The 10 Best Wheeled Duffels
This wiki has been updated 24 times since it was first published in April of 2015. Whether you spell it duffel or duffle (both are correct), few bags offer better combinations of portability and spaciousness than the ones you'll find here. Today's models, with a set of rolling wheels added, remain some of the most useful luggage options on the market for everything from weekend trips to extended excursions. Many are just the right size for taking on a plane, too. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
May 01, 2019:
Whether you're taking a rolling duffle bag across town for a weekend or to the other side of the world for months on end, certain features are non-negotiable. Resilient fabric, strong, yet quiet, wheels that are simple to maneuver, hardy zippers, and a reinforced interior are all vital for a bag to survive the journey. It's also paramount to have packing flexibility afforded by a host of pockets, dividers, compartments, and expansion zippers. These attributes were all highly prioritized when we updated this list.
While they offered thoughtful designs, we felt compelled to let go of two of our previous selections from High Sierra due to repeated durability complaints. The same went for the World Traveler Rolling Carry-on. Instead, we opted to add the Lily Bloom On The Prowl as a stylish substitute that lasts longer, and the Coolife Luggage for a rugged selection that's still sleek-looking and reliable. The Olympia Luggage 22-Inch offers a solid budget option that's nevertheless sturdy and hardwearing.
Known for their spectacular "All Mighty" guarantee and impressive attention to detail, the Osprey Shuttle Series easily claimed our number one spot. The designers of this bag seemed to think of everything to make travel more convenient, from a number of low-profile handles that are easy to grab and TSA-approved locking zippers to a collapsible lower compartment for storing dirty laundry.
It's important to note that manufacturers are constantly updating their gear to improve weak points and integrate stronger fabrics and materials. Not every bag is impervious to defect, though, so we ensured most of these selections came with a generous warranty.
It's More Than A Suitcase
In Australia, surfers didn’t bother with attaching a drawstring to the duffel bag.
Duffel bags, sometimes referred to as holdalls, are most commonly used by athletes and people who travel frequently. They are issued in the military and are sometimes referred to as seabags when used by sailors or marines. Duffel bags are generally made of a thick cloth or other strong fabric. The original and military issued duffel bags close at the top with a drawstring.
The duffel bag gets its name from the town Duffel in Belgium. This is where the original cloth used to make these bags was produced. Duffel bags are a popular choice among frequent travelers and are even sometimes personalized and given as gifts on special occasions.
Children now use small duffel bags for overnight stays with friends or for carrying all of their necessities for summer camp. Adults, especially people who are particularly physically active, love the versatility that a duffel bag provides and often use them for outdoor camping trips or weekend excursions.
The duffel bag was often used by military personnel in World War II. It wasn’t until after the war that it became popular among the civilian population as well. Surfers in California and Australia especially enjoyed the duffel bag in the 1940s and 1950s, and it began to be associated with that particular sub-culture.
In Australia, surfers didn’t bother with attaching a drawstring to the duffel bag. Instead, they simply added all of their necessary items, such as swim clothes and towels, to their canvas bag, and used their hands to hold the top shut while slinging it over their shoulder for easy carry.
Once others began to catch on to the convenience a duffel bag provides, they began to be mass produced and favored by athletes and frequent travelers.
Learning How To Choose The Right Wheeled Duffel
If you are a seasoned traveler and appreciate convenience and maximum storage space in your luggage, then a wheeled duffel bag might be just what you need. Because they are so often made from flexible, soft material, they are made to expand and fit a large number of items. They are much more than your average gym bags now.
They have more storage space than most traditional suitcases and other luggage, so they are great for campers or people who need to take a lot of things along when traveling. They are especially helpful for travelers who spend a lot of time outdoors and extended periods of time away from home.
Depending on how you plan to use it, the fabric may or may not hold up to certain traveling conditions.
Once you have decided that the load you need to carry is heavy enough to necessitate a wheeled duffel bag, there are a few things to consider when choosing one for your next trip. First of all, consider the type of fabric that the duffel is made from. Depending on how you plan to use it, the fabric may or may not hold up to certain traveling conditions.
If you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors, you might want to get something with a material that is strong and easy to clean. However, if you are a business traveler who appreciates a classy appearance with the convenience of a duffel bag, you might consider something made of suede or even leather with a unique design.
Second, check for storage space. While duffel bags don’t generally have the same number of storage pockets that a regular wheeled suitcase might have, many are still equipped with hidden compartments and side pockets for convenience and easy access. While every duffel bag has the large main storage compartment, you can find variety in the side pockets and sometimes the expandable netting. There might even be hidden organizer pockets inside the bag so you can stash important items and help you make maximum use of your space. Also, check for expansion zippers. These allow you to make the bag bigger or smaller depending on the amount of things you need to carry.
Third, check for durability. This can be assessed by looking at the bag's seams. Duffel bags do not have frames to support them like most traditional luggage, so all of their strength lies in the seams. The highest quality seams will be lock-stitched. Other high-quality seams are taped from the inside and are surrounded by piping that looks like plastic tubes. These tubes reinforce the strength of the bag and allow you to stuff it with even heavy items.
A Brief History of the Wheeled Duffel
Bernard Sadow was the first to apply for a patent for a wheeled suitcase. After a long string of rejections, Sadow eventually sold his idea to Macy’s, and the first wheeled suitcases hit the market in October of 1970.
Adding wheels to the bottom of the duffel bag just makes sense.
There were a number of issues with these because they were average suitcases with wheels attached to a narrow bottom. If they were filled to capacity, they tended to be heavy and tip over making things horribly inconvenient for the hurried traveler.
In the late 1980s, Bob Plath invented the “Rollaboard” which is the basic wheeled suitcase so many travelers use today. Since its handle is retractable, and it rolls on two wheels, it is much easier to maneuver and can carries more weight than the original wheeled suitcases. Out of the invention of the Rollaboard came Travelpro, a popular luggage company.
Today, wheels are added to nearly any type of luggage imaginable, including large duffel bags. The duffel bags have long been a favorite of athletes and frequent travelers because they hold so much more than the average suitcase. Adding wheels to the bottom of the duffel bag just makes sense.