If you’ve traveled anywhere by plane in the last decade, you know not to bring check-in bags for any trip under a week. Unless you legitimately can’t live without a full size bottle of shampoo, there’s really no need to check a bag for a long weekend, or even a 4-day holiday like Thanksgiving. Air travel is stressful as it is, don’t make it worse, or more expensive, by checking a bag. With a little mix-and-match packing, you can fit everything you need in a carry-on size bag. But first, you’ll need the perfect duffel, the most useful piece of luggage for a guy to own. It’s the perfect size for short trips, doubles as a gym bag when you need it, and can carry a load of laundry to the Laundromat, if you need it to. Here are six of our current favorites.
Cultish favorite Everlane focuses on simple, well-designed items, at a great price. Everlane’s answer to the duffel, The Weekender, is no exception. A handsome little duffel with a water resistant khaki twill liner that’s sized just right for carryon, we like it in reverse denim. ($95)
Herschel Supply Co.’s preppy/punk Walton Duffle is pretty much perfect (see above). The rectangular shape makes it extra roomy, there’s a zippered shoe compartment that doubles as a stash for dirty underwear on the return. Cool and casual in a camo print with navy and red, the Walton also has two outside pockets, a detachable shoulder strap, and a water resistant liner. ($99.99)
Filson got their start in 1897 when C.C. Filson began manufacturing clothes and blankets for explorers on their way to Alaska in search of gold. Still manufacturing for outdoorsmen, Filson’s range of bags and luggage is just as legendary, and will last a lifetime. Their cotton twill and tin cloth Original Sportsman Bag features pockets aplenty on the outside, snap out dividers on the inside, leather straps, brass fittings and zippers, and a detachable shoulder strap. ($360)
New York based T. Anthony has been producing luxury leather goods for the jet set since 1946, after Theodore Anthony got his start designing cosmetic cases for Elizabeth Arden. Marilyn Monroe and John Lennon were fans, as were Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy, Nixon, and Reagan. T. Anthony’s Classic Duffel is just that, a classic. This classy canvas bag with leather straps and removable shoulder harness harkens back to the days when air travel was something you got dressed for. ($395)
For the dedicated traveler, Kaufmann Mercantile has the stateliest, man’s man of duffel bags, the Gurka Cavalier Travel Bag. This ultra tough, army green canvas bag has folded ends that can unclip and expand, for whatever you’ve picked up along the way. Manufactured in the U.S. by the same company since 1975, with leather straps, a zippered inside pocket and a detachable shoulder strap. ($695)
And finally, just because we like to dream sometimes, the Louis Vuitton Keepall 55 Bandouliere probably costs more than anything we’d ever put inside of it, but, what a duffel bag it is. No fussy little LV’s on the outside, just the most beautiful brown leather you’ve ever seen, a zippered pocket inside, and a detachable shoulder strap. If you’ve got it, flaunt it, but tastefully, this bag doesn’t scream bling, it just whispers it. ($3,700)