Let’s not beat around the baggage bush here. You need a duffle. You’re a busy guy, with a long list of things to do today and because having a packhorse trailing behind you isn’t the done thing any more, you’re likely to be lugging around a range of gear to help you tick all your to-do list boxes, including “nail 10am meeting”, “hit gym”, “catch flight to Berlin” and more. And with a larger capacity than a standard rucksack, but still small enough to take with you everywhere, a duffle is a modern-day packhorse minus the ethical animal welfare quandaries.
History proves it, too. The barrel-shaped bag was first used by troops to carry their kit on deployments, and was then adopted by Californian surfers needing to quickly load up their gear in order to hit the waves fast. Fast-forward to present day, and there’s a huge selection of stylish and durable options ready to find a home on your shoulder. Here’s our pick of the best.
Osprey Transporter 40
This rugged duffle has several features that make it a particularly good bag for those clocking up the air miles, starting with the fact that it fits with the EU limit for carry-on baggage size. The rucksack and shoulder straps also tuck away into a pocket on the bag’s lid, so you’re not forced to wrap them up or queue at oversized luggage owing to fears that they’ll become snagged, and there are handles in four places so you can grab it easily from all sides – always useful at the baggage reclaim carousel.
Buy on Amazon (opens in new tab) | From £67.95
Eastpak Calum Opgrade Dark
Reasons to buy
Eastpak offers a bewildering array of duffle bags, including some 100-litre monsters that can carry everything you need for a two-week break, but we fancy the stylish, 34-litre Calum Opgrade as a more useful pick for weekends away and day-to-day use. It has a removable shoulder strap plus two side pockets where you can store items you need to access regularly.
Buy from Eastpak (opens in new tab) | £75
Nike Vapor Power
A top duffle pick for those who like to organise their stuff beyond just stuffing it into the main compartment. There are zipped pockets on the inside and outside of this duffle, plus a separate shoe compartment to keep dirty kicks away from the rest of your belongings.
Buy from Nike (opens in new tab) | £37.95
Tumi Alpha 2
Watch from your plane window as the baggage carriers attempt their best wrecking efforts, but end up scratching their heads at just how unbreakable this monster is. Tumi has constructed the Alpha 2 from its signature ballistic nylon, making it a truly hardcore travel option.
Buy on Amazon (opens in new tab) | £395
The North Face Base Camp
The North Face’s Base Camp range has become a staple of the airport luggage carousel for good reason: it’s insanely tough, levels the load on your shoulders thanks to a set of backpack straps, and comes in a load of popping colourways to prevent any confusion with your fellow travellers’ models.
Buy from Snow and Rock (opens in new tab) | £115
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With a lifetime guarantee and a thick canvas construction, Filson’s duffle – like everything else in its outdoors-ready catalogue – is built to last. Not only that, but it’s designed to meet maximum airline carry-on size restrictions, so you don’t have to worry about starting your city break with a mile-long check-in queue.
Buy from Filson (opens in new tab) | £385
Famous for its button-down shirts, Gant has produced a smart navy duffle that makes for an ideal pre- or post-office gym bag.
Buy from Gant (opens in new tab) | £65
Pacsafe Dufflesafe AT45
Yes, yes, sure, a thief could just pick up and make off with your bag. But short of nailing your belongings to the ground, this is probably the most secure carry-on that money can get you. It’s riddled with anti-theft features, including a pickpocket-deterring puncture-resistant zipper, and eXomesh slashguard panels on all sides.
Buy on Amazon (opens in new tab) | £65.37
Good luck finding a whopping 100-litre duffle bag anywhere else at this price. Madness.
Buy from SportsDirect (opens in new tab) | £14.99
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