Duffel bags are useful for anyone who leads an active lifestyle, especially one that involves plenty of travelling. The best duffel bags will be lightweight but durable, and able to stand up to the rigours of travel. They'll be able to support heavy loads and still be comfortable and easy to carry over short to medium-length distances, and they also won't be too rigid and bulky so that they can be kept out of the way when not needed.
Duffel bags come in all shapes, weights and sizes. The ones we have reviewed here all range from 600g to 1670g and from 60 litres to 90. We've also only looked at duffel bags that have shoulder straps that mean they can be carried like a backpack, however there are also plenty of models on the market that can only be carried like a briefcase, or that have just one sling strap that's worn over one shoulder.
The best duffel bags will offer full waterproof protection but the majority tend to only be rated as water resistant – this isn't necessarily a bad thing if you're unlikely to need the bag for any water-based adventures.
One final point: we've gone for duffel rather than duffle, for the sake of consistency and also because it seems to be the form that most brands go for. Apparently there's no set way!
Best Duffel Bags Reviewed 2018
Patagonia Black Hole Duffel 60L: £66-90 / 1,106g
"The main fabric used is a tough 900 denier ripstop polyester and there’s reinforcement and slight padding at the base to provide an extra bit of protection to the contents."
This isn't an overly technical duffel bag but it's durable and water resistant enough, and it carries very comfortably. The internal compression straps are a very handy feature for when you need to really squeeze in a big load and there are a few handy zipped pockets. Best of all, it all folds up into its own pocket.
Available in: 30, 45, 60, 90 and 120L
Rab Kitbag Duffel 80L: £95 / 1480g
"The two shoulder straps are comfortable thanks to their very generous padding, they’re also easy to adjust and they can both be removed and stowed away..."
The biggest duffel reviewed in this group test, the Rab Kitbag is one of those that will be able to swallow everything you need for your next big trip. There's good padding on the shoulder straps which makes for a comfortable carry, and there are two zipped mesh pockets in the lid – useful for storing things like travel documents and house keys.
Available in: 50, 80 & 120L
Ortlieb Duffle 60L: £140 / 1,180g
"It has a IP67 waterproof rating meaning that it can be fully submerged to a depth of 1 metre and 39 inches for as long as 30 minutes..."
If you need something for packrafting, kayaking, sailing, or just for really, really bad weather, this will be the duffel for you. Do up the impressive waterproof zips properly and you can count on your stuff staying completely dry. There are also some really clever design features, like the little metal bars by the zip docks that the zip pulls can be locked to for instance.
Available in: 40, 60, 85 & 110L
The North Face Basecamp Duffel Medium: £110 / 1,590g
"The North Face's Base Camp Duffel is one of their trademarks, and we’d even hazard a guess that it’s probably one of the best-selling duffel bags ever made..."
It's a simple duffel but it's effective, with a tough 840 denier fabric, grab handles with bar tack reinforced stitching and a number of useful pockets. It's available in basically all the colours of the rainbow and more.
Available in: XS, S, M, L, XL & XXL
Mountain Equipment Wet & Dry 70L: £90 / 1670g
"...a simple duffel but it's effective, with a tough 840 denier fabric, grab handles with bar tack reinforced stitching and a number of useful pockets."
A very similar duffel to The North Face's but you'll usually find it at a lower price. It might seem like a funny thing to focus on, but we love the fact it has a sternum strap – a useful feature that for some reason, most other duffels don't have.
Available in: 40, 70 & 100L
Osprey Transporter Duffel: £120 / 1,410g
"It’s this kind of attention to detail and innovation that make the Osprey Transporter an ideal bag for adventure travel..."
When a duffel bag is worthy of making it into our Outdoor 100 product guide, you can count on it to being a good item. You can tell Osprey have put a lot of thought into its functionality. For instance, it can stuff into its own pocket, the straps, which have their own tuck-away pockets, are interchangeable so that the duffel can be carried either as a backpack or a courier bag and there are loads of useful pockets.
Available in: 40, 65 & 130L
Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler 60L: £100 / 793g
"There are duffels out there that will provide a greater degree of wet weather protection and ruggedness but you can be guaranteed that they’ll be a lot heavier than this option from Eagle Creek."
Like the option from Patagonia, the Eagle Creek can be stuffed down and packed away into its own pocket making for a neat little package. It's made from a clever material that offers durability without heaviness, and there are some nice details, like the slightly padded base and glove-friendly zip pulls.
Available in: 45, 60, 90 & 120L
Arc'teryx Carrier Duffel 55L: £130 / 600g
"It’s made from an ‘advanced composite nylon’ which is as impressive as it sounds, and this has a PU coating and ripstop construction to boot..."
This is by far the lightest and most packable of the duffels we tested. It also has excellent wet weather performance. If you're on a big trip and need an extra pack for roaming away from basecamp with then it's an option worth considering. Granted, it's not the cheapest, but it's certainly made from some high quality materials.
Available in: 40, 55 & 80L