For the ease of a backpack and the black-hole space of a gym bag, look to these hybrid duffel backpacks that are a utilitarian traveler’s best friend.
Best Duffel Backpacks
Whether you’re slinging it over your back to get through rough terrain or want a rolling version for easier transport, you may never go back to a clunky suitcase.
Eagle Creek’s Cargo Hauler Duffel Backpacks
You may worry that duffel backpacks will be hard on your shoulders, but it’s easy to find rolling versions that will grant you the best of both worlds. Eagle Creek’s Cargo Hauler Duffel comes not only in an array of sizes (45 to 120 liters) and colors, but also in a wheeled option.
This roomy duffel backpack will fit all your stuff, whether you want to wheel it, carry it, or attach its removable straps and throw it on your back. Its water repellant fabric and padded base make it a durable option for every adventure, and it folds up into itself so it can be stashed away at home.
The North Face Flyweight Duffel Backpack
Another way to ensure duffel backpacks won’t weigh you down is opting for a smaller ultralight duffel-bag backpack. The North Face Flyweight Duffel is a great choice for packing light on shorter trips, or for budget airlines that limit bag size. It can hold 32 liters and has external pockets for easy access to necessities. Its sleek unisex design blends in anywhere. Wear it on your back or sling its long carrying strap over your shoulder.
Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Backpack
Packing everything you need for an adventure means you’ll need a roomy duffel-bag backpack—but preferably one that folds away for easy storage. Patagonia’s Black Hole Duffel does just that, as its name suggests, and comes in sizes ranging from 30 to 120 liters.
I relied on one to get around Sri Lanka for two weeks and loved its rip-stop waterproof material during the rainy season, plus its removable straps for when I wanted to quickly transition from a safari vehicle or train to walking on dirt roads. The Black Hole Duffel also comes in a wheeled version for those who won’t be encountering rough terrain.
Cotopaxi Nazca Canvas Overnight Duffel Backpack
An overnight bag that can hold 24 liters, Cotopaxi’s Nazca Canvas Overnight Duffel backpack is both water-resistant for outdoor use and stylish enough to double as a business-trip-worthy duffel backpack. The inner mesh packing compartments make it super organized, whether you’re camping or using it as a carry-on (its dimensions are fit for all airline size limits). As an added bonus, it has a 61-year warranty and could be the last overnight bag you buy.
Trendy Swedish bag maker Fjallraven offers the Splitpack, a unique take on duffel backpacks that splits in half to become two roomy, easy-to-pack compartments rather than one gravity-sensitive backpack slot. Fill both compartments and zip them together for a densely packed duffel-bag backpack, and keep your accessories in the easy-access outer pockets. The inner walls include mesh compartments to organize smaller items, and the bag can hold about 35 liters.
Cotopaxi Chumpi Travel Duffel Backpack
Cotopaxi also offers roomier active duffle backpacks: The thick canvas Chumpi Travel Duffel Bag can hold 30 to 50 liters and is designed to carry all your necessary gear. Use it for camping, road trips, or as a larger carry-on bag (it fits most airline’s carry-on dimensions) to protect all your personal items. It’s made to last (61-year warranty) and has large outer pockets and thick straps that will keep you both organized and comfortable while you’re carrying it.
Perfect Activewear for Women
More from SmarterTravel:
- 7 Ultra Useful Carry-On Bags
- This $800 Robot Suitcase Will Never Leave Your Side
- 10 Essential Multipurpose Tools for Travel
Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2017. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.