Best Duffel Bag
There are many different varieties of duffel bags and each one provides different features than the next. This is why it is good to do some research before you decide which duffel bag is right for you. What you plan to transport in your duffel bag will determine which bag you should be looking at, as not every bag will be best for every activity. Since there are so many options available on the market today, we’ve compiled a list for you about some of the best duffel bags you can use while outside, and some of the things you’ll want to consider when you are looking for your perfect duffel bag.
- North Face Base
- Patagonia Black Hole
- Gregory Alpaca
- Helly Hansen
- Mountain Hardwear Expedition
- Kwik Tek Dry Pak
- OverBoard Waterproof Pro-Sports
- Exped Tempest
- Watershed Yukon
- Wolfman Expedition
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Picks
1. North Face Base
Easy to pack and organize
Nice shoulder straps
Lots of styles, sizes, and colors
Could be more lightweight
If you’re looking for a great duffel bag that can withstand weather conditions while you’re outdoors and help you with organization, then the North Face Base Camp Duffel Bag is a great option. It’s one of the lightest duffel bags on the market that has backpack straps—although it’s about average with weight if you compare it across the board to all duffel bags.Read more
One nice feature the North Face Base Camp Duffel Bag brings you is its little additions, like the small window it has on it so you can place your contact info in the bag in case you use it. The bag also has multiple grab points, dual daisy chains, solid compression straps, and a helpful zipper mesh pocket.
The North Face Base Camp Duffel bag also comes in a wide variety of sizes and colors, giving you a lot of options in weight, style, and what you can bring along with you. You’ll also love the long-lasting durability and how easy it is to pack this duffel bag, since it includes a lot of pockets to help with organization.
The North Face Base Camp Duffel Bag has been on the market for a long time, and while it’s manufacturers update it routinely, it’s managed to stay so popular because of its durability and organizational features. It’s very easy to carry, both on outdoor trips and even on airplanes, and includes a nice waterproof and weather resistant fabric.
2. Patagonia Black Hole
Lots of pockets
Easy to use and carry
Doesn’t fit super long items
Bag is small
If you’re looking for a very lightweight duffel bag to take along on your outdoor trips, then you might want to consider the Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Bag. This duffel bag is one of the lightest outdoor versions of this type of product you can find on the market today.Read more
Patagonia’s Black Hole Duffel Bag’s features make it an easy-to-use bag since it’s very easy to transport and comfortable to carry along on any trip. It’s got excellent supportive shoulder straps which you can also remove if you plan to not use them, but will feel comfortable and easy-to-carry if you do opt to move the bag with them on.
Considering this duffel bag comes with padded shoulder straps and is so lightweight, weighing under three pounds, it’s got a lot of pockets and organizational opportunities to offer. You won’t have to worry about not locating items in your bag, since you’ll have plenty of places to stash your things.
Patagonia’s Black Hole Duffel Bag is also made with weather-resistant and water-resistant materials, making it very durable for any outdoor trip. It will protect your items well, while also giving you plenty of pocket options so you can easily find what you need.
3. Gregory Alpaca
Bag can be used in a variety of ways
Water and weather resistant
Could have more useful compression straps
If you’re looking for a good, versatile, all-around duffel bag to protect your belongings on your outdoor trips, then the Gregory Alpaca Duffel Bag just might have some of the benefits and features you need. The Gregory Alpaca Duffel Bag offers the most carrying options of any other duffel bag on the market, and can be used as a briefcase, carried over the shoulder, or carried as a backpack depending on how you use the removable shoulder strap.Read more
The Gregory Alpaca Duffel Bag’s backpack straps are sized well and include padding on the top of the bag, keeping your items from hitting you in the back if you carry the bag this way. Also, the bag has a nice D-shaped opening and a lot of strength and durability.
The Gregory Alpaca Duffel Bag also includes several small features that many outdoor enthusiasts love, like many indoor pockets for organization, nice daisy-chain-like lash points, and helpful compression straps to help you carry the bag. Plus, with the ability to carry this bag in a variety of ways, this is one of the most versatile options on the market.
The Gregory Alpaca Duffel Bag is made to be both weather-resistant and water-resistant, so that your belongings will stay safe no matter where you find yourself. It’s also very comfortable to carry, and with its versatility, you should be happy with it no matter how you plan to use it.
4. Helly Hansen
Water and weather resistant
Good pocket variety
Shoulder straps could be better
Could come in larger sizes
The latest Helly Hansen Duffel Bag, called the Helly Hansen Duffel Bag 2, is a more updated version than its previous duffel bag, with many of the same design features but offering you a better and more durable fabric. The Helly Hansen Duffel Bag 2 is stronger than the previous version, and includes an outer material that makes the bag both water and weather resistant, so that your items stay safe inside the bag.Read more
Another feature Helly Hansen added to their new duffel bag to increase durability is better stitching around the shoulder straps, which helps to reinforce the strength and carrying power of the bag. The shoulder strap update is also more comfortable, and built to last longer than the previous model.
Helly Hansen’s Duffel Bag 2 also has a nice variety of pockets to help you organize your items so you can easily find them. There is an external pocket with a zipper, as well as an internal pocket to hold other items.
On the Helly Hansen Duffel Bag 2, you get two top carry straps that include removable padded shoulder straps so that you can adjust how you carry the bag. Plus, this bag is packable in an external wash bag, and is also carry-on compatible if you plan on using it to travel on an airplane.
5. Mountain Hardwear Expedition
Lots of pockets
Excellent weather and water protection
The Mountain Hardwear Expedition Duffel Bag offers a wide variety of features that make it popular among many outdoor enthusiasts. If you love having a lot of pockets and space for organization, plus a comfortable bag to carry, then you’ll enjoy this bag on your outdoor trips.Read more
The Mountain Hardwear Expedition Duffel Bag has more pockets than most other competitor’s versions on the market, making it a nice bag to stay organized. It comes with four zipper pockets on top and the large main compartment, making it easy to pack and protect your items.
To help you with easy of carrying, the Mountain Hardwear Expedition Duffel Bag has internal compression straps, a clear pocket and aluminum rings to help you more easily transport the bag or drag it if you need to. Also, it’s made with a very high-quality weather and water-resistant material, and offers some of the best protection from the elements you’ll find in any bag available for purchase today.
The bag isn’t as light as some other duffel bags out there, but it does have more pockets than most other bags out there and some of the best weather-resistant technology. For those of you that prefer organization and protection, this bag might be what you need for your outdoor adventures.
6. Kwik Tek Dry Pak
Water and weather resistant
Easy to open and close
Could come in more sizes and colors
Shoulder strap could be more comfortable
If you like easy access to your items in a great duffel bag, then the Kwik Tek Dry Pak Duffel Bag could be an excellent product for your outdoor carrying needs. The Kwik Dry Pak Duffel Bag comes with a very wide opening on the top, making it easy to access your items.Read more
Along with the easy access you get from the Kwik Tek Dry Pak Duffel Bag’s opening, you also can easily close the bag when you’re done opening it by pulling the sides together, then rolling them down. There are side snap buckles on each side that snap in together so you know your bag will stay closed.
The Kwik Tek Dry Pak also comes with a water-resistant and weather-resistant material on the outside, and includes two zippered water-resistant pockets on both sides of the bag to help you easily access items you want to keep on the outside of your bag. The material this bag is designed with is a durable vinyl and polyester laminate, which helps keep the bag strong and weather-resistant.
The Kwik Tek Dry Pak is also designed with welded seams that keep water out, and the outside of the bag is made to protect your items on the inside. Plus, you also get dual grab straps and a padded, adjustable, detachable shoulder strap.
7. OverBoard Waterproof Pro-Sports
Lots of pockets
Easy to open and close
More styles, sizes and colors could be available
If you want a duffel bag that’s totally waterproof and made to handle just about anything you might run into outdoors, then you might want to consider the OverBoard Waterproof Pro-Sports Duffel Bag. OverBoard made this bag to be 100% waterproof, with an outer shell designed from PVC tarpaulin, meaning you never have to worry about your items getting wet.Read more
The OverBoard Waterproof Pro-Sports Duffel Bag is also made with high frequency welded seams to add even more waterproof protection to the bag. Even if you drop this bag into a body of water, it’ll float to the top and nothing inside the bag will get wet since it is made to repel rain, dust, and snow.
Not only is the waterproof and weatherproof protection of this bag so amazing, but it also includes an easy and secure way to open and fold it. You can open the main compartment by folding it down several times, using the two compression strap release buckles and side release buckles. There is a quick release handle option you can use after you unbuckle the bag to open it efficiently.
Plus, there are plenty of pockets on this bag to help you organize your items, including an external waterproof zippered pocket, one Velcro mesh pocket on the front, a vented pocket on one end, and two mesh pockets on the inside. The bag also features a top haul handle and adjustable, removable shoulder straps.
8. Exped Tempest
Comes in only two colors, could have more color option
Backpack straps could be padded and more durable
For those outdoor enthusiasts who want a simple, easy-to-use, minimalistic bag, then the Exped Tempest Duffel Bag might be a great product for them. While it doesn’t look like it offers much considering its price when you first see it, it’s earned a popular reputation because of its high performance and durability for outdoor enthusiasts.Read more
The Exped Tempest Duffel bag is made from a hydrophobic material that’s then laminated with a combination of fabrics that’s designed to make the bag totally waterproof. Exped’s bag gives you more than just your standard waterproof body on the bag, since the zippers on this bag are also made to keep water from getting inside the bag, keeping the bag airtight.
Exped also made this duffel bag with welded seams to bring you further water and weather-proof resistance, and the bag is 100% waterproof. If you do a lot of outdoor activities that put you in danger of getting wet or running into adverse weather, then this bag can store your gear and keep it safe.
The design of Exped’s Tempest Duffel Bag is simple and lightweight, and they’ve kept the straps and buckles on this bag to a minimum to make it light and easy-to-carry. The bag also comes with nylon straps if you want to carry it like a backpack.
9. Watershed Yukon
Could be lighter
For those outdoor enthusiasts planning to endure harsh weather conditions and tough environments, they’ll need a strong, water-repelling bag like the Watershed Yukon Duffel Bag to better protect their items. The Watershed Yukon Duffel Bag is made to be a great bag that can endure any type of hardcore outdoor activity and environment.Read more
The Watershed Yukon Duffel Bag has been used by outdoor enthusiasts who travel on Arctic expeditions and difficult mountain hiking trips. The Watershed Yukon Duffel Bag is made to be better than most other water-resistant bags, meaning that it’s fully waterproof.
Even if you drop the Watershed Yukon Duffel Bag into a body of water, it’s made to keep water out and your gear safe. Its outside material is totally waterproof, it’s also made with welded seams to seal the inside of the bag from water exposure, and it comes with a ZipDry closure feature that keeps the bag closed against water and other exposure.
The Watershed Yukon Duffel Bag is also made to be durable and long lasting, and includes a wide mouth opening so it’s easy to get your stuff out of your bag. Featuring extra compression straps, your items will stay in place, so your belongings are organized.
10. Wolfman Expedition
Easy to open
Easy to carry
Could come in more colors
The Wolfman Expedition Dry Duffel Bag offers another option to outdoor enthusiasts who know they’ll be traveling in harsh environments and need waterproof protection for their belongings. While this bag is designed for motorcycle use, it still works well on the trails, and is fully waterproof with an easy-to-open design.Read more
The Wolfman Expedition Dry Duffel Bag utilizes a roll-top design, so all you need to do is roll the top of the bag down to close it and then secure it with the compression straps. The compression straps are designed to keep items securely in place, so your items will never spill out or hit you in the back as you carry the bag.
Another nice feature on the Wolfman Expedition Dry Duffel Bag is its waterproof webbing on top to keep contents dry from rain or water. Plus, the vinyl fabric the bag is made out of makes it durable and sturdy, so it can hold a lot while staying sturdy and keeping your items safe.
This bag also has a stylish appearance, with a sleep and shiny material that makes it attractive to look at, which is a nice, but not totally necessary benefit. Plus, the carrying handles are padded so that you’ll feel more comfortable as you carry the bag around.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Most outdoor enthusiasts want something that they can pack easily, and unpack easily when utilizing a duffel bag in the outdoors. One way to tell how easy a duffel bag will be to pack and unpack is to take a look at the main compartment area and the zippers around that area. Besides that, check out the number and use of the pockets on the bag, the size of the opening, and if you need to pack larger items, make sure you get a bag you can get those large items in and out of the bag quickly. When looking at the duffel bag, take a look at how hard it might be to search around the inside of the bag to find your items, which means the more organizational features, the better.
Duffel bags that have a D-shaped zipper opening will be easier to pack and unpack than a bag with a straight-lined zipper, simply because D-shaped openings create a wider opening size and shape. Nowadays, many bags come with D-shaped openings, and the North Face Base Camp Duffel Bag was the first manufacturer to offer this feature. If you know you need to pack and unpack things like poles or other large items, you want a bag that opens long and wide enough to pack this. Also, the number of pockets on the bag and how easy these pockets are to access and organize becomes a necessary feature if you want a bag that packs up easier.
Now, more pockets on a bag usually means the bag will cost a bit more, so this is one of those features that will be up to you and your budget. And, if you’re not packing anything long or large, you might not need to pay for the D-shaped zipper. Consider how you are going to use the bag and if you need several easy packing features before you purchase your bag.
Some duffel bags are designed to offer better easy-carry features than others. If you want a bag that you can carry in multiple ways, over your shoulder, as a backpack, or in your hand, then you might want to opt for a more versatile carrying bag. Some bags come with backpack straps while others don’t, and if you do plan on hiking for long periods of time with your bag, chances are you’ll want a bag that at least features a backpack carry option.
The straps many of these duffel bags use for backpack or other carry options can really make or break the comfort level when you carry the bags. Different backpack straps offer various levels of comfort, and a lot of this depends on the foam thickness on the straps, and where you’ll find the foam and padding. Another thing to consider is how easy the backpack straps come off if you don’t wish to use them, since some bags have better options than others when it comes to removing the straps.
If you want a bag that can give you a variety of carrying options, then something like the Gregory Alpaca Duffel will work well for you since you can carry it as a backpack, in your hand, or over your shoulder. Bags with these features do tend to cost more and aren’t always lightweight, so those are your trade-offs. You need to decide whether you need this variety or not, and how beneficial it might be for your outdoor activities.
Make sure to also assess the duffel bag’s lashing points and compression straps so you can see how easy the bag is to attach to things or fit into certain areas. A duffel bag that offers all three carrying options usually works best for versatility and adaptation, but might not be lightweight or affordable enough for everybody. Some duffel bags allow you to more easily pull them out of places or drag them and include drag loops—a feature that’s great when you’re traveling but might not be necessary if you are only using the bag for outdoor trips.
Since people using duffel bags outdoors want a strong, durable bag, they need to look at the bag’s material, the way the seams are stitched, and the types of zippers on the bags. Most bags made for outdoor use have polyurethane on them, which is very durable and water-resistant. However, some bags have other materials and features on them.
Most outdoor enthusiasts want a bag that will keep water out, so you want to invest in a bag that’s water-resistant, or even better, waterproof. You want a bag that can protect your items if you encounter adverse weather, rain, snow, or even if you drop the bag in a puddle. The more waterproof and weatherproof the bag, the better your items will be protected, but also the more the bag is likely to cost.
Good waterproof materials in duffel bags include high denier nylon, PVC, polyester with a tarpaulin, or vinyl laminate. Many of these materials are also found in whitewater rafts, meaning they not only keep water out, but also are very strong and don’t rip or tear easily. Plus, water-resistant materials on duffel bags can make these bags much easier-to-clean. An extra feature to look at is how the zippers or clips close on the bag, and how sturdy the seams are for keeping water and other unwanted items out of the bag. Plus, you want strong stitching anyway, especially if you’re carrying a lot of items in your bag.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Different duffel bags on our list offer different designs and features to meet a wide variety of needs. When you’re trying to assess what kind of bag to buy, ask yourself what you’ll be doing outside while you have the bag on you. Are you traveling? Camping? Motorcycling? Hiking? Once you know the activities you plan to embark on, you’ll be more likely to get a bag that meets your needs.
Consider whether or not you need a lot of organization, as well as internal and external pockets, depending on what you’ll be doing outside. Also, based on your outdoor activities, you can decide whether or not you want a bag that is rigid or flexible. Another feature to consider is whether or not you need a fully waterproof bag, or a water-resistant bag.
Other Factors to Consider
All of the bags on our list offer various forms of water resistance, while some are completely waterproof. If you are traveling when it’s raining or outside in adverse elements, then you’ll want to opt for a fully waterproof bag. However, if you won’t be using the bag around much water, just opting for a water-resistant bag is probably enough. Really, it’s going to depend on where you take your bag, and how you use it. If you know you won’t be out much when the weather is wet, then you can slide a bit with this feature, but you’ll need to be careful if you catch yourself outside when it’s wet.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you’re worried about keeping your packed items as safe as possible while you travel anywhere, outdoors or by vehicle, then you might want to consider a fully waterproof duffel bag. If you are worried about your bag being exposed to the rain, or need an extra layer of protection to have ease of mind when carrying your items, then paying a little extra for a fully waterproof duffel bag might be a good idea for you.
If you’re going to do a lot of carry-ons with your duffel bag for flying, using a small to medium sized bag will work for you. Many of these bags also work and double well for outdoor adventures and trips if you only plan to bring a few extra clothes and some small items.
However, if you’ll be outside for awhile and need to pack a lot of gear, then purchasing an extra-large duffel bag might be your answer. You’ll be able to travel longer and fit just about anything you need.
Plus, if you opt for a waterproof duffel bag with the additional backpack straps, you’ll be able to protect your items from all the outside elements while carrying it more easily on your back.
Whether you need a fully waterproof duffel bag or not depends a lot on what you plan to do when you use the bag, and how much protection you feel your items need so you can rest easy. While it’s almost always better to get a fully waterproof bag for extra durability and full protection for your belongings, your budget and plans might not dictate this need.
Some duffel bags also come with laptop sleeves and areas for gear, which is a nice feature if you plan to use the bag outside often. Also depending on what you are doing outside, you need to figure out if you want a bag that offers multi-carry options. Some bags also have lockable zippers for IDs, and exterior pockets for quick access. The more features you opt for on your bag’s design, the pricier your duffel bag will be. So, try to consider what you really need the bag for, and then take your options from there.
Some duffel bags are made to be comfortable and easy to carry for a long duration, while others are made more for short-term trips. Check out the straps on the bag if you want one that’s more comfortable to carry, since you want padded straps that also feature rubberized handles. This type of design is more comfortable to carry, and the last thing you want is a bag you hate lugging around with you on your outdoor adventures.
Since straps are so important when it comes to comfort, take a close look at the backpack straps if your duffel bag can also be carried on your back. You want something that has enough comfort and protection with the pads to make it easy for you to carry. Some also provide extra straps to hold your items in place in the bag so they don’t poke at your back.
While all of the bags listed here are water-resistant, some are also fully waterproof. 100% waterproof duffel bags tend to cost more than water-resistant bags. How much you decide to spend, and the layer of protection you need for your items, depends on how and where you will travel with your bag. If you don’t plan on being near water or out when it rains, a water-resistant bag is probably enough. However, for those outdoor enthusiasts that like harsher weather experiences, getting a fully waterproof bag is worth the extra monetary investment.
Depending on your preferences, you will either like a duffel bag that gives you one large compartment, or a bag with a lot of small pockets for organization. Different people feel differently about the number of pockets they need, and how well they need to organize their bags. Depending on how you feel about organizing your bag, you may or may not like the way waterproof duffel bags are designed.
One major benefit of using a fully waterproof duffel bag is the protection you’ll get for your items inside your bag. You’ll never have to worry about rain, snow, or any water invading the interior of the bag and destroying your precious belongings. So, if you know you’re going to get rained on, come across water, or might even splash a puddle—a waterproof bag gives you a huge advantage no matter how you use the bag.
The one thing about duffel bags is the way people often feel about how they organize items. Some people love their quick access capabilities, but still other people feel they can’t organize their items well in a duffel bag. Now, if you like keeping all your b
elongings separate and very well organized, you might not get everything you need from a waterproof duffel bag. Even the best types of duffel bags that can be worn as backpacks can be comfortable, but won’t have the organized structure of a travel backpack. Plus, duffel bags placed on your back don’t always offer all the support of a regular travel backpack.
Duffel bags, even large ones, never feel as comfortable as a travel backpack. However, large duffel bags can hold a lot of gear, stay durable with heavy loads, and offer fully waterproof protection not always provided by travel backpacks. So, you get a trade-off no matter how you look at it.
Most waterproof duffel bags are made for the outdoors, so they aren’t always as stylish as travel backpacks. However, as far as durability and protecting your belongings is concerned, they do work very well. So, considering your options, you’ll need to think about whether or not a fully waterproof duffel bag is right for you.
Again, many duffel bags made for the outdoors still bring you water-resistant options, although not all are fully waterproof. If you just need something to protect your items from the occasional splash or spill, and you don’t plan on being out in the rain often, you can save a bit of money by opting for a water-resistant bag.