Road Trip Bag: Why Duffel Bags Are The Best Luggage

duffels for road trips

Written by Alisha McDarris on

Alisha McDarris is a freelance outdoor journalist who’s written for Outside, Backpacker, Popular Science, and more. She’s also the co-founder of sustainable travel and adventure blog Terradrift, and the snarky personality of Terradrift’s YouTube channel.

    5 Reasons Duffels Are the Best Bag for Road Trips

    Nothing quite beats a duffel bag for versatility and packability on road trips. Here’s why they are the ultimate bag for cross-country excursions.

    Who doesn’t love a good road trip? There’s just something about loading up the car, filling the tank, and setting off on an adventure with the open road and the great outdoors all around you that doesn’t compare to any other type of travel. But, the fun and excitement can turn sour fast if you can’t find essential items you thought you’d packed or have to spend time rummaging around looking for things. It may be the less wild side of an adventure, but it’s definitely the most important, good, efficient packing is the key to a successful road trip. And, that means duffel bags. Here are five reasons duffels are far and away the best bags for road trips.


    Unlike traditional luggage which can have a more rigid structure, duffel bags are softer and flexible, which means they’ll fit into whatever space you put them in. That’s good news if you have to squeeze your bag of clothing between your cooler, inflatable kayak, fold-up camp table and stove. In short, they’re very handy for filling every last space in an over-packed car.


    Backpacks are great for many things, but duffel bags have the edge while on the road. There’s nothing worse than having to rummage through a stack of clothing two feet high to find the warm pair of socks at the very bottom of a backpack. With a duffel, you get a wider, more complete view of your bag’s contents and easier access to everything that’s inside, without having to unpack and repack the whole bag after every search. You can also optimize your duffel bag packing even more with packing cubes to separate out your essential items.

    Pack-It®®® STARTER SET
    Migrate Duffel 90L


    On a road trip, it’s too easy to just toss things on the floor of the trunk or in the backseat—that’s how things end up lost in the recesses of your vehicle. Instead, line your trunk, hatchback, or floor of your car with duffels in different shapes and sizes and assign each to store a specific type of item, one for clean clothes, dirty clothes, items for your camp kitchen, shoes—you name it. Put gear back in the designated duffel when you are done and you’ll always know where everything is. Plus, most duffels, like the Migrate Duffel 40L, have extra organizational pockets on the outside to keep smaller items like headphones and jewelry, safe and in their place.

    They Come In All Sizes

    Whether you’re bringing a lot of gear or just a little, and depending on if you have a small hatchback or giant SUV, there are duffels for every size car, packing type, and adventure. Use a small duffel like the Migrate Duffel 40L for beach gear, try a mid-size model like the Migrate Duffel 90L for clothes, and a mega storage solution like the Cargo Hauler Wheeled Duffel 130L for bulky items like jackets, sweaters, or gear like tents and sleeping bags. No matter your packing style or vehicle size, there’s a perfectly-sized duffel for you.

    Migrate Duffel 40L


    A duffel bag’s usefulness doesn’t end once it leaves the car. Empty or full, they’re endlessly useful whether you have to carry a load of camping gear half a mile down the trail, lug it through an airport—the Cargo Hauler Duffel 60L turns into a backpack, or over long distances—the Migrate Wheeled Duffel 110L has wheels. Some, like the Migrate Line, are even waterproof, which keeps your clothing and gear protected from the elements.

    When it comes to choosing the best bag for road trips, nothing quite matches the versatility of a duffel bag. So gear up before your next excursion and pack smarter, not harder, and enjoy the ride.

    Discover even more tips to plan a cross-country road trip and set off on your next adventure.