When it comes to packing for a weekend away, everyone has a different preference—whether you’re a backpack person, a duffel-bag hauler, a tote-bag fashionista, or a rolling-bag enthusiast. But no matter which option you choose, a good weekender bag does double duty; as both an optimized travel bag that fits everything you need for a weekend-long adventure, and an all-purpose personal item that has a place for everything you need on the plane.
Here are the weekender bags you’ll reuse trip after trip, and why SmarterTravel editors love them.
Timbuk2 Jet Set Travel Duffel Backpack
If you’re a sometimes-backpacker who also loves the space a duffel bag affords, Timbuk2 combines both options with the massive Jet Set Travel Duffel Backpack. This oversized bag has plenty of space for everything you need for the weekend, plus large outer pockets, a rear laptop sleeve, and a detachable organizational pouch to keep plane essentials at your fingertips (or to use as a clutch). On top of its size and practicality, it’s also stylish. The material is lightweight and soft, yet made to last.
SmarterTravel’s Ashley Rossi says she loves this utilitarian weekender bag because it will fit under the seat in front of you but also “doubles as a comfortable pillow if you need it to, so it’s perfect to bring along if you’re staying as a house guest or even camping.”
Tortuga Setout 45 L
A weekender bag that comes in both men’s and women’s sizes, the Tortuga Setout 45L is small enough to fit under the seat in front of you but large enough to bring everything you need for a weekend. SmarterTravel’s Christine Sarkis says “it’s a backpack, but it functions a lot like a weekend bag.” It’s more advanced than the average backpack thanks to its front-loading (as opposed to top-down load) layout with suitcase-like zip-around opening. And like a suitcase, it has a main compartments plus a mesh-zippered side for smaller items.
Lo & Sons O.G. 2
Upscale travel bags like Lo & Sons’ O.G. 2 stand out with undeniable style and high-quality materials that ensure they’ll stay fresh and fashionable for years. And for trips that require a change of footwear, this is a handy weekender bag with a shoe compartment.
SmarterTravel’s Caroline Morse Teel calls the Lo & Sons O.G. 2 “a magical personal item that manages to be a laptop bag, gym bag, carry-on, and weekender all in one. This stylish shoulder bag has tons of pockets and compartments to keep everything organized, and is roomy enough to work for a weekend but small enough to fit under the seat of any plane.”
Samsonite Wheeled Underseat Bag
If you prefer to roll your your bag rather than hauling it on your shoulder, Samsonite’s Wheeled Underseat Bag is for you. This favorite among travel experts combines portability with packing power. It will fit neatly under the seat in front of you, but still holds everything you need for a weekend away under its clam-shell opening top, which lifts to reveal not one but several clear, zippered pouches for super-organized packing.
Speck Travel Backpack
A finalist in SmarterTravel’s Best Personal Items category for the 2019 Editors’ Choice Awards, Speck Travel creates innovative backpacks that come with plenty of built-in packing help. The Speck Travel Backpack includes two packing cubes and a tech pouch, TSA-approved zipper locks that are not usually seen on backpacks, a pass-through luggage handle sleeve, and many organizational pockets. It also has plenty of back support for those times it’s packed to the brim for an adventurous weekend away.
MZ Wallace Travel Jim
The MZ Wallace Travel Jim is a lightweight quilted travel tote that’s as sleek as it is organized. The main compartment is roomy and includes a detachable pouch, six interior pockets, a key-ring strap, as well as an interior phone pocket and enough space for a 15-inch laptop. Outside it features two more pockets, padded nylon handles, and a removable shoulder strap for optimal carrying options. Editor Ashley Rossi calls the Travel Jim “sleek, roomy, and overall just a dream to travel with.”
Bric’s X-Travel Pilot Cabin Case
Intent on finding a rolling cabin bag that actually looks cool? Bric’s X-Travel Pilot Cabin Case is both stylish and portable thanks to its tote shape, leather trim, and handles. This bag easily disguises its utilitarian secret: wheels and a telescoping handle. Editor Ashley Rossi notes that the bag’s material, which comes in three colors, is “a real travel warrior; water resistant and lightweight.”
Away’s The Weekender
A duffel that will protect your laptop and still fit in the overhead bin, Away’s The Weekender packs smart features like its hidden exterior shoe compartment and outer sleeve packed with electronics pockets. The shoe compartment is lined to resist dirt and grime, and the 22 x 9 x 12-inch dimensions fit most airlines’ carry-on luggage requirements.
Sole Society Mason Weekend Bag
A zip-around shoe compartment makes this weekender bag a unicorn that separates into two main packing compartments, one of which is perfect for stashing shoes and dirty laundry away from everything else. The Mason Weekend Bag comes in an array of cool colors and has an outer sleeve to stash your phone or boarding pass—plus three more interior-wall pockets for all your other necessities.
Everlane Twill Weekender
Men looking for a weekender bag should consider the stylish Everlane Twill Weekender, which is as organized as it is cool, complete with a water-resistant exterior. Available in four colors, it fits under the seat in front of you or into any overhead compartment and has interior and exterior slip pockets for all your in-flight necessities.
More from SmarterTravel:
- 10 Underseat Carry-On Bags You Can Take on Any Flight
- 6 Hybrid Duffel Backpacks That Will Change the Way You Pack
- 10 Best Foldable Travel Bags and Foldable Luggage
Some review products are sent to us free of charge and with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions, positive and negative, and will never accept compensation to review a product.
SmarterTravel’s Shannon McMahon writes about all things travel. Follow her adventures on Instagram @shanmcmahon.