The 8 Best Travel Bags We’ve Tested (And Some to Avoid)


Not every good product can snag a best-in-category title, but there are several more bags we’ve tested that get our thumbs-up and deserve a mention.

The North Face Base Camp for $129: Unlike most duffel bags these days, this is a cylindrical duffel bag. If you’re a folder, it can be difficult to keep everything straight and wrinkle-free as you pack it into the Base Camp’s curved bottom, but those who roll their clothes won’t have any problems. I compared the Base Camp (6/10, WIRED Reviews) to a sturdy, old truck, more than competent enough for tough jobs but lacking in finer details of more modern bags. It’s a workhorse used often by the outdoors crowd, so while the water-resistant fabric and the handles are durable, they just don’t feel as nice to the touch.

Patagonia Black Hole 40L for $159: This is another great adventure duffel with a water-resistant fabric coating and backpack straps. It’s It’s 1.5 inches too thick in one dimension for US domestic carry-on requirements and could have a bit more waterproof material. But it’s a duffel, so you can squish it to fit in an overhead bin.

Tom Binh Aeronaut 45 Duffel for $330: It’s tough to find a made-in-the-US bag these days, but as long as you’re willing to pony up the extra coin, you’ll find it in this Seattle-made, carry-on-size duffel. WIRED reviewer Martin Cizmar applauded the sturdiness of the 1050-denier nylon fabric and YKK zippers, which held up well on tough streets and even tougher airlines over the 10 years he’s been using it. There are hideaway backpack straps, plus what Martin calls the most comfortable cross-body strap he’s ever used.

Gregory Alpaca 40 Duffel for $140: This one impressed me. It weighs a scant 2.7 pounds, but the water-resistant fabric and extraordinarily beefy (though plastic) buckles make it a solid bag for adventuring. It’s not quite as burly as the Base Camp, Big Haul, and Red Oxx bags, and it lacks triple-stitching, but it feels tougher than most, including the Eagle Creek below. There’s an exterior pocket for storing shoes or dirty clothes. The backpack straps don’t tuck away for storage—you have to unclip them—but might be the most well-padded, comfortable straps I’ve encountered on a duffel. Exterior daisy chains and an interior zippered pocket round out the impressive features list.

Land’s End Waxed Canvas Duffel for $90 $180: Most duffel bags these days are made of nylon, and while it’s tough to call a material that’s been popular since the 1940s “modern,” nylon bags don’t have the old-school charm that this waxed canvas bag does. Cotton canvas, covered in wax for water resistance, is offset with leather. It feels well-made, with durable stitching, chunky leather handles, and burlier-than-typical zippers. The internal zippered pocket is a nice touch, as well.

Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler 40L for $149: Two things jump out about the Cargo Hauler. First, it weighs 1 pound, 13 ounces, which is only slightly heavier than air. Second, it has backpack straps that stow away in a front pocket. It’s less heavy-duty than the other duffels in this guide, but it doesn’t feel cheap.

Skyway Epic Carry-On for $80: Bags under $100 are sometimes dodgy. At 7.1 pounds, the Epic is on the lighter end of average. While it’s a fair bit cheaper than the Maxlite 5, our favorite budget bag, it’s also a couple pounds heavier. The handle is a wee bit more finicky, and the Travelpro’s wheels glide a little more nicely. Still, for under $100, the Skyway’s zippers and wheels were of fine quality. These are areas cheap bags usually skimp on. If you must spend less than $100 on a bag, the Epic is a solid choice.

Db Ramverk Pro Front-Access Carry for $699: If you need an absolutely bomber-tough rolling suitcase and don’t mind its 9.6-pound weight, the Pro Front-Access Carry will stand up to more abuse than most rolling bags, with its aluminum frame and 70-percent-recycled polycarbonate body. WIRED reviewer Chris Haslam says it’s his favorite rolling bags in years, sold on its usefulness by what he calls its brilliantly simple front compartment that gives instant access to your stuff, without having to lay the bag flat. Add in a pull-up toggle that easily lifts your laptop clear without disturbing your other belongings and their multi-compartment camera inserts, and you’ve got a seriously versatile bag for active travelers.

Target Signature Weekender Bag for $81: Looking like a cross between a duffel and a handbag, the Weekender has a stucture that product reviewer Louryn Strampe says can become overfilled, so keep that in mind if you plan to bring it onto a plane as a carry-on. She appreciates its durability and the many internal pockets for organization, though, and its rather long five-year warranty.

Solgaard Carry-On Closet Plus for $365: It’s a tiny bit over what most airlines list as the maximum dimensions, but the difference is so small that it’s accepted 95 percent of the time. WIRED reviewer Louryn Strampe praises its optional clip-in closet clothing organizer, which makes for efficient packing. The built-in TSA lock is easy to use, and there’s an internal power-bank pocket. This suitcase is included in our Favorite Upcycled Products guide.

July Checked Bag for $325: This bag uses a polycarbonate shell with aluminum bumpers, striking a good compromise between weight and durability. It’s lighter than the 16-inch Monos checked bag that WIRED reviewer Adrienne So tested by about a pound, and it showed fewer scratches and rub marks on a trip. However, the Monos’ telescoping handle has a much smoother roll-out, and the surface is smooth, not pebbled.

Samsonite Outline Pro Carry-On for $200: This is a hard-side, four-wheeled spinner carry-on made from an outer shell of durable polypropylene. Standout features include an interior fabric made from 100 percent recycled plastic bottles and a “WetPak” storage pocket for keeping damp items separated from the rest of your luggage.

Adidas Defender Duffel for $40: If you’re looking for an inexpensive duffel that’ll handle some light-duty traveling, this is a good way to save $100. The fabric is significantly thinner and less sturdy than that of other duffels in this guide, and it lacks backpack straps. If there’s a chance you’ll have to check it often, I’d look elsewhere. But for taking on the train or tossing into a car trunk, it’ll do the trick.

Paravel Aviator International Carry-On for $395: This carry-on has an interior lining made of recycled plastic bottles, a telescoping handle made of recycled aluminum, and vegan leather trim to help it stand out from all the plain black bags at the airport. Product reviewer Jaina Grey really fell in love with its roomy interior and durable, anti-scuff hard-shell exterior.



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