Why the Best Carry on Duffel Bags Are Better than Most Luggage

Whether you are an explorer or just a frequent flyer, finding the right type of carry on luggage can be of the utmost importance. It can make it easier to travel and can even help you cut down on costs. This is why a carry on duffel bag can come in so handy. Of course, this is provided that you find the right one.

In this article, we take a look at all of the features that you need to have in a proper, carry on duffel bag. We also consider specific options that are perfectly suited for your individual situation. Here, you will learn all that you need to know about this type of travel bag. You can get started now.

Carry On Duffel Bags: A Guide to Choosing Them

While duffel bags were once largely reserved for gyms or road trips, they have now transformed to even include carry on luggage as well. It is not difficult to see why. These type of bags are lightweight, strong, boast plenty of storage features, and are easy to carry around. It is not all that surprising that these are being toted around by travelers more frequently.

At the same time, it is not enough to pick up the first bag that you happen upon. Carry on duffel bags have to be chosen with a certain level of selectivity if you want to pick one that is actually worthy of being hauled around. Here, you will find out all that you need to know to be able to do so:

The Size Requirements

Now, when it comes to any type of carry on luggage, including carry on duffel bags, the first thing that must be addressed are the dimensions. This is because airlines have specific requirements as to the boundaries within which the dimensions can fall. While smaller bags will certainly be accepted, larger pieces of luggage may be required to be moved to checked luggage.

You should know that each airline has their own guidelines for what is acceptable and what is not. For the most part, though, you will find that most domestic airlines allow carry on luggage to have dimensions 22 x 14 x 9 inches or smaller. This means that as long as your luggage isn’t exceeding 45 linear inches, it will be allowed aboard.

The rules may be different with international airlines as well as your final destination. Due to this, it is always best to get a slightly smaller bag than what you would take on a domestic flight. Still, it is always best to check beforehand as rules regarding such matters can change quite suddenly.

Wheeled vs. No Wheels

Carry on duffel bags either have a wheel system or come without it. So, when thinking about buying this type of luggage, you are going to need to decide which one is best for you. This really boils down to the type of traveling that you are doing.

The main benefit of a wheeled duffel bag, of course, is that it easy to take around with you. Because you can rely on the wheels, you never have to deal with the weight of the bag. This comes in handy if you have to move from place to place, even when you have arrived at your destination.

The disadvantage of this type of bag is the weight. Since many airlines have a limit on how much you can take with you, a wheel system may mean that you have to pack less to adhere to these regulations. Also, if you do ever need to carry around your duffel bag, the wheels mean that you have additional weight to contend with.

What Do You Need Your Duffel Bag For?

The next question that you will need to ask yourself is just what you need your duffel bag for. See, carry on duffel bags come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and designs. Due to this, you will need to match the bag with the purpose that you need it for.

For instance, if you want a duffel bag for business purposes, then you will have to think about the way that it needs to look. It should be medium sized and appear professional. Therefore, it should be made from a material such as leather or canvas. The purpose of these bags is to look sophisticated and to have proper organization features. Durability is less of a concern.

However, if you are looking for a travel duffel bag, this is a whole other story. These type of bags are great for exploring, camping, and similar outdoor activities. In this instance, durability is key as you are going to be carrying the bag through some fairly rough terrain. You may also want to look for one that is made from water-resistant or weatherproof material as well.

In addition to a travel bag, you may also be looking for one that can be used on a daily basis. You will find that a duffel backpack will suit this purpose especially well due to the comfortable suspension system associated with it. Also, this type of duffel bag is washable and easy to maintain as well.

In other instances, you may just be looking for a duffel bag that is as lightweight as possible. In addition to choosing a lighter material, you may also want to consider an unstructured bag. These can be folded or flattened when they are empty. Due to this, they weight quite a bit less than traditional duffel bags.

Organization Features

A long time ago, duffel bags were essentially made up of a main compartment where all of your belongings were placed. This meant that it was a bit difficult to organize anything. These days, however, carry on duffel bags have changed quite a bit. There are now several organization features available with them.

One of the most obvious, of course, are pockets. Carry on duffel bags have pockets on the inside as well as the outside. While the internal pockets can come in handy to separate your belongings, the external pockets can be used for items that you need to access quickly. You should understand that there is usually no way to secure these pockets so you should not keep any valuables here.

Some carry on duffel bags have adjustable dividers that will allow you to create sections within the main compartment. This can make it easier to separate your belongings and to be able to keep the bag a lot neater. It also gives you the option of living out of your suitcase, instead of unpacking.

Then there are bags that have built-in pull out shelves. This allows you to stretch out the shelves and hang them up on a hook or rack. This way, you can neatly arrange your clothes on each level. While these can be a bit bulky, they are great for staying organized. Some of the carry on duffel bags even come with special pouches or compartments for your shoes.

Durability and Weatherproofing

As mentioned, if you are planning on taking your carry on duffel bag everywhere you go, then it is worth it to invest in a more durable option. This starts with the material. Now, duffel bags can be made from many types of material although nylon is often the best choice, closely followed by polyester if you are looking for something a little lighter and most cost-effective.

If your carry on duffel bag will be experiencing a lot of wear and tear, then you are going to need a material that is abrasion resistant, at least to a degree. To minimize the damage done to your bag, you may want to consider ripstop material. This material will prevent rips from spreading through the fabric.

Another thing to think about would be moisture and rain. If you want to protect your belongings from spills or a drizzle, then you should get a carry on duffel bag that is made from water repellent material. For something more heavy duty, duffel bags that have been coated with waterproof coatings are a good option.

For those who will be spending a lot of time in the sun, duffel bags in hand, research materials that are UV resistant. Not only will these preserve the appearance of your bag, it will also ensure that it stays intact for longer.

When talking about durability, you cannot forget about the stitching. This is particularly important for anyone who likes to stuff their duffel bag with heavy items. Bags that have double or reinforced stitching will make sure that the seams of the bag stay together.

The Carrying System

Unlike with a carry on backpack, the carrying system of a carry on duffel bag is a bit different. Nonetheless, considering that at times you will need to lift the bag up, it is worth examining it. One of the first things to think about is the two handles on either side of the bag. There is often a mechanism for holding these together so that it is easier to carry. You should make sure that this is made from a material that you can grip easily. It should also be comfortable as you may need to hold onto your bag for quite a while.

Then, there is the shoulder strap that goes diagonally around your torso. Typically, you should look for a wider strap as this will help to distribute the weight of the bag more easily. There should also be a small padded area where the strap will rest against your shoulder. This feature will prevent the material from digging into your skin. The length of this strap should also be adjustable so that you can alter it to suit your specific height.

This is all that you need to know concerning carry on duffel bags. There are plenty of options available to you so it is important to choose wisely.

Top 10 Best Carry On Duffel Bags

1 – Fjallraven Duffel No. 6

Fjallraven - Duffel No. 6 Medium, Black
  • Large duffel bag for travelling in robust G-1000 HeavyDuty Eco. Padded shoulder straps with ventilating air mesh for extra comfort. Padded at the top for extra comfort when carrying as a backpack.
  • Extra large opening for easier packing/unpacking and to give a good overview of contents. Main zipper can be locked with a padlock (not included).
  • Compression straps at the short ends. Handles and shoulder straps can be stowed away during air transport for easier check-in. Bottom in waterproof 1000D Nylon with foam padding for extra protection of contents.
  • Security pocket and an open mesh pocket inside. Zippered exterior pocket for items that need to be easily accessible.
  • Measures 15.4" x 26.8" x 15.4" (39 cm x 68 cm x 39 cm). Weighs 3.4 lb (1550 g). 70 L volume.

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Fjallraven Duffel No. 6:

Reviewers like these things about the Fjallraven Duffel No. 6

  • Many reviewers thought it’s a fantastic bag perfect for short trips.
  • Others love how the internal and external pockets allow easy access.
  • Some users find the circle tab on the main zipper a really nice touch.
  • Many users thought the zippers are nice and solid.
  • Others thought the leather straps will last a lifetime.
  • Some owners find the size perfect for a weekend trip or carry-on for a flight.
  • Many reviewers find the fabric very sturdy and durable.
  • Others are fond of the leather handles and little leather fox logo.
  • Many users agree that they get what they pay for for this bag.
  • One user said that the bag feels indestructible.
  • Heavy duty ring pull, outside snap pocket, outside zip pocket and inside smaller mesh zip pocket are among the favorite features of the bag.
  • Others find the external pocket very convenient.
  • Many users love how it holds a lot without being too bulky.
  • Some users love how it fits easily into the overhead bin and takes up very little space.
  • Many users agree the bag looks gorgeous, well crafted and functional.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Other users thought the straps are a bit small.
  • Some users said it would have been great if there was a cross body strap.

2 – Marmot Long Hauler Medium

Marmot Long Hauler Medium Travel Duffel Bag, 3050ci (50 Liter)
  • Duffel bag ideal for use as an expedition bag, carry-on bag, or general travel bag
  • Large, D-shaped main zipper opening for easy access; medium, large, and extra-large duffels feature haul loops on both ends for easy lifting
  • Zippered end pockets for securing small items. Removable Shoulder Strap Harness Converts to Carrying Handles
  • Double bottom to increase durability; tough YKK zippers for reliable opening and closing
  • Small: 600D 100% embossed poly-TPU laminate (phthalate-free); Medium, Large, and Extra-Large: 1000D 100% polyester with TPE laminate (phthalate-free); Lining on all: 210D 100% nylon; Reinforcement: 1680D 100% ballistic nylon

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Marmot Long Hauler Medium:

Reviewers like these things about the Marmot Long Hauler Medium

  • According to users, the polyester fabric of the Marmot Long Hauler provides durability to the duffel bag.
  • Reviewers praised the rain flap on its D-shaped main zipper which helps keep the weather out.
  • Other users pointed out that its shoulder strap harness could be removed.
  • They indicated that the removable shoulder straps could be converted to carrying handles.
  • They also mentioned that the zippered pocket on the end is designed to secure smaller items.
  • Users noted that its double bottom increases durability,.
  • Other users praised the spacious main compartment where they can place a variety of their things.
  • According to most reviewers, the bag is ideal for road trips, long adventures, and travel.
  • Reviewers praised its soft yet sturdy handles.
  • Other reviewers noted that its straps do not slide around the shoulder.
  • Testers said that the bag contains compression straps which keep the bag stable.
  • They also indicated that they could organize their things well through its pockets.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A user said that the shoulder straps were a little uncomfortable when the bag is used as a backpack.
  • Another user felt that he could not pack a week’s worth of things since the bag is small.

3 – Thule Subterra 40

Thule Subterra Carry-On 40L
  • Can be carried in two different ways: as a backpack and a shoulder bag (all straps tuck away when not in use)
  • Laptop and tablet can be carried separate from the bag in removable sleeve with tablet storage, power pocket and accessory organization
  • Cords are neatly managed between your device and your mobile charger in the internal power pocket
  • Keep belongings organized and contained with the zippered mesh divider in the main compartment
  • Separate your shoes and dirty Laundry from other belongings in the multi-purpose compartment

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Thule Subterra 40:

Reviewers like these things about the Thule Subterra 40

  • Many testers have said that it is a good quality backpack for daily commuting and hiking.
  • Numerous testers also said that the pack is sleek and is lightweight for day long travelling.
  • A few travellers said that the pack sits well on the back with good support for carrying it long hours.
  • Some reviewers said that laptop and glasses protection for the pack is great with extra padding.
  • Some travellers said that the vertical front zipper of the bag is quiet useful for carrying emergency stuff for easy access.
  • Many travellers have also said that with the adjustable straps the pack is much comfortable to carry for day long travel.
  • Some of the buyers have also mentioned that the pack has good packing capacity for long vacations also.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A few buyers have complained about the expensive pricing for the pack in contrast to the quality.
  • Some reviewers also complained that the shoulder straps are not very adjustable to suit their needs.
  • A few travellers also complained that the chest straps cannot be removed or tucked away when not in use.

4 – Under Armour Undeniable 3.0

Under Armour Undeniable 3.0 Large Duffle Bag, Black (001)/Silver
  • Tough, abrasion-resistant bottom & side panels
  • Large front zippered organization pocket
  • Adjustable, padded, HeatGear shoulder strap for total comfort
  • Padded top grab handle

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Under Armour Undeniable 3.0:

Reviewers like these things about the Under Armour Undeniable 3.0

  • Many loved that it has a dedicated side shoe pocket to keep their shoes away from everything else.
  • Some users said it’s great foe weekend trips, tons of room and plenty of pockets.
  • A wife who bought it for her husband thougth it’s the perfect size for a gym bag.
  • Amazing size,great hold up,extra pocket, easy to fold up when not in use,solid construction, were cited as the favorite features of this bag among users.
  • One user thought it’s great that it’s surprisingly larger than anticipated.
  • Users liked how it has separate compartment for shoes and gym accessories plus it’s easy to clean.
  • Reviewers noted how it got lots of room but not overbearing to carry.
  • Users thought the swivel hooks for the strap awesome.
  • One owner said this bag fits all his requirements for a lightweight, durable, spacious duffle bag.
  • Others liked the stitching and the small personal pocket inside the bag.
  • Many owners find the front pockets great for quick and easy access items.
  • One user who had it for a while said that the hand and shoulder straps are well made and will stand up to abuse.
  • Other gym goers described it as the perfect sized gym bag, especially for weightlifters/bodybuilders.
  • One user was surprised that the pack folds up into something so small that she can easily stash it away without taking up much space.
  • Some gym goers liked that it’s tall enough for large shoes, boxing gloves, a bathtowel, jeans, and anything else they’re bringing to a gym.
  • Other reviewers appreciate the vented section, and the separate, large, closed section,adjustable strap and stitching.
  • Many users liked the U-shaped zipper feature of the bag as it provides easy access to all contents.
  • One reviewer described it as a well-made bag that meets the needs of most people.
  • Users appreciate that it comes with dual handles plus a detachable padded shoulder strap to enable an easy carry.
  • One owner was happy with how the bag has held up under heat, rain, and occasionally being dragged along the cement after a long day.
  • Others liked the soft flexible padding at the bottom which adds cushioning and stability to the bag.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • One reviewer thought the material feels like it will rip anytime.
  • Others said it’s kind of flimsy and zippers are kind of difficult to use.

5 – Pacsafe Duffelsafe AT80

Pacsafe Duffelsafe AT80 Anti-Theft Duffel Bag, Black
  • 80-liter duffel bag and anti-theft technologies; perfect for a variety of adventures and travel
  • Lightweight, hidden eXomesh Slashguard stainless steel wire mesh embedded into fabric helps protect against slash-and-run theft
  • Comfortable, adjustable, and detachable backpack straps; padded adjustable shoulder strap
  • Puncture-resistant ToughZip helps prevent against forced entry from a sharp object
  • Side pocket for additional organization; kissable zippers slide together to lock entire main compartment with one padlock

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Pacsafe Duffelsafe AT80:

Reviewers like these things about the Pacsafe Duffelsafe AT80

  • Most users said that they used this for international travel and it fits under the seat on the plane.
  • They also said that it works well and is well made.
  • Some other users said that they used it for a long trip and didn’t feel like it was a security risk and had a lot of options.
  • Reviewers mentioned that it has good space for a couple day trip.
  • Reviewers also said that it has a lot of room and is very durable.
  • Some other users liked the fact that it can be worn as a backpack.
  • Travelers said that also like that you can put a thin travel lock in the zippers to keep it secured.
  • Many buyers said that it has excellent construction and a good size for the average person.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • One user complained that it is overpriced.
  • Another user complained that he is not comfortable with the big logo.

6 – Samsonite Tote-A-Ton 32.5

Samsonite Tote-a-ton 32.5 Inch Duffle Luggage, Black
  • 420 Denier Nylon, 6452 cubic inch capacity
  • Extremely lightweight and each duffel only weights only 1 pound when empty
  • Works great for travel or storage and its uses are endless
  • Collapsable for easy storage wen not in use and holds as much as a trunk
  • 32.5x17x11.5

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Samsonite Tote-A-Ton 32.5:

Reviewers like these things about the Samsonite Tote-A-Ton 32.5

  • Some users thought the handles on the bag are amazingly strong and able to handle the weight of a week’s worth of clothes.
  • Many love its foldability and how it can fit into another travelling bag.
  • A lot of users agree that it’s made from good quality and durable material.
  • One user was so amazed with how the bag came without tears or damage after three flights with some heavy duty stuff inside.
  • Others describe it as an economic, unique, tough and high volume bag.
  • Some travelers thought it’s the perfect bag for long getaways or just carrying a bulk of sports equipment.
  • Some parents find it the perfect bag for their kid’s 3 day overnight swim camp.
  • Durable, light, well made, spacious and vivid color are cited as the main reasons for purchasing this bag.
  • Others love how the flexible material allows them to squeeze in as many clothes as possible.
  • Some reviewers thought the placement of the zipper made the bag easy to get in and out of.
  • One user described it as an inexpensive, simple and optimal user friendly design & construction bag that’s perfect for transportation and outdoor purposes.
  • Many love how it lays flat on the floor when fully unzipped, making packing extremely easy.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Some users are disappointed with how the zippers broke off after several use.
  • Others complained about the lack of shoulder straps.

7 – Gregory Alpaca 30

Gregory Mountain Products Alpaca Duffel Bag | Travel, Expedition, Storage | Durable Construction, Water Resistant Fabric, Removable Backpack Straps | Luggage for Your Adventures
  • REMOVABLE BACKPACK STRAPS: Padded backpack straps offer more comfortable transportation over long distances, and remove quickly via ladder-locks and girth hitches at the top and bottom.
  • DURABLE, WATER RESISTANT FABRIC: TPU-coated body with diamond-weave reinforcing threads for exceptional water and tear resistance.
  • HAUL HANDLES & EASY ATTACHMENT POINTS: Dual haul handles with hook-and-loop wrap for comfortable carry. Daisy chain for easy attachment to yak or rack.
  • EASY ACCESS & LOCKABLE ZIPPERS: A U-shaped zipper allows the entire top panel to open up for easy packing. Lockable zippers with reflective pulls add security and easy acquisition in low light.
  • IDEAL USES: Travel, Expeditions, Storage

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Gregory Alpaca 30:

Reviewers like these things about the Gregory Alpaca 30

  • Some users thought it has highly weather resistant fabric.
  • MAny users thought its supple fabric and large opening made it nice and easy to pack.
  • A lot of users laud its removeble, padded backpack straps that offer superior comfort during travels.
  • Others adore its haul handles and easy attachment points feature.
  • Some reviewers particularly like the daisy chainfor easy attachment to yak or rack.
  • Another favorite among users are the easy access and lockable zippers.
  • many reviewers love the zippers allow the entire top panel to open up for easy packing.
  • Others thought the lockable zippers with reflective pulls add security and easy acquisition in low light.
  • Many owners thought it has ton of volume and super-tough construction.
  • A lot of owners like how the internal divided mesh pocket organizes accessories for fast access.
  • Others like the presence of an internal sleeve in the zippered end pocket for gear tag or business card.
  • Some reviewers thought the bag’s thickness feels tough and durable.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Some users find the exterior pocket on the smaller side.
  • Others thought the shoulder straps take a little more work to remove.

8 – Timbuk2 Navigator

Timbuk2 Navigator Duffel Bag
  • Small (40L) can be carried on; stuffed out Medium (70L) must be checked
  • Large main pocket with internal organizer for keeping things in place
  • Two external zip pockets with top flaps for weather protection
  • Hide-away padded backpack straps easily clip in for hands free escapades
  • Bottom zipper compartment doubles as an envelope for storing the duffel

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Timbuk2 Navigator:

Reviewers like these things about the Timbuk2 Navigator

  • Reviewers found out that the Timbuk2 Navigator duffel bag has a durable nylon fabric construction.
  • Users thought that it could be utilized as a carry-on when traveling overseas.
  • Reviewers felt that its main compartment is roomy enough to store essential equipment.
  • Testers thought that the weight of the pack is distributed evenly.
  • Other users found that its main compartment has an internal organizer for keeping things in place.
  • Many reviewers found that its pockets were sufficient to store and organize things securely.
  • According to some reviewers, the flaps on its pockets could protect the latter from severe weather conditions.
  • Testers thought that it has a set of padded backpack straps that could be clipped quickly for a hand-free escapade.
  • Other users also noted that the pack is versatile and efficient.
  • Many users took notice on its bottom compartment which could work as an envelope for storing the duffel.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A reviewer thought that there is no sleeve specifically designed for laptops.
  • Another reviewer mentioned that the lack of a shoulder strap makes it difficult to use.

9 – Timbuk2 Wingman

Timbuk2 528-4-2000 Wingman Travel Duffel Bag, Black
  • Converts from a duffel to a backpack with removable backpack straps
  • Size for international carry-on- no need to check it
  • Side expandable pockets for shoes/organization
  • Secure padded pockets carry up to a 17" MacBook Pro & an iPad
  • 40 liter volume

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Timbuk2 Wingman:

Reviewers like these things about the Timbuk2 Wingman

  • Most reviewers said that this bag is great for travel and work or even a combination of the two.
  • They also said that the overall size and the large pockets are fantastic.
  • Many other reviewers said that they love the organization on this pack.
  • Reviewers said that this Wingman travel backpack is made very well.
  • Most users said that it has a top finish, no loose threads, and the stitching is spot on.
  • They said that there are handles on all four sides,.
  • Travelers mentioned that t fits the airline overhead.
  • Some users said that it has threat straps, the hardware is great.
  • Most buyers said that it has ample room with a variety of pockets and compartments to fit a wide range of objects and materials.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • One user complained that the backpack straps aren’t removable,.
  • Another user complained that the straps are uncomfortable.
  • Another reviewer said that the bag is heavier than expected.

10 – Patagonia Black Hole 90L

Patagonia Black Hole 90L Duffel Bag (Black)
  • Material: 900D polyester ripstop, TPU film, DWR finish
  • Volume: 90L (5492 cu in)
  • Removable, padded backpack straps
  • Protective padded base
  • Internal organizers and zippered mesh pockets

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Patagonia Black Hole 90L:

Reviewers like these things about the Patagonia Black Hole 90L

  • A lot of users thought that the Patagonia Black Hole backpack is resistant to any weather condition that might tarnish the state of the bag.
  • Other users recommend the bag for those who are commuting to school and work.
  • Other users noted that the bag has a lightweight design.
  • Many of those who have tried the backpack were able to secure things properly due to its pockets.
  • Several users observed that its straps could be pulled quickly.
  • Reviewers have found that it is comfortable to wear due to its back panel.
  • Laptop users found it easy to store their gadgets due to a padded sleeve dedicated for laptops.
  • Tablet users found it easy to secure their gadgets due to a sleeve dedicated to tablets.
  • Many wrote that the bag is durable and functional.
  • Another user said that its stretchable pockets make it easy to store different sizes of water bottles.
  • Other reviewers noted that there is a roomy storage space for more comfortable organization.
  • Users thought that the bag has an attractive design.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A user remarked that it has a minimal protection to laptops.
  • Another user thought that the bag might be too small for him.
  • A reviewer felt that it is not fit for hiking.

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Last update on 2018-11-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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