplies to the truck all require durable carriers, so we’ve rounded up some of the best duffel bags for adventures. First, a couple points to think about before you buy one.
Everyone says size doesn’t matter, but it does in this case. Duffels range from 30 liters up to 150 liters.
A 30-liter bag is great for weekend trips with minimal gear (or for filling with a sweaty gym kit). Fifty and 60 liters hold gear for a week, maybe less for gear-heavy sports like mountaineering; 50 is about the limit for carry-on luggage. Longer expeditions will need the 90- and 120-liter beasts. We suggest mixing and and matching sizes for the most efficient use of space.
Every one of the bags on this list is very weather-resistant. While most are not dunk-proof because of the zipper, the fabric can easily stand up to rain and snow. See the two waterproof options below — the Aqua Quest White Water and the Yeti Panga — if you need something that can handle being soaked on rafts or paddle board trips.
Some bags are just big open sacs. Throw everything in. Others have side pockets, mesh pockets, lid pockets, ID pockets. Look for pockets if you want to organize small stuff inside for quick access.
Handles and Straps
Driving, flying, driving, flying, ‘yaking, hiking, driving, and flying to your destination isn’t going to work for your old luggage with wheels. These bags have many ways to carry depending on what the transportation vehicle (or animal) of the day is. Dual briefcase-style handles are convenient, but get cumbersome with big bags. Shoulder straps can handle a heavier load. Side and end handles work well for throwing and dragging. Backpack straps are great for shorter distances and are often removable so they don’t get chewed up in airport conveyor belts.
Best Duffel Bags
These bags will keep your gear dry and won’t break open like an old grocery bag. If you’re looking for a stylish duffel for a weekend getaway, check out the best travel duffels.
Say “Thule” and most people think roof racks and ski boxes. However, this brand also has stellar luggage and other gear to help your adventure. Thule’s adventure duffels give you efficient containers to cram all your gear in before loading into the back of the truck or the cargo box on the roof.
Ranging from from 40 liters up to 130, the Chasm adventure duffel line is super durable with a 1,000-denier, waterproof fabric. The oversized mouth is easy to stuff with shoes, base layers, and helmets. One end pocket and two mesh pockets under the lid keep phones, passports, and protein bars at the ready.
When you need to move, you’ve got options with the Chasm. Briefcase-style handles snap together for quick carries or attach to the sides, keeping them out of the way. Soft, breathable backpack straps latch to the webbing loops on the top and bottom. Use one shoulder strap attached in the center for a shoulder strap, or take them both off entirely and stash them inside.
The Thule Chasm duffel is available in four sizes:
- 40 liter for $130 (2.9 lbs)
- 70 liter for $160 (3.7 lbs)
- 90 liter for $180 (4.2 lbs)
- 130 liter for $190 (5 lbs)
When the weather might turn terrible on your trip, or you know you’re going to get wet, you’ll want to take a waterproof duffel bag. All of the duffels in our roundup are very weather resistant, but happens when you need more? You need a bag company in the Pacific Northwest that specializes in waterproof gear. Based near the wettest place in North America, which can see 260 inches of rain per year, Aqua Quest knows how to stay dry.
The White Water is a hybrid duffel and roll-top dry bag. Where as dry bags are long tubes that are a pain to find anything in, the White Water opens like a duffel and is far easier to organize. Stuff your gear in the huge opening, roll the top, snap it down, and begin your wet adventure. For quick access, there are two small mesh pockets on the outside, but don’t put your brand-new camera in these if it needs to stay dry.
You can carry the White Water like a briefcase with the comfortable handle or clip on the included shoulder strap to any one of six high-strength D-rings. You can also tie it down to your raft or roof rack with the two rows of webbing on the bottom.
The Aqua Quest White Water duffel is available in two sizes.
- 50 liter – $70 (1.6 lbs)
- 75 liter – $80 (2.2 lbs)
Now we go from extreme waterproofing to a more urban styling with the North St. Weekender Duffle. Based out of Portland, Oregon, North St. Bags focuses on classic designs built in the U.S. This duffel is part of the new Weekender series, which includes an all-black backpack, meeting bag, dopp kit, and packing cubes.
While not suited for expeditions to Everest, the Weekender is perfect for quick trips. The 56-liter size can hold gear for a week including your running or biking kit. One end of the bag is an expandable “shoe garage” for dirty shoes and wet gear. Velcro strips inside can mount optional carry cases for laptops and tablets.
Sticking to the business side of things, the Weekender duffel has briefcase-style handles and a removable shoulder strap. Two additional, removable compression straps keep your gear tightly packed or tied down to motorcycle or bike.
The North St. Weekender Duffel is available in one size:
- 56 liter for $330 (2 lbs, 14 oz)
Next stop: a duffel made by one of the biggest backpack manufacturers in the world. Osprey Packs makes a lot of backpacks — everything from packable daypacks to super-haulers that can fit two weeks worth of gear and food. So what does a backpack manufacturer do when they make a duffel? Put really nice backpack straps on it.
The Osprey Transporter is super durable and really nice to carry. The fabric, handles, straps, and lid feel solid and overbuilt. The large U-shaped lid opens wide to show the main compartment and two mesh pockets. Unzip a hidden compartment on the lid to slide out the full backpack strap harness. Buckle the ends of the straps in place and you’re ready to haul the thing on your back. Osprey is the only duffel-maker on this list to include a chest strap — complete with emergency whistle — which will keep your backpack straps in the right place if you have to shoulder it for a while.
The Osprey Transporter is available in four sizes:
- 40 liter for $150 (2.7 lbs)
- 65 liter for $170 (3.1 lbs)
- 95 liter for $190 (3.5 lbs)
- 130 liter for $220 (4.1 lbs)
Patagonia doesn’t like anything with unnecessary bells and whistles. The Black Hole Duffel is just a super durable and weather-resistant bag to haul gear.
Don’t worry about the Black Hole in the rain. A water repellent finish on the outside and rain flaps over the zipper mean nothing is getting in. Simple, removable backpack straps are comfortable on the shoulders when you have to walk. Hide them inside the bag when travelling so they don’t get caught. Haul handles on the ends and daisy chain webbing on the sides let you tie it down to any kind of adventure transportation.
Two pockets inside the lid hold headlamps or passports. Built-in compressions straps inside squeeze everything together. You can store the whole back in a laptop-sized pocket on the side when you turn it inside out. No more searching for that stuff sack in the garage. Or the bedroom. Or the truck.
The Patagonia Black Hole Duffel comes in four sizes. There is also the Lightweight Black Hole with a thinner material and no end pocket if you need to save a few ounces:
- 45 liters for $119 (1.7 lbs)
- 60 liters for $129 (2.4 lbs)
- 90 liters for $149 (3.2 lbs)
- 120 liters for $169 (3.7 lbs)
Yeti makes coolers that last forever — the brand builds them so solid you don’t have to wonder when it’s going to break. They just don’t. That’s also how Yeti built the Panga Duffel: super durable and super waterproof.
For harsh, soaking wet conditions, the Yeti Panga keeps things simple. One straight zipper gives you access to the main compartment. This zipper is completely waterproof as long as you keep it lubed up with the included zipper lube. When it’s fully zipped up, it’s airtight. You can fill it with air and stand on it if you want.
Two mesh pockets inside help you stay organized. Two haul handles and four tie-down points on either end help with transportation. You can also unclip the backpack straps and throw them inside when you don’t need them.
The Yeti Panga is available in three sizes:
- 50 liters for $300 (5.2 lbs)
- 75 liters for $350 (6.1 lbs)
- 100 liters for $399 (6.8 lbs)
When you need a simple, reliable, weatherproof duffel that’s going up mountains and around the world, many turn to one of these last two options. A tried and tested gear hauler, the Gregory Alpaca’s main feature is that it’s there when you need it.
The body is made with burly 900 denier diamond rip-stop material. The bottom is covered with another 630 denier nylon. Drag this one around the world, up mountains and down rough roads. It’s going to take a long time to wear through that material.
The Alpaca is only duffel with daisy chain webbing running the both sides of the bags. Tie it down anywhere, any way. Briefcase handles and backpack straps give you carry options. One end pocket and two mesh pockets under the large D-shaped lid hold small stuff for quick access.
The Gregory Alpaca is available in three sizes:
- 60 liters for $130 (2.15 lbs)
- 90 liters for $149 (3.9 lbs)
- 120 liters for $170 (4.1 lbs)
The North Face Base Camp Duffel is a bit of a legend in the gear world. One of the first laminated gear hauling bags, it’s gone through some changes, but is still the super durable adventure duffel it started out as. Adventurer Jimmy Chin and the rest of The North Face athlete team have carried their gear on thousands of trips with these bags.
To make the Base Camp last through decades of use, The North Face uses 1,000-denier laminate, which is thicker than most bags. Not content with just that, the brand adds 840-denier ballistic nylon to the bottom. Feel free to tie it to the back of your truck and drag it down the road. It’ll be fine.
There’s one zippered end pocket, a mesh pocket under the lid, and another end pocket inside. Carrying your gear is easy the comfortable backpack straps and briefcase handles. Rack it or yak it with the daisy chains down both sides and the haul handles on the ends.
The North Face Base Camp is available in six sizes, ranging from the 31-liter gym bag up to the monstrous 150-liter XXL that could carry multiple children.
- 31 liter (XS) for $100 (2.1 lbs)
- 50 liter (S) for $120 (2.7 lbs)
- 71 liter (M) for $135 (3.5 lbs)
- 95 liter (L) for $145 (4.1 lbs)
- 132 liter (XL) for $160 (4.4 lbs)
- 150 liter (XXL) for $175 (4.7 lbs)
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