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If you’re anything like us, wanderlust is pretty easy to come by these days, and that’s why it’s never too early (or too late?) to find one of the best travel bags to add to your daily or weekend carry. These run the gamut across several categories, but each can rise to the occasion when you need it the most. Restrictions are shifting, face mask mandates are changing, borders are opening back up, and getaways are being planned (or rescheduled, or re-planned). So, let us reiterate: You need one of the very best travel bags to get you where you’re going in style.
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Of course, that’s the key. Even your luggage should be stylish, no matter how near or how far you’re going. And if your future includes a long-awaited trans-Atlantic getaway, you need a bag that can go the distance. What are you going to do? Start shopping, of course. Naturally, there are all sorts of different directions your search can take you, so we’ve cast a broad net (just as your travel plans are similarly broad and adventure-filled, of course).
Here at SPY, we love the best travel bags. Carry-ons, weekenders, duffles, backpacks — you’re sure to need an upgrade on at least one of those must-own pieces of luggage in the coming months. To help you indulge your wanderlust, we’ve got options for every type of travel bag you might need. Whether you’re going to be hitting the road again for work or play, we’ve got you covered.
While technically, any bag can be a travel bag, for this list, we’ve focused on the best travel bags that meet carry-on limits and TSA rules and regulations, and they’re all outstanding in different ways. So before you pack your bags, make sure you’re picking the right ones that can handle all of your travel gear.
1. Filson Rugged Twill Extra Large Rolling Duffle
The good folks at Filson never cease to amaze us in terms of gear that goes the distance, lasts a remarkably long time and gets better with age. That’s the case with the brand’s famed waxed trucker jackets, burly flannel shirts and hard-wearing work pants, but it’s also true with its equally iconic luggage. They’ve taken the same fabrics that make so many of their menswear staples so great and turned them into luggage pieces fit for anyone’s everyday carry. This extra-large rolling duffle fills plenty of needs in terms of casual travel, so if you tend towards more rugged adventures or tend to travel more for pleasure than business, it could fill the bill quite nicely. Think of it as you’d think of a Filson flannel: You should use it as often as possible, you can put it through the wringer, and it only gets better with age. You won’t regret shelling out any extra cash when buying it. Sounds unbeatable to us.
2. Oak Leathers Leather Duffle Bag
Want the heirloom look and feel of a richly crafted leather travel bag that gets better with age but without breaking the bank? Have we got just the duffle for you? This soft leather duffle from Oak Leathers comes with all the proper bells and whistles you need to haul your favorite menswear picks from point A to point B without missing a beat (or leaving anything behind). We’d take this bag on plentiful weekend jaunts to rustic cabins or lodges, but you could even use it as a daily catch-all back home if need be. Better still, it’s up for grabs right now for just under $100, yet it offers plenty of utility beyond that. Stock up and pack accordingly as you plan your next excursion.
3. J.Crew Waxed Canvas Duffel Bag
What is it about waxed canvas that takes a seemingly ordinary piece of luggage from good to great? This material has been trusted over the years to turn jackets and everyday carry essentials into weather-ready, go-anywhere staples. It only makes sense that J.Crew would look to the trusted material to craft one affordable, well-made, durable duffle. The lighter you can travel, the further you go, one might say, which is why we can’t get enough of the canvas bag when it comes to long weekends or even an entire week away — when packed properly, that is. Think of it like a more affordable version of the Filson bag we showed earlier, with a smaller carrying capacity but just as much versatility and dependability. It’s best packed up with classic J.Crew menswear picks, in our opinion.
4. Osprey Transporter Duffel Bag
BEST ADVENTURE DUFFEL BAG
Every piece of luggage on this list serves its own purpose, whether that’s taking you off on holiday, equipping you with the most seamless way to travel for business, or outfitting you with a rugged heirloom so you can tell stories of your own with each trip. However, the Osprey Transporter Duffel Bag goes above and beyond in terms of extreme off-the-grid travel. You could certainly use it as your to-go bag of choice when heading to a luxury resort in a far-off locale, too, but it’s mighty useful for adventures off the grid, as we said. It’s made with durable, recycled polyester to stand up to bumps and scrapes. It features exceptional carrying capacity and tough-yet-lightweight design, all the better to keep your trusted valuables and survival tools safe. There isn’t a better bag on the market when the going gets tough, in short.
5. Zero Halliburton Edge Lightweight Continental Carry On
BEST LIGHTWEIGHT CARRY-ON BAG
The world of carry-on luggage runs the gamut from highly affordable pieces that tend to get dinged up (although there’s a right and a wrong way to do affordable carry-on luggage, as you’ll find out if you keep reading) to luxe options made to stand the test of time. There are selections like Zero Halliburton’s Edge Carry-On in the middle ground, made to feel ridiculously light while in transit and yet also crafted to stand up to anything. Beyond that, it’s priced even more reasonably than you might expect at less than $500.
6. Samsonite Centric Hardside Expandable Luggage with Spinner Wheels
The Samsonite Centric Hardside is maybe a half-step down from Zero Halliburton in terms of toughness and quality construction, but a full leap down in price, which earns it a spot on the best-of list. It also has a scratch-resistant polycarbonate body, TSA-friendly locks, a roomy shell that expands by an inch if you’re an over-packer, and multi-directional spinner wheels that give you a smooth ride. With 10 different colors to choose from and backed by Samsonite’s well-earned reputation for quality luggage, the Centric Hardside is a surefire winner at a great price.
7. Samsonite Winfield 2 Hardside Expandable Luggage with Spinner Wheels
The hard-shell Samsonite Winfield 2 has a lot going for it — the hard polycarbonate outer shell looks excellent, the TSA locks, the multi-directional wheels, roomy interior, and the Samsonite quality backed by a 10-year warranty. It weighs under seven pounds, making those treks through the terminals and hoisting into overhead compartments so much easier. And yet it still comes in at under a hundred bucks, which is genuinely shocking. Over 11,000 Amazon buyers have taken the time to give the Winfield 2 five stars, so we’re sold. For the money, this is the best hardside carry-on you can find.
8. Away Bigger Carry-On
BEST CARRY-ON BAG WITH LOCK
We get it — traveling can be scary. From bumpy plane rides to rainy road trips to wobbly trains, you never know what could happen while in transportation. You should never worry about the fear of your bag being stolen. With Away’s Bigger Carry-On, the chances of that happening are practically zero. This bag is built with a TSA-approved locking system and a super hard exterior shell to make sure nobody (aside from you) can get inside. The bag is built to be the last carry-on you’ll ever have to buy and comes in plenty of sharp colors. If you need to charge your phone on the road, this carry-on comes with an exterior portable charger to make sure your devices are juiced up at all times.
9. ROAM Jaunt XL
MOST CUSTOMIZABLE LUGGAGE
The ROAM came to our attention a few months ago because it is entirely customizable. It’s the world’s first fully customizable premium luggage, and the idea of replacing your generic-looking black suitcase with something utterly and uniquely yours is appealing. Every last bit of the ROAM is whatever color you choose — front and back shells (separately), binding, zipper (even the zipper pull), wheels, you name it. It’s a guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never miss the ROAM coming off the luggage carousel. The ROAM is a quality bag even past the novelty of making yours look kaleidoscopic. The Jaunt XL model is the most considerable carry-on option in the extensive ROAM line. While this is an expensive suitcase, you’re paying extra to get a customized suitcase that will last you for decades to come.
10. Herschel Supply Co. Duffle Bag
BEST NO-FRILLS DUFFLE BAG
You’re headed on a rare weekend trip; why go the extra mile and splurge on a bag you barely use? For under $100, this classic duffle from Herschel will get you to and fro any and all weekend trips. It has a no-frills, easy-looking design that stays both modern and handsome in its facade. It features a pocket to place your dirty shoes so they don’t touch the rest of your clean clothes, which makes this double as an excellent gym bag. It has two carrying handles so you can haul your load wherever life takes you and a removable, adjustable strap that works as a second way to carry.
11. Knack Pack 2.0 Large Expandable Backpack
BEST OVERALL TRAVEL BACKPACK
The Knack Pack 2.0 is another of our recent picks. What makes it the best overall travel backpack? It does everything equally well — it’s a weekender, a carry-on, an office backpack, or the bag that carries your laptop and tech gear to the local bookstore or coffeehouse for a day of writing or side hustling. It has a trolley sleeve if you’re using it as a carry-on and as many pockets as you could need. Yet those pockets aren’t completely obvious because the design’s clean lines obscure so many of them, along with the side pocket for your water bottle. It’s roomy — you can fit four outfits and a pair of flat shoes — and still, you have room for your laptop and all those pockets at your disposal, including an RFID.
12. Carhartt Legacy Deluxe Work Backpack
Are you headed on a business trip? Bring yourself a backpack that can hold all of your work accessories. This massive backpack has the number one thing you need when traveling for work: a padded laptop sleeve. Trust us; you do not want to head on an airplane without one of these. Any unexpected turbulence could turn into a shattered laptop screen you’ll likely have to pay out of pocket yourself, and nobody wants to do that. We suggest bringing this backpack along on trips where less is more. Meaning if you’re headed to a location for work for solely one night, bring this backpack along and ditch the carry-on entirely.
13. Fjallraven Kanken Laptop 15-Inch Backpack
You’ve seen the Fjallraven Kanken logo all over airports or out in the world, usually on cute tiny backpacks that make you scratch your head about just how much they could hold. But don’t be surprised to see the Swedish brand making this list because the Laptop 15-Inch model backpack is not that twee little bag we see so frequently. The same variety of bright colors, but this one easily holds your 15-inch laptop along with your other travel essentials, and it still fits into the overhead compartment or under the airplane seat in front of. It’s compact and well-built, the ideal grab-and-go backpack for a flight, especially for college students. It turns out those little bags have a big brother.
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