Gear Geek: Seven Killer Duffel Bags

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Gear Geek: Seven Killer Duffel Bags

Duffel? Duffle? Whichever way you spell it (we’ll go with “duffel”), the bag category has brought simple utility to the ageless hassle of packing. From quick overnight jaunts or a spontaneous road trip to a weeks-long slog through a developing world armed with a cache of climbing or camping gear, just find the right-sized bag, toss everything in, and go. These seven elevate that concept—but only slightly, with features that complement the simplicity that has been the duffel’s hallmark for decades.

1. Alite Great Escape Duffel, $85; 2. Hershel Supply Novel Duffel, $85; 3. Pacsafe AT100 Anti-Theft Adventure Duffel, $170; 4. Eagle Creek No Matter What Duffel, $90; 5. Helly Hansen HH Duffel Bag 2, $140; 6. Mystery Ranch Master Duffel 60, $90; 7. Mammut Cargon, $180.

Top image: Enrique Céspedes, CC-BY

Nathan Borchelt is a gear-obsessed travel writer and adventurer whose collection of shoes, backpacks, jackets, bags, and other “essential” detritus has long-outgrown his one-bedroom apartment (and his wife’s patience).

Alite Great Escape Duffel

Alite says this duffel is the first made "specifically for overnight camping." Maybe… But it does come with loads of internal storage as well as external straps ideal for securing your sleeping bag, tent, pad, and other bulky items for easy transport from home to car to campsite. It should fairs just as well on weekend jaunts, with four external slide pockets, a 41-liter main zippered section, and a shoulder strap—all made of durable 450D poly.
Alite Designs

Herschel Supply Novel Duffel

Boasting the now classic Herschel Supply aesthetic, the Novel delivers 42.5 liters of storage with a two-way waterproof zipper, an internal storage sleeve, a removable padded shoulder strap, and a bright, striped internal lining—plenty for a quick overnighter. The dedicated zippered shoe compartment at the lower end of one side makes it ideal for trips that involve dirty footwear like day hiking, biking, or trail running.
Herschel Supply Co.

Pacsafe AT100 Anti-Theft Adventure Duffel

Worried about on-the-road safety? Then Pacsafe is your panacea. As with most packs in their line, the AT100 comes with a laundry list of security features, including lightweight slash guards to protect the pack from cut-and-run theft, puncture-resistant zippers that stop thieves from accessing your pack by prying open the zips, and 420D nylon square dobby external fabric fortified by U10000mm (read: plenty burly). Inside find 100 liters of storage, including a zippered main compartment, nylon webbing compression straps, detachable shoulder straps, a zippered side pocket, and webbing loops for attachments and die-down points.

Eagle Creek No Matter What Duffel

Made of abrasion-resistant, water-repellent Bi-Tech fabric with storm flaps to help shield the gear when you're grabbing it, the No Matter What is built for the rough conditions of the open road. It delivers 103 liters of stashing space, and comes with removable shoulder straps to help carry the weight over long distances, and external compression straps lock things down. The internal stuff pouch helps compress the pack further, or doubles as a place to stash muddy, wet gear. Better still, the No Matter What warranty delivers a lifetime promise for free repair (or replacement) due to damage, regardless of the cause.
Eagle Creek

Helly Hansen HH Duffel Bag 2

With 90 liters of storage pace, the simple HH Duffel makes a great solution for maximalist campers, climbers, and travelers looking to toss in everything—including a portable kitchen camp sink. Its shoulder straps fold into the back panel, and there are plenty of pockets lining either side. The exterior will stand up the elements, and it comes in with a rectangular stuff sack to tame the bag into a small rectangle when not in use.
Helly Hansen

Mystery Ranch Master Duffel 60

Calling all gear abusers, this 500D Cordura pack will take whatever you throw at it. It comes with a burly 10YKK zipper closure, which unveils up 53 liters of storage, with stout webbing "fail-proof" carry handles, and classic black or tan color options. Much of Mystery Ranch's design innovations and strategy has been informed by the needs of the military, so it should be able to handle your own road warrior pursuits.
Mystery Ranch Backpacks

Mammut Cargon

With 140 liters of storage the larger-format Cargo is the biggest duffel on this list. It grew out of the needs of Mammut's pro team, and will sufficiently carry your kit on the most rugged, gear-intensive expeditions. Three internal organizing compartments—including a mesh pocket at the flap—make it easy to sort all your stuff, while a big daisy chain lets you lash on even more gear, with removable backpack straps, loads of compression, and shoulder straps, all encased in durable 2520 poly ballistic fabric with a strong ripstop threads and a high-density weave.