Duffels are necessary. No adventurer worth his salt is heading out for the weekend without a solid duffel. Even so, the duffel world can be a tricky one to navigate – too large and it’s cumbersome to carry, too small and you’re toast trying to fit more than your toothbrush and some socks. Companies can’t even agree on a proper spelling of the word “duffel” (or is it duffle?). There’s very little standard for what one should or shouldn’t be. We know it should be cylindrical in shape, made of durable fabric and easily held over the shoulder. As far as we can tell, this is the criteria for what makes a duffel a duffel. Beyond that, you’re on your own to find the perfect fit and function. Luckily for you, we’ve scoured the furthest reaches of the internet to bring what we feel are the four great weekender duffels.
This bag is tough. As with everything Filson makes, the moment you pick up this bag you can tell it will outlast you. The quality of construction is impeccable. Canvas and leather harmonize together with tight seams and looks that are exceptionally dapper in black. The brass hardware confidently keeps your belongings intact and goes well with the thickness and strength of the canvas. There are no extra zippers or pockets, but the bag is deceptively spacious. It even seems to grow as you fill it. Leave the extra rucksack at home because this bag is large enough to fit everything you’d need for a weekend getaway, plus some extra gear or footwear. It’s certainly tough enough to handle any outdoor environment, but it’s also sophisticated enough for the great indoors, too. BUY HERE
Where Sherlock Holmes and Indiana Jones collide, you’ll find this leather duffel by LL Bean Signature. The leather keeps shape even when this bag is empty and, like all leather, develops character with each use. It’s plenty spacious for a weekend getaway and fits as nicely in the boot of a Bronco as it does a Bentley. The zippers secure your belongings with ease, and the fabric liner is a nice touch. Frankly, I love this duffel. The sophistication is unmatched. Like most things, though, there’s a time and place for it. I probably wouldn’t take it camping, hiking or on a long trip. This duffel belongs in the back of an old Austin Healey on your way to the Hamptons. It almost looks like an old travelling physician’s case. It’s classic and classy, and we love it for that. Grab one to go at LL Bean ($279).
Hailing from the great state of Colorado, Topo Designs is a brand we’ve come to love for their fresh take on mountain gear channels, Rocky Mountain ethos and ruggedness. The 24-inch duffel is made from ultra-durable 1000d Cordura, has a detachable shoulder strap and includes inside pockets. The leather handle patinas nicely with time and looks superb with all colors. The camo is our favorite and stands out in a sea of canvas duffels. Inside you’ll find an extra pouch and also a neon-colored liner that keeps your goods intact. BUY HERE
The Duffaluffagus from Poler is as fun to say as it is to own, and at 26.5″ x 9″ x 14″ inches (54 liters), it is the largest bag in this bunch. The 1000d Cordura outer is paired with a 420D nylon liner and has inner pockets. The Duffaluffagus sports hide-away backpack straps on the bottom to easily distribute weight across both shoulders, making this versatile carrier the Swiss Army Knife of duffels. The high contrast, over-sized zippers make this bag fun to look at and are sure to elicit the envy of your fellow campers. BUY HERE
Technology has moved the duffel down a path of efficient production, but it hasn’t defrayed the heart and function. For that, we’re grateful. We like the old school heritage that comes with a duffel. It’s elegant and simple. It speaks to something larger than yourself. It speaks to adventure; it says, “Where’re you going?”
Words & Photos: Jonathan Gallegos