Generations ago, the first duffel bags were issued to American GIs along with their uniforms and other gear. The bag was simple: heavy canvas, open at one end, with a shoulder strap and handle.
The concept, too, was simple: when soldiers or sailors were deployed, they could pack all their belongings in a single bag that they would carry with them. As servicemen completed their duty and returned to civilian life, many of these bags found their way to military surplus stores and became a favorite packing choice for young people heading off for college and other life adventures. They were also a favorite with coaches to store team equipment, sportsmen to pack camping and hunting gear, dive gear, and countless other things.
The simple GI duffel was nothing if not versatile, and many of them (remarkably) remain in use today. Over time, the concept has evolved and improved, and today there are a ton of duffel styles and sizes out there... and they are used for every purpose imaginable!
CAN I USE A DUFFEL AS MY MAIN TRAVEL BAG?
Of course you can! Generations of GI’s used the basic duffel as their main (and only) travel bag. Why mess with a great thing? We recommend creating your own organization using Eagle Creek’s Pack-It™ System. With the Pack-It Folder, you can store your nice dress clothes in a duffel to keep everything pressed and wrinkle-free.
Today, there are a lot more options than the standard shoulder-carry duffel. If you plan to use a duffel bag as your main travel bag, look for a duffel bag with wheels, or for one that doubles as a backpack. (Helpful note: We've developed a handy Quick Snap Strap to convert your No Matter What Duffel into a comfy backpack carry.) For those really big adventures, when you need to pack a lot and are planning to put your bag through the all rigors of adventure travel, look for heavy-duty zippers, sturdy seams, and water-resistant fabrics. The No Matter What Duffel is a great choice. But if you want even more features, like external storage pockets, last points, extra-grip handles and lockable zippers, Eagle Creek's ORV Trunks are a top pick. Chosen by Outside Magazine as Best Travel Bag in 2014, the ORV Trunk is a great bag for your most serious adventures.
Another smart choice for those who can't decide whether or not they want to travel with a backpack or duffel, is the ultra lightweight 2-in-1 Backpack/Duffel. It's a full-size carry-on travel bag, that stores in a compact packable size. Great for a weekend trip to the mountains, or to throw in a larger bag and use for day trips at your destination.
Regardless of the trip you’re planning, you’ll find that a duffel bag is a must-have – so if you don’t yet own one, make sure to include one on your next packing list.
USE YOUR DUFFEL TO PACK ODDS AND ENDS
The type of trip you’re planning will determine what type of duffel – or duffels – you’ll need. Start by considering the amount of gear you plan to pack to determine the size of the duffel you’ll want to pick up.