It’s finally time for that vacation! Your goal should be to travel with only one carry-on bag in order to avoid those pesky baggage fees at the airport. With that in mind, it’s the perfect time to shop for a brand new duffel bag!
Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to be on the hunt for duffel bags that won’t fall apart when you stuff a bunch of things inside. A stylish look doesn’t hurt either. So without further ado, let’s dive into everything you need to know before you start shopping.
Is a Duffel Bag or Suitcase Better?
A duffel bag is better in some situations than a suitcase, but that’s not always the case. It really depends on what you plan on packing and how much you plan on packing inside.
If you’re not sure if you should go with duffel bags or suitcases, take a look at this helpful list of pros and cons.
- Enough space to pack everything you need
- Made from strong materials that last for years
- Protective exterior that keeps fragile items safe
- Often has rolling wheels
- Expandable if you need to pack more inside
- Can be heavy and cumbersome to carry
- May result in baggage fees at the airport if it’s too heavy
- Often expensive
- Doesn’t fold down for easy storage
- Typically only used for traveling
- Can be used as a carry-on for a flight
- Lightweight and easy to carry
- Usually pretty affordable
- Folds down for easy storage
- Versatile and useful for more than just traveling
- Less room for packing
- May not be as durable as a suitcase
- Not as protective; fragile items could be damaged
- Gets bulky the more you pack inside
- Fills up quickly, leaving little room for extras
There’s really not a wrong choice when it comes to duffel bags vs. suitcases! In fact, you should probably have at least one of each in your personal collection. That way you’re always covered, whether you’re going on a simple road trip or a month-long cruise to the Bahamas!
What Are the Different Types of Duffel Bags?
The right duffel bag largely depends on why you need one. While these bags are often used for traveling, they’re also great to bring to the gym, sports games, dance classes, and the beach. Not to mention, the military has used duffel bags since World War I!
Shop for a duffel bag that works for you! The different types include:
- Brand Name
Barrel Duffel Bags
Picture the logs in your fireplace. That’s the basic shape of a barrel duffel bag! These compact cloth bags usually have a long zipper that goes from one end to the other. They’re also extremely lightweight and perfect for those who often go to the gym or play on a sports team.
Squared Duffel Bags
If you want something that’s tough and rugged, look no further than squared duffel bags. These bags have some kind of frame or gusset inside that gives them structure, making them more durable than other bags. Bring along a squared duffel if you’re going on an epic hike through the mountains.
Rolling Duffel Bags
Let the good times roll by packing your things inside of a rolling or wheeled duffel bag. Most of the time you can collapse the wheels if you’d rather carry these bags by the handle. They’re the perfect choice if you’re catching a plane for a weekend getaway.
Backpack Duffel Bags
Duffel bags usually have a long carrying strap that sits crossbody when you carry them. However, it’s also possible to get duffel bags that have two straps instead. These backpack duffels are excellent for students, the military, and people who use public transportation to get to work.
Cooler Duffel Bags
Most of the time outdoor coolers are made from hard plastic. Cooler duffel bags, on the other hand, are made from a soft fabric like polyester or canvas. These bags are great to use if you’re planning an impromptu picnic in the park, or if you just want something bigger to use to carry your lunch every day.
Brand Name Duffel Bags
YETI, Adidas, Nike, Patagonia, and many other brands offer their own line of duffels. These bags are more high-end and offer an “it” factor that you won’t find in generic versions. Keep in mind, brand name duffels are often more expensive, but can be worth the splurge if you use your bags frequently.
Waterproof Duffel Bags
Do you plan on going camping near a lake, visiting the beach, or braving some white water rapids? Pack your things inside of a waterproof duffel bag. These bags are made from materials like rubber or vinyl and are built to withstand even the most extreme splash zones!
Custom Duffel Bags
It may not be chocolate or a bottle of wine, but a custom duffel bag is still an excellent gift. This is especially true if you’re looking for something special for your bridal party, or corporate gifts for your employees around the holidays. Get the duffel bags embroidered or ink printed with a cool photo, funny message, company logo, or monogram.
What Are Duffel Bags Made Of?
Canvas and polyester are the most popular duffel bag materials. Both are strong and won’t succumb to wear and tear over time. You can also shop for duffels made from leather, cotton, or water-resistant vinyl.
Duffel bags come in all shapes and sizes. They’re made from any of these materials:
The material will impact the strength and the overall look of your bags. For instance, if you’re in the market for durable, professional duffel bags, you can’t go wrong with canvas or leather.
On the other hand, if you’re going camping or to baseball practice, a nylon or cotton bag may be a better choice. Think about why you need the bags before you settle on a material.
How Many Pounds Can a Duffel Bag Hold?
The average duffel bag can comfortably hold 50 pounds. Military duffel bags, on the other hand, can weigh as much as 450 pounds since they’re being used to tote around heavy weaponry and equipment.
Just because your duffel bag can handle a significant amount of weight*, doesn’t mean it should. Houston Neurology & Spine reports that carrying heavy purses, backpacks, or duffels may cause strain in your shoulders, neck, and upper back. Furthermore, the bulky bags could affect the way you move your legs and swing your arms when you walk, leading to muscle stiffness.
31 million Americans suffer back pain in their lifetimes, and heavy bags may be the culprit! Overall, you should feel comfortable and be able to move naturally when carrying your duffel bags.
*DISCLAIMER: All duffel bags are made differently and the weight tolerance will vary. Quality Logo Products® is not responsible for any damage caused by overpacking your duffel bags.
What is the Standard Size of a Duffel Bag?
The standard size for a duffel bag is about 17” wide, 22” high, and 10” deep. Most airlines won’t accept carry-on bags that are any larger, which is why it’s a good idea to try to stick to this size or smaller if you plan on traveling on an airline.
For everyone else, you can keep it easy and classify duffel bags as either small, medium, or large.
Small Duffel Bags
- Carrying to work
- Bringing to the gym
- Packing your lunch
Medium Duffel Bags
- Road trips
- Sports games and practices
- Toting laundry to the machines (college dorms or apartments)
Large Duffel Bags
- Air travel
- Military personnel
- Camping and/or hiking
How Do You Pack a Duffel Bag?
You’ve got an awesome duffel bag, and now it’s time to use it! There may be less space inside than a suitcase, but you can still make this bag work with the right packing tips!
Tips for packing a duffel bag:
- Fold down the edges – This gives you easy access to the bottom of the bag, so you can optimize the space.
- Put bulky items at the bottom – Jeans, coats, sweatshirts, and other bulky items should be the first thing you pack.
- Roll your clothes – Rather than folding your t-shirts and tank tops, roll them up and secure them with a rubber band or string.
- Use the outside pockets – Small items like socks and toiletries can be stored in the outside pockets. It’s also a good idea to put items that leak, like toothpaste or makeup, inside of dedicated cosmetic bags.
- Pack things in your shoes – Your gym shoes and boots can be an opportunity to pack even more! Put small items inside like socks, jewelry, hair accessories, and scarves inside of your footwear.
- Stuff fragile items between clothes – Do you need to bring fragile items on your trip? Protect them by putting them in between the clothes.
- Leave room at the top – It will be a nightmare to zip and unzip your duffel bag if there’s too much at the top. Leave this area open so you don’t have to struggle with the zipper.
- Don’t overpack – A duffel bag will be a pain in the butt to use if you put too much inside. Keep it simple and pack only the items you need.
It’s a good idea to bring not only your carry-on duffel on a flight, but one other personal item as well. A small backpack or messenger bag is more secure when it comes to items like your passport, wallet, and electronics.
How Do You Choose a Duffel Bag?
Are you feeling inspired to buy a brand new duffel bag? Look for the following to make sure you get the most bang for your buck!
Choose a sturdy fabric that will last for a long time. Read the product description to see which material is used to make your duffel bag. This information should be on the manufacturer’s website if you’re shopping online, or on the tag if you’re shopping in store.
Plenty of Room
Even a small duffel bag should have the space for everything you need. Open it up and take a peek inside to make sure that the space works for you.
The last thing you want is for the handles to tear as you carry the duffel. Double check that the handles can, no pun intended, handle the items that you’re storing inside.
Comfortable to Carry
Do you need a massage every time you carry your duffel bag? It’s probably not the right bag for you! Ultimately, you should barely notice that you have it on your shoulders.
The more the merrier! A few extra pockets or compartments will be a real lifesaver when it comes to small odds and ends.
Any homeowner or renter knows that storage space fills up awfully fast. A foldable duffel bag is a must to make sure you can easily put it away when it’s not use.
While it’s not necessary, it doesn’t hurt to look for duffel bags that look cool. Whether it’s a bright color, cool graphic design, or unusual shape, these bags can be a fun reflection of your personality.
Above all, shop for duffel bags that work within your price range. You work hard for your money, and you shouldn’t blow it on a super pricey bag that’s outside of your means.
What is the Best Duffel Bag?
The best duffel bag is one that you can carry to and from your destination without it feeling cumbersome. It should be a bag that will last you for years without any rips, tears, or damage.
Ultimately, if you’re going to spend your hard-earned money, you want to be sure that you invest in a bag that you don’t mind using over and over again. Take your time to shop for something that is durable, looks good, feels comfortable, and works within your budget
The Bottom Line
Ready, set, shop! You’ve got all the knowledge you need to find duffel bags that are right for you. Whether you go with a small duffel for the gym, a large duffel for your vacation, or a custom duffel for a gift, you’re sure to enjoy the challenge of finding the perfect bag for you!
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