- Buyer's Guide
The Best Weekender and Duffel Bags for Every Traveler 2022
Duffel bags and weekenders were often the starting point for many of us in our quest to reach bag Nirvana – they are a ubiquitous part of life and are arguably one of the most commonly used carry formats the world over. They’re given out to sports teams, as promotional gifts, wedding gifts, graduation gifts, and more.
However, if you’ve been around Carryology long enough you’ll know that not all bags are created equal – far from it, in fact! At Carry HQ, we’re a unique bunch. We all have our own tastes and preferences regarding carry – and that story is the same with weekenders. In a bid to try and present a wide range of options, I’ve spent the last six months trying a plethora of carry options.
Our buying guides aren’t designed to be direct comparisons; rather they are supposed to be a celebration of what is out there in the carry realm! You won’t see weight comparisons here or which is the #1 duffel or weekender. What you will hopefully see is a cross-section of bags that could work for you based on your preferences.
How did we choose and test these bags?
For this buying guide, there were pretty simple criteria.
- Is it carry-on friendly, i.e. under 50L?
- Will it hold enough for 2-3 days on the road?
- Is it either a newer innovation or a timeless classic?
So without further ado, let’s dig into some of the best options on the market.
Carryology Credential: Structured carry, protective construction, sleek.
Db are the Norwegian powerhouses whose whole mantra is built on disrupting a crowded market. That thought process is clear in the Hytta (translation; small house in the wild) series, a collection of duffels designed to be functional and not “sag on your ass”. The result of this is an extremely capable adventure duffel that fits into city life also. Thanks to their proprietary rib cage technology, the Hytta maintains its structure while still being lightweight, malleable, and protective.
The Hytta can be carted around by handle or backpack carry. It is hands down one of the best harnesses I’ve had the pleasure of wearing on a duffle bag. Sometimes they can appear to be afterthoughts but that is not the case here. Contoured and padded, the shoulder straps are enjoyable to wear as you navigate through airport terminals or on your way to the cabin. A magnetic sternum strap makes the on/off process a breeze.
Internally, the Hytta is inspired by the suitcase. Two large zippered compartments allow you to keep all of your items organized, rather than a jumble of possessions – something that has long plagued traditional duffels. An intelligently placed handle on the interior spine allows you to move the duffel easily when open rather than the traditional juggle. Pair these two compartments with a few choice zippered mesh pockets and you have all that you could need.
Externally, the branding is subtle, with a matte Db logo printed on the 100% recycled 840D nylon. Tough stuff that will take a beating and keep coming back for more. A simple zipper pocket is an easy spot for your keys or lock once you’ve arrived at your destination. I’m impressed with the Hytta, it has taken a whole array of gear over the past six months – ranging from disgusting rugby gear to smarter attire for wedding weekends; it’s even made the odd appearance as a camera/video gear hauler (when paired with cubes). It’s Norwegian heritage to live for adventure weekends, so it makes perfect sense that they’ve built a bag capable of helping you do it all!
Price: $170 / $195
Carryology Credential: Fun style, great value for money, environmentally friendly.
Cotopaxi are a brand who are doing all the right things, from the way their products are made to the message their company promotes: “Do good!” Their Del Dia line is made from waste cuts of fabrics, and the seamstresses choose which offcuts to use, meaning no two bags are the same! I love this – such a simple step for both unique products and the empowerment of workers in the traditionally wasteful industries associated with soft goods.
As a pack, this is an out-and-out travel pack. A very good one at that. Carry-on compatible, made from the aforementioned repurposed nylon, and with dual carry options (briefcase and backpack), the Allpa is an enjoyable bag to use. I particularly like the separated compartments that become apparent as you unzip all the way with the suitcase-style opening. While your configuration may vary, it’s easy to find a spot for small, medium, and large items while keeping them in place with the zippered mesh. Other pockets include an easy-access admin pocket (including a zip section), which is the perfect place for EDC items on your travels. It’s also large enough for a puffy jacket. I really like the side access to the main compartment too, the zipper runs the full length of the bag, so depending on your packing ninja skills, you can always grab things on the move. There is also an external access laptop and tablet sleeve, both padded, so that you can stay connected on the road.
Subtle lash loops allow you to attach any extras to the pack, and the YKK security zippers offer you some more peace of mind. The waistbelt is removable if you’re traveling a little lighter, while the included rain cover keeps you prepared. That’s quite a list of features for a sub $200 pack. My wife has loved using this pack, and thanks to the unique Del Dia patterning, it’ll never be confused with someone else’s!
Price: $199 / $239
Carryology Credential: Easy access, comfortable carry, stealthy appearance.
KUIU are known for their tough-as-nails and reliable hunting packs. They’ve now transferred that expertise into their new Waypoint duffels. These packs are simplicity elevated. What I mean by that is that they do the basics, and they do it really, really well.
The Waypoint Duffel is made from a TPU-coated nylon ripstop fabric that will survive most abuse, and is reinforced by a waterproof welded base. These duffels were meant to go into the wild with you and support you in your adventures. The side walls are nicely padded, meaning that you can comfortably carry more expensive possessions like your electronics without worrying about them. Highly water-resistant zippers keep moisture out, while the interior is also lined in an excellent camouflage ripstop – throw in whatever you like, it can take it.
The organization is simple with two stretch mesh pockets running the length of the interior, while buckle cinch straps give you the ability to either squeeze a bit more in or keep your items in place. There is also a slender zip pocket on the lid, which is the perfect spot to store the removable backpack straps if you want a cleaner look. Aside from that, I found this to be a good spot for a jacket or two when folded. The backpack harness is surprisingly comfortable, and I had no issue carting it around on my back for a couple of hours through terminals or city streets. The reinforced handles are exceptionally comfortable – even under load.
The easy top-loading, the comfort, and the simplicity make this a winner in my books – I’ve grabbed it more than I thought I would. Sometimes it just works, and that’s the case here with the Waypoint Duffel.
Price: $360 / $370
Carryology Credential: Comfortable straps, complete travel system, great materials.
Tom Bihn are one of the original innovators in the carry world, and with the Techonaut, they’ve updated a fan favorite, the Aeronaut. Now ready for the digital age, the Techonaut comes in two sizes – 30L or 45L.
You can carry this on your back, in your hand, or over your shoulder – whatever the situation dictates! The ultralight bluesign® approved 400d (exterior) and 200d (interior) Halcyon are wonderfully lightweight and available in an array of color combinations, which is something Tom Bihn is famous for; you can pretty much find any combination you’d like. I’m a big fan of their newer Night Walk colorway – it’s subtle and stylish and will work in almost any situation.
One of TB’s hallmark features is their USA construction, and the high quality you see from their Seattle factory is apparent here. Two #10 YKK lockable zippers adorn the main U-shaped compartment, while there are four #8 zippers around the rest of the bag and all of its useful pockets. These are all highly water-resistant – keeping all of your goodies dry. The edgeless straps, in conjunction with a breathable closed cell foam back panel, give great comfort over long periods of use. Although it is worth noting that there isn’t a framesheet, so if you aren’t carrying a laptop the shape of the bag can alter based on what’s inside. There is a removable sternum strap and waist strap too.
The real strength of the Techonaut is the customization possibilities. If you head over to the accessory page of their website, you’ll see a plethora of options that allow you to refine your carry to your own individual style. Any number of combinations really elevate this bag (and any of Tom Bihn’s) to the next level. Through a combination of O-rings and sneaky pockets, you can have an EDC pouch, a wash pouch, or even a collapsible backpack within your travel bag.
Even without these though, the Techonaut is a great travel companion. My 45L continued to take more and more stuff whenever I needed it to – it felt like a Tardis. I liked the organization it gave me when on the move – with a small side pocket for my keys and wallet, a larger bottom pocket for my shoes, and even the laptop sleeve I mentioned earlier. While I wouldn’t use this as a daily carry, personally, it is the perfect base camp for your traveling adventures.
Price: $200 / $250
Carryology Credential: Nigh on indestructible, great organization, attractive profile.
YETI love to overbuild everything they set their hands on. Coolers and drinkware came first, and now they’ve followed up with bags in their newest Crossroads collection. Just as overbuilt as the rest of their products, there is a lot to like about the YETI Crossroads duffel.
The structured nature of the Crossroads duffel is its biggest strength as it makes it easy to pack and unpack. Foam walls and a sturdy base give you plenty of protection, but that’s not all that the Crossroads provides. The organization is very well thought out – giving opportunities for storage on both the exterior and interior of the duffel. Two divider panels internally give you three sections to the bag if you’d like, easily separating into a shoes, wash bag, and clothes section for example. If you prefer one big cavernous opening – no problem, just tuck them out of the way. A mixture of zippered and elasticated pockets adorn the side walls and are perfect for smaller necessities, keeping your bag organized and tidy. Removable cinch straps can either be used in the main compartment for clothing or externally to attach a jacket. The lid also houses even more storage, on both sides! Internally I found the large mesh pocket is the perfect spot for documents or an e-reader, while the zippered pocket on the exterior of the lid has two admin slots that are EDC sized.
I’ve also been impressed with how tough and easy to maintain this duffel is. I’ve used it for travel, rugby, and snowboarding. No matter how dirty it gets – a simple rub down with a wet towel, and maybe some soap if it’s really bad, makes it look as good as new. I even had to check it on one flight, and it got the usual VIP treatment in baggage claim. A quick wipe down when home and you’d never know it left my side. A removable shoulder harness gives you carrying options, and the lockable zippers came in to save the day when I had to check it (pro tip, always keep a TSA lock with you!). I think that the Crossroads Duffel is an extremely versatile piece of luggage and between the build quality, intelligent design, and functionality, it’s right up there with the best I’ve used.
Carryology Credential: Heritage materials, MiUSA, timeless style.
Heritage. It’s the most apt word to describe all that Filson creates – in particular their USA-made Tin Cloth bags. You’ve seen them before, all over your TV screens. Whenever a character needs to look either outdoorsy or old-school – you’ll likely see a Filson tin cloth bag.
I’ve had the pleasure of testing this 48-Hour Duffle, and I must say it’s magnificent. Out of the box you’re transported back to simpler times, and you can imagine hauling this with you as you prospected from town to town. It is in fact true that many of Filson’s heritage designs haven’t changed since their inception over one hundred years ago. The 48-Hour is a wonderful marriage of 14oz oil finished tin cloth on the exterior, 6oz cover cloth on the interior, and British bridle leather just about everywhere else.
Aside from its good looks and heirloom-worthy construction, what else is there to like? Well, firstly, it carries really, really well. By hand or by shoulder – this bag will only get better the more you use it. Already the leather on my handles and zipper pulls is softening up, the cotton webbing shoulder strap is wide enough to carry a heavy load, and there’s a simple luggage passthrough on the rear if you’re pairing with a wheeled carry-on.
Internally it’s very simple; a nice 30L space to hold all you need for a long weekend of travel. I think you could comfortably push this to a 72 or even 96-hour bag if you’re a smart packer. On the front you have two zipper pouches that include good EDC organization, and behind those are two open pockets. I’ve found these to be great for gloves, a hat, or my sunglasses case. If you’re looking for a bag that you can pass on to your children, and even their children too – this is the one.
Capacity: 39L (approx)
Carryology Credential: The classic weekender – Texas style.
Tecovas are known for their excellent boots, and that know-how and knowledge has transferred across to their weekender. Made from a robust duck cotton cloth that is treated with Martexin® wax, this weekender was made to travel. When you pick this bag up out of the box, you know it can take a lifetime of abuse, and look better with each outing. Presidio leather adorns the handles, the corners of the bag for a little extra protection, and a few other choice locations throughout the bag such as the monogram patch and key snap. You’ll find a UCAN zipper (complete with leather zipper pulls) to the cavernous main compartment and there are interior and exterior zippered pockets for your organization, which pair well with the rugged outdoor style Tecovas are gunning for.
The bag is also compressible on either end of the main zipper, so if you find yourself not using the full capacity, or just wanting to keep things high and tight, you can streamline the look of your weekender with two quick snaps. I like this feature more than I thought I would; it’s proved useful on a couple of occasions and while this bag comes in just shy of 40L it feels cavernous – you can fit a lot in here. The Tecovas Weekender is old-school cool and will happily take any task you throw at it – all while looking the part too.
Carryology Credential: Clean Scandi styling, user customizable, thoughtful touches.
Fjällräven have always been clean. I mean that in every sense, from their design all the way through to their production practices. The Greenland Duffel is part of that philosophy. A magnificently simple but timeless piece of luggage that can serve you for years to come. It is made from their now famous G1000 Heavy Duty Eco – a 65/35% mix of polyester and cotton – a robust but sustainable material that is designed to be abused in all that the outdoors can offer. You can even make this more weather resistant by treating it with their Greenland Wax – I’ve not felt the need to do that, as it has withstood the snow and rain pretty well, but it’s a nice option to have, particularly if you intend to use this in the outdoors a lot.
Internally there is a main volume, with a separate large zippered pocket on one side. As this bag is one of the smaller ones that I’ve tested, I haven’t felt the need to use that pocket, as once the duffel is full that pocket can be a little tricky to use. Two small zippered pockets (one internal and one external) are the home for your EDC.
There are small touches throughout this bag that show why it is still a firm favorite after decades of existence. Touches like the asymmetrical shoulder strap attachment that reduces the swing of the bag as you walk, the finger loops under the snaps that make closing the bag easier when it’s full, and of course the tiny woven Swedish flag that reminds you of its heritage when in use. A simple leather patch with their Arctic fox logo is the extent of the branding for this bag. A true classic – I just wish they made a bigger size!
Carryology Credential: Lightweight and packable at a good value
Chances are you’re no stranger to Mystery Ranch if you’ve kept up with Carryology over the past decade. The Bozeman, MT based powerhouse is known for their rugged military and outdoors packs, but the Mission Stuffel is quite the departure from the standard fair.
The Mission Stuffel is made from 330D Robic nylon, which pushes these duffels to the lighter side of this list. That doesn’t mean they’re any less capable – we’ve thrown these around for months, fully loaded with everything from travel clothing to camping gear. Even when designing lightweight gear, Mystery Ranch doesn’t slouch on durability. This is all tied together with #8 YKK zippers on every compartment.
The real benefit to the lightweight material is that the Mission Stuffel is completely packable into its own boot compartment. We love packable duffels, and if we ever anticipate coming home with more gear than we brought with us, we always bring one along. Throw your extra souvenirs, laundry, whatever, into the Stuffel and send it on to checked baggage or strap it to the roof of your car. In our trials, even the TSA couldn’t put a snag in the Mission Stuffel.
The pocketing is simple and effective, with two zippered sleeves on the front side of the horseshoe-zip panel. Each pocket uses a see-through mesh so you know what you’re digging for. Our favorite pocket though was the boot. It was a great place to stash our toiletries and it fits the new Large Spiff Kit perfectly (or two Small Spiff Kits). For organizing your clothing in the main compartment, look no further than the new Zoid Cubes. You can see a Large Zoid Cube in the 30L Mission Stuffel here.
The Mission Stuffel and new travel accessories are a perfect accompaniment to Mystery Ranch’s usual heavier affair. Check it out for your next trip through the mountains or to the coast.
Carryology Credential: Excellent recycled materials, packs flat, understated style.
Now in two sizes – 35L and 65L – Peak Design has a duffel for every situation. A large cavity, flanked by useful organization makes this a travel duffel that is hard to ignore in a crowded marketplace. A 600D recycled nylon outer shell paired with a #10 Ultra zipper provides a tough fortress for your travel. My favorite feature on this bag without doubt is the wide opening. Reminiscent of a 1940s doctors bag, this opening allows you to see every inch of the interior so you can find the contents in a flash.
I have found myself using this for a vast variety of situations. It has been a gym bag, a weekend tripper, and even a carry-on. You can even use it for camera carry when paired with PD’s modular cubes. There are two internal pockets and four external pockets. The internal pockets are simple mesh zippered pockets, while two of the external pockets have great EDC organization. I also found these a good place to store the removable grab handles or shoulder strap depending on your carry preference. Leather detailing on the handle completes the subtle style. This duffel also packs almost completely flat! Easy to store under the bed at your Airbnb or even keep in your car as an emergency duffel!
Carryology Credential: Excellent recycled materials, genius internal design, function through the roof.
One of my all-time favorites. For such a multitude of reasons. The materials feel great in your hand. The rich canvas weave appears hearty, durable, and tasteful. It’s water resistant too, making this a good year-round bag. Snow and rain showers will bead off nicely. While the casual yet suave styling of this bag makes it seem just as at home in the back of a truck on the way to a mountain cabin for a lads’ stag do, as it would in an ornate five star hotel lobby.
Besides its looks and materials, fundamentally the Bellroy Weekender Plus is easy. Easy to use. Easy to handle. Simple to choose. I know that all sounds a bit convenient, but I’m serious. It assimilated into my lifestyle seamlessly. When you pack this bag it opens up wide. You can see every inch of the 45 liters and work out how to configure it best for your trip. The clay red interior makes it easy to see things, without a neon explosion stinging your retinas. There are pop water bottle pockets at either end of the bag, there is a lined tablet/laptop compartment, and excellent EDC organization, with both internal and external pockets to keep you in line.
The clever design of the profile means the bag becomes almost wedge-shaped when full. It fills upwards rather than outwards and becomes a little taller, not wider. It means that it slots perfectly beneath your arm when slung over your shoulder. It also increases the amount of contact points with the bag; it is no longer just bouncing along on your hip. By having contact with other parts of your body, it invariably spreads the load. This is as good as all-rounders get.
Price: $129 – $185
Capacity: 50L – 150L
Carryology Credential: The Icon. Classic, rugged, and ready to go wherever you’ll take it.
When you think of adventure duffels, this is quite likely the bag you think of. It has been seen in advertisements the world over. You’ve likely seen it on the side of mountains, on the roof of trucks, and being dragged mercilessly through airport terminals.
I’ve had an XL duffel since 2010. It has traveled all over the world with me, to some rather wonderful places, and also some not so wonderful places. When I first moved to America, this was the bag that came with me and carried everything I needed for a year. I still use it regularly even if it’s just to haul things around. Sure, it has a few scuffs and scrapes, and my initials that I wrote on with permanent marker aren’t so legible anymore, but it lives on and will continue to do so.
However, I’ve recently moved from the 150L behemoth to the more manageable 50L and 70L sizes. With some simple upgrades, The North Face Base Camp Duffel continues to be one of, if not the best gear hauling duffels on the market. The body is now made from an upgraded 1000D phthalate-free, recycled PVC with non-PFC Durable Water Repellent (Non-PFC DWR) finish and it’s supported by an 840D recycled ballistic nylon base. Basically, it’s as tough as old boots. While this isn’t waterproof or submergible, it’s pretty damn close. You needn’t worry too much about your clothing here.
Beefy YKK zippers allow you in and out through the D opening, and you’re straight into the main cavity where you can stuff away to your delight. There is a mesh pocket on the lid of the bag to keep essentials close by. Another upgrade over my original is the addition of the shoe/laundry pocket at one end of the bag. I found this fit a pair of boots or my dirty laundry easily.
The backpack straps are comfortable; not “I’m taking you hiking with 50L of gear” comfortable, but definitely “I can walk to my hotel and not worry” comfortable. Padded handles make it easy to toss around from place to place, and an ID window on the lid makes sure everyone knows it’s yours at the baggage claim. They now also come with a stuff sack that keeps it folded and out of the way when not in use.
I love the Base Camp Duffel. It will always hold a special place in my heart. And now with its new upgrades – including being The North Face’s most sustainable product, the love affair will continue!
Well there you have it, a cross-section of some of the best weekenders and duffels on the market today. While we couldn’t look at every duffel out there (that guide would be long!) we think there’s something for everyone in this list – a true cross-section of the carry world. If you don’t have a duffel yet, hopefully these suggestions will help guide you to the perfect carry option for your next set of adventures!