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Travel Luggage: What Do You Prefer?

A recent review of a 31 liter wheeled piece of travel luggage (it's worth a read,  https://www.trailspace.com/gear/eagle-creek/orv-wheeled-duffel-international-carry-on/#review41511) raised the issue for me of travel bags - how we get our stuff from here to there, often via mass transit. I'm curious what people use and why.  

Initially, i separated work travel from leisure/vacation trips. I have a wheeled 'two suit' suitcase that fits in airplane overhead space (except for small commuter planes where you check everything larger than a briefcase). Not the choice for hiking, trekking, outdoors trips.  

If I don't need suits, I have one bag that crosses over between work and hiking/vacation, a North Face small base camp duffel: https://www.trailspace.com/gear/the-north-face/base-camp-duffel/#review38774 It holds about 42 liters, has removable backpack straps, has lots of handles and tie-down options, and a big opening for easy access. it's also extremely durable and slots nicely into an overhead on a plane or train. 

Spouse and kids have used a few types of rolling duffels over the years. Wheeled duffels are fine if you use the wheels; if not, the wheels and handles add a few pounds of needless weight. LL Bean rolling adventure duffels are typical LL Bean fabric duffels with wheels and an extending handle. https://bit.ly/3fvRu9p The fabric, wheels and zippers have been durable; some thinner plastic pieces that stiffen the bottom near the wheels have been damaged and broken in transit. Also, these duffels have an annoying habit of toppling over; they won't stand upright on their own. 

When the Bean duffels broke, Eddie Bauer expedition duffels with wheels replaced them. they stand up! (yay). Now sold in 45, 98 and 129 liter sizes, but our older versions are about 70 liters. No durability issues, better access to the interior, more pockets/dividers to make packing easier. they cost a fair bit more than the comparable Bean duffels unless you wait for one of Bauer's 40% off sales (which seem to happen at least 2-3x annually). https://www.eddiebauer.com/p/82300254/expedition-22-duffel-2.0?sp=1&color=Black&size=ONE%20SIZE 

I still use larger non-wheeled duffels for non-work trips, and our kids have used big duffels to get to and from summer camp and then college. The lowest-end types we used were from Coleman; they're no longer available, and that is a good thing. They were inexpensive, but they fell apart. REI also sells inexpensive ripstop nylon travel duffels - light fabric (bottom is reinforced), light-duty zippers, very simple bags. we avoided them because they looked and felt like airport baggage handling or a fall off a car roof rack would destroy them (yes, that has happened to me now and then - that's why tie-downs are great).

For a somewhat higher cost, the larger LL Bean adventure duffels are made from 420d coated nylon. (pro tip - the Bean duffels with a print pattern as opposed to solid are the same price but use heavier-duty 600d fabric).  Handles, hardware to attach the single shoulder strap, zippers, and stitching are all well-done. We have one that's over 30 years old, and it only has one or two small holes from being dragged behind a golf cart - everything else is in great shape. What the LL Bean duffels lack are shoulder straps, internal storage options, and easy access; they're big bags with one long zipper. 

The larger duffels I use for trips both have some nice features to make life easier: a big D-shaped zipper opening so you can easily see and get at the contents; dual removable shoulder straps; a few smaller zippered pockets to store smaller stuff; and overall better materials and build quality. the smaller one is an Eddie Bauer first ascent maximus duffel, holds 70 liters, so medium/large. It's made from 600d polyester and well-made. I haven't yet reviewed it on Trailspace, but it's several years old, does the job well, and a less expensive alternative to some other brands. 

The very large duffel i bought to replace the aging Bean duffel is a Gregory Alpaca 120, reviewed here: https://www.trailspace.com/gear/gregory/alpaca-duffle/ It also has a big zippered opening, numerous grab handles, and good shoulder straps. Built to last, made of 900d coated nylon with an additional layer of 600d nylon covering the base, bigger/heavier coil zippers, heavy-duty stitching. When I was shopping, the large heavy-grade duffels i thought had the best combination of features and durability were from Sea to Summit, North Face, and Patagonia (you can buy Patagonia's black hole duffels with wheels, too, but they are very expensive); in the largest size, these all cost between $175 and $200 and rarely go on sale. The Alpaca is similarly priced, but when I found it reduced to $115, the savings outweighed my slight preference for the shoulder straps and other features on these others.  

My business tourist travel bags are two carry-on sized gym bags.  They are well made.  I travel light for the most part.  I use a suit bag for business trips.  Otherwise if I am back packing I have the airport put my pack in one of those plastic cocoons.  It eliminates the issues of loose straps or luggage items that can get caught on baggage handling devices.  If I have skis, they go in a ski bags. 

When I did expeditions  we packed gears and food items in cardboard boxes, wood crates, and large, cloth, military surplus duffels.  The exact choice of packaging depended on transportation logistics and destiny.  Often exped items were shipped via a freight carrier; sometimes items traveled by a combination of road, rail and air logistics.  When international travel was involved packing choices had to consider customs access to contents.  It can be complicated.

Ed

I use a duffle bag except for rare airline travel and then I take a little suit case with wheels. 

I gave up business travel in 2000.

I use my backpacking pack to carry my things when traveling by public transport like Greyhound as it's easiest to carry on my back than to use standard luggage that has to be carried in hands or pulled behind.

I have duffle bags from when I was in the military. Also a hockey duffle bag that I use more for air flight or trips.When hiking I just take my backpack and ship like ed when I hit a airport I" am  ok with checking in bags,. I dont see myself flying anytime soon domestically to much for to little..Ill drive. Alaska airlines different story have connections for flights...

I have duffle bags from when I was in the military. Also a hockey duffle bag that I use more for air flight or trips.When hiking I just take my backpack and ship like ed when I hit a airport I" am  ok with checking in bags,. I dont see myself flying anytime soon domestically to much for to little..Ill drive. Alaska airlines different story have connections for flights...

Short trips?  A simple sports bag that carries just a few things.  

Long trips? A small roller bag that carries one week of clothes.  If I need to take a sport coat, I wear/carry that on the plane.  In years past I traveled as much as 150,000 miles per year.  You learn to approach packing the same way you would approach backpacking---minimal and multi-purpose gear. 

October 27, 2021
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