Whether you’re heading away for a weekend mini-break or embarking on a round-the-world tour, our pick of the best travel bags 2017 will help you choose the right luggage to stow your stuff in.
Less formal or conventional than suitcases — but if you want one of those, see 10 best suitcases 2017 [link] — travel bags are generally lighter, less structured are more flexible than suitcases, some can even be folded flat so you can stow them easily in a cupboard or under the bed when you reach your destination.
How to buy the best travel bag for you
Travel bags come in a variety of styles (duffels, holdalls and totes) are usually made from tough ballistic nylon, waxed cotton, polyester or even leather and are usually equipped with zip fastenings (as opposed to suitcase-like hinged locks). The bigger travel bags also come with wheels and handles to make them easier to move around.
Look for bags with rubberised or waterproof zips and plenty of pockets for storing smaller items. It also helps if they have reinforced corners to help them cope with the inevitable rough and tumble of life on the road.
Keep an eye out for travel bags with lifetime or long warranties or guarantees too – that way if your bag does fail to measure up to the tough times ahead, you may be able to get it repaired or replaced for free.
Let’s get started…
The best travel bags to buy today
1. The North Face Base Camp Duffel Bag
Tough bag for life’s adventures
Material: Ballistic nylon | Volume: 69L | Dimensions: 64.5x35.5x35.5cm | Weight: 1.59kg
Available in seven distinctive colours – Black, Red/Black, Gold/Black, Black/White, Thyme/Falcon Brown, Tibetan Orange/Exuberance Orange and Cayenne Red/Regal Red – the North Face Base Camp Duffel Bag is the perfect travel companion. Made from tough ballistic nylon, it comes with both padded side handles and a removable shoulder strap so it’s easy to carry around.
Its 69 litres capacity is split across two compartments: the zippered main compartment comes with zippered mesh sections at one end and in the weather-resistant top flap; while a separate second end-cap compartment can be used for storing wet clothes, water bottles and other gear.
The North Face Base Camp Duffel Bag also comes with side pockets for storing your phone, wallet and other items for fast, easy access. The bag also comes with a waterproof ID pocket on top — ideal for putting your name, address or destination in a prominent place.
2. Antler Urbanite Holdall
The affordable holdall for little adventures
Material: Polyester | Volume: 42L | Dimensions: 52x31x30cm | Weight: 1.1kg
The Antler Urbanite Holdall is a compact, lightweight travel bag that’s ideal for weekends away — or even trips to the gym. It comes with a main zippered compartment, which can be locked using the TSA-compatible padlock supplied; plus two zippered side pockets and a zippered endcap for storing travel essentials.
Available in either Navy Blue or Stone colours, the Antler Urbanite is British designed, made from hard-wearing polyester and has a 48-litre capacity. It also comes with two carry handles, a removable shoulder strap and a two-year warranty.
3. Bric’s Life 22-inch Carry On Holdall
Classy, but expensive
Material: PVC and vegetable leather | Volume: Not stated | Dimensions: 55x32x20cm | Weight: 1.4kg
Italian luggage makers Bric’s [sic] is never short on style or quality, which is why this weekend bag is so expensive. Made from synthetic suede with leather detailing, this 22-inch Life Carry On Holdall looks like it belongs in First Class and, as its name suggests, can be taken with you when you board your flight.
Available in Navy Blue, Olive, Tan or Brown, the Bric’s Life Carry On Holdall comes with main zipped compartment, which is equipped with a TSA-compatible lock for security, plus there’s a side pocket for storing for items you need to get fast access to — like your phone, passport and travel documents.
Inside, the bag also comes with an internal zippered section for more valuable items. It also includes an airport security-friendly transparent, waterproof pouch for stowing travel toiletries.
With its stylish design, use of quality materials and lifetime guarantee, the Bric’s Life Carry On is worth every penny.
4. Eastpak Leatherface Large 2-Wheel Duffel
Large capacity duffel for longer trips
Material: Polyamide | Volume: 98L | Dimensions: 86.5x38x36.5cm | Weight: 3.4kg
Eastpak started life making bags for the US military — so it knows a thing or two about making tough, long lasting bags for travellers. The Eastpak Leatherface Large 2-Wheel Duffel is no exception.
Available in four different colours (Black, Black Denim, Sunday Grey and Dot Grey), the Eastpak Leatherface Large 2-Wheel Duffel comes with a huge 98-litre volume — enough for an extended trip away. It also has three side pockets for stowing smaller items and travel documents, plus an inside zippered pocket for valuable items.
Made from tough, water-resistant polyamide, the Eastpak Leatherface also comes with two recessed wheels and a telescopic handle (which can be hidden out of sight) for those times when you’d rather tow it than carry it. It also comes with padded carry straps and a 30-year guarantee.
5. Barbour Wax Cotton Holdall
Quintessentially British bag with room to spare
Material: Waxed cotton | Volume: Not stated | Dimensions: 60x31x31cm | Weight: 3.4kg
Associated in the public imagination with a certain kind of Britishness, the Barbour wax jacket is famously practical and hard-wearing. And this medium-sized cotton holdall has those associations in spades. Not only is it made from the same Olive Green waxed cotton material, but the bag is even lined with Barbour’s Classic Tartan.
Ideal for a weekend away — preferably to a country retreat — the bag comes with leather handles and trim, antique brass fittings and a detachable shoulder strap. Inside you’ll find two inner zip pockets for storing valuables: the perfect place for a hip flask, maybe?
6. Briggs & Riley Sympatico Weekender
Stylish, incredibly light weekend bag
Material: Ballistic nylon | Volume: 37.7L | Dimensions: 55.9x38.1x22.9cm | Weight: 0.6kg
Made from ballistic nylon with a cream-coloured lining, the Briggs & Riley Sympatico Weekender is one of the lightest travel bags we’ve ever seen. Weighing well under 1kg when empty, it includes twin carry handles, a removable shoulder strap and has lockable zippers for extra security. It also comes with a trolley sleeve on the back so you can attach it securely to the carry handle of a much larger bag or case, making it truly versatile.
There are three more things we love about this bag — it comes with a true lifetime warranty, that even covers the bag against accidental damage by airline baggage handlers — and it has a SpeedThru compartment — a see-through section for smaller items that’s ideal for when you’re passing through airport security.
Other goodies? The Sympatico Weekender is also cabin-sized so you can use it as a carry-on bag, although that limits its storage capacity to just 37.7 litres — you can probably guess from its name that this bag is not intended for extended trips away. We do love the fact that it includes padded storage for a tablet or eBook reader though. Available in Black, Burgundy, Marine Blue and Onyx.
Yes, it’s expensive, but there are so many good things about this bag that the price feels entirely justified.
7. Helly Hansen Duffel Bag 2 70L
Tough gear for tough travellers
Material: Synthetic | Volume: 70L | Dimensions: 67x35x35cm | Weight: 1.4kg
Helly Hansen is a Norwegian company that specialises in selling tough, waterproof outdoor gear for mountaineers, sailors and other adventurous types — and this 70-litre Duffel Bag 2 does nothing to diminish its world-class reputation.
Available in Pumpkin, Bright Char, Racer Blue and Black, the Helly Hansen Duffel Bag 2 is made from waterproof synthetic materials with two carry handles, two side handles and removable shoulder straps so you can wear it almost like a backpack.
As you’d expect from the price, the Helly Hansen Duffle Bag 2 is fairly basic — and a little garish in its more colourful guises — with just one external zip pocket, and one internal pocket. It is undoubtedly tough, and ready for all the travelling adventures you care to throw its way.
8. Herschel Outfitter Luggage Wheelie
Huge 2-wheeled duffel bag for extended trips
Material: Synthetic | Volume: 81L | Dimensions: 71.1x33x29.8cm | Weight: Not stated
With its 81-litre capacity, the Herschel Outfitter Luggage Wheelie is an ideal travel companion for anyone who needs to pack in as many possessions as they can — and still look reasonably stylish doing so. This duffel certainly abounds with neat touches, including pebbled leather carry handles and zip pulls, two quiet-running urethane wheels and a soft-touch neoprene covering on its telescopic handle.
Available in six different colours / designs: Black, Black Gridlock, Raven Crosshatch, Eclipse Crosshatch, Woodland Camo and Peacoat Parlour, so you’re bound to find one that suits your style.
The only thing we don’t like about this case is the lack of lockable options — you’ll need to buy your own padlock, for sure.
9. Berghaus Mule 2 100 Wheeled Holdall
Huge holdall for all your expedition needs
Material: Synthetic | Volume: 100L | Dimensions: 80x46x41cm | Weight: 3.18kg
Originally founded by two British mountaineers, Berghaus specialises in outdoor / all-weather gear and has a solid reputation for quality and reliability — hence its Lifetime Product Guarantee. The Berghaus Mule 2 100 Wheeled Holdall, then, come with all that heritage riding on it. Just as well as it has two recessed wheels and a telescopic handle.
Although the slightly garish design may not make it suitable for business travelling, the Mule 2 100 Wheeled Holdall offers an enormous 100-litres of storage and is replete with padded carry handles, end grab handles, compression straps, and lockable zip sliders — crucial for keeping your stuff secure when in transit. The holdall also comes with zipped internal compartments to help things your possessions organised.
10. Sandqvist Jordan
Leather weekend bag for premium travellers
Material: Leather | Volume: 33L | Dimensions: 50x31x21.5cm | Weight: Not stated
The next time you jet off on a business trip or a 5-star weekend in somewhere exotic, you might want to consider taking this premium weekend bag with you.
Made from vegetable dyed leather and available in two different colours – Black Leather and Cognac – the Sandqvist Jordan comes with two padded carry handles and an adjustable shoulder strap, and has two external pockets for easy access to items like your phone and travel documents.
Although the bag is relatively small at 33 litres, it also comes with two internal canvas pockets to help you get that bit more organised. And if your budget doesn’t run to this premium version, the Sandqvist Jordan is also available in less expensive cotton canvas and waxed cotton canvas editions.