Best Outdoor Duffel Bags For Carrying Equipment
When you’re traveling the world, there’s really nothing better than a high-quality outdoor duffel bag. These packs can help you easily transport your most valuable gear from place to place so you can focus more on having a fantastic adventure.
But with so many different outdoor duffel bags on the market today, how can you possibly choose just one for your travels? Thankfully, we’re here to help. Coming up, we’ve got the ultimate buyer’s guide to outdoor duffel bags, complete with reviews of the toughest duffel bags around so you can spend less time researching gear and more time living your best life.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are our answers to your most common questions about outdoor duffel bags:
What size duffel bag should I buy?
Perhaps the most important decision you make when buying a duffel bag is in choosing what size to get. The larger the duffel, the more gear you can bring, but the more cumbersome the bag is to carry around. Additionally, larger duffels need to be checked when flying, which can add costs to your trip.
So, if you’re looking for a carry-on sized duffel, you’ll want to look for a bag that’s between 35 and 45 liters. Alternatively, if you’re headed out on a big international trip into the mountains, you might need multiple 120-liter duffel bags, so it really all depends on what kind of activities you’re doing and for how long.
Should I get a wheeled duffel bag?
Whether or not you want to get a wheeled duffel bag is a wholly personal decision. Wheeled duffels make it easier to zoom around an airport, but the wheels do add quite a bit of weight to the bag. This can be problematic for anyone that usually struggles to keep their checked bags under the weight limit.
Plus, wheeled bags can be annoying to carry when you have to go over stairs or rough terrain. They’re also not ideal if your duffel bag is going to be carried by livestock or porters on a trekking trip. So, while wheeled duffels can be awesome, they do have some downsides.
Are there waterproof duffel bags?
There are, indeed, truly waterproof duffel bags out there, but these are not the norm. The best waterproof duffel bags are often made for river rafting trips and are incredibly expensive and somewhat heavy, thus making them impractical for most regular users.
Instead, it’s usually best to get a highly water-resistant duffel and place any highly sensitive items, like electronics, into smaller dry sacks if you’re expecting to be in lots of heavy rain on a trek. For the most part, the least protected area of a water-resistant duffel is the zipper, so if you can keep your electronics away from there, you’ll probably be just fine.
Top Ten List of the Best Outdoor Duffel Bags
Here are our top ten favorite outdoor duffel bags!
The North Face Base Camp Duffel Bag
MATERIAL: 1000D Phthalate-Free TPE Fabric Laminate, 840D Jr. Ballistic Nylon
FEATURES: Detachable shoulder straps and padded handles for ease of carrying, Side pockets for separating clean and dirty clothes, Durable materials, Many colour options
DESCRIPTION: One of the most common outdoor duffel bags around, The North Face Base Camp is a true expedition duffel that’s designed specifically to keep your gear safe and compact. The Base Camp duffel features a robust 1000 denier phthalate-free TPE fabric laminate that’s beefed up with 840D Jr. Ballistic Nylon, so you can be confident that your bag will hold up over time.
Plus, the Base Camp duffel has detachable ergonomic shoulder straps and padded handles so you can carry it however is most comfortable for you. Oh, and with zippered end-cap compartments that help separate dirty and clean clothes, there’s nothing this duffel can’t do.
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Gregory Alpaca Duffel Bag
MATERIAL: 900D polyester diamond ripstop with TPU coating, 630D HD Nylon base, 210D Nylon lining
FEATURES: Waterproof TPU-coated ripstop fabric for durability, Reflective zippers for ease of use, Removable shoulder straps, Multiple pockets for storage
DESCRIPTION: Sleek and functional, the Gregory Alpaca is an outdoor duffel for the modern traveler. With a range of great size options, as well as a selection of great features, the Alpaca is a fantastic choice for frequent fliers.
The Alpaca features reflective zipper pulls to make it easier to access your gear at night, as well as a durable waterproof TPU-coated ripstop fabric to keep your gear safe and clean. Plus, a mesh organizing pocket and removable shoulder straps allow convenient storage and carry options for life on the go.
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Marmot Long Hauler Duffel Bag
MATERIAL: 600d 100% Poly TPU Laminate Embossed (Phthalate-Free), 135d 100% Polyester | 210d 100% Nylon lining
FEATURES: Lightweight, Large D-shaped zipper, Protective rain flap
DESCRIPTION: The Marmot Long Hauler is a burly duffel for those around-the-world adventures. Built with a D-shaped main zipper and a protective rain flap, the Long Hauler makes it easy to access your gear without exposing it to the elements. The Long Hauler also has plenty of pockets inside to help you organize those smaller pieces of gear.
Plus, a set of compression straps help cut down on excess fluff, while removable shoulder straps make it easier to carry the Marmot Long Hauler duffel bag around town. If that wasn’t good enough, these duffels are remarkably light, so you can pack more gear, worry-free.
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Yeti Panga Duffel Bag
MATERIAL: EVA molded bottom, THICKSKIN™ SHELL Laminated high-density nylon, HYDROLOK™ ZIPPER
FEATURES: Fully waterproof construction, EVA molded bottom and ThickSkin shell for protection, Hydrolok zipper keeps water out
DESCRIPTION: The Yeti Panga is a fully submersible duffel bag to help keep your most important gear dry, wherever life may take you. As one of the only fully waterproof duffel bags out on the market today, the Yeti Panga features an EVA molded bottom to protect your gear, as well as a ThickSkin shell for all-weather protection.
The Panga also has two stowaway mesh pockets to keep your valuables organizes, as well as a Hydrolok zipper to keep water out, even if your duffel goes for a swim. If you need a fully waterproof duffel, it’s hard to beat the Yeti Panga.
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Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Bag
MATERIAL: 14-oz 900-denier 100% postconsumer recycled polyester ripstop (22% solution-dyed) with a TPU-film laminate DWR, 200-denier 100% recycled polyester with a polyurethane DWR coating
FEATURES: Fully recycled materials, Padded shoulder straps and reinforced haul handles, Highly water-resistant, Great colors and sizes
DESCRIPTION: One of the original high-quality outdoor duffel bags, the Patagonia Black Hole combines functionality and style into one awesome package. The Black Hole is made from 100% recycled burly polyester fabric with 100% recycled nylon webbing, so you can feel good about your purchase.
Plus, the Patagonia Black Hole duffel has padded removable shoulder straps for easy carrying as well as reinforced haul handles for loading and unloading your pack. If that wasn’t good enough, the Black Hole is one of the most water-resistant duffels around, thanks to its DWR TPU-coated exterior. What’s not to love?
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Osprey Transporter Duffel Bag
MATERIAL: 780D Packcloth Double Coated TPU, 360/400D Two Tone Packcloth Double Coated TPU, 780D Packcloth Double Coated TPU bottom
FEATURES: Durable water-resistant outer fabric, Contoured harness straps and sternum strap, Plenty of tie-down options
DESCRIPTION: When life takes you on an adventure, you’ll want to have the Osprey Transporter in tow. This set of duffel bags make it easier to load any kind of gear for all of life’s excursions. With a dual-sided TPU coated fabric and durable hardware, the Transporter helps protect your gear, regardless of the conditions.
The Transporter comes with contoured harness straps for easy carrying, as well as an adjustable sternum strap to help relieve some of the strain on your back and shoulder. Plus, the Osprey Transporter has an array of different tie-down options, so you can take your duffel on any trip.
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Arc’teryx Carrier Duffel Bag
MATERIAL: Polyurethane-coated NC400r- AC² nylon, WaterTight™ zipper, Sealed seams
FEATURES: Lightweight, Highly weather-resistant, White interior makes finding gear easy
DESCRIPTION: Sleek and compact, the Arc’teryx Carrier duffel is made for performance. Built with a polyurethane-coated nylon fabric and a watertight zipper, the Carrier is a durable and weather-resistant duffel for all conditions.
Plus, the Arc’teryx Carrier duffel has a convenient storm white interior color to make it easier to find that one piece of gear, as well as an extended length zipper to provide extra access. Removable shoulder straps make the Carrier a great pack to take with you on the go, wherever your travels take you.
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Helly Hansen Duffel Bag
MATERIAL: 100% Water-resistant nylon
FEATURES: Water-resistant soft main fabric, Backpack carry straps, Pockets for organization
DESCRIPTION: The Helly Hansen duffel is a sporty bag built for versatility and performance. This duffel can quickly convert into a backpack, thanks to its removable shoulder straps, so you can always keep it with you when you’re on the go.
Like all great Helly Hansen equipment, the duffel bag features a soft waterproof main fabric to help protect your gear in the harshest environments. An external zippered pocket and an internal pocket also help keep your gear organized when you’re on the move.
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Black Diamond Stone 42 Duffel Pack
MATERIAL: 800d nylon, 1260d ballistic nylon
FEATURES: Includes removable rope tarp, Climber-friendly design, Comfortable to carry
DESCRIPTION: When it comes to taking your duffel to the crag, there’s not much that bests theBlack Diamond Stone. This duffel features a climber-friendly design with a clean and simple look, making it a great companion on your next climbing trip.
The Stone duffel features one large zipper for easy access to all of your gear. Plus, it includes a removable rope tarp so you can always keep your more important lifeline safe when you’re out and about. With two internal pockets and a lightweight framesheet for comfort, the Stone duffel makes it easy to carry all of your most important gear on those long approaches. What more could you want?
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Osprey Trillium Duffel Bag
MATERIAL: 100% Polyester
FEATURES: Stylish and simple, Easy to pack, Nice pocket options
DESCRIPTION: The Osprey Trillium is a new take on the classic duffel design. Built using just one shoulder strap, the Trillium has a modern look for a non-descript, yet aesthetic feel. The Trillium is simple and durable, with a spacious interior and internal zippered pockets for easy packing.
Additionally, the Trillium has four webbing lashing points for securing the duffel, as well as padded grab handles for easy transport. If that wasn’t good enough, the Trillium features a trendy new three-position padded shoulder strap to help you bring this duffel on all of your adventures.
Buyer’s Guide to the Best Outdoor Duffel Packs
Choosing the right duffel bag is no easy feat. Since there are so many different kinds of duffel bags out there, there are a number of features you ought to consider before you settle on just one pack for you. Here’s what to look out for:
Perhaps the number one most important feature of any duffel bag is its volume. Essentially, a pack’s volume directly correlates with the amount of gear you’ll be able to pack. The type of trip you’re going on and the time of year will have a large impact on the amount of gear you’re going to bring, which, in turn, affects the size of the duffel you need.
Duffel bag volume is almost always measured in liters, but you sometimes will find a bag’s volume expressed in cubic centimeters or inches, depending on what part of the world you live in. For the most part, people find that a duffel with a capacity of 70-120 liters is enough for outdoor-related trips of more than three to four days in length.
That being said, with a duffel that large, you really need to be careful when it comes to ensuring that you don’t exceed most airlines’ 50 pound weight limit unless you really don’t care about getting charged that exorbitant overweight fee.
Alternatively, if you’re only heading out on a short weekend trip, a smaller 35-50 liter duffel just might do the trick. Generally speaking, a duffel under 40 liters will be about carry-on size, but it’s worth measuring your bag before you head to the airport to avoid having to check your bag. Some of the best outdoor duffel bags also have backpack straps to give you multiple ways to carry your gear with all the benefits of a duffel pack.
This might seem silly, but the weight of your duffel actually makes quite a difference. In addition to adding strain on your back, if you’re carrying it around, a heavy duffel reduces the amount of weight you can actually pack into the bag. For example, if your duffel weighs seven pounds on its own, that’s seven fewer pounds of gear you can pack without getting charged.
Thus, if you usually check exactly 50 pounds worth of gear, you might want to opt for a lighter duffel.
To wheel or not to wheel? Avid travelers always debate the virtues of wheeled luggage, with some claiming never to go anywhere without it and others refusing to ever buy bags with wheels. While some people hate wheeled luggage, those wheels do make it easier to cart heavy gear around an airport without straining your back.
However, wheels do add weight to your duffel (upwards of 10 pounds!) and make it harder to carry around if you need to go over stairs or rough terrain. Plus, wheeled luggage tends to cost more than a regular duffel, so it might not be worth it to you in the long run.
The size and orientation of the zippered opening on your duffel make a huge difference to your ability to pack the bag. Generally speaking, large D-shaped zipper openings make it easier to pack your duffel full of clothing, while vertical zippers can be just plain annoying. But, D-shaped openings seem to be more difficult to close when the duffel is packed full of outdoor gear, so there are some pros and cons to this kind of zipper.
Depending on what kind of packer you are, you may or may not find that the pockets in a duffel bag are of any use to you Many duffel bags will offer some sort of mesh zippered pocket right under the opening flap while others will have a small pocket on the side.
Some people find that these pockets are critical to their packing system while others may never have noticed them before. So, if you’re the type of person who needs pockets to stay organized, you’ll want to look out for a duffel with an assortment of pocket options.
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