The 10 Best Weekend Bags
This wiki has been updated 20 times since it was first published in January of 2017. When you're only leaving town for a weekend getaway, you don't want to haul around a giant suitcase that won't fit in the overhead bin of a plane or even on your car's backseat. We rounded up a selection of overnight bags that are the perfect size for two- or three-day trips, are exceptionally well made, and are so stylish you'll want to use them as often as possible. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
May 21, 2020:
It's surprising to me that 50 years after we put a man on the moon, we still can't seem to get zippers right — or at least we don't want to. There are some companies that seem to care about this issue, making robust and reliable zippers like the ones you see on the Barbour Gamefair, Herschel Supply Co. Novel, and Filson Medium. I actually take it a little personally when a company skimps on their zippers, so we made sure that the models included here had at least decent zipper quality to offer. That's why we got rid of the Vera Bradley model from our last ranking.
Beyond that, there are different bags for different types of weekends. A trip to Paris to hit up the museums and other cultural sights might call for the Louis Vuitton Monogram Eclipse Keepall with its high-end urban style, while a jaunt to Maui would be better suited to the Herschel Supply Co. Novel, which comes in some outstanding floral patterns to complement your lei and Hawaiian shirt. In both cases, you'll likely need your choice to meet carry-on requirements, as well.
And if you're absolutely determined to spend as much money as possible on your weekender, we included some luxury options in our special honors section from giants in the menswear industry like Bottega Veneta and Zenga. These are undeniably high-quality offerings, but make sure you're not taking them somewhere they might get damaged, as none of them are designed to patina like the Cenzo Vecchio and the Rustic Town Carry On are.
Lotuff No. 12 If customization if your thing, you'll appreciate that this model comes in eight colors, each of which you can order in swatch form to get an idea of its character and the feel of the leather. You can have the company emblazon it with a monogram for a small fee, and each one boasts a a solid brass YKK zipper that's built to last. lotuffleather.com
Ermenegildo Zegna Grained Calf Holdall This offering is just big enough to count as a weekender, with enough space for a change of clothes and a small dopp kit. It could also serve as a daily bag or even as a briefcase in the right industry, and its black exterior is accented by fine buts of camel brown. On the outside, you'll also find a dedicated ticket pocket that's ideal for train and plane travel, where your credentials will frequently be checked. zegna.us
Bottega Veneta Medium Duffel The elongated zipper on this model features a pair of pulls, so you can open it from either end of close it in the middle. It comes in an eye-catching maroon color calfskin that's supple without feeling fragile, and its corners are reinforced for added durability. While it is sure to make a statement, it's also one of the most expensive options out there. bottegaveneta.com
Why Choose The Weekender
Just remember to switch shoulders occasionally for the sake of your back.
One of the tightest ropes you’ll walk while planning a trip is what you need versus how much space you’ll have to carry it. Bring too much, and you’ll be tired from carrying around unnecessary gear that will only weigh down your vacation. Bring too little, and you’ll be running to the store every other minute to grab items that you can’t believe you neglected to bring. On top of this, luggage space is at more of a premium than ever, with airlines charging baggage fees more and more often. But you can drop some of your luggage stress with a weekend bag, which provides the perfect amount of room for a two- to three-day journey, whether by plane, car, train, or bus.
So, what is it about the weekend bag that makes it such a great piece of luggage? Just start by looking at its size. A standard weekend bag is right in the sweet spot between an average backpack and a rolling suitcase, giving you just enough room for your daily essentials plus some toiletries and a couple of changes of clothes. Because it’s smaller than a suitcase, though, you won’t need to check it, saving you money on baggage fees.
A weekend bag will also be much easier to deal with while you’re on the go. These bags typically open duffel-style, which lets you find what you’re looking for quickly, as opposed to a horizontally oriented backpack that requires pulling everything out to get to the items on the bottom. And while it’s true that suitcases also open easily, you must generally lay them on the floor and open them fully, exposing everything you own for all to see. A weekender gives you the convenience along with the privacy.
You’ll probably also find that a weekend bag is a cinch to carry, as long as you don’t overstuff it. Most feature grab handles, making them easy to pick up and put down as you shuffle through a line, as well as a shoulder strap, which is appropriate for distance carrying. You don’t have to mess around with backpack straps or try to drag a wheeled bag over thick carpet or uneven stone paving. Just remember to switch shoulders occasionally for the sake of your back.
Must-Have Travel Items
Among travelers, there are few topics that will start an argument as heated as which items are must-haves for your weekend bag and which are non-essentials that will weigh you down. Although your gear list depends on what you’ll be doing and where you’re going, there are a handful of items that will almost always be worth the weight and space.
You’ll want one on the plane or bus so that you’ll be well-rested when you get to where you’re going, but you might need this item even after you’ve landed.
For instance, consider the towel, the most useful item that any interstellar traveler can carry. A travel towel is a must for hostel and dorm stays where towels may not be provided, and having one on hand makes for a stress-free last-minute trip to the beach. Even travelers staying in luxury hotels could use a towel; keep one in your carryon for unexpected messes or to sit on should the bus or taxi seat be less than pristine. Look for a lightweight, portable microfiber model rather than a standard bath model.
A heavier item that’s just as deserving of the room it requires is the power bank or portable phone charger — unless, of course, you’re fine with missing all those Insta-worthy moments that always seem to happen just after your phone or camera dies. Look for external juice with dual USB ports if you’re going to be carrying a lot of gadgets (or you could share to garner the goodwill of your fellow passengers).
One must-bring that many travelers forget to pack is a sleep mask. You’ll want one on the plane or bus so that you’ll be well-rested when you get to where you’re going, but you might need this item even after you’ve landed. Nothing will disrupt your sleep faster than the nightlight your friend won’t let you turn off or the curtains that won’t close all the way, letting that sliver of ultra-bright parking lot lighting fall right across your eyes.
Last but definitely not least is a durable water bottle. While you could rely on buying bottled water everywhere you go, more and more airports, train stations, and even regular businesses are installing bottle-filling stations, so you have no excuse not to save both the environment and some cash. Plus, travelers are no longer restricted to standard Nalgene bottles, as there are reusable bottles to complement just about every weekend bag and style.
A Brief History Of The Weekend
It would be tough to have the weekend bag without the weekend. But although we consider the division of the work week a concrete fact of life, there are no natural cycles or forces that support such a division. Rather, the weekend is a contrivance that got its start in religion, then became cemented through working practices and economic factors that shaped 18th and 19th century labor.
This five-day work week was eventually codified in the U.S. under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.
Most historians agree that the idea of a day of rest can be first traced back to Judaism, with the two-day break following much later, in 19th century Britain. Workers paid at the end of the work day on Saturday took Sunday for church and Monday to spend their money (often on drink); they called this “Saint Monday.” The heads of factories eventually agreed to give their workers Saturday off in exchange for their (sober) attendance at work on Mondays.
This five-day work week was eventually codified in the U.S. under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. Around this time, economists predicted that the amount of rest would continue to grow, with a 20- or 15-hour work week eventually becoming the norm. Although this hasn’t been realized in America, several European countries, including the Netherlands, have begun adopting shorter work weeks, so there may yet be hope that you’ll be able to use your weekend bag more often in the future.